Dr Wole Gbogboade
What is Discipleship?
The word Discipleship is from the word Disciple. Disciple is from the Greek word “mathetes” which means follower or learner. In English, Discipleship is from the word “Discipline.” A disciple therefore, is known to be a disciplined follower or learner.
“And he said to them all, If any any will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke. 9:23-26
When the Lord called His followers His disciples, He meant just the exact meaning of the word. He never called crowd following Him disciples at any time. His disciples were called out and chosen to follow Him after much prayer. Luke 6:12-16.
Who is a Disciple of Christ?
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
A disciple of Jesus Christ is a Believer who desires to live a crucified life in Christ.
To become a disciple, you must be born-again since it is unwise to disciple an unwilling Believer not to talk of an unbeliever. Such people are simply not ready yet. There should be conversion evidence on the part of a Christian before he/she can be discipled.
1- Love for God and the brethren. Mark 12:29-31.
“A new commandment I give unto you, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34-35
2- Word & Prayer: There should be hunger and thirst for God exhibited by the Believer who is to be discipled. He/she must be willing to come out of the crowd and to separate himself/herself to Christ. Matt. 5:6, Matt. 11:28-30.
3- A disciple is willing to invest time in pursuit of God and His kingdom. He/she is willing to sacrifice or pay the price of being a disciple. Phil. 3:1-10.
4- Though, he/she might have some socio-cultural or socio-economic status background, yet he is ready to jettison that for the truth of God’s word to rule over his/her life. 2Cor. 6:14-7:1.
5- Willingness to live a life of sacrifice for Christ. Rom. 12:1-3.
6- Willingness to serve. Rom.12:11, Col. 3:23-24.
7- Soul winning: A disciple is not ashamed to preach the gospel. Mark 16:15-20. Those who know Him will strive to make Him known to others. Lifestyle evangelism is when your life also preaches the gospel through Christ-likeness in your character.
8- Giving: First, to give yourself then, your substance in tithe, offering, seed-sowing, supporting missions, the needy/poor and hospitality. 2Cor.8:1-5, 2Thess 2:9.
HOW TO MAKE EFFECTIVE DISCIPLES
Effective discipling is largely a relational work. This is also the pattern of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1- Prayer: He called His disciples to Himself and opened His life to them because they were willing to go extra mile with Him. Matt. 5:1-2, John 6:68-69. He prayed before He went for those He called. Luke 6:12-16.
2- Word: He taught them. The Lord taught them life in the kingdom as opposed to life in the world. Matt. 5-7. (Beatitudes or beauty of attitude in the kingdom). He taught them on many issues that pertain to life and godliness.
3- Then, He took them out and they could see that His life inside and outside is the same. Matt. 8-9. He also gave them some tests on the journey of faith. Mark 4:35-41.
4- He sent them out to practice what they had learned and seen in Him. Matt 10, Luke 10; Phil 4:9, Col. 2:6-7, Acts 2: 42-47.
5- He took them in again and taught them more. The Lord spent quality time teaching and training the disciples. He spent about 80% with His disciples and about 20% with crowd. The opposite is happening today and we need to go back to His pattern. He tested them again on faith, perseverance/endurance, self-denial etc as He taught them. Matt 14:21-36, Matt 16:13-20.
6- He left them after the last supper only to be with them again after resurrection. He gave them final instructions to continue in what they have heard, seen and handled of the word of life by the help of the Holy Spirit. Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8.
7- The ministry of the Holy Spirit is vital in discipleship. John 6:63, John 16:8-14.
For a start, to make effective disciples, you need to pray that the Lord will lead you to believers that are ready to be discipled. Or He should lead some of them to you.
You start to meet weekly or twice a week. You may start with one or two or a small group.
Pray for them, pray with them one-on-one with counseling to know their level and/or spiritual need.
Develop a curriculum and start to teach them. Prov.22:6 (NIV). Ask questions and allow them to ask you questions as well. Make it informal as much as possible.
Then, take them out so they may see you evangelize, exhort, counsel or interact with people out there.
Send them and let them report back.
Take them in and train the more until you observe they are doing it willingly by the help of the Holy Spirit. This may take like 2-3 years.
You may release them yet, you still maintain relationship with them just so they can always come as individual to share updates with you and receive counsel. You may still travel together as the need arises or share fellowship.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRUE DISCIPLE: 2Tim. 2:4-6
A good disciple is likened to a Soldier v. 4
A good disciple is likened to an Athlete v.5
A good disciple is likened to a Farmer v.6
Common to all these are: discipline, training, loyal or obedient, focus, observing the rules, determination, expectation or goal etc.
Ask yourself question on each e.g. “am I disciplined?” “Am I loyal or obedient to my pastor, leader or God?” etc.
Be sincere to yourself. If yes, thick it right, if no then mark yourself wrong or half the mark as the case may be. Then begin to pray. After prayer, make conscious effort to work on anyone you are low and improve on the one you are doing well.
Prove of Discipleship is to do or practice the word and develop Christ-like character:
“And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” Luke 8:20-21
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
Effective discipleship is word based and lifestyle empowered by the Holy Spirit and the love of God. 1 Cor.16: 14.
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