What is a Disciple?
'Then the eleven disciples
went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to
go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority
in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make
disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age.'" [Matthew 28:16-20]
My friend, John Abramse, in his talk, made a very interesting
statement about this passage. He said that our purpose is disciple-
making (and not simply convert-making as I spoke about last week)
but then he went on to add this idea:
What is a disciple? A person that follows
you. When Jesus was living on earth He gathered 12 men around
Him and taught them everything He wanted them to know and they
followed Him. So I think in a sense the passage could be saying
'make disciples' (as in gather some people around yourself) and
then join Paul in what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 "Follow
my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
The focus is always on Jesus - we are not trying to get people
to follow us, but the emphasis here is more on having a group of
people that we are in relationship with, who we can be discipling
and mentoring so that they will be growing in their following of
Jesus. Then hopefully they will be gathering disciples around them
who can be learning from them and so on.
To give it a little bit of perspective, Jesus (Son of God, filled
with the Holy Spirit, never sinned) worked pretty much fulltime
with a group of 12 men for three years to have the kind of effect
He had, and so it makes sense that most of us will probably manage
one or two people at a time and should not be trying to do that
type of discipling of many more than that. But if each Christian
was taking up the challenge and call of making disciples then it
would not matter how many disciples each person had. Also, if that
much time and effort is being poured into one or two people, then
the relationships and growth are likely to be stronger and longer
Who are you discipling? A disciple is also someone who makes disciples.
BE KEEPING AN EYE ON YOURSELF, COS THEY WILL BE!
Another quote that was shared on the weekend was this one by Richard
Baxter (don't worry, I don't know who he is either, but I wrote
his name down!) which says:
"We lead others to the living water,
but muddy the waters with our filthy lives."
My friend Edgar Ramsami shared on the
conference: "The strength
of your relationship with God is going to be reflected in the lives
of your young people - you can't take them further than you've
I have seen both those statements to be so true. I used to do
a lot of Scripture Union camps for young people and it always used
to bother me when the leaders would push into a meal queue for
example. And I guess you could pull out the whole 'You're being
too legalistic' flag and wave it around a bit, but actually the
message that the leader is sending out is 'I don't have to keep
the rules.' And if the leader doesn't have to keep the rules, why
should the kids have to, right?
You can be the greatest speaker or worship leader or evangelist
or whatever, but it is your actions that will speak much louder
than any 'ministry' you do, no matter how powerful it may appear
to be. Far too often we as Christian leaders lead others to the
living water, but muddy the waters with our filthy lives. And it
is not about being perfect because obviously we aren't. But it
is largely about not being hypocritical, saying one thing while
There are a lot of other legalistic objection flags that are being
waved, such as:
What kind of music I listen to/What kind of books I read/What
kind of movies I watch Having pirated music/movies/games How I
behave in my relationships with members of the opposite sex
And so on... is it really legalistic? Or are you failing to ask
the question, 'How is Jesus involved in that part of my life? Am
I living a life that glorifies God in the area of...?'
And if we are not, then why should the
people following us? Everything is permissible, but not everything
is beneficial. [1 Corinthians 10:23] The passage goes on to say, "So whether you eat or
drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." [10:31]
Other translations of that Matthew 28 verse say 'As you go, make
disciples...' or the Message which says, 'Whenever and wherever
you go, make disciples...' - this is not an additional extra to
being a Christian, but one of the basic fundamentals. We are all
called to be worshippers of God (first and foremost) and then we
are all called to make disciples and teach them to obey everything
Jesus commanded us.
So once again, who are the people that you are intentionally discipling?
Not just hanging around and spending time with, but deliberately
pouring into their lives, teaching, training and holding up in