Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Jesus Made Disciples

We measure spiritual maturity a lot of different ways today. Sometimes it is measured by church attendance. Sometimes it is measured by how much Bible knowledge one possesses. But the real evidence of a disciple (and spiritual maturity) is FRUIT.

When people today talk about discipleship they often have a particular slant on how that is best achieved. You will hear certain buzzwords – postmodern, emergent, missional, attractional, seeker, charismatic, reformed, etc – that reveals their frame of reference; with each one believing their way is the best (or only) way.

Buzzwords aside, how did JESUS make disciples?

1. He led them to salvation. Discipleship begins with evangelism and reaching the lost. Obviously we want to disciple people who are already Christians too, but remember, Jesus started with pagans and the outcasts of society. Some people seem to forget that spiritual BIRTH always precedes spiritual GROWTH.

2. He taught them the Word of God. There is no spiritual growth that does not have as its foundation the Holy Scripture. Nothing can substitute for it. You simply cannot be a healthy believer apart from a regular diet of milk and meat from Scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself and His Son…. God unfolds His law to show us that we have all broken it…. There we lean that Jesus died a willing sacrifice for our sins…. We learn the will of God…. and there we learn how to please God. None of this information can be found anywhere else in the world except in the Bible. Therefore, if you want to know God, we must know the Word of God.

3. He taught them to give and serve. The goal of discipleship is produce people who do stuff. Maturity is never an end in itself. In fact, you can’t be mature until you are actually ministering to others in some kind of capacity. Jesus said of Himself, “I did not come to be served. I came to serve and to give My life a ransom for many.”

4. He expected reproduction & multiplication (fruitfulness). The parable of the talents teaches us that God expects multiplication. On one occasion Jesus actually cursed an unfruitful tree to make the point that He looks for fruitfulness.

5. He focused on character more than content. Jesus did not simply expand knowledge. He focused on character development. Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by our behavior than our beliefs; by our character & conduct more than our content. The New Testament repeated shows us that our actions and attitudes reveal more about our spiritual maturity than our creeds or belief systems do. Learning Latin and speaking certain buzzwords doesn’t even register on Jesus’ radar screen when it comes to discipleship. It might make you sound deep, but it doesn’t count. It’s not enough to fill up people’s minds with information, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we forget that the BEST MODEL we have for MINISTRY is JESUS CHRIST Himself. Instead, we look to our favorite preachers, the church fathers, or man-made systems of theology to give us an edge… Yet, no one in history of the world discipled people more effectively than Jesus did.

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