As believers, we can get caught up in the many activities that our congregation may have. But are there true disciple being made? "And 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." (Matthew 28:18-20) A disciple is a follower of Jesus and His teachings. However, the word disciple also means, a pupil, student, adherent, learner and apprentice. With this in mind, let's look at the command that Jesus gave His disciples concerning making other disciples.
The reality is, this is not a suggestion or an option. Jesus is giving a command. He is saying, go make pupils, students, adherents, learners and or apprentices to follow Me and my teachings. Notice, that Jesus is talking to His pupils, students, adherents, learners and or apprentices, disciples. He tells them to go and do what He had taught them and emulated before them. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus puts it this way, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18) Again, this is a command. Every one who believes, is to emulate Jesus and His earthly ministry.
The apostle Paul said, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1) This is a key to understanding the importance of discipleship for today because it falls in line with what Jesus spoke to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. Paul is telling the church, to follow him as an example of one who is following Christ. He is saying that he has made Christ his example and model in all things, and if the church were to follow Christ as he follows Him, they will not fall into error. Notice that Paul is only using himself as an example of one sold out to Christ and that if believers were to follow his example, they will never go astray. This is one of the reason why discipleship is so important, especially in the church today.
We must also note that not all of Paul's letters were written to a church, but also to individuals that he personally discipled, like Timothy and Titus. Paul is not using his position as a means of control or abuse, but he is very personal in his approach to them, "To Timothy, a true son in the faith:" (1 Timothy 1:2), "To Titus, a true son in our common faith:" (Titus 1:4) Paul gives these men personal counsel which in a sense demands these two men to keep moving towards Christ. He also gives them (us) some of the best information on church structure and order. Again, the focus is on intimating Christ not Paul.
For the church to become the "Bride" without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, it must become a church of faith, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Not some general faith where we say we believe God's Word and never act on it, but a faith that produces fruit and pleases God. The church must become a place where making disciples is a way of life and that it is more important than all the other programs and activities. Jesus tells His disciples (us), "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
The day of "Go, make disciples" is upon us and if we truly want to see revival, this is the way it will happen, obeying Jesus' command. We see this clearly in the ministry of the early church, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers...many wonders and signs were done through the apostles...And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-43, 47) "And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women." (Acts 5:14) "Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number..." (Acts 6:1) "The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples
continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the
priests were becoming obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7) "Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied." (Acts 9:31) "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord." (Acts 11:21) "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord." (Acts 11:24) "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily." (Acts 16:5)
Seeing these wonderful example of church growth, or better yet, kingdom expansion, through discipleship is exciting. Let us all latch onto the commandment of the Lord and Go, make disciples. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all...