Friday, April 1, 2016


Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. Matt. 28:19-20
What does it mean to "make disciples of all the nations"? The answer is right there in the passage: "Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." Over the past 15 years, I have noticed two important aspects missing from a majority of churches. The first aspect is love, which you can read about from these links:
The second aspect is discipleship. The majority of churches are pretty decent at evangelism, but once evangelism has been had, the individual convert (genuine or false) is then left to his/herself. This is further the case with mega churches where their only concern is their numbers. There is no making of disciples. Discipleship is also a command to parents with regard to their children. Just as you were born with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with being a citizen of your country, but had to be taught what they were, so too do our children need to be taught the rights and responsibilities of being covenant members. Discipleship requires investment. We, the church, need to invest in our children and in new converts. We need to teach them. This does not come from a one hour or half hour sermon once a week.

A third aspect where many churches fail is in regard to gifts. The pastor is not some super Christian to whom God has given every gift and with which every responsibility thereby falls upon him. The primary gift of a pastor is in preaching. Sometimes the pastor might even have the gift of teaching. Having one or the other does not mean you are qualified to perform the other. I know of one church in my city wherein the pastor thereof is very gifted in evangelism, but has no gift whatsoever for preaching. One of the associate pastors does have the gift for preaching, and this man should be that church's pastor. But I digress. Far too often, church members place all the responsibility on the shoulders of the pastor. If they are not evangelizing, they think that he should be, even if he does not have the gift of evangelism. If the individual members are evangelizing, they place the responsibility of discipleship on his shoulders. They figure that since they brought them in, it is his job to disciple them. Yes, the pastor plays an important part in the discipleship of individuals, but he is not the sole responsibility thereof.

God has gifted every Christian with at least one gift, and that gift is to be used for the benefit of the entire church. The eye cannot do what the foot can do, and the foot cannot do what the hand cannot do, and the hand cannot do what the head can do. Some pastors may have multiple gifts, but some may only have one gift. It is up to every member of the church to fill in and fulfill the responsibilities of the other gifts to and for each other. A body cannot function without its independent parts. In North America, and other countries affected by the selfish individualism that resulted from the Renaissance, we have the mindset of "every individual for him/herself." A church cannot function this way. In fact, if that is how every member treats every other member, that church is essentially dead. You may wonder if the Holy Spirit is actually present with that church.

If you are not especially gifted with discipling, then you should know people who are and be able to direct people to them for the purpose of discipleship. In fact, your duty and responsibility in this area is to introduce them to each other for that express purpose. It does no good to speak to either of them individually, because the likelihood of either seeking out the other is pretty much nil. Speak to each of them individually about the other so as to gain consent from them, and then introduce them to each other. Then the two of them together can figure out the details for the ensuing discipleship.

Disciple means...learner.

A Disciple Is...
...under Jesus’ authority in every area.
...actively seeking to learn His teachings.
...actively seeking to do what He does

If the New Testament standard of discipleship is revealed to us by the light of God, and we do not attempt to meet that standard, or even feel inclined to do so, then we begin to apostatize. It means your conscience does not respond to the truth. You can never be the same after the unveiling of God's truth. That moment marks you as one who either continues on with even more devotion as a disciple of Christ Jesus, or as one who turns to go back as a deserter.

"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." John 6:66

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it." Matthew 16:24-25

In If Thou Wilt Be Perfect, Oswald Chambers wrote, "Following in the steps of Jesus in discipleship is so great a mystery that few enter into it. It is possible to be so grossly selfish in absorbing the salvation of Jesus, to enjoy all its benedictions, and never follow Him one step."

Is there a mystery involved in discipleship? The truth of discipleship remains a mystery only to those who refuse to obey and choose to remain blind. Discipleship is difficult not because it is not understood but because it is understood and is costly. Throughout His ministry, Jesus insisted on self-denial and costly grace. Cheap grace lies behind rationalizations for runaway divorce rates, abortion on demand, acceptance of homosexuality, cohabitation, and other expressions of selfishness in our society today.

"It would take just a tiny fraction of today's Christians truly believing what Jesus taught and living the way Jesus lived." Ron Sider - Living For Jesus.

Christianity is popular now precisely because it asks so little of its adherents. Sin is hardly ever preached upon within our churches and biblical truth is set aside for political correctness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian whose obedience to Christ cost him his life during the Nazi reign, wrote in Cost of Discipleship, "Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes." All other grace, he said, was cheap grace. He also insisted, "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ."

Many Christians blend in with the world to avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. Many may not even realize or perhaps even care that they are an Ambassador for Christ, His Representatives on this earth. What kind of a Representative is a willful, disobedient Christian to the cause and image of Christ to unbelievers? God gives each of us wisdom and victory, but not for drifting through life or acting irresponsible with His gifts and resources.