For a while I was puzzled to whether or not being a discipler is a gift or a mandate. A discipler is someone who makes disciple. He is someone who does discipleship. Someone who teaches, someone who trains, someone who disciplines a disciple.
After working on my assignment and personal study of what disciple making really is, I arrived to the following answers.
Is Being A Discipler A Gift?
Maybe, some of you will disagree with me on this. But before you say anything, let us go first and pick up a passage from the Bible. Let’s open it in the book of Ephesians 4:8 and 11
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. …11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
Paul was explaining here the role of Christians inside the local Church. That God gave gifts to men to be used for the maturity and edification of His Church here on Earth (v.12). For some he gave to be apostles, some to be prophets and some to be evangelists, while some to be pastors, and some to be teachers.
The passage tells us that all men received gifts, but not all gifts are possessed by one man. Gifts were distributed among men for harmonious relationship in working together.
When we become a minister, whether or not we become apostles, or pastors, or teachers, etc, we become a discipler ourselves. Such gifts will be useless if we do not have any target group. If we are not imparting the message of our Lord to someone else then the gifts that God gave becomes totally useless.
But notice in the passage, Paul did not mention “disciple maker” or “discipler”. Disciple making is a part of the ministry of those who received the gifts which is us. As we have established earlier, all men received one or two or maybe more gifts, but certainly there is no man that possess all these gifts. Each one has to use it in a way that he can work with other ministers harmoniously in order to edify the body of Christ.
Being a Discipler As A Mandate
If being a discipler is not a gift, then certainly it has to be a mandate. Though each one of us has been given different kinds of gifts, each one of us was commanded to make disciples of all kinds of people groups (every nation).
The issue of making disciples does not lie on someone’s gift, but on his desire to make disciples. We can pick up several examples from the Old Testament with a disciple-discipler relationship. We have Moses with Joshua and Caleb. We also have Elijah and Elisha. And we have Eli and Samuel.
The New Testament also gives us several examples; we have Jesus and the twelve apostles, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, etc. It is obvious that most religious leaders in their time have their own disciples. Similarly in our own time, we are called to make disciples of all kinds of people group.
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It is through discipleship that we become true disciples of Christ. An authentic follower is someone who obeys what has been commanded. Without obedience and adherence to God’s word, then our claim of being a Christian is totally a joke and more or less a lie. We have to remember that it is easy to say “I am a disciple” but following Christ’s commands and example which will involve our lives and the things that we love is absolutely difficult to do.
Becoming a discipler is a mandate that no one is excuse not to become one. We are to make disciples. We are to share the gospel of Christ; we are to teach the people to be obedient to the words of Christ. We are to take a step a little farther and work a little longer to reach the lost.
Disciple making is the very heart of God’s work. – Bill Hull
Disciple making and becoming a discipler has been given as a mandate for all Christ’s disciples. This was given just right before Jesus ascended to heaven. And being the last thing that He said to His disciples while physically present, we deem this to be a very important thing to do. Without discipleship, there will be no continuity of the work that has been started. Thus, defying the very core of God’s plan:
The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness. – Ephesians 3:10-11
Becoming a discipler is more than a gift. God has given each one of us certain gifts that we can use to serve Him and empowered us with these gifts to make disciples of all nations. He gave it with a purpose. Jesus made it clear that His work has to continue while He prepares a room for us in heaven.
Disciple making is the very heart of God’s work.
The Following Are Very Helpful Discipleship Books
|The Adventure of Discipling Others: Training in the Art of Disciplemaking
By Ron Bennett & John Purvis / NAV Press
Jesus believed in the power of one. From the woman dawdling by the well to the tax collector dangling from a tree. Jesus called out and mentored the individual. He turned the beleaguered into the beautiful, the meager into the mighty, by pointing them to God and spotlighting their potential. He knew one person could stir up the world and make a spiritual difference. Just like Jesus you can pour faith into believers, helping them grow spiritually and fulfill their unique niche in God’s kingdom. With The Adventure of Discipling Others, anyone can mentor and love the process. Reading this book you’ll cultivate a passion for life-to-life discipling. You’ll discover the amazing impact one life can have on another.
|The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ
By Bill Hull / NAV Press
The first book in The Navigator Reference Library, The Complete Book of Discipleship is the definitive A to Z resource on discipleship and disciple making for every Christian. Drawing from the best in discipleship literature as well as from his own extensive disciple making experience with The Navigators, Bill Hull pulls together all relevant topics in one comprehensive volume. Well-organized and fully indexed, you’ll find included such topics as spiritual growth, transformation, spiritual disciplines, and discipleship in the local church. Given that The Navigators have more than 70 years of practical discipleship ministry experience world-wide, you’ll find The Complete Book of Discipleship a trusted resource.