The description of our topic
Discipleship is the means by which Jesus changed
the world. And making disciples is the same means His church changes the world.
So if making disciples IS the great commission of the church, then we need to
reform our most urgent mission in light of our lost world. In this session, we
will discover and discuss what a disciple is and is not.
- Open discussion about your ideas of what a
disciple is. Who makes disciples (of Christ)? How do you do it?
- The WHY…our purpose leads to our mission. I will
define what a disciple is and is not. The Great Commission with the wrong
emphasis. What went wrong? How do we change it?
- Open Discussion: Questions, Strategy, and
- What is a disciple?
- My Argument—I want to prove that we should see
discipleship on both sides of conversion. In making disciples, it is essential
that they learn what the gospel is and its demands. Therefore, a disciple can
be a learner about Jesus before he
becomes a disciple of Jesus.
- Who makes disciples?
- How do you do it?
- The WHY…our purpose leads to our mission
We must begin on the foundation of why God created man. What is our purpose in
life? Or in the words of the old catechism, “What is the chief end of man?” the
catechism answered it this way, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy
- Mark 12:30 30 And you shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and
with all your strength.’
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- Mission: Not everyone in the world is glorifying God and they should be. God
deserves the praise of His creation. That means we have a mission to take Jesus
to the world. They need to know the love of God in Christ Jesus. They need to
know how to be forgiven of their sins and a right relationship with the
Purpose is connected to the mission. Loving God cannot be disconnected from
loving your neighbor.
- Mark 12:31 31 The second is this: ‘You shall
love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater
- John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give to
you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are
to love one another. 35 By
this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
greatest love you can show those who walk in darkness is the light of Jesus.
There is no greater news than the gospel.
- God is
using His people to transfer people from the kingdoms of this world to His
Kingdom. Discipleship is the mission to do that.
- Define what a disciple is and is not
The problem is we usually define disciple too narrowly. The most basic definition of a disciple is learner. A disciple is a learner. That means everyone is a disciple. You are a learner. Everyone is. There were disciples of John the Baptist and disciples of the Pharisees. There are disciples of Buddha and Mohamad. And not just religious disciples. There are disciples/learners of secular society. They seek to learn to live like the world. Most people think that you must be a believer before you can be a disciple. I don’t think that way. And I think it is unhelpful to think that way.
Why do I think this way? The mission of the church is more
than saying Admit, Believe, and Confess. And disciple-making with much like
- Admit what? Why?
- Believe in who?
- Confess what?
This is better than some “gospel” presentations I have heard.
But there’s so much to learn. The process is longer than you might think. I’ve
been teaching the Bible to my son for eleven years. He has been a learner his
entire life. But two weeks ago, he was born again. He knew tons about
Jesus long before he knew Jesus. I waited for the Holy Spirit to open his ears
to hear the gospel. The reality that he himself would receive God’s wrath if he
did not repent and trust in Christ himself. My son has been a learner of Jesus
for a long time. He is still a learner of Jesus. We never graduate from being a
disciple on this sod.
I’ve heard people say something like this at an evangelistic
event, “Who wants to go to heaven?” Well, that’s a no-brainer. Everybody wants
to go to heaven. But that’s not the gospel. You’ve got to get the gospel right
before you can have a disciple of Jesus.
You can’t teach your kids how to live for Jesus over a
weekend or a summer camp or youth rallies or VBS. It takes a lifetime. Discipleship/learnership
begins before they become believers and it continues throughout all of life.
Some will become a disciple of Jesus. Some will walk away. But make sure you
have taught them the gospel.
You might be wondering if I have any Biblical basis for my
understanding that you can be a disciple/learner before becoming a disciple of
- Two examples. Let’s do the easy one first.
- Here is
an example of disciples who were learning about Jesus but there were things
they learned about him that they didn’t like and therefore stopped learning
about him and ceased following him.
- John 6:63-69 63 It is the Spirit who gives
life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and life. 64 But there
are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning
who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why
I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the
Father.” 66 ¶ After
this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve,
“Do you want to go away as well?”
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life, 69
and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of
Jesus had disciples that turned back and some that remained.
Only those who remain with his to the end are true disciples of Christ.
- What about Judas? Where is his soul? Let me
finish quoting the above text.
- John 6:70-71 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I
not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of
Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
There are many who may give mental ascent to the
facts of the bible but do not love them. The devil and his demons believe the
bible. You must talk about believing in a way that clearly distinguishes that
concept rightly. Words mean different things to people. Like love. We love God
and we love pizza. Believing is treasuring…loving Jesus above all things.
If you are thinking of a disciple as a learner
then you are teaching the gospel. Who is God…what is sin…what does it mean to
believe…who is Jesus…what is the cross…why did he have to die…how does that pay
for my sins…it seems to bible demands perfection to stand before God how can I
You see…there are tons of things to teach and
The Great Commission with the wrong emphasis. Let
me read it. Matthew 28:19-20 19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all
that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the
Bear with me on some grammar issues. We have place
the emphasis on go instead of what is most important. The grounds for my
statement comes from the grammar of this verse and it’s hard to see in the
Commands are usually the strong verbs that get our
attention. The only command in this text is “make” disciples. “Go” is a
supporting participle. We would normally translate a participle with an “ing”
on the end. So the command is make disciples while there are three other verbs to
describe how to make disciples.
Make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching.
The sense of “go” is “as you are going”. You can’t make disciples if you do not
go. There’s a lot of going on mission for Jesus that has nothing to do with
And you have not made a disciple of Jesus unless
you have baptized them in the name (singular) of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit (plural). And you have not made a disciple of Jesus if you have not
been taught to observe ALL that Jesus commanded. Not recite. Not know. But
observe. Do. Act.
Many people call my daughter “little Kimberly.”
She talks like her, acts like her, and thinks like her. Do you know what the
word Christian means? It means “little Christ.” Are you a Christian? Do you act
like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and think like Jesus? There will be a lot of
UNLEARNING, depending on when a person begins learning who Jesus is.
What went wrong? You see people come and go. They
make a profession of faith then they leave and never come back. How you think
about that person will determine how you respond. You should always take the
view about yourself and your fellow church members…We will see. The only true
faith is faith that endures to the end.
A number of years ago, while I was in seminary
this came home to me. It is still typical to have evangelism conferences in
associations. Whoever baptized the most hosted the event. A small congregation
west of Fort Worth hosted it that year. They had baptized around 75 the best I
can remember. Someone looked at their attendance board and noticed there were
only 30 or so people coming to church. Someone asked, “Where are they?”
If you think, asking people if they want to go to
heaven is the way to make disciples and if they never darken the door again and
you think they are good to go then you are badly mistaken.
I was in rural West Virginia on a mission trip
some years ago and the DOM came to visit our group. He was telling us about an
evangelistic event they had held the previous weekend. And then I heard him say
something that I still cannot believe he said, “We offered free TV’s to everyone
who made a profession of faith.”
That’s what went wrong. People have been led in a
prayer but were not led to Jesus. They don’t know who he is. I bear the scars
of that very thing. I was led to believe that the sinner’s prayer would fix me.
It didn’t. It’s hard to undo that. By God’s grace, he saved me.
How do we change this? Preach the whole gospel.
Teach the whole Bible. Make disciples not merely converts. If you are
seeking people to balance or expand your budget then you will do about anything
to get people there and keep them. When the whole gospel is proclaimed a lot
less people will be professing faith.
And when they profess faith in Jesus, make sure
they understand they must die. The Old Man…the old Jason must die. That’s what
baptism represents. You died and a new creation was born. When they profess
faith in Christ, make sure they know what they are getting themselves into.
Jesus is Lord now not them. You have bowed the knee to King Jesus. Whatever he
says goes. When they profess faith in Jesus, make sure you practice biblical
church discipline so that when they begin to walk contrary to Jesus you can
call them back. If they remain unrepentant, you treat them as a tax collector
and sinner, remove them from membership, and then try to win them to Jesus with
strategy and encouragement
Strategy—a church covenant is a great guide, catechisms, bible study to explore Christianity, being with Jesus is key. The place to do that is God’s Word. As you make disciples be sure to teach them to make disciples and multiple.
During seminary, an older, godly man met with me every Friday morning for two years. It was a place were I could ask questions that I was afraid to ask in class. I could even weep as I struggled to unlearn things and learn new things. Discipleship is messy. That’s why most people avoid it. growing is hard. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is hard. We have many starts and stops and starts again. The road is hard but the glory of becoming like Jesus brings glory to God.
Seek out relationships that will help you grow.
Seek out relationships that you can help others grow (you will grow as you help
them grow). Invest in people for the long haul. Wait for the Spirit to do the
work of changing the heart as you fill their minds with the gospel.
And make sure you teach disciples how to make
disciples and you will multiple rather than add. Don’t let the word of God stop
with you. May it reproduce…bear fruit from you.
Encouragement– Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and said to them,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching
them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you
always, to the end of the age.”
Why the purpose must be foundational? Because if you
are not aware, just because you engage in making disciples does not mean they
will become a disciple of Jesus. And if your joy is bond up in those who
respond to the gospel then you will be continually disappointed. And if you do
not love Jesus…worship Jesus…know Jesus…walk with Jesus, then you will not
offer that which you do not love.