“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also..” 2 Timothy 2:2 (KJV)
We hear the term “Discipleship” over and over again these days. In most cases it refers to church programs that “train Believers” to live for Christ. Many of these programs are multilayered and often complicated training sessions. My question for those who offer such programs is a simple one: Why would a church take the responsibility of guiding a new convert or unlearned Christian away from the person that won them to Christ? The answer is obvious: The discipleship programs are not really designed to get people to live for Jesus; they are designed to train them to become pew squatters.
These “disciples” are taught to spend all their time in small groups trying to understand the Word Of God (which should already be made plain to them by sound Biblical mentoring, preaching and teaching) by discovering The Bible from the inside out (whatever that means). These programs are also designed to get new church members involved with all kinds of church programs which excuse them from the real business of bringing people to Jesus through witnessing, church outreach ministries, visitation and personal example.
No better example of true discipleship exists than the epistles of Paul. In these inspired texts we find his concern and compassion for those he and others won to Christ. In 2 Timothy we find Paul writing to Timothy who was the pastor at the church in Ephesus. The entire theme of the New Testament Book of 2 Timothy is similar to many other Pauline Epistles: Keep the teachings taught to you, avoid false teachers and doctrines, stay the course and put your faith into action. These are the essential elements of true Discipleship. Instead of constantly looking for deeper meanings in Scripture, follow the simple teachings found in God’s Word and put those to work in your life. Consider this:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26 (KJV)
All that is required to be saved from eternal punishment is to believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge the fact that he died for your sins. That’s why many people become confused about this verse and others similar to it. Faith is supposed to be put to work in the Believer’s life. Once we make a decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we display the decision we have made and the faith we have by our actions. Believers are not supposed to just sit still and do nothing until some discipleship program leader believes they are ready to serve God. New Believers that have been baptized and joined a local church are supposed to begin reading the Bible, attending services to learn more about the Word of God and putting their faith to work by telling others about Jesus:
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:22 (KJV)
I use the Roman Road method of winning the lost to Christ (see the main menu of this web site), but even if the only verse a New Believer knows is John 3:16, he or she can lead a sinner to Christ:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Another important element of true Discipleship is encouraging the people we win to Christ to live the Christian life in the manner described in the Bible:
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
2 Timothy 2:19-26 (KJV)
These verses clearly warn Believers to avoid people who create chaos by complicating the Word of God with with “foolish and unlearned questions”. Instead, we are to correct people who do not understand the Bible in a spirit of meekness and teach them the truth. That is why it is so important to watch over those we win to Christ to make sure they follow the path God has laid out for New Believers:
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” 1 Peter 2:2 (KJV)
New Believers are not ready for the meat of the Word. Like newborn babies, they need milk to help them grow. That milk is the essentials and fundamentals of the faith. Children learn by example. If we read, obey and live the Word, go to church whenever the doors are open and encourage others to be saved; we are setting a good example for all New Believers including those we have personally won to Christ. This is far different from sitting around in little groups debating what the Word of God really means when it says something.
Bible believing churches know that New Christians cannot be left to themselves. They must be included in the ministry and should be encouraged to serve Jesus Christ in whatever way they can. True discipleship means that we not only personally mentor those we win to Jesus, but we must also be sure that our church gives them every opportunity they can to serve the Lord in whatever way they can. This gives the new Believer a chance to spend time with God’s People in service to our Lord and thus fight off some of the doubts and darts that the devil will throw at every new Christian.