Disciple is a churchy word that has fallen out of favor with modern English speakers. That may be because our culture is becoming less Godly, more secular. Anything from the Bible is avoided by many in our society today.
What is a disciple anyway? Is it a minister or a special subset of Christians? Maybe we are all just a bit confused about what it means.
Politicians have disciples today, but they call them their “base,” or the “faithful.” Those people who adhere to their philosophies and follow them are their disciples, their followers, their devotees.
Ray Vander Laan in his book, In the Dust of the Rabbi, helps us define what it means to be a disciple of our teacher, Jesus, by explaining the practice in the time before Christ, under the Law of Moses, when some Jewish boys would apply to become students of a rabbi.
Ray writes, “Talmid (Talidim, pl.) is the Hebrew word for disciple. The talmid willingly left home, family, and occupation to be with the rabbi because he wanted more than anything else in the world to be like the rabbi (teacher) in his walk with God.”
Ray says, “the Greek word translated disciple, refers to a talmid as well as to an individual who is interested but who has not renounced everything to follow the rabbi.” Jesus makes it clear that it is no light matter to be his disciple in Luke 14:27 (NIV): “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
You, my friends and fellow believers, love the Bible and Bible words. When we wrote our mission statement, we were confident that you know what a disciple is or are eager to know what it means to be Christ’s disciple.
In view of Matt 28:18-20 in Young’s Literal Translation, our mission is very clear. “And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, `Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.'
For our church here at Northwest, we have shortened that, reminding us that we want to make disciples of people from birth to death, from where they are till their life here ends.
Our Mission: To make lifelong disciples of all generations.
Will you memorize that and use it as the acid test for all that we do here? Are we on mission? Jesus defined discipling as “baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you.”
When we baptize people, we have just begun the process of discipling. Teaching continues. Life changes continue. We are disciples when we are Jesus’ base, his faithful, his followers, his imitators.
The men’s class on Wednesday nights is being intentional about making disciples by their study. Do you have a friend that you are leading to discipleship? Bring him to class this Wednesday.
If you meet a visitor at our services, know that God is drawing that person to Him, or that visitor wouldn’t be here. Ask them to join us in a one on one Bible study. They are searching for something here. Help them find it. Help them to become Christ’s disciple.
Know our mission. Use it as your mantra. Use it as your litmus test to know if we are on track. Remember, we are not doing this alone or by our own power; Jesus promised to be with us “to the full end of the age.”