Multiply: The Command to Make Disciples

So how did the first week go for you?  Did you learn anything new about what a disciple is?  Are you renewing your efforts to be like the Rabbi?  We learned that we are commanded to be a follower of Christ.  This week we learn about another command.  Not only are we commanded to BE a disciple, we are also commanded to disciple others.  Don’t forget to follow along: https://www.multiplymovement.com/material.

Part 1: Living as a Disciple Maker: 2: The Command to Make Disciples

Imagine you had been waiting all your life for a promised Messiah who would rescue your people from affliction and rule forever.  You had so many expectations of the power and wonder and strength of this Messiah, the Savior of the Jews.  And then… you met Jesus. “But He never quite fit anyone’s expectations of what the Messiah would do or say” (27).  

The disciples followed Jesus day after day to place after place, through hardships and ridicule.  They followed him to the end.  And then… he died.  Along with all their hopes, all their dreams.  Can you imagine the grief? The loss? Not only did they lose a beloved friend, they lost the Savior of their people, the hope of deliverance by God.

And suddenly and few days later, He was alive! In their midst once again.  His instruction to them wasn’t quite finished.  He had one more command. “Go. Go and make disciples.”  If someone came back from the dead to give you one more instruction, one more warning, how would you react?

Discussion Question #1

Stop for a minute and read Matthew 28. Try to place yourself in the disciples’ shoes as they witnessed these things and heard these words from Jesus.  How do you think you would have reacted?

The Great Commission and the Church

“Many read [Jesus’s command] as if they were meant to inspire pastors or missionaries on their way out to the mission field… But have you ever considered that maybe Jesus’s command is meant for you?” (29). When we read the rest of the New Testament we see much evidence of the early church carrying out this very command, bring Jesus to the nations, disciples making disciples.  So why does there seem to be so little disciple making within today’s church? “Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first century church to do something different?” (30).

Discussion Question #2

Assess your church experience in the light of Jesus’s command to make disciples.  Would you say that your church is characterized by disciple making? Why or why not?

More Than a Program

So if we are commanded to make disciples, what does that look like?  It’s not just a program that you can sign up at church, attend a couple of weeks and then check it off your list.  “A disciple is a disciple maker” (31, emphasis added). There are three parts to the “Great Commission”.

1) Go

This implies action.  You can’t sit still and expect people to just come to you.  You have to live Christ.  Follow Christ.  Teach others to do the same.

2) Baptize People

There are differing opinions today about whether or not baptism is necessary.  “But in the early days of the church, baptism was huge. Baptism was an unmistakable act that marked a person as a follower of Jesus Christ. As Jesus died and was buried in earth, so a Christian is plunged beneath the surface of the water.  As Jesus emerged from the tomb in a resurrected body, so a Christian comes out of the waters of baptism a a new creation. When first-century Christians took this step of identifying themselves with the death and resurrection of Jesus, they were publicly declaring their allegiance to Christ” (31, emphasis added).  

Discussion Question #3

Have you identified yourself with Jesus through being baptized? If so, why do you think this was an important step for you to take? If not, what is holding you back from being baptized?

3) Teach People to Obey Everything Jesus Commanded

Teaching people to become disciples is an enormous task.  “Realistically, this will require a lifetime of devotion to studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around us” (32).  While this may sound daunting, it isn’t as bad as it sounds.  I love bible study and I hope you do to, because it is an occupation that will last you a lifetime.  The more we study, the more we draw closer to God, and the more we will want to share with others the amazingness of the gospel.  I love to tell people about God.  It’s a natural outpouring of a close, intimate relationship with God.  And we are never really “done”.  There is always more to learn, and more to share.  We also never “finish” the disciple-making process.  Even when you feel the one your are discipling is ready to go make disciples themselves, the relationship between you does not end there.  You can continue to strengthen one another for years to come.

Even though making disciples isn’t a difficult task to understand, it can cost us much. Jesus said:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, butI chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20 NASB).

By sharing Jesus’ message, sometimes we are rejected right along with it.

Discussion Question #4

Would you say that you are ready to commit yourself to studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around you? Why or why not?

Equipped to Do the Work of Ministry

Did you know that it isn’t just your evangelist/pastor/elders/etc’s job to make disciples? Biblically, it is their job to equip the saints to make disciples:

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children,tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16 NASB).

The ESV says “to equip the saints for the work of ministry”. “Paul saw the church as a community of redeemed people in which each person is actively involved in doing the work of ministry… the pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister” (34).

Sound like a scary task?  Don’t worry, God has provided for you.  We all have gifts that God has given to us to do the work He has prepared for us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10 NASB).

Discussion Question #5

What excuses ten to keep you from following Jesus’s command to make disciples? What do you need to do in order to move past these excuses?

Taking the First Step

As you take your first step as a disciple maker, you start to look at the people in your life differently.  God has placed each and every person in your life for a reason.  Maybe there is someone in your life right now that you can approach in the effort to make a disciple for Jesus.

Discussion Question #6

Whom has God placed in your life right now that you can begin making into a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Working Together to Make Disciples

Even though you have been called to make disciples for Christ and it seems like this big huge task, you don’t have to do it alone.  “God wants you to view the other Christians in your life as partners in ministry” (37). Now it’s time to look at the people in your life again, but in a different lens.  Instead of looking for who you might disciple, it’s time to look at who might help you disciple others as well as who you might help as they, in turn, disciple others.  We were all made to help each other.

Discussion Question #7

Whom has God placed in your life for you to partner with in making disciples?

Discussion Question #8

Spend some time praying that God will make you into a committed and effective disciple maker.  Confess any feelings of unpreparedness and insecurity.  Ask Him to empower you for the ministry He is calling you to.  Ask Him to lead you to the right people to partner with and the right people to begin discipling.

Thanks for joining me this week! I pray that God will bless you this week and guide you to the people you may disciple as well as those who will strengthen you on your journey. 🙂

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Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

What is a Disciple?

I am just beginning a new study myself called Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. It is study material to teach yourself how to be a true disciple of Christ and then take that information and use it to teach others to become disciples so they can teach others, and so on, hence the name “Multiply”. I thought it would be helpful and interesting to have others along for this journey, so I am sharing it online. I pray that we will all learn together and be encouraged by each other.

We are getting started this week into our study: Multiply.  We are going to start with Part 1: Living as a Disciple Maker: Session 1: What is a Disciple? Remember, all material for this study can be found at https://www.multiplymovement.com/, whether you want to read along or be read to. Since I am more or less leading the study, I will be mostly summarizing the chapters as we go along and providing the follow-up questions for discussion. If you are interested in more information, please, by all means, read the study with me. From what I’ve read so far, it is promising to be a good one.

The first chapter of Multiply starts at the beginning: “What IS a Disciple?” As you can guess, knowing what a disciple is is an important step in becoming one and leading others to become one. Imagine being one of the first disciples of Jesus when He said “Follow me”. Do you think they had any idea about what they were getting themselves into? Do any of us REALLY know what we are getting ourselves into when we make the commitment to be a disciple?

So what is a disciple anyway? In Multiply, it is defined as a student or apprentice. “Basically, a disciple is a follower, but only if we take the term ‘follower’ literally. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is as simple as obeying His call to follow” (16). We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to follow His example exactly, to become like the Rabbi. “It’s impossible to be a disciple or a follower of someone and not end up like that person. Jesus said, ‘A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher’ (Luke 6:40). That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process” (16).

Discussion question #1:

“Up to this point in your life, would you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ? Why do you say that? Do you see evidence of your faith as described in Luke 6:40?

How Do I Become a Disciple?

Now that we know what a disciple is, how do we become one? The first message that Jesus proclaimed was found in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. What does that mean? In Multiply, the authors offer this analogy: If someone told you that a king was coming to establish a kingdom in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you do all you can to make sure you were in good standing with the king so that you did not have to fight this king? Jesus tells us that the way we prepare for the coming of our King is that we repent.

How do we repent? “The word ‘repent’ means ‘to turn’. It has the idea of changing directions and heading the opposite way. It involves action” (18). We need to completely change our way of thinking. Romans 3:23 tells us why we all need to repent: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all have sinned. We all deserve death (Rom. 6:23). And now for one of my favorite phrases in the Bible, “But God…”. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The way we avoid the death penalty is belief in Christ, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Even if we repent and believe we are not “earning” our salvation. “Part of our repentance is to turn from believing that there’s anything we can do to save ourselves—for everything was accomplished by Jesus Christ” (19).

Discussion Question #2:

Read Ephesians 2 carefully and take some time to consider the truths it presents. Do you trust in the death of Christ for your salvation? Do you ever struggle with believing you need to do something to save yourself?

The Lord of Grace

We need need to understand that our salvation has nothing to do with how “good” we are.“Salvation is all about the grace of God. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to save yourself or earn God’s favor… it is the gift of God” (20). All salvation requires of us is that we have faith in Christ, we have to believe that He is Who He says He is. Part of this means believing that He is Lord. Do you really believe that He is your Lord, that He owns you and you actually belong to Him? If Jesus Christ is your Lord, than your life belongs to Him. He is the One that gets to plan what you do for the rest of your life.

Discussion Question #3:

Evaluate your approach to following Jesus. Would you say that you view Jesus as your Lord, Master, and Owner? Why or why not?

It All Comes Down to Love

Obeying and following Christ is essentially about loving and enjoying God. How do we love God? Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 1 John 3:16 tells us, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”. We have to understand that love for God and obedience for Christ cannot be separated. You cannot have one without the other.

Discussion Question #4:

As you look at your life, how would you say that your love for God is shown in your actions? (If you’re having trouble coming up with an answer, take some time to think through some changes you may need to make in your lifestyle.)

Count the Cost

Before you make the commitment to become a disciple of Christ, you need to know how much it costs. Please read Luke 14:25-33, slowly and carefully. Imagine that Jesus is speaking directly to you. After you have read, you can answer the remaining discussion questions.

Discussion Question #5:

If you choose to obey Jesus’s call to follow, what might it cost you? (Avoid being vague. If following Jesus would cost you specific possessions, comforts, or relationships, list them.)

Discussion Question #6:

What might hold you back from following Jesus at this point? Are you willing to let go of these things if necessary?

Discussion Question #7:

Before you end this session, spend some time in prayer. Ask God to work in your heart and prepare you for what is ahead. You don’t need to have all the answers or know specifically how God will use you. He simply calls you to follow wherever He might lead. As you pray, be honest about your doubts, hesitations, and fears. Ask Him to give you the strength to proceed and follow Him no matter what the cost. In other words, place your faith in Him.

This is a great start to our study. I hope you will continue to follow along in this study and are as excited as I am to press on. Feel free to post your answers to the discussion questions or any other thoughts you may have. We are here for each other.