This past weekend, Dr. Wes Griffin, President of ILI, preached at a church in Atlanta. At the end of his message, someone came and personally told him she made the decision to give all of her life to Christ and become a committed Christian. This morning we celebrated the salvation of that person during our prayer time. Like her, scores of men and women around the world experienced Christ for the first time this past weekend. They are brand new brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The Next Step: Discipleship
Hopefully, these new believers will now be taught how to live as followers of Jesus Christ. A mature Christian will come alongside them and teach them to worship God, pray, study and obey scripture, and serve others. These are basic disciplines of a Christian faith that will deepen a new Christian’s intimacy with God and turn a believer into a disciple. We call this process discipleship.
Discipleship is the relational process of helping someone grow spiritually from childhood to maturity. This is done by building the principles of God’s Word into that person’s life so he or he is equipped to understand and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In this way, he or she will know how to respond to any situation with Christ-like attitude and actions.
An Ancient Practice
Did you know this process actually started 2,000 years ago? Consider these facts:
- Jesus called 12 men and called them “disciples.” For three years, he walked with them, taught them, served them, and modeled the Kingdom of God for them. Then he told them (minus one, of course) to go and “make disciples of all nations.”
- The Disciples followed Jesus’ example, walking with others, teaching them all they had learned. One of these men was Barnabas, who later became a leader in the Church.
- Barnabas met a young Saul of Tarsus, who had turned from a persecutor of Christians to a passionate preacher of the Gospel. Barnabas came alongside him, taught him what he had learned, traveled with him and had a great influence on the life of the great apostle.
- The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel and planted churches from Asia all the way to Europe. In each place, he made disciples, that is, taught believers what he had heard and learned. One of these was young Timothy, to whom Paul exhorted to “entrust (the teaching) to faithful men who can also teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).”
- Timothy and others continued making disciples who made disciples. New generations came and went, centuries and millennia passed, and in the recent past, someone led you and I to Christ and taught us all the things they had received before.
2,000 Years of Disciple-Making
Do you see how your conversion and discipleship traces back for 2,000, all the way to Jesus Himself? Now it is our turn. The next generation is waiting to hear the message of the Gospel and become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We have the responsibility of keeping the practice of discipleship going until He comes back to take us to Himself. The young woman of Atlanta, and countless others who found faith through the preaching of the Gospel this past weekend, are waiting for us to guide them through the process of becoming someone who knows Christ inwardly and is committed to living outwardly in love and obedience to Him – a disciple.