Pass It On

After purchasing five items on a friend’s baby registry, I noticed that only one had been duly noted as a registry item on the receipt, resulting in only one gift receipt.  I took the receipt back to Target and went to the customer service desk. The employee was uncertain of how to handle it so she made a quick call, grasped the instructions and hung up. What took place next was fascinating to me. She called a nearby associate over and explained what had brought me back to Target. Next, she explained to the associate the steps she was going through to properly adjust both my receipt and the gift registry. I commented to her that she was doing a great job of training others. Now I don’t know if that is a company practice or just the employee’s. Nevertheless, it is exactly the practice that every follower of Christ should take.

Paul instructed his “son in the faith” in 2 Timothy 2:2:

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

That is the mandate of Christ in a nutshell. We are to make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples ad infinitum. Each professing believer in Jesus Christ is expected to carry out that mandate…it’s not a preacher/missionary role…it’s a believer’s responsibility. So, what should be expected?

In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said:

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The phrase “make disciples” is the only command and the other action steps support the command. The first question that needs to be answered is “who is a disciple?” Simply put a disciple is one who represents the master in every way…actions, attitudes, mindset, etc. So, Jesus wanted his disciples to make those who would be living, breathing examples of Christ in his absence following his ascension to heaven. Fortunately, his Spirit is available to help us accomplish that task. In Act 1:8 he promised:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

So, making disciples under the power of the Holy Spirit is our mandate. How then do we do that? We are told to baptize them. Baptism signals the culmination of a radical enlistment into relationship with God through Christ Jesus. We might consider everything from our example of Christ-likeness that causes one to be attracted to Christ in the first place up to the point as which they profess Jesus as their Lord to be part of the initial disciple-making process. The saying, “You may be the only Bible some people read,” applies to the early stages of witnessing to others about our faith in Jesus. While we may call this evangelism (which literally means “good news-ing”), this is where discipleship begins. Timothy, while in the presence of Paul, repeatedly heard him tell the story of his own conversion and the way in which a person came to know Christ as his personal Savior. This is part of what Paul expected Timothy to “entrust to faithful men” as part of their witness.

However, once one comes into that personal relationship with Christ, the job of the disciple-maker is not finished. What parent abandons a child after delivering that new life? Certainly not one who cares and loves and understands the role of a parent. And while they may not know the full ramifications of parenthood, they still know the basics by what has been done for them by their own experiences of being raised by their parents/guardians. Now here is where we may get into trouble with the analogy because not all have had ideal examples, and their own parenting may be severely flawed and limited based upon their role models. However, here we look to the model of Christ, and there are an abundance of materials, foremost being the Bible, showing us how we should make disciples. The Gospels are full of examples of how Jesus taught his followers to obey his commands, so study carefully Christ’s example.

There is hardly a Christian who could not in some form or fashion take on a young believer and begin meeting with them to share what God has taught them from his Word about any number of disciplines of the Christian life (*see below for a list excerpted from Herb Hodges’ book Fox Fever). To not do so leaves many baby Christians to flounder for their own spiritual nourishment and growth.

Will you be one who gives a “bottle” of elementary teachings to a new born believer? Will you be the one who begins to spoon feed that young believer the solid food of God’s Word. Will you be the one who models to that growing believer what it takes to be a self-feeder by learning the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, fellowship, etc. Will you be the one to help them learn the “facts of life,” encouraging them in the multiplicative process of making disciples? Sometimes it is as simple as calling someone beside you after you have learned something new from the Lord and saying, “Look what I’ve just learned!”

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*Seven Categories of Truth to Teach a Disciple

Christian Themes Curriculum Development

  1. Devotional Category – training in the means and mechanics of a daily personal devotional life.
  • How to have an efficient and powerful Daily Quiet Time with God.
  • How to view the Bible structurally, how to read the Bible daily, how to study the Bible meaningfully, how to journal the Bible regularly, how to apply the Bible practically, how to teach the Bible captivatingly, how to incarnate the Bible personally, etc.
  • How to live a clean life, implementing the forgiveness of sins, daily cleansing, holiness of life, etc.
  1. Doctrinal Category – training in exploring and understanding the many doctrines of the Bible. “And the things that you have heard from me…, deposit exactly the same things into faithful men, who then must be enabled to teach OTHERS ALSO.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • The doctrine of God
  • The doctrine of creation
  • The doctrine of eternity
  • The doctrine of God’s eternal purpose
  • The doctrine of Satan
  • The doctrine of man
  • The doctrine of the Fall of man into sin
  • The doctrine of salvation, etc
  1. Dispositional Category – training the disciple to build a Christian disposition, “The fruit of the Spirit…self-control. (Galatians 5:23).
  • Personality types
  • Temperament types
  • Self-understanding for a Biblical standpoint
  • A Biblical understanding of personal self-worth
  • The taming of the tongue
  • Mastery over your personal disposition, including the conquest of such dispositional problems as anger, bitterness, negativism, frustration, depression, etc.
  1. Distress Category – training the disciple the lessons of facing and overcoming life’s distress factors.
  • The world as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • The flesh as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • The devil as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • Fear as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • Doubt as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • Temptation as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • The trials of life as a Christian’s perennial threat
  1. Domestic Category – training on the Biblical foundations for marriage, the family and home.
  • The original pattern for marriage and the home (Genesis 1:18-25)
  • A model for affection and intimacy in marriage (Song of Solomon 4)
  • The roles of the individuals in a marriage and a family (Ephesians 5:18-32)
  1. Dedicational Category – Teachings of how to begin and maintain complete, consistent dedication to Jesus Christ and His Lordship.
  • How to be a completely sold-out Christian, living steadily under the personal administration of Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life.
  • The true meaning of Christ-likeness and how to develop it in his life
  • How to fulfill the personal responsibility to grow steadily in the spiritual life.
  1. Directional Category – training to see the strategy of Jesus for being a disciple, for building disciples, for impacting the vast world of men through the disciple-making process and how to implement these things strategically in his life.
  • The local and global fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission
  • The imperatives of evangelism and soul-winning
  • Personal involvement (by many means) in total world impact
  • The building and sharing of God’s inclusive vision
  • The process of disciple-making (which generates multi-generational multiplication)
  • Jesus’ training process with the Twelve Apostles – a s a strategic model of the training process we are to follow with our disciples.
  • All of the above – local and global fulfillment of the Great Commission… – all of these formulated into practical strategies and practically implemented in the lives of Christians.
  • Obviously, dependence upon the Holy Spirit and His empowerment in every area of life and performance is crucial for the implementation of these things.

Hodges, Herb, Fox Fever, Spiritual Life Ministries, p ii. (This is a great “how to” book available from the author HERE. Fox Fever is Herb’s sequel to Tally Ho the Fox, which lays out the foundational principles for making disciples, while Fox Fever relates to the practical side of disciple-making. Both are valuable resources.)

Me, Disciple Someone?

Christ’s mandate—to make disciples—is the theme of this week’s Radical study. Although Peter’s preaching resulted in the conversion of 3,000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), Christ’s strategy for reaching the world with his small band of people was NOT mass evangelism. Instead, Jesus clearly gave them the mandate for impacting the world through the process of making disciples:

18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of[ all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20, HCSB)

Rather than pursue modern “church growth” techniques and church marketing, we must return to the Biblical standard of discipleship—that is, the relational transmission of God’s truth in action from one person to another. As Jesus spoke of being the intermediary between the Father and man, He told His disciples to “learn from Me” (Matthew 11:29). Likewise, Jesus has entrusted to us an intermediary role between Him and new believers in order to:

…qualitatively trigger the process of total Christian learning / incarnating / living / testifying / soul-winning / teaching / disciple-building into the life of a new Christian. [1]

This should result in the 2 Timothy 2:2 reproductive pattern; from Paul to Timothy to faithful men and to others also. We see in that passage four generations of multiplying, Truth-transferring, world-impacting Christians.

Who is following you as you are following Christ? Into whom are you pouring your spiritual knowledge and passion, so that they will pour that truth into another? Put another way, do you have spiritual children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

The task may seem daunting. So, how do we go about that task? We begin with prayer. Even Jesus prayed to the Father before choosing His disciples. Ask God to lead you in the selection process. [2] He may lead you to someone who is already a believer, but immature. His leadership, however, may be to the “unbeliever,” with whom you can begin spiritual dialogues –  for the process starts at pre-conversion in order that they can be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Then, as the Great Commission continues, you continue to teach them all that Christ commanded. As you have developed a rapport with the individual you have led to Christ, it is logical that you continue the process of leading them to maturity.

Where do you find the resources to disciple someone? Every believer should have a level of knowledge necessary to lead someone through the rudimentary elements of the gospel, along with your personal testimony of faith in Christ, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to convict a person of sin and draw him to repentance and salvation. Anyone, who has been in the fellowship of the church for any length of time, should have an incredible amount of resources from the Word of God at their finger tips or in their memory banks, allowing them to disciple someone else from the point of salvation to the level of a maturing, reproductive believer.

Herb Hodges suggests the following discipleship themes to accomplish this process:

  1. devotional: the means and mechanics of a daily, personal devotional life;
  2. doctrinal: the basic teachings of the Bible on things like God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, sin, salvation, etc.;
  3. dispositional: how to live a life of self-control in attitude and behavior;
  4. distress: how to face and overcome life’s difficulties;
  5. domestic: the biblical teachings on marriage and family;
  6. dedicational: living under the Lordship of Christ and His purposes;
  7. directional: seeing the strategy for being and building disciples. [3]

If you will begin to think in these categories, you can easily file your Sunday School / Bible study lessons and preaching notes into these themes and have ready resources to lead someone to become a follower of Christ.

This, of course, is only meant to “whet your appetite” and is in no way a thorough treatise on disciple-making. However, I hope that you will seriously weigh your responsibility and become faithful to this mandate!

YOUR RESPONSE:

  • Do you view the Great Commission as the responsibility of all believers or a select group of followers of Christ (ie: missionaries, pastors, etc.)?
  • What fears or inadequacies keep you from taking on the role of a disciple-maker?
  • If you are a disciple-maker, what words of encouragement would YOU give someone who is hesitant to take on the role? What resources have been helpful to you?

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1  Hodges, Herb, Fox Fever, Spiritual Life Ministries, p ii. (This is a great “how to” book available from the author HEREFox Fever is Herb’s sequel to Tally Ho the Fox, which lays out the foundational principles for making disciples, while Fox Fever relates to the practical side of disciple-making. Both are valuable resources.)

2  The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman is a “must read” as a classic examination of Jesus’ process of making disciples. It highlights eight areas of disciple-making: selection, association, consecration, impartation, demonstration, delegation, supervision and reproduction.

3  Hodges, pp 147-160.