Summary: Many people fear discipleship but it is the primary command of the ’Great Commission’. This study looks at how we all fit into this calling.
Three Principles of Discipleship (Part 1)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "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,
20 "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." Amen.
We know this as the ‘Great Commission’. This is also the greatest failure in the church. Without discipleship, believers do not understand how to live their faith. It is common to see the great evangelistic effort, but where is discipleship? A disciple is more than a convert and our call goes far beyond baptism. I was not discipled and I struggled to make sense of it all. I fell far away from God and no one reached out or even seemed to care. I didn’t know how to pray. I had no concept that God could use me much less did I think that there was a plan for my life. I did not know that feelings would not be my guide. When the feeling faded, I thought God had rejected me. I tried to pursue emotions, instead of a relationship with God. Why did problems come? Why didn’t God protect me? When I asked God to bless my self-focused desires, why didn’t He honor my prayer? Why don’t I know God’s will for my life?
I could write pages on the common questions that almost all new Christians ask. Unfortunately, the church has left its members to figure these out on their own. Because of this, many give up on Christianity, become calloused and complacent, or get swept away by those who teach error. In most churches, people make a profession of faith; they are congratulated, put on a role and forgotten. The church that seemed so loving and welcoming when I was a prospect, now has left me isolated in the middle of the crowd. Discipleship is not seeking converts, but bringing people into an intimate relationship with God. This begins with a conversion or surrendering ourselves to Jesus Christ. But this is only the beginning. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Surrender is where Jesus ‘authors’ our faith, discipleship points people to the finish line and teaches them how to run the race according to God’s purposes. In His purposes we find joy and fulfillment. There are three principles in discipleship – Relationships, Teaching, and Mentoring for Service.
Of these three, the relationship is the most critical today. This is not because it is the most important, but it is the most neglected. For this reason, this message will put a lot of focus on this point. Most people are intimidated by discipleship. The word ‘discipleship’ has been elevated to a practice for the spiritually mature. People usually think of the ‘Timothy Principle’ where an elder Christian takes an immature Christian under his wing and makes him into a fellow minister. Although mentoring is one aspect of discipleship, that is not the only aspect of discipleship.