I Will Not Go Quietly

What is discipleship and what is Jesus calling us to do in Matthew28:18-20? Is this a command, or a suggestion? Does it mean the same as evangelism? Does it mean we are to lead others and teach the precepts of the Scriptures and the character of our Lord? Does it require obedience and action on our part, or are we disciples just by being a Christian in a church on Sundays?
This passage at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is what is called the “Great Commission.” Unfortunately, this is also the great failure of the church! This is the main call to the Church from our Lord and Savior, and is the one thing most believers do not do at all!

If this is the main reason for a church to exist, and yet churches don’t teach people the basics of the faith and move them deeper into the precepts of His love and Word, how can most Christians understand how to live out their faith? They will not be able to handle problems, witness, share their faith, or grow effectively spiritually, because no one is modeling, or showing them the way! Some churches do a great job with evangelism, but once the people come in, they are stored on membership records and stay comfortably in the pews. Where is discipleship?

Being a disciple encompasses more than just parroting a simple prayer and asking Jesus to come into your heart. Our conversion, our acceptance of Jesus as Savior is only the beginning into the faith and the Christian life. But it is not the only act of being a Christian. That would make the Church no different than joining a health club, but never working out! It goes far beyond Baptism. Baptism is only our profession and testimony of our faith publicly. But it does not stop there…It starts there! Sadly, the Church has forsaken discipleship, and has left its members to figure out these spiritual growth things on their own. In doing so, it causes many to give up on Christianity, while others become confused, calloused, or complacent, or they are swept away by false doctrines by wolves in sheep’s clothing because they do not know the difference!

The Church Is Called To Make Disciples
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT) This is perhaps the chief characteristic that most churches somehow forget. It is also the reason the church exists. So, why is it that so few churches actually have discipleship training as a primary ministry? For most churches, it is something they think they are already doing when in fact they are not. Going to a church on Sunday and providing a couple of token adult Sunday school classes are not discipleship. Some churches may throw it in as an afterthought in something related to the subject. But that is not discipleship.

Due to our human, fallen thinking, we desire the right to ourselves more than we desire the life that God has for us. That is the reason that it is so difficult for the non-believer to except a Savior when they think they have to give up their rights and desires. It is similarly difficult for the Christian to live a life that is truly surrendered and poured out to the sovereignty of God. Yet, true discipleship cannot begin until we learn one key important aspect of life: there is only one God and you ain’t Him! We must learn to yield to the Lordship of our God and not to the desires of our will. It is only when we do this that the discipleship process can begin. However, when we refuse, we will be the strife and conflict that gives Christianity a ‘black eye’. We become the problem rather than the solution.

Therefore, discipleship as a priority gets lost. We make up excuses saying, “We are Christians already, so we are disciples already; The Spirit will guide them; Evangelism is the same thing as discipleship; We don’t have anyone to lead it; etc.” Excuses, excuses, excuses, and still no response to the Great Commission! We are not responsible for people coming to the Lord; but we are responsible for obeying our Lord and making disciples of all people!

The reason that there is no one to lead discipleship training is that there is an extreme lack of real disciples in the church; that is, people whose lives are so surrendered to Christ and out of gratitude to him, are modeling and teaching Biblical precepts to others. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas. It was only after his training that he received his call and was empowered directly from Jesus Himself!

Humbleness is characterized by the willingness to grow in Christ, and receive learning and experience growth. Peter tells us we ought to be humble toward one other so that we can know the grace of God and not be in opposition to God. This is so straightforward; so essential, to be a blessed church; to be a growing church– not in numbers, but in discipleship!

Discipleship and mentoring are not an option, but a command. (Matthew 28:16-20) We must follow out of our obedience and mentor in a multi-generational lifestyle, caring for the total person. This will move us from just playing church, to really BEING the Church.

The effective Church is mentoring, building relationships, and teaching each of the members by other, caring people, who are being discipled themselves, who are being taught, encouraged, and led. The death of a church happens when we follow political trends, or the patriarchal personalities that want to control people. In addition, when we have a controlling attitude, we do not allow God to control us, thus, we become empty shells and hollow logs. Being hollow means there is nothing working within us, there is no Creator of the universe leading and directing our ways, so, we become worthless to the Kingdom of God.

Making disciples takes vision and the understanding of Scripture. It gives the church a purpose to forms leaders who grow other leaders. The Christian, especially the leader, who disciples and equips others is a person who is living the faith for themselves and setting goals for their personal growth before they set goals for others. Their skills and abilities are growing them to be a better worker because first, they are striving to be a better child of God.

Jesus’ purpose for his three years of earthly ministry was the discipleship and equipping of the 12 Disciples. This was his drive and where most of his time was spent. He was focused on the teaching of the kingdom of God, but he was also teaching these men to see beyond their present situation to the life to come. His objective was that every one of the disciples would in turn teach others that every believer was an equipper, every member a minister and every person involved in the life and gifts of the Holy Spirit would influence the world.

So, what are we to do?
Jesus did not command us to seek converts, he commands us to make disciples. Discipleship is mentoring and teaching Christians using the precepts of the Bible-mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. Yes, we are to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. God uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. Because God is the one who leads!

Other passages to consider on discipleship:
Isa 8:15-16; Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40; Luke 14:26-33

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