We have just concluded our Trellis and Vine sermon series, which encourages every Hermon to proclaim the word, in prayerful dependence of the Spirit and perseverance in the task.
Here’s an article which I pray will reinforces our conviction for the mission to Glorify God by being and to making disciples of Christ Jesus!
A couple of observations about the word discipleship. The word discipleship never occurs in the Bible. The term is ambiguous in English. It can mean my discipleship, in the sense of my own pattern of following Jesus and trusting him and learning from him. That is my discipleship. It could mean that. Or it can mean my activity of helping others be disciples in that sense of learning from him, growing in him.
The second meaning — helping others — does have a verb in New Testament Greek: mathēteuō, to make disciples. It can mean preach the gospel so that people get converted to Christ and become Christians and, thus, disciples. For example, Acts 14:21 says, “When they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium.” So that “make disciples” is one Greek word there, and it means “get them converted to Jesus.” That is what it means.
Or it can mean the whole process of conversion, baptism, and teaching the ways of Jesus as it is used in Matthew 28:19–20: “Go therefore and make disciples.” And here is what he means. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
That is a very long process. That is like a lifetime of process. So get them converted. Baptize them. And then spend a lifetime teaching them to obey all that Jesus said. That is what the verb “disciple” in the New Testament would include.
Now where and how should that happen? That is what I think all the talk about discipleship is. It’s a fresh concern about how to bring people to Christ and grow them up into being what they ought to be as Christians or as followers of Jesus or as disciples. There is a lot of different words that people are using these days to describe “Christian.”
So how does that happen?
Well, the conversion of people from unbelievers to believers, Christians, disciples, should be happening in any and every situation. There is no single strategy. There is no limit to the ways a person can be told the good news of Jesus. So, “discipling” in that sense is as varied as there are ways of saying the gospel or living the gospel in front of people to draw them in.
As far as training Christians how to think and feel and act as a Christian — that is, discipling in the sense of growing them into more and more maturity — that happens in so many ways in the New Testament. Here is just a grocery list of possibilities:
Titus 2:4 — Older women are to train younger women.
Second Timothy 2:2 — Paul trained Timothy to train others to train others.
Ephesians 6:4 — Fathers are to train their children.
Matthew 28:20 — Missionaries are to teach the nations everything Jesus commanded.
Hebrews 3:13 — All Christians are to exhort each other every day to avoid sin and to stir each other up to love and good works (see also Hebrews 10:24–25).
First Peter 4:10 — All Christians are to use their gifts to serve others.
Acts 18:24–26 — Priscilla and Aquila, on the spur of the moment it seems, explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos.
And we could go on and on.
Every Christian should be helping unbelievers become believers by showing them Christ. That is making a disciple. And every Christian should be helping other believers grow to more and more maturity. That is making a disciple.
And every Christian should be seeking to get help for themselves from others to keep on growing. And that is also our discipleship. And every church should think through how all of these kinds of biblical disciple-making find expression in their corporate life.
Ps Luwin Wong
1 Piper, John, (2016, Jan 25). Making Disciples. Desiring God.