Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is Discipleship? Part 2 - Who is a disciple? Is being a disciple tied to being a Christian?

How often have your heard the call of Matthew 28:19­­-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” used as an encouragement to GO, and evangelize some lost nation? But, is this the only thing Christ was calling His people to?

If this is truly the way that Jesus was describing the work of the church this brings up important questions for our discussion of who is a disciple?  Is it only the new believer that needs discipleship? Or, do all believers need to be discipled? This truly strikes at the core of the question of this blog series, What is Discipleship.

So lets begin by asking the question, Who is a Disciple?

In the most basic of terms anyone who has been called by Christ, is committed to follow Christ, and who fellowships with Christ and His Church is a disciple. So as I pointed out in my last post anyone who is a believer in Christ is a disciple.

Now I can hear your objections, “Wait a second, I have been walking with Christ for the last 10 years! I do not need to be discipled! I should be the one discipling.” Well maybe you would not go that far for fear of me calling you, but you get the point.

In some cases I would agree, you ought to be discipling! But, you should also look for ways in which you can be discipled. If, as I will argue in a later post, discipleship mean’s “forsaking everything to follow Christ”[1] and growing in our love, knowledge and obedience to Christ then we as followers of Christ need help along the way.

It doesn’t matter if you have been walking with God for 5 minutes or 50 years you still are in need of training and growing in love, knowledge and obedience to Christ. So as we follow Christ’s command in Matthew 9:9 where he says, “Follow me.” God gives us one another to assist us in our growth.

Now lets move to the second question: Is being a disciple tied to being a Christian?

Once again I would have to answer in the affirmative. I think that this is a large part of what Christ was saying in Matthew 28. He is saying to go and as we see people come to Christ we are not to leave them in spiritual infancy we are to train them up in righteousness. James Boice says this, “All this is to say that discipleship is not simply a door to be entered but a path to be followed and that the disciple proves the validity of his discipleship by following that path to the very end.”[2] The Christian life is a life that is characterized by being discipled and discipling, and we would do well not to turn our backs on one of the most important ways that God has given us to grow in Him

So, will you follow Christ? Will you find someone who can disciple you and hold you accountable?  ‘“The Master is going before you. He is looking back at you with a most compelling gaze. He is saying, “Come!” He is commanding, “Follow me!”’[3]

[1] Boice, James Montgomery, Christ’s Call to Discipleship p 13
[2] ibid. p 22
[3] ibid. p 23