Sunday, August 01, 2004

What does it mean to be a disciple?

Jesus commanded his disciples to "go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that he commanded" (Matthew 28:19-20, my paraphrase). This is a non-negotiable for Christ's church.

Four components comprise Christ's command: (1) His followers are to go everywhere on the globe and to all people groups. Race, culture, and background make no difference, the message of Christ's kingdom is to be shared without hesitation to all people. (2) His disciples are to make disciples. To make disciples, the church must not only go and win people to the kingdom, they must lead those who respond to become fully committed followers of Jesus. Those who choose Jesus must learn about the Lord and his ways so that each person can live their lives as Jesus would. (3) His followers are to baptize (immerse) those who believe Jesus is God's Son so their sins can be remitted (Acts 2:38) and they can become part of Christ's worldwide fellowship. Baptism is not an optional extra for believers who truly trust Jesus and desire to be obedient to his Word. (4) His followers, in the process of making disciples, must teach those who begin a new life with Jesus all that Jesus commanded. This would include not only the teachings from Jesus' own lips, but the teaching of the inspired apostles as well.

Discipleship is the lifestyle Christ-followers choose for themselves as a result of their commitment to Jesus. Many congregations are effective at winning but ineffective at mentoring or teaching new believers to do all Jesus commanded.

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