CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIPPREAMBLEThere is a very great anomaly in the church today. Many a Christian live their lives as though they haveno master to whom they are accountable. Neither do our lifestyles and ambitions bear any semblance ofhevenly mandate that characterised the earthly life of our saviour Jesus,whom we profess to follow. Thedearth of spiritual depth and quality of life, which is prevalent in our midst, is not native to the gospelmessage,which the saints of old proclaimed and lived by. As the rain of the final harvest is beginning tofall, large numbers of souls are beginning to troop into churches, with great admiration for Jesus. Theresult is that there is now so much excitement amongst us that we have all lost grip of the central themeof the commission, which is, Making Disciples. Yet, that is supposed to be the great essential of thechurches today Church’s evangelistic endeavour in every nation and in every generation. Many in ourChurches today are anything else but disciples. [i.e. conformed followers of the Lord Jesus]. They aremore of his admirers.Yet the most disturbing of this subtle spiritual desilation is the extent to which the strategic leadershipof the Church has been infiltrated and infested. Many a shepherd of God’s flock today are consciouslyand progressively down-playing those ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus,and in their stead boldly promoting humanphilosophical easy-believism and spectacular religious fanfares that are alien to the traditions of ourfaith. Success in ministry is now presumed to be dependent on the degree of one’s force of personality,commercial expertise, religious showmanship and proficiency in fortune-telling, with little or no regardfor integrity of life and spiritual discpline derived from the minister’s daily submission unto the authorityof Christ. The result is that the membership of the Church is not discipled to conform to the likeness ofthe Saviour who has called us. Moreover, there is no conscious and concerted effort to strategically andselectively train the membership in spiritually and service according to the biblical principle of successivetransfer. (2 Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:11-16)And so our congregations are composed mainly of spiritual babies that are ever crying for blessings andmiracles; easily excited at nothing, and never pressing on to apprehend the reality of our high calling,inspite of their number of years in the Lord.As a candidate disciple, you owe it a duty to yourself, therefore, to submit to this life-training underGod, pressing on steadily by faith until something tangible and eternal robs upon your spirit and soul.WHO IS A DISCIPLEA disciple is defined as a follower of any great teacher. The Advanced Learners Dictionary of CurrentEnglish defined disciple as a follower of any leader of religious thought, art, learning etc;In light of the scripture,a disciple is : • One who is born of the Spirit. John 3:1-7; 1Cor.2:13-15 • A follower (learner, student, apprentice) of Christ. Luke 6:40
• One who willingly submits to the Lordship (Yoke) of Christ. Matt.11:28-30• One whose lifestyle, ideas, programmes and pursuits are being constantly inspired and moderated by the words of Jesus. John 8:31-32.• One who believes in the wisdom, love and ability of the Master. Job 13:15; 19:25-27; Rom.8:28• One who loves the master supremely. 1 Chron11:15-19; Acts 4:12-20, Lk.14: 26. Self love is one of the stubbornest hindrances to discipleship.Not until we are willing to lay down our very lives for Him are we in the place where He wants us.• One who is not only available for the Master, but expendable for Him. Acts 20:22-24; Matt.16:24. It was a life of zeal, of expenditure, of faithfulness and of devotion[Gal.5:22-23]. We must exhibit the fruit of Christ-likeness,[John15:35].DISCIPLESHIPDiscipleship is a training process by which a believer in Christ is being made to become like hisMaster – the Lord Jesus Christ. Discipleship is learning Jesus and becoming like Him. It is a process,as opposed to the New Birth, which is an event. That is, the New Birth is a miracle that takes place ina moment, even though very often several things might happen in the life of the unsaved man overa period of time to bring him to the ultimate point of conviction. Discipleship is not so. It is learningJesus. It is following in Jesus’ steps. It is becoming like Jesus. And this takes place over a period oftime, indeed a life-time.HOW TO RAISE DISCIPLES.Raising disciples is a difficult task. It takes time and energy. Great determination, perseverance,labour in prayer, and love for the work are required. Some steps in raising disciples are highlightedbelow. i. Conversation / Salvation First, Jesus Christ must be presented to the person in the form of the gospel or witnessing. Prayers are earnestly said to back-up the gospel presented. The word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit bring conviction upon the person and an encounter with Christ is made. Real gospel is presented and not moral instruction. In God’s time and wisdom the individual receives salvation and new life begins. Without genuine salvation there can be no genuine discipleship; no matter the cosmetic approaches or tendencies. ii. Follow-up / Teaching The follow-up studies are systematically presented to the person with back-up prayers. Topical issues of our faith are taught to the person. Key verses of the scriptures are presented and made to stick in the heart and mind of the person. He must be encouraged to ‘swallow’ the word of God and also made to know and believe that his life depends on the
word of God in him. All these efforts must be backed up with prayers for indeed only God can produce a genuine disciple. Teaching is a major aspect of Christian ministry. To make a disciple, time must be given to teaching of the life of the Master, what He abhors and what He accepts, all the rudiments of faith. 2Tim.2:15; Matt28:19-20.iii. Modelling Perhaps, modelling is one of the most crucial factors in raising a disciple. One action or behaviour shown can scare the person and he would slump back to the first level or give up entirely. The person raising a disciple must be a model in all aspects. The convert sees him as a mentor and accepts him as a model of Jesus Christ. The person will imitate the mentor (Phil.4:9). He must be a person of impeccable character. His life style in the following areas is very crucial and important: (a) Faith and Prayer: The disciple raiser must be a person of faith and prayer. First, these will help to carry him to the end. Second, the convert is challenged by his faith and prayer life. Thus, he must establish prayer life as well as faith in the new convert. The latter will come to see that most of his needs and problems are solved or cared for by his new faith and prayer.He must be taught to use prayer as a weapon for victory and as a tool to enable the word of God stick in his heart as well as practised.Lk.18:1;21:36;Mk.11:23-24. (b) Witnessing: Opprtunities for witnessing must be created for the new convert. He must be taken out and be exposed to sharing his experiences with the Lord with others. Fear and shame must be knocked off the new convert. Prayers for boldness and courage must be made conscientiously on daily basis for him. Acts 4:29, Acts 9:27, Eph.6:19. He must be made to accept witnessing as a necessary part of the faith, hence he should do it with joy and enthusiasm. It should never be seen as a burden or avoidable task. How to witness, when, where and why should be made clear to him. Remember, modelling is beyond follow-up studies in a class. This time, it means picking up the convert and making or molding him after you. You are to reproduce yourself in him, in the area of witnessing it is believed and expected that you are really a witness of the Master Jesus. Acts 1:8; Acts 2:32. (c) Character Formation The word of God and prayer help individuals to form holy and righteous characters. The new convert must be made to know that the faith requires holy and righteous character formation patterned after Christ. Even in secular life, good characters are recognised. For instance, during University Convocation the Vice Chancellor admits those graduating into degrees of the University having found them worthy in character and in learning. If any of these is lacking the person cannot graduate. Excellence is required in both.
Similarly, for the new convert to be admitted into the Universal Church of Jesus or into Heaven, he must be found worthy in character and in learning, 1 Pt.1:15-16; 2Tim.2:19; 1Tim.4:12-16. Trees full of leaves should also be full of fruits. We must live in our words. We must grow to perfection. Matt.5:48. The new convert should be made to know that: • Holiness energizes the soul (Prov.28:1b) • Holiness is the secret of God’s power (Lev.11:44-45) • Without holiness, no one shall see God (Heb.12:14 • Righteousness must go with our preaching (Jam.1:22) The new convert must be fully surrendered to God in the holiest devotion in speech and in deed. His aims, aspiration, and ambition must be for God and to God. The disciple raiser must be a model in all these. Speaking the truth always must be a character formed as a way of life.Ps.15:1-3; 51:6; Eph.4:15. Sin must be rejected and abhorred. 2Tim.2:19; 1John.3:8. Righteousness and peace must be seen as virtues that he must covet and humility and meekness must be the life of the new disciple. Phil.2:5-11(d) Visitation and Compassion One of the essential factors in discipleship is visitation and compassion. The person raising disciples must make it as a duty to constantly pay visits to the new convert being discipled. It must be noted that the devil is very close and he is not happy that the new convert has left him. He is ever ready to attack and give evil suggestions. Scheduled and unscheduled visit will help to dislodge evil plans of the devil and give deliverance to the convert. In visits one may be opportuned to meet the new convert in periods of despondency and confusion. Words of encouragement and hope are issued from the scripture that will sustain the new convert to move forward. You must identify with his problems as you visit. The convert must see you as a friend not just a preacher. Some visits may end up in just interactions and discussions devoid of preaching. The disciple raiser must be very compassionate in his approach. Matt 9:36; 14:14; Mk.6:34. He must be willing to make sacrifices and assist the new convert as much as possible. Missionaries in the field, in raising disciples go as far as joining the new convert weed in the farm, wash clothes or plates, peel cassava or yam, sweep the compound, press their clothes, eat with them, contribute money or food when there is none for the new convert. Make contributions to his lacks. Share his joys and achievements. Be part of his family and discuss from time to time special qualities found in the life of Jesus Christ and other characters in the Bible. Raising disciples is a business of God’s kingdom, which demands a lot from the raiser. A definite visitation plan must be made and followed. It should be part of one’s daily or weekly schedules.
(e) Fellowship Meetings The need for fellowship meetings in raising disciples cannot be overemphasized. Inculcating the desire for fellowship must be established in the new convert. He must be encouraged to see the value of fellowship and that it is statutorily biblical for Christians to attend fellowship meetings regularly. Heb.10:25, Discuss various ways the enemy can attack our fellowship attendance and how we can fight and overcome him. Share Scriptures on fellowship. 1Jhn.1:7; 1Cor.1:9; Acts 2:42-47; Gal.2:9 and Phil.1:5. The disciple raiser must make it a point of duty to look for or search for the new convert when he is not in the fellowship. Time must be taken to find why the absence and encouragement must be offered. He must be helped to continue. Time must be taken to find out his benefits from the fellowship meetings and possibly direct him to the right path. He must feel free in the fellowship. Condemnations should be avoided, rather encouragement and persuasion. 2Cor.5:11. THINGS THAT ARE EXPECTED OF A DISCIPLELuke 9:23-24“And He said to them all, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his crossdaily, and follow me.For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shallsave it”. 1) Denying of Self To “deny”, in this context, could mean to forget, forsake, reject, say ‘No’ to, disregard, refuse, disown, leave self behind, abandon, lose sight of, consciously neglect, to deprive self etc. NB: The last shade of meaning, namely, to deprive self, refers to what is often called self-denial. Now, ‘self-denial’ is not the same thing as ‘denying self’. It is only an aspect of it. Self denial means depriving one’s self of certain normal pleasures, comforts and conveniences (in order to achieve a higher end). This higher end (goal) in view can however, be a selfish end. Therefore denying one’s self is much deeper than this. Now ‘self’ can be understood variously as the human nature, personal ego, or that ‘I’ that is in Man. Its various manifestations include: • The fear of suffering pain or lack • The fear of death • The fear of being ridiculed
• The fear of being taken for granted • The undue consciousness of one’s rights • The undue consciousness of one’s privileges or disadvantages • The desire to be recognised • The desire to be accepted • The desire to be praised • The desire to impress • The desire to be acclaimed • The love of men’s applause • And many such things So, when the Lord Jesus said a man who wished to come after Him should deny himself, hemeant all that we have brought forth above as touching ‘deny’ and ‘self’, and even much more. Jesusmeant the man should forget, consciously neglect or lose sight of his own rights and privileges orposition in life including his own conveniences and comforts in order to follow Him.He meant such a man should abandon the life of self, indeed leave it behind. But denial of self meanssuch complete submission to the lordship of Christ that self has no rights or authority at all. It meansthat self abdicates the throne. It is expressed in the words of Henry Martyn, ‘’Lord,let me have no will ofmy own, or consider my true happiness as depending in the smallest degree on any thing that can befallme outwardly,but as consisting altogether in conformity to Thy will.’’ The fear of suffering pain or lack,the fear of being ridiculed, and all fears instilled by self-protection, including the fear of beingmisunderstood or misrepresented (i.e self defense) must such a follower say ‘No’ to. The Jesus’ followermust refuse the overbearing desire for recognition or men’s acceptance and applause. He must quitdesiring for himself and his self-glory.2Cor.5:5 “And that he died for all, that they which live should not HENCEFORTH live unto themselves,but unto him who died for them, and rose again”The Scriptures says you must not live for yourself any longer. Henceforth! From now on say ‘No’ self andliving for yourself. Live only for Jesus. Self loves praise,self loves comforts, self is part of the old (sinful)nature. Self loves the world. Self fears rejection. Self loves to be pampered. It is an enemy of Godliness,an enemy of spiritual life. And the Master says you must deny yourself (the entirety of self-life) as a firstcondition for following Him. You must die to self. 2) A TAKING UP OF THE CROSS
The cross is the great instrument of our victory over self and also over the demands of the world system over us. There is a great ministry (efficacious work) which our constant identification with the Cross of Christ does to ensure our daily victorious living. The Master said the man who desires to come after Him should, in addition to denying himself take up his cross daily. Firstly,the cross speaks of death and suffering. It speaks also of shame, mockery and rejection. It was never a thing of glory to carry the cross. In the time of the Lord Jesus physical work on earth, any man that look up to the cross was regarded an outcast(an unwanted man)in the society. The world so rejected such a one to the extent they did not want him alive any more. He wants to be crucified, out of their sight. So, when Jesus now says ‘take up your cross’, He meant, ‘make up your mind to die for my sake; make up your mind to be rejected by the world, to be mocked and opposed for my sake’. Not only this, when someone took up his cross then, he was invariably making an announcement to the people around him, as the cross-bearer is always surrounded by a crowd. In this case the cross was a sort of an Obituary Announcement by the victim, the cross-bearer. By it, he proclaimed his death.It was clear to everyone that saw him that the man was dead, and that his own case (as far as this world was concerned) was certainly finished. The few who loved him would cry while his numerous enemies (the large crowd that condemn him)would rejoice. So it was with the Lord Jesus when he took up His cross. And so shall it be with you if you take up your own cross. The cross is a path way that is deliberately chosen. It is ‘’a path which so far as this world goes is one of dishonour and reproach’’. The cross symbolizes the shame, persecution and abuse which the world heaped upon the Son of God, and which the world will heap on all who choose to stand against the tide. Now, according to 2Cor.5:14, if one died for all, they were all dead. That is to say, Jesus’ death also meant your own death.This is an obvious scriptural truth. Your part now is the acceptance and declaration of this truth. It is to constantly identify yourself with this truth. It is your lot to declare this truth to the pressure of self-life within you and the world system around you. Paul the apostle cried out: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”. Gal.2:20 Again, he had need to remind the Colossian believers; “For (as far as this world is concerned) you have died, and your (new real) life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in (the splendor of His) glory”. Col.3:3-43) BEWARE OF THE WORLD Therefore, you have no business living for yourself or trying to please the world. Infact John the beloved apostle commands us not to love the world [1 John 2;15-17]. What is the world
That evil spiritual system [or influence], inspired by satan, which seeks to moderate every man that is born into this world. ‘’Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.... ‘’Rom. 12;2 [phillips translation] You must stand your ground against the world. We have no business loving the world that rejected our Master and crucified Him. When the world rejected Him they rejected us. Hence, we are not part of this present world order. Our kingdom is that which will soon appear. As far as this world is concerned, we have died. Can you declare this truth to all that self seeks to gain out of this world Your confession must become, as Paul said, ‘Not I, but Christ’. The Master says for you to deny yourself, you must take up your cross daily. Only as you make such personal commitment can you truly follow Him. The Apostle said; ‘’For to me to live is Christ, --- ‘’ Phil. 1;21 [KJV] ‘’For me, to live is Christ,---‘’Phil. 1;21 [NIV] ‘’For living to me means simply Christ,--- ‘’Phil. 1;21 [Phillips Translation]. But to you what is life Again, to you, what does death mean? Is it gain?4) SUPREME LOVE FOR JESUS “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26. Here again we find that our master insists that for the man that wants to go all the way with him, whenever matters of choice arise, you will put He the Lord paramount, for above your father, your mother, your wife/husband, etc. And it is just like that.it is not subject to debate. The supreme love for Jesus surpasses every other affection, every other affinity, and every other loyalty. Jesus is Lord, and Lordship is best portrayed in the life of His followers. This love for Jesus is best tested and proven by the disciple’s life of obedience. Abraham showed this literarily when he virtually offered his very precious son in sacrifice and obedience to God’s will. He proved he truly loved his God, and could pay any price to please Him. Also, we find in the spectacular calling of the priestly lineage of Israel a very similar challenge. Read Exodus 32:25-29. This Levitician consecration entailed the gruesome killling of close relatives and companion. The Levites had to do it for they had signed out their lives, and all theirs, to God.
The Master himself put this final test of love this way. “If a man loves me, he will keep my words:---“John 14:23. 5) A FORSAKING OF ALL YOU HAVE. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:33. Now this issue is as serious as the above scripture sounds. And the Lord Jesus demanded a literal conformity to this condition for discipleship from the rich young ruler who desired spiritual excellence. Read Matt.19:16-22; Luke 18:18-23. This forsaking includes; • Giving up all possessiveness to the material things you own, • Have a readiness to give up any property or position (attainment in life) as a voluntary devotion to Jesus whenever such is required by Him, • Consciously resisting the insatiable crave for property and money. (1 Tim.6:6-10) • Refusing to build up an earthly store (Matt.6:19-21)Our father Abraham owned so much, but he possessed nothing. He possessed only the invisible God. Heowned Canaan but had to buy the cave of Machapelah in order to bury his dead wife. He owned somuch cattle and flock but it was a spiritual legacy he bequeathed to his son Isaac when he died.Moreover, Abraham was always willing to give up anything to God in order to keep a clear and singleeye on his pursuit for God and a city not made with hands.He gave up Isaac when it was required of Him.He gave up his living house several times as it became necessary in his pursuit of God. But his nephew,Lot, chose to live and die in Sodom even when his spiritual life and family life were being grievouslyattacked. He was willing to part with Ishmael and Hagar when it became obvious that they werecompetitors to the Heir of promise. Rather than engage in strife and lose his treasured spiritual peaceand fellowship with God, Abraham allowed himself to be cheated by his young nephew, Lot, in thematter of choosing a viable grazing land for their flocks. What a follower of God!Brother, are you holding tightly to this world’s goods? Remember, the issue is not whether you havelittle or plenty. God can make you rich if He sees you have enough spiritual stamina to carry youthrough. The material prosperity of a man that is destitute of spiritual prosperity shall no doubt destroyhim, for there is an ‘unrighteousness’ that go with mammonA disciple, who is rich materially, is careful to note that there are certain snares (evils) that followearthly riches. Some of these include:
1) They are temporary. ‘Moth and rust destroy them, thieves can steal them. Life’s troubles can take them. 2) They can become the object of one’s trust and glory. 3) They are never enough. “the desire of having increases by having” – Shakespeare. 4) They can endanger one’s very life. 5) The crave for them leads to unwholesome and ungodly behaviour.And without controversy, believers who labour to build earthly store have lost their pilgrim character.But those who constantly forsake all affirm that here they is no continuing city but seek that heavenlycity which will soon appear. Where do you belong, sister/brother? What is meant by forsaken all? Itmeans an abandonment of all one’s material possessions that are not absolutely essential and thatcould be used in the spread of the gospel. 6) A METICULOUS FOLLOWING IN JESUS’ STEPS “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me ....” Matt11:29.Following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ entails learning Jesus: getting to know His manner oflife, purpose and way of doing things. Above all, the disciple commits himself to doing all things theJesus way. He strongly resists whatever attractions or pressures that tend to make him do any thing thatamounts to an alternative to Jesus’ way, no matter how harmless or reasonable or popular it may seem.He insists on knowing the Master’s way in ever-increasing capacity and sensitivity for divine guidance.Understanding Divine Guidance:- Several remedial means abound by which God seeks to help ourinsensitivity (Read Job 33:14-15). These include: visions, and dreams, external prophecies, elderlycounsel, laying flees, cicumstantial leading, intuition(i.e ‘still small voice’). Each of these, whenapplicable, must be carefully checked with prayer and the word.Yet more excellent way of divine guidance or knowing God’s will still remains the issue we have beendiscussing above. The disciple that has become yoked together with his Master Jesus, and who learns(studies) Jesus is the one who can truly follow Him. And as Jesus has said, ...”he that followeth me shallnot walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”. (John 8:12). This is very true and simple; for Jesus,the book of Proverbs tells us, is wisdom personified. He is the light of life, He is the wisdom of God. 7) A SACRIFICIAL LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN “ A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35The issue of loving other believers as a condition for discipleship is so serious that, according to theMaster, it is one good proof of successful discipleship. It is a commandment of the Lord whom the
disciple professes to be following. To refuse to walk in love with fellow believers – members of Christ’sbody – is to refuse the way of Jesus. And that is a quick way to walk in darkness. Let’s hear Elder John,the beloved Apostle who knew his Master well.“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth hisbrother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth hisbrother is in darkness and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because thedarkness hath blinded his eyes”. 1 John 2:9-11“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down ourlives for the brethren.” 1John 3:16The components of this life have been out for us in 1 Cor.13. And we do well to learn this love, whichthe Holy Ghost teaches and which is the principal fruit of the Spirit.HINDRANCES TO DISCIPLESHIPA few things can be mentioned as hindrances to discipleship work. There could be more to thesediscussed below:i) Poor personal characterA tree naturally should produce its kind. If one is not a disciple, how would he raise a disciple? Personallifestyle is critical in raising disciple, 1 Cor.4:16-17; 2 Cor.3:2; 1 Cor.11:1-2. The manner of speech, thecontrol of anger or outburst at provocation, style of dressing, character display in public; manner ofprayer, manner of eating, neatness, types of friends one keeps and the rate of compassion seen in oneare considered and assessed by the new disciple. He is either repelled or attracted by these. Certainly,Jesus is our utmost model, but He is not seen physically. But here is one who is representing Jesus, hemust be like Jesus or very close like Him. So he must be perfect or close to it. Matt.5:48. Any noticeablemistake or error tends to discourage the new convert. No wonder, most members in the fellowshipcannot raise disciples. Poor personal character may be part of the reason. We are epistles written andread by all people.2Cor.3:2. We must be disciplined in our character so that outside assessor can knowwhere to place us, and to know whether to follow us or not. Our character must be sound in order toattract others. If the trumpet gave an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle? 1 Cor.14:7-8. If your lifestyle has no destination, who shall surrender to you for discipleship?ii) Lack of the Power of GodIf the power of God is demonstrated in an issue, the new convert is usually overwhelmed andencouraged. The speech and the preaching of the disciple raiser should not be just in enticing words ofman’s wisdom but rather in the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. 1 Cor.2:4-5. If forinstance the new convert is attacked spiritually and the power of God is not shown to be able to deliverhim, then he will be discouraged and may go back. So, the brother or the sister making or raising adisciple must be in tune with God and have faith and be able to demonstrate. So, if he knows the truthof the gospel but cannot demonstrate it the result will be minimal. You shall know the truth and the
truth you know and apply shall make you free. Jn.8:32. Lack of the power of God or demonstration of itwill hinder the discipleship efforts. No one would like to follow a weak person who is unable to deliveror save him. So, the new convert wants to be a disciple of Jesus Christ essentially because Christ has thepower to deliver and this should be made visible. He would like to see it real not just in theory.Biblicaldisciples showed such pattern of behaviour and followed the Master Jesus. 1 Cor.4:20, 2:4-5; Acts 4:33;1 Thess.1:5. Why some people leave felowship partly is because they could not see the power of Goddemonstrated in their life and in their problems. Throughout the book of Acts of the Apostles, the powerof God was seen demonstrated and that brought conviction upon people and got them rooted in thefaith. We may ascert that this was part of the reasons why Jesus asked his Apostles to tarry in Jerusalemuntil they were endowed with power. Acts 1:8iii) Prayerlessness.Discipleship cannot move far without the burden to pray for the person being discipled as well as for theentire progress of the business. No man gets God into his affairs who does not follow hard after Him.God’s acquaintance is not made in a hurry for He does not bestow His gifts and blessings on the casualor hasty comers and goers. Discipleship is primarily God’s own affair. If he is not in the business nothingworks. It is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God.(Zech.4:6). The disciple raiser must solelydepend on God, and he must recognise this. Through prayers one gets the inspiration needed for thework, one is motivated and directed, and one clears and obliterates all forms of difficulties challengingthe work. By prayers the Holy Spirit holds the convert and makes him willing to conform to all teachingsand guidance being provided.A prayerless individual can hardly raise a disciple. Making a disciple is a tasking job and demandsphysical and spiritual energy. The prayerless will get discouraged after some efforts. (Mt.11:12). He willdrop the business with apparently a number of ‘good’ reasons. Since the kingdom of darkness pushes onto stop the work of discipleship, and allow us settle at raising uncommitted converts, only by prayers canwe sustain the work and get to the end. Lkk.18:1-7; 1 Thess.5:17; Col.4:2; Jude 20. So part of whydisciples are not raised in our fellowship is lack of strength in prayer. No one can persevere, no one canstand in the gap. (Isa.62:1; Isa.41:28; Ezek.22:30).iv) Home StressesStresses in the home can affect the one raising a disciple as well as the person being raised. Stress canattack the mind, the time and the finances of both persons. If the disciple maker is not determined andcareful he may stop unknowingly or withdraw from the business under the weight of stress. since hehas his own problem, what should he do in order to suceed? Discuss and proffer practical solutions onhow he will cope.Sometimes, the stress may be the work of the devil, just to stop the work. The disciple raiser must befully ready for the work, knowing that it is a difficult one. 2 Cor.4:17; 1 Thess.3:3-4, 2Tim.2:3-5; Phil.4:6-7,12-13,19. We should be reminded that it is likely that human stresses may be increasing as the day ofour Lord’s coming draws near. Therefore, we must fight on and never to wait for a better time. The timeis now.
v) CONSEQUENCES OF LACK OF DISCIPLES IN FELLOWSHIP/CHURCHThere are consequences when people are filled in the Church but are not rooted in the Lord Jesus Christand can hardly be classfied as disciples. Such people may be leaders and may be in the fellowship forone reason or the other. They may have never been discipled. Our fellowships certainly have not beenfully engaged occupied in the work of discipleship and may therefore have many undiscipled converts.An observable consequence in the fellowship may include the following;[i] Lack of commitment to the work of God.[ii] Immorality[iii] People dropping from the fellowship[iv] Various kinds of sin[v] Disobedience to authority[vi] Compromises at work places, villages and in homes[vii] Worldliness, desire to belong to a class, or achieve something by all means e.g. Passingexaminations and getting university admissions and employment.[viii] Inability to endure hardship, tendency to blame God and drop the faith.
JESUS PATTERN OF DISCIPLESHIPMatt 4:18-22Jesus took the initiative.Vs.19 Jesus call is a command and promise “follow me” (4:17). The command for them to becomedisciples. They were not told why they should follow Jesus, what following him will mean, or where thepath will lead them. We meet Jesus’ first miracle, the miracle of his powerful word that createsfollowing, that makes disciples.How do people become the disciples of Jesus?Jesus calls actual people to be his disciples.Scholars have tempted to refashion the biblical pictures of discipleship into categories more comfortablewith our own idealogiesTo become a disciple means to accept Jesus’ principles for living. Matthew’s interpretation cannot bereduced to our modern view. In this text, Jesus appears disruptively in our midst and calls us not toadmire him or accept his principles not even to accept him as our personal saviour , but to follow him.The reasonable response would be “where are you going?” Even though Matthew did not use “believe”and “faith” in this story, he here pictures the nature of faith that is at the heart of discipleship (Heb11:8). Where does such faith come from?Matthew may be saying “people become believers by the power of Jesus’ word; they follow himbecause he has spoken to them, and his word generates faith. The early persons called are already atwork , doing something useful and important, thus they are not looking for a new life. Jesus’ calls doesnot fill an obvious vaccum or meet an obvious need in their lives but like the call of prophets in theHebrew Bible , it is an intrusive and disruptive, calling them away from work and family.Discipleship is not an offer man makes to Christ, It is only the call which creates the situation DISCIPLES AS SALTMATT 5:13The life of discipleship is conceived throughout as life within the community of faith, a communitycharged with a mission to the world. The saying is a metaphor with a brief rhetorical question, speakingof the disciples as salt. Salt has various connotations in Matthew’s account: 1. Sacrifice (Lev.2:13; Ezek 43:24) 2. Loyalty and covenant fidelity (Ezra 4:14; Num 18:19; eating together was called sharing salt and expressed a binding relationship) 3. Purification 2kings 2:19-22 4. Seasoning Job 6:6; Col.4:5 5. PreservativeThe saying serves as a warning that if the disciples deny their mission, they will be thrown out as useless.Salt loses its saltness by becoming so impure, so mixed with other elements that it loses its function. Theemphasis on the earth is equivalent of the world. The world does not belong to Satan. It is the creation
of God. (Matt 13:35; 24:21), the scene of the disciples mission (Matt.5:14; 13:38; 26:13), where God’swill shall finally be done.Salt does not exist for itself nor do the disciples; their life is turned outward to the world.DISCIPLES AS LIGHT & A CITY ON A HILLMatt 5:14 -16The light metaphor present the disciples as illumination for the world. The primary function of light isnot to be seen, but to let things be seen as they are. The city on a hill presents the disciple as inevitablyand unavoidably being seen.The salt and light sayings picture mission as inherent to discipleship. The community that lives by thepower of unostentatious prayer in the inner room (Matt 6:6) is not an introverted secret societyshielding itself from the world but is a city set on a hill whose authentic life cannot be concealed.The disciples are called to the active mission of “letting their light shine to all”. They have been lit not fortheir own sakes, but for the sake of the world. The community of disciples is light for the dark world , asis Jesus in Matt 4:12-17.Our mission is authorized and presupposed by Jesus’ own mission and is the continuation of it (Matt10:1)We are what we are, not because of inherent potential that we are called upon to recognize anddevelop, but by Jesus own word. (Matt 4:18-22). The disciples in Matthew’s days were not challenged totry harder to be salt and light, but are told that as followers of Jesus they are Salt and Light for theworld. We are called not to, more self-exertion, but to believe Jesus’s word and to accept to live out thenew reality it has already created in the call to discipeship.THE NATURE AND DEMANDS OF DISCIPLESHIPLuke 6: 20 – 49What follows is the standard for which every disciple should strive.Discipleship demands loving your enemies.There is no place in the christian ethic for vengeance or retaliation.Verses 27 – 28 contain a fourfold repetition: the principle of love for one’s enemies. Matt.5:44 • To pray for those who abuse you, is similar to the command to pray for those who persecute you • 6:29-31 show four applications of the principle of love for enemies • Turn the other cheek • Do not withhold your shirt • Give to the one who asks you • If your goods are taken do not ask for them back. Verses 32-36 • If you love/do good/lend • To those who love/do good/lend to you • What credit is that to you?
The disciple’s relationship to God is based on the axiom that the child is like the parent, so the characterof God dictates that we practice a love that is not limited by others’ responses to us, for God “is kind tothe ungrateful and the wicked” (vs.35)The imperative to love one’s enemies can have a range of meanings – win over your opponent bykindness, take the moral high road, shame your enemy by your superior goodness; deflect hostility orprevent further abuse by offering no resistance, rise above pettiness, or demonstrate a Christ- likecharacter as a Christian witness.DANGERS THREATENING DIISCIPLESHIPLk.6:37-38The first danger is the inclination to judge others. Disciples do not grow better by comparing themselveswith someone else. Judging is the sin of those who are blind to their own faults. It is the obsession ofthose who seek to make themselves better not by lifting themselves up, but by, bringing others down. Itis the mock justice of those who presume to know what others should do.The second danger to discipleship is that of living lives without a firm foundation, Lk.6:48. Dig deep andlay the foundation of your life on the word of God. Keep digging until you get in touch with therevelation of God in the person of Jesus and then build your life upon that rock. The mystery ofdiscipleship is that it is as much receiving as it is striving.MEANING OF DISCIPLESHIPLK 6:39-49In other to be a guide, the disciple needs to learn from the teacher (v 40). Before one can help anotherone must attend to his or her own fault.(41-42)Our efforts to be good disciples, guides to the blind, or speck-removers for our neighbour require a goodheart- integrity of character. Only a good tree bears a good fruit (43-45). Being a good disciple requiresfar more than confession or lip service to the Lord. It requires acting on the Lord’s teaching, making itthe foundation of one’s life (vs46-49)Disciples must be better qualified than those they seek to lead. The appropriate goal is to strive to belike the teacher. The next parable contrasts the disciple’s faults with those he or she may find in others.Discipleship involves following, going on. Faithfulness is not achieved by freezing a moment but byfollowing on in confidence that God is leading and that what lies ahead is even greater than what wehave already experience.Discipleship requires not just good deeds. It requires integrity and a purity of heart such as one sees inJesus himself. (Matt 6: 43-45). Matt 6:46-49 started with a question that contrast true discipleship. It is acontrast between those who hear and act, and those who do not. James 1:22,25Verse 47 contains three participles in series. The one who comes, hears and act, and those who do not.Lk. 11:28 refers to a man who builds his house well. A good heart is required by those who would beargood fruit and obedience to Jesus’ words is required of those who would make Jesus their Lord.CONDITIONS FOR DISCIPLESHIPLk 14:25-35Their intent is to urge persons who are seeking to be disciples to consider first the demands ofdiscipleship. The way of discipleship is not easy.
Whoever comes to me and does not .... cannot be my disciple (vs.26) Whoever does not ... cannot be my disciple (vs.27) So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if vou do not (vs.33)The three conditions laid down in this sequence of pronouncements concern renouncing disciple,bearing one’s cross , and forsaking professions. Discipleship requires the renunciation of all that wehave. While verses 34-35 warn of the consequences of unworthy discipleship.The issue “hate” does not mean anger or hostility. It indicates that if there is a conflict, one’s responseto the demand of discipleship must take precedence over even the most sacred of human relationships.There is no duty higher than commitment to Jesus to being his disciple.Again, discipleship requires a willingness to leave home and travel with minimal provisions from villageto village in order to proclaim the gospel. (18:29, 10:1-12)Verse 27 is on cross bearing . this evokes the rejection of Jesus and the suffering that awaits Him inJerusalem. Cross bearing requires a deliberate sacrifice and exposure to risk and ridicule inorder tofollow Jesus. This commitment is not just a way of life. It is a commitment to a person. A disciple followsanother person and learns a new way of life.Again, he warns that no one can follow him unless he /she is ready to suffer the same fate Jesus hadsuffered. Chapter 14:28 – 32. No one should step forward as a disciple without being prepared toforsake everything for the sake of following Jesus. Verse 33: demand that one be ready to give upeverything to be a disciple. Discipleship requires all you have. According to Luke, “None of you canbecome my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions”. In a sense no one can know whether heor she will be able to fulfill a commitment to discipleship. Jesus was not asking for a guarantee ofcomplete fidelity in advance. If he does, no one would be qualified. There,s a complete change ofpriorities, values and pursuits in being a disciple.The cost of discipleship is paid in many differnt kinds of currency. For some persons a redirection of timeand energy is required, for others a change in personal relationship, a change in vocation or acommitment of financial resources. But for each person, the call to discipleship is all consuming. Nopart-time disciples are needed . No partial commitments are accepted.PROMISE OF DISCIPLESHIPMatt.16:24-28The call to discipleship is based on faith in Christ and confidence in the future victory of God. It is not amatter of merely high human ideals or noble principles. The life called for here is not based on areasoned conclusion about how things are, but on faith that something has happened that makeseverything different. To believe in Christ and to live accordingly means to reorient one’s life toward thegood news that God acted decisively and ultimately in Jesus.This call to discipleship is a matter of confession, which means declaring one’s faith in Jesus as theChrist, as God’s definitive act of revelation and salvation.The call to discipleship is a matter of community. This is not an individualistic ethic of the solitary “I”, butis the ethic of the community of disciples that confesses Jesus to be the Christ and lives toward the fullcoming of the kingdom of God for which it prays accompanied by the presence of Christ during its timeof mission
The meaning of discipleship is learned along the way. The disciples in this story have been disciples forsome time, called personally by Jesus. (4:18-22; 9:9; 10:2-4), sent by him to preach and heal. (10:5-8).They now learn the meaning and cost of discipleship which cannot be explained in advanced but mustbe learned en route.