Summary: Our churches are not making disciples. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is - we think we are...
Patrick Morley writes, “What is the greatest problem facing men today? It is the same problem that faces the church and men’s ministries. As a whole, the church is not making disciples. We have a great problem in the church today. An executive in a major denomination said one day, "Our churches are not making disciples." But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is - we think we are. So what? Most men only know enough about God to be disappointed with him. They listen to the sermons, they try to do the right things, they have it in their hearts to be faithful Christians, but they don’t have much joy, and certainly lack victory over sinful habits. They feel a sense of shame. That’s because they have never actually been "educated" about what it means to "be" a Christian. They are not disciples.”
From the Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the term “make disciples” is defined as: 1) to be a disciple of one; to follow his precepts and instructions; or 2) to make a disciple; to teach, instruct.” A disciple is a learner, pupil, a disciple.
The purpose of discipleship is more than the assimilation of knowledge through procedural programs. And though this pursuits may be commendable, many have come to believe that knowledge is the pathway for becoming a disciple. In response to this, the Bible says that we are ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). The true purpose of discipleship is to know the heart of God in Christ and to know my heart in relationship with Jesus. God wants me to be rooted in Him, not just rooted in my ideas about Him.
Those who are truly His are devoted to Him, and as such, devoted to learning all about Him – Who He is, what He likes and dislikes, what makes Him smile, His expectations, His purpose for me in the earth - to learn His heart and will and way and character - to evaluate my every response not according to what I think I know, but who I am in light of His heart. These are those who have discovered the simplicity of taking up His yoke, learning from Him, and who find soul rest (Mth. 11:29).
Lord Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-26:
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.
For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Those who have seen God in Christ, who have truly developed a living relationship with the risen Savior, lose interest in seeking selfishly after temporal pursuits and throw themselves headlong after things eternal. They are those who now see that the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace; those who thirst and hunger for righteousness and begin living their lives in such a way through the power of the indwelling presence and power of His Holy Spirit that they no longer are slaves to themselves having recognized that they have been bought with an enormous price – they belong to Jesus. Jesus says in Luke 14:33-35:
"So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom is demanding, fulfilling, more holy and more powerful than many of the gospel messages we hear today. Jesus challenges each of us to destroy whatever barrier stands between Him and us; nothing is more important than God Himself (Exodus 20:3). Jesus says:
"And why do you call Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like:
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:46-49).