Our Calling As A Church
Steve Jobs founded the enormously successful Apple Computers. Jobs decided that John Sculley was the man needed to help Jobs fulfill his dream of building a completely different kind of computer company, one that would make computers available to every person in the world. However, Sculley was comfortably entrenched as president of Pepsi. He had achieved everything a man could want: power, prestige, an enormous salary and a secure future. The thought of a career change requiring a move to the West Coast frightened him. He was concerned about losing pensions and deferred compensation and adjusting to living in California. John Sculley was safe at Pepsi but he was also bored. Jobs sensed this and asked, “John, do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” That question eventually changed the course of Sculley’s life. He went to Apple and helped grow it into one of the most successful corporations in the world. He made a commitment to invest his life in something he believed could change the world. Was there risk? Yes, but without it there was no reward. In a much greater and eternal way, we must invest our lives to change the world. (Illustration from Donald William Dotterer, Living The Easter Faith, CSS Publishing Company,1994.)
Today, we will examine what the Bible says about the greatest way to change the world for eternity, discipleship.
First, there is a biblical mandate for discipleship. Matthew 28:16-20 says, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Notice in these verses that discipleship is a personal command; it is our responsibility. It is also a provisional command; Christ has given us his power (verse 18) and his promise (verse 20) to accomplish this mission. The command is pervasive—encompassing all nations (verse 19)— and perpetual (verse 20). Finally, the command to disciple is progressive: evangelize, baptize and catechize (or teach).
Secondly, we see the biblical model of discipleship through decision making. “Discipleship does not occur naturally. None of these decisions are automatic to the Christian. One does not become a disciple by passivity, but by intentionality. True discipleship is seldom convenient, and never by accident.”
- The decision to follow Christ in believing
John 5:25 Truly, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
- The decision to follow Christ in submitting
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- The decision to follow Christ in learning
II Timothy 3:15-17 And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- The decision to follow Christ in serving
John 13:13-17 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
- The decision to follow Christ in reproducing (making other disciples)
II Timothy 2:2 The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
- The decision to follow Christ in going (locally and globally)
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- The decision to follow Christ in suffering/dying
Matthew 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
How far have you followed Christ and how well do you model this kind of discipleship? Where are you in the discipleship process?
Finally, we see the biblical meaning of discipleship. The definition of discipleship is learner. In context it means follower. Disciple and its derivatives are used 259 times in the gospels and Acts, meaning discipleship is important. It’s for everyone. If you’re not ready to disciple someone, then you should let someone disciple you. Discipleship is the ministry of learning and following then teaching and leading. Discipleship is the ministry of multiplying believers by personally and consistently investing the Word of God in others to restore the image of God in them.
Why should we emphasize spiritual reproduction through discipleship? Let us suppose it takes two years to help a person grow spiritually to the place where he can reproduce also. Compare this with leading one person to Christ daily, but not having time to help him or her grow.
After 2 years there will be 2 mature Christians; there will be 731 converts
After 4 years there will be 4 mature Christians; there will be 1,462 converts
After 10 years there will be 32 mature Christians; there will be 3,653 converts
After 20 years there will be 1,024 mature Christians; there will be 7,306 converts
After 30 years there will be 32,768 mature Christians there will be 10,958 converts
A true disciple of Christ is one who learns and follows and then teaches and leads. When a person participates in the discipleship process, he enters into the grand purpose and plan of God – to restore His image in others and to further His kingdom.