Training New Disciples to Make Disciples
Like my good friend Alex Thermenos, you may have thought that last week's post was the final post in this series on making disciples. Now this is understandable. I mean, after touching base with the lost, talking to them, enjoying meals with them at your dinner table, teaching them how the gospel relates to their lives, tying them into the fellowship of the church, and calling them to trust in Jesus alone for their salvation what else could disciple-making entail? Well, I believe the Bible reveals to us one more crucial step. Today I will close our series on making disciples by explaining how training new disciples to make disciples themselves is a necessary final step in this process.
To highlight this truth, I want to go back to the beginning of Jesus' ministry. In Matthew 4:18-22, we begin to see just how pivotal training is to discipleship, as Jesus calls his first disciples to himself. Notice the first thing Jesus tells his soon-to-be disciples that following him will entail: becoming "fishers of men." When Jesus calls us to himself he calls us to cast the net of the gospel out to the world and by God's irresistible grace, reel in new disciples of Jesus. But notice also that Jesus says to them that he will "make" them fishers of men (emphasis added). They did not begin as expert disciple-makers. No, Jesus spent three years training them to become what he called them to be.
Now there are many things that this training process entails. Read the Gospels and you'll get an understanding of what it takes to become disciple-making disciples. Just by thumbing through Matthew we can see some of these kingdom components. We see that effective disciple-making means living by kingdom standards (Matt. 5-7), engaging in kingdom ministry (Matt. 8-9), going out with the kingdom's message (Matt. 10-11), withstanding kingdom opposition (Matt. 12), understanding the nature of the kingdom (Matt. 13), believing in the kingdom's power (Matt. 14-15), surrendering to the king (Matt. 16-20), and suffering for the kingdom's sake (Matt. 21-27). All of these components stem from Jesus' call to make disciples, and all of them are training tools for doing so.
Which leads us to Matthew 28. The beginning of this chapter helps us to see that as beneficiaries of Jesus' resurrection we as Jesus' disciples are to experience kingdom victory over all of the forces that rage against the kingdom (see vs. 1-10). But then we see how this victory is not meant to be simply an end unto itself. No, this victory, and the accompanying authority that we share with the conquering Christ, is to propel us forward with the Great Commission that we read about in verses 16-20. You see, Jesus had trained his disciples how to live kingdom lives, and he did it all for the advance of the kingdom.
So we've seen how this disciple-making process has come full-circle. What Jesus begins to teach his disciples in Matthew 4 he wraps up in Matthew 28: that as his people we are disciples who are called and commissioned to make disciple-making disciples. So when we by God's grace make disciples, we must train these new disciples to make disciples themselves. This is Jesus' vision and plan for us, and it is quite simply beautiful. May the Lord grant us understanding and an accompanying desire for making disciples as we seek to follow him in this beautiful, God-ordained process. In Jesus' name. Amen!