A Fresh look at discipleship

In recent months on social media there have been serious discussions about how we come to Christ and grow in Him. We are all familiar with what has been called the great commission. I want to look at both that text and its relevance today and a real look into what I believe God is showing us is the next step. "Jesus came to them and said all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and a son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to pay all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:16-20) As evangelicals we are familiar with the idea that we must all "accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior", most of our evangelism is geared towards getting people to "make a decision to follow Christ". However, we were never called to do that, rather we are called to make disciples. Our friend in the Philippines, is seeing up to 14 new disciples baptized every time they make a trip (once or twice a week). Many of these disciples are third and fourth generation. The concept of disciple in the Bible is that of a follower of ar teacher, leader or philosopher, notably of Jesus. Long before the intimate followers were called apostles they were the disciples of Jesus. But the truth is that we are all disciples,or should be. In the text above we read what we are to teach, that we are to obey all that Jesus has commanded us to do. In historic or institutional churches those who teach or minister to others often have a long academic education. Yet in real life in the Spirit, which is born of genuine relationships, we have real disciples. As discipleship moves much beyond third of fourth generation of disciples, questions of training began to arise. Academic education is not for all, what is the biblical answer? Simple, to be a disciple. For many years I have recommended a new approach to training in the realm of trade or craft work. The progression normally goes apprentice (disciple), fellow craft or journey man (a qualified worker) and master able to train a new apprentices. In the world of academia the progression is under graduate, bachelor (qualified), master and Doctor. (who is able to pronounce others qualified). The church thing seems somewhat different. We start as a disciple, later we may have our own disciples. We are never more than a disciple, even when our disciples have disciples. Any ministries such as apostles of prophets; were not schooled to a trade or office, but rather were functions given to the church as gifts, so that no man can boast in their own achievements. The only other two points that we need to take note of our first that we must go and not expect people to come to us. And secondly, that we should baptize for as soon as they make a commitment to be a disciple.   Keith
©Copyright 2010 Keith W. Smith and Jesus Gathering™.  All rights reserved Internationally. Reprint by permission only

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