Why Discipleship Matters
My reason for this blog in a nutshell
All bible quotes not otherwise marked are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)
To make a geeky Star Trek reference, the prime directive for every Christian is to make disciples of all nations.
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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 isn’t it to win the lost to Christ? Why isn’t that enough? If we all make it to heaven, isn’t that good enough.
Well, first of all we know we aren’t all going to make it to heaven.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The way to destruction is the wide gate that most people are going to pass through. Yet we still have our mission. Right?
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” — Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon says it best. While on this earth we want to fight as hard as we can to lead people to Jesus so they can be saved. So again I ask, why is discipleship God’s command and not just leading these poor souls to Him?
First of all. How are sinners led to Christ? It’s not just our words. It’s our deeds and our attitude. We are to be the light and the salt. We are to present ourselves in such a way that the lost want to have what we have.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Salt is what makes people thirsty. In this analogy, we are the salt. What are we making the lost thirsty for? Jesus Christ. We want them to be desirous of the hope that is in us. We want them to ask us what it is that makes us different. Why are we more exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Imagine, if you will, a person who is exhibiting these traits. They are loving and patient. Kind to everyone they meet. They keep themselves under control. The flesh does not master them. The Spirit is controlling them. They are living by the Spirit.
When a person is living by the Spirit they are exhibiting those traits. How does a person learn how to live by the Spirit? Does it just happen automatically when you get saved? No. People must be discipled. Discipleship is teaching people how to live by the Spirit so that their light shines bright and their walk is salty and makes others hungry to know about Jesus Christ.
So let’s have some hard truth here. We all know ourselves and probably a lot of other Christians. We in fact see a lot of Christians in the news of late. Do they seem to be exhibiting those characteristics? Is everyone at the church getting along wonderfully? How could they know with those traits above? How would it even be possible for their to be trouble in the church if such traits were common place in our people?
The problem is that they are not commonplace. We have a lot of people in the church today who flat out are not saved. I fear if we do not figure this out God is going to purge them out for us. How does God do that? He sends strong persecution upon the church because those who are not true believers will quickly fall away when persecuted.
These are the tares in our midst. Jesus told us about them in the parable.
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
See Jesus predicted what would happen. The church would grow and Satan would realize direct attack wasn’t working. Instead he’d send in his own agents. The lost, even if they don’t know they are his agents, are serving Satan and are sent to wreck as much havoc in the church as possible.
But we have an even bigger problem. So let’s not go there just yet. We can’t distinguish these tares. Why not? Because they look like Christians. Why are they able to so easily blend in amongst the church members? Why isn’t their obstructionism obvious? Why isn’t their hatefulness obvious? Well the problem is that there are saved people who also do not exhibit the traits above. They are not led by the Spirit. They decided to run their own lives. Part of the reason is: we, the church, didn’t disciple them. Now that they are more of the church than those who are Spirit led, the problem is pronounced. Discipleship is desperately needed. We need the entire church being the light and the salt.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good
The responsibility falls upon the older Christians. In this sense there is an assumption that older implies mature. We can’t assume that these days. Baby Christians have stayed babies their whole lives. But those who are mature in the faith and walking in the Spirit must see discipleship as a primary concern.
See, we can be out there witnessing to the lost and leading them to Jesus. If we do not disciple the people though then they will be ineffective in their own mission for Christ. We must realize our life is short. We can only do so much. We must disciple the next generation so that they will carry on after we are gone.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
Whenever the bible talks about the flesh, it is talking about our sin nature. When we are being led by the Spirit the flesh is not in control. When we are led by our own passions, then the flesh is reigning supreme and the Spirit grows quiet and in fact is grieved.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you
When we are bitter and full of wrath, we are not being led by the Holy Spirit. When we slander others and are constantly angry, we are not being led by the Spirit. When we as Christians exhibit those kinds of traits, we are not letting our light shine. We are not being salty. We are hiding our light and our salt is worthless.
Why are Christians, so far from God? Why do so many seem so full of hate these days. Why are so many cultural values in opposition to what Jesus Christ wants when “supposedly” this nation is 70% Christian. Isn’t our culture teaching hit back harder and not turn the other cheek?
How could so many people exhibit the value system of Satan instead of the value system of Jesus Christ?
Here are some reasons
They don’t take what the bible says seriously. Instead they get their values from the nightly news.
Most don’t read the bible to begin with so it never really touches their lives. Many don’t pray either so they do not grow close to God.
The church doesn’t teach forcefully what the bible says and the church does not discipline those who ignore it’s teachings.
Those who walk closely with Jesus Christ are often working at all sorts of different activities often concerning leading others to a saving knowledge of Christ and they are not taking the time to really disciple others.
Pastors have churches full of infants and the infants are running the church now. There are few if any Spiritually mature Christians. Any attempt to disciple at this point will meet pushback.
People think theological knowledge ends with knowledge of a lot of facts and doctrines in the bible. Theological knowledge is when it becomes part of you and influences your life. Theological knowledge is living by the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit inspired the bible and it will only lead you in accordance with the bible.
What can we do? We need to leaders in the church to stand up for biblical ethics. We need to stand up even if it means someone leaves the church. That person may well be a tare but even if they are just a baby Christian, God will deal with them. We need to be intentional about discipleship. We need to recognize bad behavior and call it out in a loving way. We need to be loving about it. We need though to not turn a blind eye to it. We are all called to look out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must be willing to accept correction as the evidence of love that it is. We must be willing to give correction because that is what loving is about.
One of the reasons I write this blog is to help Christians be stronger in their faith. We all need help. I need help. You need help. No one is an island. The church should be a place that keeps us on track. That means living by the Spirit. Hopefully this blog is helping you a little.
Thank you for reading. There will be more God willing. I love you all. I pray God blesses your mission.
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