First, what does it mean to be a disciple? In the Bible, the word for disciple literally means “pupil” or “learner.” When applied to the early Christians, it came to mean someone who declared a personal allegiance to the teachings and person of Jesus. The life of a disciple revolves around Jesus. Here’s a good working definition: A disciple is someone called to walk with Christ, equipped to live like Christ, and sent to work for Christ. Calling, equipping, sending. Let’s look at these three aspects of a disciple’s life.
A Disciple Is Called To Walk With Christ I grew up in a “Christian home” that did not know Christ. We did not reject the gospel; we never heard it. Our church was focused on other things. In my early 20s, though, my soon-to-be wife, Patsy, explained the gospel of Jesus to me, and I soon embraced Christ as my Lord and Savior.There are 108,000,000 men in America 15 years of age and older. Regrettably, 66,000,000 of these men have made no profession of faith in Christ. That’s sad because many of them (like me) would gladly receive Christ if engaged in a credible way. What’s even sadder, though, is how many men think they have tried Christianity, found it wanting, and rejected it, when in fact they have never properly understood it.First and foremost, a disciple is someone who has believed in Jesus—his life, work, death, and resurrection. The first task of making disciples is evangelism—to call men to walk with Christ by grace through faith.
A Disciple Is Equipped To Live Like Christ Picture yourself as the president of a 100 person law firm. For years you have recruited lawyers, but then left them on their own. Without guidance and training, they have done more harm than good. Unresolved cases have piled up, other law firms consider your firm an embarrassment, and the public thinks you are incompetent. Suppose you go to your board of directors and ask to hire another 20 lawyers. They would say: “Are you nuts? You haven’t trained the lawyers we have. Why would we let you hire more? We have a terrible reputation. In fact, several young people who interned with us have quit the law. You’re fired!”A lot of people who reject Christianity see Christians and say: “If that’s what it means to be a Christian, then I want no part of it.” Isn’t that a criticism too dangerous to leave unanswered? It may do more harm than good to invite a man to become a Christian if we have no plan to help him truly know and follow Christ. When we don’t disciple (train and equip) a man who professes Christ, he will almost always become lukewarm in faith, worldly in behavior, and hypocritical in witness. The second task of making disciples is teaching—to equip them to live like Christ.
A Disciple Is Sent to Work for Christ Why do we equip men to live like Christ? So they can enjoy Christ by knowing Him better, but also “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus prayed, “Father, as you have sent me, so I am sending them” (John 20:21).Every man wants to give his life to a cause, to make a difference, to do something with his life. When we disciple a man, he will eventually want to make that difference for the glory of God: to “bear much fruit” and do “good works that will last” (John 15:8,16).Once a man has been with Christ, experienced the joy of His grace, the warmth of His love, the cleansing of His forgiveness, and the indwelling of His Spirit, he inevitably comes to a point when he can no longer be happy unless he is serving the Lord.Evangelism, teaching, service … these are the “trinity” of making disciples. Now let’s look at
some methods to actually make disciples.
Dr. Patrick Morley, business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world. © 2002. Patrick Morley. All rights reserved.
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