In this edition we’re considering the final goal of discipleship which focuses on the disciples’ responsibility towards the world. The goal is clearly expressed in Yahshua’s commission to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19-20). Through this directive Yahshua underlines the ongoing importance of this aspect of discipleship through the ages.
To ‘make disciples’ is to proclaim the Gospel message among those who don’t know so that they may receive the forgiveness of sins.
As a child I was plagued with so many problems that at the age of 10 years old I was thinking about committing suicide. And you might think, “That’s a bit extreme and exaggerated for a 10 year old?” Well, no! Those problems seemed insurmountable to me; they controlled my life and I thought there was no way out, so why not simply leave. Some Christian people came on our street and handed out invitations to a Sunday School activity group. I took one and the following week went along to the group. We were taught many things and had great times singing songs and playing fun games. Not long after attending I was told the story of ‘Calvary’ and the Gospel message exploded in my life. I repented of my sins and Yahshua took over my life. That’s pretty much how it’s been for over forty years. I became a follower of Yahshua because people took the time to introduce me to him.
We shouldn’t get hung up on the term ‘proclaiming the Gospel’, thinking that it all has to do with preaching. Yes, the preachers preach, but for the vast majority of people it’s about sharing with others what Yahshua has done for you, that He’s able and wants to do the same for whoever will listen and believe. It took several individuals to bring me to the point where I could believe and accept Yahshua as my Saviour. Someone handed me a leaflet inviting me to an event; someone else welcomed me; someone else taught me about what Yahshua did; still another explained to me what He wanted to do for me; yet another prayed with me. Each disciple played an important part in the process. This is what disciples do – they make other disciples, but often it’s a team effort.
The journey didn’t end there. The process of making disciples includes nurturing the newly saved. Other disciples took time to explain to me what had taken place in my life when I accepted Yahshua. They encouraged me to begin to practise things that would help me to grow in my faith – like reading the Bible, praying to the Father, and spending time with other disciples. To ‘make disciples of all nations’ is to make more of what Yahshua made of us.
Pursuing and achieving the other two goals of discipleship - becoming Yahshua-like and serving others from a servant’s heart - is essential and commendable. However, without engaging in and practising the discipline of sharing the Gospel message with sinners we won’t be a balanced or an effective disciple. Effective disciples seek to pursue each of the goals of discipleship. It’s not acceptable for you to specialise in one area and neglect the others. The Master expects you to practise and progress in all three areas. We must, therefore, learn how to be effective in them all and thereby fulfil what it means to be true disciples.
We have Yahshua’s promise and assurance that as we carry out His commission of making disciples of all nations He will be with us every step of the way.
Writing on discipleship Michael J Wilkins says, “As disciples become salt and light in this world, walking the narrow path, loving and providing hope to the world, they become living examples for others to follow. Such is Paul’s entreaty, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of [Messiah]’” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Father, I recognise that part of the purpose of a disciple is to share the Gospel message with others – after all that’s the way most of us came to faith. I appeal to you to help me not to neglect this area but to pursue it with passion. Help me to work with other disciples in bringing the Gospel message to the lost and, as a result, to introduce them to Yahshua.