CompassA search for “disciple-making” on ChristianBook.com returns 311 resources. Just imagine, if you read one “disciple-making” book a week, it would take you six years to complete your research. At the end of those six years, you would likely discover that ten or twelve more had been written… and you might decide to write one yourself.

We do not lack for resources when it comes to the Great Commission. So what’s gone wrong? Why is it taking so long for us to complete the primary task that Jesus Christ gave to us – over 2000 years ago?

We are failing in Jesus Christ’s Commission because we are going about our assignment in a most unproductive way. It is by grace that we are given a part in God’s story. To play a part, we must see His plan from His perspective; and realize that He has His own way for getting things done. His ways, though sometimes uncomfortable, are the best ways. His ways produce supernatural results.

Similarly, discipleship without Christ will not produce a Christian. Jesus will only involve Himself in the ways of His Father. He called twelve men to follow – that He might make them into disciple makers. During the three and a half years He spent with them, He was used of His Father to do the very thing that He would commission them to go and do.

Some call it mentoring; others, coaching. The Bible calls it “making disciples”. It is the process God has prescribed for our participation in the work He is doing.

This lesson prepares the disciples of Jesus Christ to make disciples in the most impactful way – the way Jesus did it. In this lesson, we will discover just how involved Christ is when we surrender and sacrifice ourselves to disciple making God’s way.

Spiritual Exercise

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26

The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil. Proverbs 19:23

Many of God’s kingdom treasures are precipitated on “the fear of the LORD”: Wisdom, knowledge, confidence, life, satisfaction, protection from evil, etc. With so much at stake, it is our responsibility – and it is to our advantage – to understand this facet of our relationship with the LORD.

How do we deal with ungodly fear? It is very simple. I encourage you to memorize – and exercise – the following key to victory over ungodly fear.

Behind every ungodly fear there is a lie. Deal with the lie and the fear will fly.

The truth that replaces the lie will become a weapon for you and others.

That which Satan intended for evil, God will turn to good.

Prayer

Dear LORD, thank you for offering so much in our fear of You. We confess our confusion and neglect of attention in this area of relationship with You. Search us, O God, and know our hearts; try us, and know our anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting. We long to walk in victory with You, for Your glory and kingdom. Teach us how to fear You. Thank You for Your attention to our humble prayer. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Searching Out the Matter

How Did Jesus Do It?

Have you ever considered that Jesus could have died, been buried and rose again in less than a week? That is all the time it would have taken for Him to accomplish what many believe to be His only mission. So why was He about the Father’s business for more than three years? It is simple: Because death, burial and resurrection was not His only mission.

Jesus Christ also came to show His disciples how we should live in the kingdom of God. Having completed that work, He commissioned them to do the same:

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

Notice that Jesus was sent by the Father. This may be news to some. It may also be surprising that we are sent as the Father sent Him. Recognizing the deeper meaning of this, A. W. Tozer said, “Only a disciple can make a disciple.” Tozer understood – as we must – that Jesus was not only the first disciple maker…

Jesus was also the first real disciple!

Let that sink in for a minute. As the first real disciple, Jesus is the One we can and should look to as our example. He was a disciple – and He made disciples – God’s way. Therefore, as our example for both, it is important to fully understand that Jesus was a man. That’s right: The Son of God was a son of man.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

In making Himself “of no reputation” (meaning, “empty, void, deprived of force”), the Son of God became the Son of Man to show us what was possible for a son of man that becomes a son of God. To make the point, Jesus called Himself “Son of Man” approximately 10 times more than “Son of God”. It was His favorite title for Himself.

He Could Do Nothing…

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19

Very early in His ministry, Jesus said that He could do nothing of Himself. The Son watches what the Father is doing, so the Son can do them. As we will soon discover, this is more than doing as imitation. It is doing in participation – where the Father does the work. Lastly, it is important to note that “the Son gives life to whom He – the Father – will”. All that Jesus did was the will and work of the Father.

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. John 5:26-27

Why did the Father grant life to the Son? Because He, the Father, has life to give. Why did He give him authority? Because He is the Son of Man.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

Again Christ says, of Himself, that He can do nothing apart from the Father. He also said that His judgment was righteous; not because of anything He had done and not because of who He was; but because He sought the will of the Father. His mission was about the Father’s will and work, not His own.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. John 10:37-38

Jesus is saying that our belief in Him should be based on Him doing the works of His Father. Whose works were they? They were the Father’s works. And it was the works that proved the Father was in Him. In other words, the Father was doing His works through Christ.

Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. John 12:44-46

Belief in Christ is not just belief in Him, but in the Father, also. And the One we see is not just Him, but the Father. To appreciate the mystery of Christ’s identification with the Father we must keep in mind that He has become a Son of Man. The mystery of this is almost too deep for our understanding, but Christ is trying to show us the normal life of a son of man that is a son of God.

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. John 12:49-50

Next, Jesus points out that the Father has given Him a command that “is everlasting life”. What is this command? I believe the Father has commanded Jesus to only say what He (the Father) is saying. It’s not that the Father told Jesus what to say and He later said it. It’s more like He is an instrument of God’s voice, saying what the Father says, as the Father says it. We see this again later in Chapter 14.

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. John 14:24

Jesus is saying that the very word that is coming out of His mouth is not His word. How could Jesus say that the works that He did and the words that He spoke were not His; they were the Father’s? Let’s back up a few verses to better understand their relationship.

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. John 14:7-11

Again, Jesus is doing everything He can to reveal the Father – Who is in Him. It is the Father who does the work. The works were enough to prove that the Father was in Christ. It’s like Jesus was saying, “Look at the works that you have seen. Don’t you know that I cannot do them? I’m just a man. Someone more powerful than me had to do the works. That was my Father.”

The works prove that the Father and He are one, because only the Father in Him could be doing the work that they are seeing. And that is why He could immediately say…

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14

The Father’s works that Jesus did are to be the same works that we do. More so, now that He has gone to the Father, the works will be greater. How can this be? The secret is found in what Jesus had to say about His disciples.

The Master’s Disciples

One of Jesus’ primary missions was to show us how to be disciples that make disciples. He did exactly what He expects of us. If we are to be productive disciples in the kingdom of God, we must become like Him. He made this clear in a number of ways. First, He told them directly:

It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:25a

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

We must not confuse “disciple” for “student”. “Disciple” is much closer in meaning to our understanding of “apprentice”. For example, a disciple spends considerable time with his teacher (versus visiting a classroom once a week). A disciple’s intention was to become like his teacher – to take on the teacher’s lifestyle and character.

An apprentice also expected to be made into a man that would, so to speak, carry on his Master’s “trade”. And that is what Jesus does with His disciples; with one significant distinction. Jesus did not commission the disciples to make disciples of themselves, but disciples like them – those that would “observe all things that I have commanded you”. Today’s disciple-makers are called to the very same commission.

We Can Do Nothing

You will recall that Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing.” He said the same for us in the Parable of the True Vine:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5, 7-8

It is in this abiding – “without Me you can do nothing” – relationship that our desires are met, the Father is glorified, we are productive fruit bearers, and we become His disciples.

In our abiding, we must walk as Jesus walk:

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1John 2:6

How did He walk? His most famous walk was the Via Delarosa.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

This section is called Sacrificing for His Plan for this very reason. Jesus sacrificed His life by first deny Himself for the three-plus years He spent making disciples, and then by dying on the cross at Calvary. He requires nothing less of us:

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Denying oneself is putting aside all self-interest, self-centeredness and self-awareness. It is laying down all desire to protect our life in this world. It is a fundamental step in our receiving His life; the life that shall save us (Romans 5:10) and enable us to walk as He walked.

Taking up our cross does not mean becoming a martyr; and it does not mean suffering through some form of affliction. The Romans forced the one being crucified to carry a portion of their cross as a sign of their surrender to the nation they had been rebelling against. Our cross is a sign of our surrender… daily.

The following are a number of other ways Jesus demonstrated and instructed His followers in making disciples God’s way.

Not Our Will

Looking back at John 5:30, we hear Jesus saying, “…I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” In the same way, through Matthew, He warns us:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21

Paul picks up on this in His letter to the Philippians:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

As the Father was in Jesus, He is now in us – working that His will and work would be done. Discovering and doing the Father’s will is as important in our disciple making as it was with Jesus.

The Works We Will Do

In John 5:20, Jesus states that the Father “will show Him [Jesus] greater works than these”. To His disciples, He promises that:

… he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12-14

As with His Son Jesus, God desires to do greater works with is adopted sons and daughters.

The Light of the World

The very thing that Jesus proclaimed of Himself, He affirmed in His followers:

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. John 12:46

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

These are but a few of the ways that Jesus identified Himself with those that would be His disciples. Some we have covered (e.g., “love one another as I have loved you”); others are yet to be searched out. It may be that you are still asking yourself, “How can this be possible?” I encourage you to be patient. We will search this out in the section on Submitting to His Power.

For now, it is enough that we focus on God’s plan for making disciples.

Closing Thoughts

The key to disciple making God’s way is walking as the Lord Jesus walked. Not “trying” to walk as He walked; nor walking something like He walked. It is not about imitating His life, but allowing His life to do what It naturally does, in the work we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

How He walked is carefully recorded in the Gospels. It was a walk of surrender, sacrifice and submission to the will and work of His Father. We can do no less and still call ourselves His disciples.

Making disciples has been called the Great Commission for a reason. It is filled with the greatness of the Lord’s purpose, plan and power for ministry. Through it, God’s children involve themselves in the greatness of God’s story. Out of it, His way, truth and life greatly impact the world – for His great glory, name and kingdom.

But this is only possible if we make disciples God’s way.

Your Role as Leader

If you are a Leader in the Workplace, then you are called to make disciples. To whom much is given, much is expected. You are expected to understand your commission and carry it out to the best of your ability. Most of the work will be His, for He will get the glory. Our responsibility is to choose and passionately pursue His way, His truth, and His life; and to share what we have with others.

Assignment

  1. Review your notes and the Scripture passages from this week’s module. Share the ones that are most meaningful to someone in your spheres of influence.
  2. How does this understanding of “disciple” change your perspective of the relationship you have with Jesus Christ? How does this impact the disciple making God is doing in you? How does this impact the disciple making God is doing through you?
  3. Identify the three to twelve people that God has placed in your spheres of influence for you to be more intentional about making into disciples of Jesus Christ.

Humbly yours and forever His,