“ . . . If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
The mission of the church is to “make disciples.” And the church says: “Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . we hear that all the time!” Well, we hear it all the time because it is true, and it will remain true. In other words, it’s our story, and we’re stickin’ to it! But you might ask, “Why is it so important to be reminded of this mission over and over again?” The answer is: Because it defines who we are and what we are about. Church, we need to remember that we are not just an association of nice friendly people. We are a special people, a peculiar people, who have been called together by God Himself for a reason. We are a chosen people with a divine purpose, and that purpose is to “make disciples.” We know that this was Jesus’ instruction to His disciples (Matt. 28:19).
But what’s the big deal; what does it mean to be a “disciple” anyway? What exactly was Jesus sending His followers out to do? This question is answered for us as we look into the Scripture. In Jn 8:31 we read: “. . . If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” So, discipleship has something to do with teaching. By definition, a disciple is a learner, a pupil. In Judaism one was considered a disciple if he was committed to a particular teacher or a specific school of thought. So if one is to be Jesus’ disciple, he must be exclusively committed to Jesus’ teaching. Of course being a disciple of Christ involves more than intellectual agreement with His words or a declaration of allegiance to Christian philosophy. True biblical discipleship involves a change of behavior, a shift of purpose, and even a transformation of character. In Luke 6:40 Jesus says: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” The objective of Christian discipleship is not only to come into agreement with Christ but to actually become Christ-like. It should not surprise us that “those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29).
We must remember that:
1) Jesus called those who would be His disciples. He didn’t just wait around to see who would decide to follow Him. He selected them specifically and purposefully.
2) He trained them through His words and by His example. Jesus’ teaching was much closer to a lab than a lecture course. The disciple’s training was primarily “on the job.”
3) He equipped them to be faithful and able servants. He made sure that they had the mental and spiritual tools that they needed to do the job to which they had been called.
4) And then He sent them into the world to call others to discipleship and to equip them in the same manner that He had discipled them.
The process of disciple-making has not changed and neither has the need for it. Christ’s purpose remains. And His instruction to His present day disciples – to you and to me – is the same as it was to the original few: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
--- Pastor Keith Andrews