Making Disciples

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TEXT: Matthew 28:18-20
TOPIC: Making Disciples
Bobby Earls, Caldwell Baptist Association,
October 26, 2000
Share the humorous story of the ole boy from Caldwell County who attended the State Circus. His favorite act was the lion and the beauty girl act. Every night this ole boy from Caldwell County would make his way down to the main tent where this beauty girl would go into a big cage containing a great big, ferocious lion. The part of the act that fascinated this ole boy from Caldwell County the most was when this beautiful young girl would take a tiny, little marsh mellow and place it between her beautiful, red lips. After a moment or two that great, big, ferocious lion would make its way over and stand right in front of that beautiful young girl. He’d put his face right up against her face and then, that great, big lion would place its lips against the beautiful, red lips of that young girl, and then it would take its tongue and lick that little marsh mellow right out of that beautiful young girl’s lips.
Well, after several nights of watching this show, this old boy from Caldwell County began to holler out, “Hey, that’s nothing. Anybody can do that. I could do that. I wish they’d let me do that!” Finally, the ring master had heard enough so he yelled back up to this old Caldwell County boy, “Alright fellow, if you think you can do this just come on down into the cage,” at which our friend from Caldwell County yelled back, “I’ll be glad to. Just get rid of that ole crazy lion first!”
Sometimes we don’t always understand the mission we’ve been given to do. What was the mission of Jesus? At one time in my life I would have used Luke 19:10 and preached to you that Jesus’ mission was “to seek and to save that which is lost.” And certainly that might be true. But that’s not all He was sent to do.
Jesus mission was more than “to seek and to save the lost.” That was only the first part. Please open to that Great Commission passage of Matthew 28. (Read from the NIV and leave out the words “to obey.”
Discuss the importance of the Great Commission; it’s implications for the church today, etc.
It is interesting that the action of the text here does not center on going. The participles going, baptizing and teaching are all subordinate to the action of the main verb—an imperative command—to disciple or make disciples!
It is very clear to most of us that the reason Christ came was to redeem fallen man. Through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, salvation has been provided for all mankind. Yet there is still more to the mission of Christ. It seems to me that Jesus placed high priority on the training of the twelve. He did invest three years of His life on earth into theirs. Then His final command for the church is that we are to make disciples of all nations.
Yet there is probably no other more primary matter of negligence in the church today than our failure to follow our Lord’s command to make disciples. According to Gene Mims, Vice-president of Lifeway Christian Resources, discipleship “is much talked about but probably is practiced the least of all church functions.”
Because of this gross neglect, many Christians think of themselves as an audience to be entertained rather than an army ready to march.
The Greek word for disciple – mathetes – means pupil or learner, someone who learns by following. The word implies an intellectual process that directly affects the lifestyle of a person. The Gospels primarily used the word to refer to the twelve. Whatever making a disciple means, Jesus himself did it. Whatever a disciple is, the twelve were. Do you know that most churches don’t even know what a disciple is, what a disciple looks like? Does your church have an agreed upon definition of a disciple?
John 15:7-8
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (NIV)
In this passage we see four characteristics that describe a disciple.
I. A DISCIPLE REMAINS
A person is a disciple only if he remains in Christ, consistently walking with him. Nowhere does the NT teach perfection in this lifetime. It does, however, teach progress in the Christian life. We are to be in a constant state of spiritual growth.
The goal for every believer who desires to be a ardent disciple of Jesus Christ is to more like Christ today than we were yesterday. We call this spiritual transformation in the lives of believers.
Is your life changing and growing in Christ?
II. A DISCIPLE IS OBEDIENT
Did you catch the fact that earlier when I read Mt. 28, the Great Commission that I left out the words, to obey or to observe? This has been called the great omission.
The great omission is that we have not really made disciples if we have not taught them to obey. There is no discipling without training, and there is no training without accountability.
John 14:21, Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (NIV)
John 14:15 , "If you love me, keep my commandments.”
III. A DISCIPLE BEARS SPIRITUAL FRUIT, verse 8
If a Christian is remaining in Christ, established in God’s word and prayer, plus living an obedient lifestyle, he will eventually bear fruit both in his attitude and his actions.
It is unthinkable for a disciple not to bear fruit just as it is for an apple tree not to bear apples. The fruit of an apple tree is not an apple, but another apple tree.
IV. A DISCIPLE GLORIFIES GOD, John 15:8
The fourth primary badge of a true disciple is that he glorifies God. Perhaps our greatest challenge is to glorify God. We glorify God most when we are living our lives in such a way as to make disciples.
The question is, “How are we doing? How are our churches doing at fulfilling the mission of Jesus – to make disciples?” How are the churches of the Caldwell Baptist Association doing?
From a survey of 6000 Evangelical Churches in the US:
Ø The average “evangelical” church in America wins 1.67 persons (less than 2) to Christ and their church each year for every 100 members who attend.
Ø Fewer than 1 out of every 3 church members feel they have changed even one behavior to be more Christ like in the last three years.
Ø Less than 50% of church members pray for 5 minutes at least twice a week.
Ø Only 11% of church members have shared the gospel even once in the last year and 33% have never shared the gospel while 95% have never personally lead another to trust Christ as Savior.
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