gave a tremendous challenge in the passage that was read
Being His disciple is no frivolous matter.
It requires a loyalty to Him above all other
relationships and even our own lives.
It requires bearing a cross and looking ahead with a
determination to finish faithfully wherever following Him
might lead. It
requires forsaking possessions.
Supposedly, we who bear the name Christian have done
these things, but our task as disciples does not stop here.
Jesus' last words recorded in Matthew give us another
challenge: “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.”
Jesus is saying, in
essence, “Because now that I have received all authority
over heaven and earth, you are to go to all nations and make
disciples; you will do this by preaching to them about God,
Christ, and the Spirit, baptizing them into those names, and
then teaching them to be obedient to all the commands that I
have given to you.”
What a tremendous vision: all authority, all nations,
all My commands, all centuries!
Our discipleship to Jesus includes persuading and
helping others to become His disciples.
This morning we want to look a little closer at this idea of
Looking at this concept might help us to examine our
own discipleship or relationship to Christ and it might help
us to better understand our mission in making other
There will be three parts to this lesson.
First of all, we want to notice some background and
then define what discipleship to Christ means.
Secondly, we want to see what actions this
Thirdly, the letters from the word “disciple” will be
used to show some of the more noteworthy aspects involved in
being a disciple of Christ.
Here's some brief background.
“A disciple was a learner.
A man was known as a disciple when he bound himself
to another in order to acquire his practical and theoretical
The word was sometimes nearly synonymous with the term
There was never a disciple without a master or teacher” (Deffinbaugh).
So, the disciple becomes a lifelong student of the
master or rabbi under whom he studied.
The disciple was one who followed, questioned,
discussed, and walked in the teacher's ways.
Someone has applied these concepts to Jesus and come
up with this definition of discipleship: “A disciple of
Rabbi Jesus is one who totally surrenders to Him and His way
of seeing and doing things.
As such, a disciple comes with a willing
desire to conform all aspects of his or her life to the
authoritative Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The central issue of being a disciple of Jesus is:
'Will I willingly surrender – submit for a lifetime - every
aspect of my life, including worldview [how I view reality],
paradigms [my ideas about reality], career, personality,
character, ethics, desires, motivations, values, family,
ego, sexuality and attitudes to the authority of Jesus and
His teachings?' ...
Jesus came to reveal further 'who God is and how God
does things;' thus, a disciple of Jesus is one who is always
asking Jesus, as revealed in Scripture, more about who God
is as well as God’s will and ways” (Greenwold).”
From this definition, we see that the relationship between
disciple and teacher or rabbi involved several actions.
A disciple was one who would willingly submit
his life to his teacher's commands, instructions,
directives, and interpretations.
The teacher, master, or rabbi was very much in
control of the disciple's life, thoughts, and outlook upon
It was not the place of the disciple to challenge the
master's instructions and directives.
The disciple submitted to the rabbi's commands and
Next, the disciple would memorize his
The disciple knew that his master's instructions,
directives, and sayings would help him to become skillful in
mastering a trade or interpreting a body of literature.
Such memorization was seen as both a duty and an
honor. Next, the
disciple would learn his teacher's way of working and
days gone by, people could often tell who a person had been
a disciple under because they could see the the teacher's
same mannerisms, same craftsmanship, and same argumentations
in those who were his disciples.
Learning the master's ways came through daily
association, observation, and implementation.
Another action of the disciple would be imitating
the teacher's life.
With such a close relationship and such a great
respect for the master or rabbi, his apprentice or disciple
would seek to imitate his life.
He sought to believe what he believed, to live as he
lived, to work as he worked.
Lastly, the disciple would be expected to progress
to the point that he became a master, a teacher, or a rabbi
himself who would then gather disciples under himself.
His lifelong learning would then be shared with those
who came to him as apprentices and disciples.
A disciple submits to his master's will, memorizes
his master's words, learns his master's ways, imitates his
master's life, and grows to the point that he becomes a
Now have these actions permeated our relationship
with Christ and do we teach others who are unbelievers that
such actions should be a part of their relationship with
Christ if they would be His disciple?
So often, we tend to think of discipleship as steps.
This is not necessarily wrong, but doesn't “five easy
steps” take away from the richness that is involved with a
And it also takes away from Christ.
One brother puts it this way: “With such an approach
to conversion, Jesus is rarely discussed except in terms of
His authority to command obedience to those saving 'steps.'
His glorious person and work are often placed in the
same category as the 'steps.'
In doing so, Christ is demoted.
Which is greater: Yosemite or Highway 120 leading to
it? ... Paul never preached 'steps,' but the Gospel.
tolic preaching gave center-stage to Jesus.
Coming to Christ is a staggering event” (Peek).
Now let's look quickly at some noteworthy aspects of
discipleship by using the letters of the word “disciple”.
The “D” stands for discipline.
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3ff: “You
therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ. No one
engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of
this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a
you hear that discipline there?
When you are a soldier, you discipline yourself to
keep focused on the battle and to please your commander.]
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is
not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
[Following the rules in your training takes
discipline doesn't it?]
The hardworking farmer must be the first to partake of the
[Being a good farmer also takes discipline and keeping
focused on all the variables that go into making a good
Discipline is needed to change our hearts.
You know, we have a great Bible reading program
going, and we have monthly prayer sheets.
These tools are really just crutches, and we hope
that these tools will help you to fall in love with reading
God's Word and talking with Him daily.
We hope that you read and pray because these actions
are becoming your heart's desire.
Do others see by our disciplined lives that we are
striving to honor the One that we call the Lord of our
Jesus made a difference in our lifestyle, our habits, our
speech, our entertainment, our use of leisure time, our
outlook on wealth, our relationships?
Discipleship involves discipline.
The “I” stands for intense brotherly love.
The apostle Paul admonishes: “Be kindly
affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor
giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).
The apostle John exhorts: “My little children,
let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in
truth” (1 John 3:18).
The apostle Peter affirms: “Since you have
purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit
in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently
with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Jesus Himself puts
it this way: “A new commandment I give you that you love
one another [now how can that be new when the old law
said to love one another?
Listen, here's how:]
as I have loved you
[there's what's new, we are love in the same way that Jesus
has loved], that you also love one another.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if
you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Discipleship usually occurred in the context of a
Someone has observed: “Christian love is the real me
connecting with the real you as we represent God to each
other,” but “many churches are characterized more by polite
distance than by the connection of hearts and souls in love”
are many positive signs of brotherly love in this
Let's build on this, and continue to be intentional in
creating an environment and an atmosphere where intense
brotherly love can flourish!
“As I have loved you” is the fervent standard
we must imitate.
Discipleship involves brotherly love.
The next letter “S” stands for sacrificial giving.
Our Master was the world's greatest giver!
He gave up His divinity to come this earth
He gave up His time to teach, to preach, and to heal
others (Matthew 4:23).
He gave of His modest means to help the poor (John
13:29). He gave
much time to training His disciples.
He gave His own blood to purchase and to justify us
(Acts 20:28; Romans 5:9).
He gave His word that He is preparing an eternal
abode (John 14:1-4).
Now if our Teacher or our Master was such a giver, then we
too should strive to imitate Him in our giving as well.
This includes giving our time, attention, and
affections for His cause.
But it also includes giving of our economic means to
support the work of the church.
Isn't it wonderful how our contributions help orphans
in Zambia, help missionaries in South Africa, help folks in
Ghana to have clean water, help the children's homes here in
our state, help the disaster relief team in Nashville, help
to support a hospital and preacher in India, help a Bible
India, and help with other good works right here in our own
more we give to help such works, the more good works we
could be adding.
Our missions committee is always getting letters
asking for help.
Your generous contributions are making a better world
in Christ's name!
Discipleship involves sacrificial giving.
The “C” stands for corporate worship.
What a joy to able to have the blessing of worshiping
word “church” actually means “assembly,” and to be the
church, we must meet.
A congregation may have many weaknesses, but if it
does not meet regularly, it won't survive.
When we assemble together for worship, there should be an
awareness that God is the audience, Christ in our midst, and
Holy Spirit is strengthening our inner being!
This is not a natural event; it is a supernatural
one! When we
meet, we become the visible manifestation of the redeemed
community for all people which Christ has created!
We are all united as His disciples, and we all long to give
praise and thanksgiving to Him for what He has done for us!
When we meet for corporate worship, we show our
separation from the world and encourage one another to be
salt, and light, and love in a world of confusion,
wickedness, and darkness!
In our corporate worship, we not only practice the
five authorized acts of worship: singing, praying,
preaching, giving, and eating he Lord's Supper, but we also
rejoice over: new birth, forgiveness, stronger faith,
spiritual growth, and fellowship!
There is nothing that can substitute for corporate
Discipleship involves corporate worship.
The next letter “I” stands for intimate family life.
Hebrews 13:4 states: “Marriage is honorable among
all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers
God will judge.” Sadly,
many in our culture have forgotten this truth, and divorce
has been hailed and broadcast as a necessary part of modern
Having an incredible marriage should be one of the greatest
aims of those who are disciples.
Doesn't a great marriage preach a loud sermon for
God's goodness and kindness and Christ's love for His bride,
Failing marriages damage the church since unbelievers see
that no real love or strength can be found there.
Shouldn't the lessons and joys that we experience in
corporate worship first be applied in the home?
Shouldn't Christian families be models of intimacy,
togetherness, and hospitality?
Are we helping each other as disciples to have better
homes? Are we
holding each other accountable in developing good family
Are we paying attention to body language, little comments,
and how parents are treating their children?
Do we treat our children as gifts from God who must
be trained and admonished in the Lord?
Do we help our children to see that Christ, His
church, His word, and His work of service to others, that
lives of faith, and that the hope of heaven are more
important than any other aspects or areas in our lives?
The apostle Paul exhorts us with these words:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the
love your wives, and do not be bitter towards them and do
not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this
is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:18-21).”
Discipleship involves intimate family life.
The letter “P” stand for passion for God, for Christ, and
for the Holy Spirit.
“Be imitators of God,” “Follow Me,” and “Do not
grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:1; John 21:19;
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of
God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”
(2 Corinthians 13:14).
One good brother wrote these admonitions:
“Disciples must be brought face to face with the Lord so
they can hear Him say—I want you to live a holy life because
I am a holy God. ... We are to love others in the same way
Jesus loves us.
There is nothing cheap about Christ's love.
.... The instruction 'Be filled with the Holy
Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]' was written to those who had
This was a call for them to grow in their faith, to mature”
bad passions must be replaced with good passions.
We must say “No” to our evil impulses and “Yes” to a
passionate relationship with God, His Son, and His Spirit.
Someone has observed: “Knowing God is more
adrenaline-producing than anything else on earth. ... The
deepest desire of the human soul is to touch the face of
God. ... Only the thrill of connecting with the Almighty
will be sufficient motivation in the long haul to keep us
from sin” (Hunt).
Are we helping each other to live more holy, loving,
and submissive lives and to go against the grain of our
Discipleship involves passion for God, for Christ, and for
the Holy Spirit.
The “L” stands for loving and serving others.
Jesus taught that after loving God, loving others was
the second great command of the law.
Our neighbor, according to Jesus' parable of the Good
Samaritan, is anyone who needs our help.
The apostle Paul told the brethren in Ephesus that
Christians are “God's workmanship, and we have been
created in Christ Jesus for good works,” and he also
told the brethren at Crete that Christ “gave Himself for
us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and
purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good
works” (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14).
Because Christ has blessed us so richly and was
Himself the perfect example of one who did good works to
serve others, we also want to imitate Him and be a people
who loves and serves others in His name.
An active congregation has little time to fight.
It's so wonderful to see this congregation feeding others in
Jesus' name, making repairs in Jesus' name, helping with
disasters in Jesus' name, and teaching others in Jesus' name
through the World Bible School materials and our House to
Do you see another way that we could serve others?
Share that with other members, and who knows, we
might just start trying to pull it off?
Discipleship involves loving and serving others in
The last letter “E” stands for evangelistic interest.
The authority of Jesus is behind His command to make
Are we opportunists when it comes to helping lost
when the jailed house rocked in Philippi how Paul saw it as
an opportunity to convert another?
He saw this opportunity to teach another about Jesus
as more important than his own escape and safety (Acts
Paul in a jail in Rome, and he's preaching to his guards
Have we learned how to present the Gospel in our
conversations in such a way that we are seen as reasonable
people and not religious fanatics?
Are we praying for the conversion of others?
“Prayer is as vital to evangelism as oxygen is to
Paul tried to persuade others that Jesus was the Messiah
You know, there's one religious group that takes time in
nearly every one of its assemblies to talk about how
effective their strategies are in reaching others.
That kind of talk hasn't been heard too much around
here. We must
be loving in our evangelism.
Someone has cleverly observed: “Love Won Another”
(with the second word being spelled W-O-N).
The story is told about three men who banded together
to convert Dan.
One took him to a ballgame, but never got around to asking
him about his soul.
Another took him fishing, but never mentioned
Another asked him to help work on a car, and said as he
hooked up the battery cable: “We need to be hooked up to a
Higher Source of Power too, don't we?”
And Dan replied, “Yes, I've been thinking about
transcendental meditation myself.”
The three friends felt discouraged and vowed that
they'd never turn evangelism into a game again but keep
being friends and let God do the rest. Unexpectedly, Dan
walked into the restaurant where the three men were and sat
down with them saying: “You know, the Good Lord has been
nice to give me friends like you.
Could you explain some more about what it means to be
“Love won another.”
Discipleship involves evangelistic interest.
Have you accepted the tremendous challenge of discipleship?
It still requires some hard decisions and actions.
Will you be a lifelong learner?
Have we Christians taken Jesus' command to make disciples
Does our discipleship have actions like submit, memorize,
learn, imitate, and progress?
Have we helped others to see that being a disciple
involves discipline, intense brotherly love, sacrificial
giving, corporate worship, intimate family life, passion for
God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, loving and serving others,
“A disciple of Rabbi Jesus is one who totally surrenders to
Him and His way of seeing and doing things.
As such, a disciple comes with a willing desire to
conform all aspects of his or her life to the authoritative
Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Will you become His disciple today or will you
confess your desire to be a better maker of disciples?
Let Jesus bless you today by making your need known!