We call it “The Great Commission,” and we may even be able to say it from memory:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
While Jesus told the first disciples that they were to be His witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), the rest of the New Testament is written to the Church (“ekklesia” = “called-out ones”) and centers around teaching those in the Body of Christ how to BE witnesses by producing mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus and says,
“He (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (pastors), to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” - Ephesians 4:11-16
Currently, the “Missional Church” movement focuses on engaging the church in mission outside its walls, but often without preparing those it is sending to proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone has written that the “missional church movement” is like a car without an engine because the “engine” of the true Church is “discipleship!” Without discipleship, without teaching biblical truth to those who are born again by the Spirit and moved to repent and believe, “church members” are left to find their way through the maze of opportunities to be witnesses of Jesus without the necessary tools of the proper message, motive and means to accomplish their task of leading people to Jesus Christ. Thus “good works” get substituted for true mission – reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While doing good deeds in the name of Jesus is part of our calling, deeds alone cannot bring one person to the knowledge of Christ. Disciples of Jesus must know what they believe and why they believe it and then be able to communicate truth to others. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
In this series of twenty-five messages we will follow the outline of topics found in Greg Ogden’s “Discipleship Essentials,” a staple in the curriculum used at Lighthouse Community Church for the past twelve years. For the next seven months we will use the passages of God’s Word given in each lesson as our texts, covering the topics listed below:
Part One: Growing Up in Christ
1. Making Disciples
2. Being a Disciple
3. Quiet Time
4. Bible Study
Part Two: Understanding the Message of Christ
7. The Three-Person God
8. Made in God’s Image
Part Three: Becoming Like Christ
14. Filled with the Holy Spirit
15. Fruit of the Spirit
Part Four: Serving Christ
20. The Church
21. Ministry Gifts
22. Spiritual Warfare
23. Walking in Obedience
24. Sharing Wealth
Our goal is not simply going through a series of topics, but rather, GROWING UP as disciples of Jesus. Under “Resources” you will find two tools for your use in “measuring” your spiritual growth as a follower of Christ: “Six Marks of a Disciple” and “Spiritual Growth.” These will help you in discerning your own spiritual growth and helping others to do the same.
There is no “magic formula” to biblical discipleship. There is, however, a pathway outlined in God’s Word that leads to spiritual growth, whether you are a “babe in Christ” or you have been following Christ all your life. We all need to continue to grow, as Paul wrote to Timothy:
“As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” - II Timothy 3:14-17
So come on this journey with us as we dig into God’s Word, praying that His Spirit will be our Teacher and that His Word will become food for our souls. Our goal: Discipleship!! Spiritual growth that leads to disciples of Jesus who are equipped to be His witnesses, in word and in deed, in every area of life. To GOD be the glory!!