Making of Disciples and Making a Difference
- A Paul – Someone who inspires your passion. This is someone who has gone in life where you want to go, who has paid the price that you’re willing to pay and is doing what you want to do.
- A Barnabas – Someone who shares your passion. This is a peer-level relationship that has the “iron sharpening iron” effect in your life.
- A Timothy – Someone who catches your passion. This is a person into whom you will pour your life into.
- Overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual needs – they realize that they don’t have it all together
- Compassionate, forgiving, and look for the best in others
- A dependent spirit – they are interdependent on others
- Surrender control
- Willing to yield the right to be right
- They are humbled by how much they have to learn
- Not concerned with self
- They risk getting close to others, willing to take the risk of loving intimately
- They accept personal responsibility, seeing where they are wrong
- Receive criticism with a humble and open heart
- Concerned with being real; willing to be open and transparent with others
- Quick to admit failure and seek forgiveness
- Grieved over the cause and root of their sin
- Repentant over the sin
- Take initiative to resolve conflict, to see if they can get to the cross first
- Compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for mercy
- They have a continual heart attitude of repentance
- Continually sense their need for a fresh infilling and encounter with the Holy Spirit
The Process of Becoming a DiscipleAnd Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, 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.” Matthew 28:18-20
Discipleship - His Great Commission, Our Greatest NeedOne of the greatest needs in our time is for the making of true disciples of Jesus Christ. We need to be disciples and we need to make disciples. In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, Jesus commanded His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of nations. This begins by making disciples of individuals. Today in the Body of Christ we are faced with a great disconnect between those who have been born again and those who have matured to become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to George Barna’s statistics, high percentages of professing Christians today believe that they can lead a full, satisfying life without pursuing spiritual maturity. Also, many believe that all religious faiths teach the same basic principles. And that if a person is generally good or does enough good things for others during his or her life, they will earn a place in heaven. Many also believe that the Bible is fallible, that Jesus Christ committed sins while on earth and that after He was and crucified and died, He did not return to life physically. Several other staggering statistics reveal much about what professing Christian’s believe and how they live. This verifies that there is a great need in our day for disciples of Jesus Christ. In charismatic, spirit-filled Christianity sure foundations must be laid. Many Christians can have the tendency to live their lives based on excitement and emotional feelings, but in some seasons feelings won’t be as good as they are in others. When this happens, however, it is discipleship that kicks in for us.
Disciples Are Not Born, They Are Made
A man once toured an historic town in England. He came across an elderly gentleman seated on a park bench and approached him to inquire about some of the town’s history. He asked the gentleman, “Were any great men born in this town?” The gentleman replied, “No, only babies.” Children of God are born. Disciples are made. You must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God. Yet every one of us is called to be disciples of Jesus Christ and this requires nothing other than total commitment.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his own soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:24)
Discipleship involves very costly decisions. Certain things in society are acceptable, but not powerful; they have no impact. For example, social drinking is acceptable, but I guarantee you that it does not bring revival! Scripture teaches only a sold-out Christianity! But be encouraged that the demands of what God calls us to, are the things that everyone can do.
Greater Commitment Will Bring Greater Reward
Jesus admonished the church of Laodicea first by rebuking them for being lukewarm but then by encouraging them that if they would overcome their apathy, blindness and deception in a materialistic society that a reward greater than any offered among the churches would be given to them.
“… you say,’ I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’…If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Jesus was saying that if you overcome this apathetic and materialistic life of yours and be conformed to My likeness then unprecedented revelation and unprecedented authority will be yours to walk in. He said, “I will dine with him”, which represents revelation, and “I will grant to sit with Me on My throne”, which represents authority. The good news for us is that there is a greater reward in store for those who will take heed of what they need in Christ and do what is required of Him to go after it.
Years ago on a plane ride to a ministry engagement a man sitting next to me introduced himself and as he offered me a pamphlet I came to discover that he was a Jehovah’s Witness. Of course, I respectfully declined the offer as I let him know that I was a pastor. We began to talk and he informed me that he, too, was a minister. This interested me, so I asked him what his lifestyle was like. He shared with me that he and his family knew only a life of constant travel; living in and out of people’s homes, weekly going house to house, from place to place, knocking on people’s doors and with no means of financial security. No benefits, no medical insurance and no retirement. I said to him, “That’s a pretty costly commitment.” His reply was simply, “Yes, but I believe in our cause.” This level of commitment from one who is walking in deception should cause us as the Body of Christ to take a deeper look at our own level of commitment to the truth. We only have one opportunity to live a committed life to Christ in that way.
Spiritual Maturity – The Path to Promotion and the Mark of A DiscipleOne of the marks of a true disciple is the display of growth through the levels of spiritual maturity. There are five basic levels of spiritual maturity, according to Scripture. These five levels are found in the Greek words: Nepios, Paidion, Teknon, Huios and Pater.
Nepios, which is translated as meaning a babe or a child, means “no speech”. The characteristics include in the natural, feeding, changing, and burping them all the time. Everyone is born into the kingdom of God at this level. As a leader, you must have a lot of faith and vision to see beyond the present condition of a nepios and see their potential.
Paidion, which is translated as meaning a child, means “younger child”. In the natural a child in this age span learns more than in their whole lifetime put together. This should be a short stage against the backdrop of your entire spiritual life.
Teknon, which is also translated as meaning a child, means “older child or son”. After His disciples had been with him for three years, Christ refers to his disciples as Teknons.
Huios means “fully matured son”. It is only when you come to this level that you receive your placing and appointing of God. What He has called you to, you are now commissioned into. Your level of submission and willingness to be taught will determine the timeline of this process in your life.
Pater, is translated as “father”. This degree of your authority is indicative of the degree of your maturity.
What Does It Take to Become A Disciple?
There are four basic elements necessary to become a disciple. They are Accountability, A Basic System or Plan, God’s Grace which is God’s help, and The Conviction that You Can Change.
There are two basic forms of accountability: Indirect Accountability and Direct Accountability.
Indirect Accountability, which is when you make a choice to be committed to something like attending church, prayer, reading the Bible, etc. This is good because it will instill certain disciplines in your life. However, the second form of accountability is much more powerful.
Direct Accountability is when you become accountable to someone with your life, your lifestyle, your relationships, your habits and attitudes. This requires someone to whom you open yourself. Both forms of accountability are good, but direct is much more powerful indirect.
Within direct accountability there will be different levels of effective relationships that you will have; mentors and disciple-makers.
A mentor will take you and train you in a life-skill, such as in a trade or in a relationship, marriage, parenting, etc.
A disciple-maker you will help you to become like Christ.
“for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” Romans 8:29
Direct accountability is a stronger form of accountability. But some people don’t want direct accountability and their reasons are either that they don’t want to be bothered, they have been hurt or have had their confidence betrayed or they have a low self-esteem or self-worth. Regardless of the reason, you will still need someone to help you identify the troubled areas of your life and overcome them. In order to be a disciple, you must be willing to have troubled areas of your life pointed out to you.
There are three types of people you need in your life:
Relationships are the key to effective disciple-making. There are two fundamental models of disciple-making from the ancient times: The Greek model and the Hebrew model. The Greek model is information-based and focuses on acquiring more knowledge. The emphasis is on what subject is being studied. The Hebrew model is relationship-based and emphasizes who youare studying under. Jesus made His disciples in the journey, according to the Hebrew model; relationship-based. He taught them life lessons as He experienced life with them. There is an impartation that comes through association, through walking and journeying with someone. In direct accountability there must be a greater desire, a greater determination and a greater discipline that you must pursue.
A great example of the long-term success of direct accountability can be found in Christian rehabilitation centers. They have the highest success rates throughout the world in getting addicts off of drugs and keeping them free. This success is attributed to direct accountability that the participants have with their counselors on a daily basis. After seasons of hard work, dedication, much time in the Word of God, prayer, and a preserved environment they are transformed from drug addicts to disciples of Jesus Christ. And many of the graduates of these programs go on to lead many to Christ and are empowered to disciple others through the same process. Everyone’s process is a little different, but there are certain principles that are the same. If you don’t embrace the process, you’ll never reach the promise. How can you recognize a disciple? They become a self-starter. They make God-centered choices. They have victory in areas of life that they did not previously have.
2) Basic System or Plan
A basic system is what you, as a disciple or as a disciple-maker set in place for the purpose of being held accountable. Without a basic system or a plan we can’t accurately measure success. How do you spend your time? How do you hold your time accountable? How often do you communicate? What scriptural principles are used as a foundation and a measuring gauge for success? What are your habits? In asking God to make us a habitation for His dwelling, we must understand that the word “habitation” takes its root from the word “habit”. So we need to ask ourselves, “Would God be pleased to dwell in our habits?” Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny! We must build our lives around time with God. We must also build our lives around committed people. This generation needs more committed people than gifted people. Gifted people will impress you. Only committed people will impact you.
Plans for transformation will involve time and can be costly. You will find that life transformation is much like the remodeling of a home: It takes longer than you planned. It costs more than you estimated. It is messier than you anticipated. It requires a greater determination than you expected. The results of having a plan for life-transformation and being held accountable to it will be of tremendous value to you and to those whose lives you touch.
3) The Grace of God
When all is said and done, we must come to the full realization that it is only by the grace of God that we have grown and matured in Him. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10) We must come to a place of complete dependency upon the grace of God, which not only unmerited favor, but it is the power of God to do the will of God.
4) The Conviction that You Can Change
We must believe that we can change. God gave us victory through the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. This victory gives us the power to change and to become more like Him. He believes that we can change and He showed us this through the development of the twelve disciples He selected to change the world through. The characteristics of the greatest disciples of Christ are the characteristics of strength, but the characteristics of brokenness. God can entrust to these people His power and His calling. Some of the characteristics of broken people include: