MAKING DISCIPLES Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The Great Commission exhorts the Lord’s apostles to make disciples of all nations, to teach them to keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus. Are we really doing this? Are we making disciples today, or have we created a religion and are making proselytes to our theology? There is a world of difference between the average member of the Christian religion and a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The disciple learns the teachings of Christ and His Apostles from his instructor in the Lord. As he does so he puts them into practice. One day he or she too will be able to disciple other new believers.
There is a great deal to be learned today as God is opening the seals of His holy Word. Who among us is willing to learn from Jesus Christ, putting into practice His righteous ways, that he in turn may then disciple others.
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 0:24,25)
The Great Commission commanded the Apostles of the Lamb to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey the commandments given by Christ.
What does it mean to make a disciple?
A few years ago there was considerable emphasis on discipleship. The way it worked out in practice was as follows: a more experienced Christian took the responsibility for a newer believer and directed his or her behavior, right down to the point of what he should buy, where he should go, and the other details of life and behavior.
In our opinion this is not discipling, it is mentoring.
We need mentors today in the churches—experienced Christians who will take an interest in the younger and help them get established, although not to the point of directing their daily activities! I think such detailed supervision has proven counterproductive.
Mentors are very necessary, there is no question about this. Let us have more mentors so every new believer has someone who will pray and watch over him or her.
But making a disciple is another matter. Disciples are made by the Word of God as it is preached and taught.
Until fairly modern times there were no universities as we know them today. A teacher would come into a town or village. He would place himself in a prominent area and gather disciples around him. Then he would teach them. This is how the Lord Jesus did.
The disciples came to learn the wisdom and knowledge of the teacher, whether in medicine, philosophy, science, or some other discipline.
In the trades the student would pass from apprentice, to journeyman, to master worker as he gained information and skill.
To make a disciple is primarily to impart knowledge, although it may include on the job training.
The teacher of the Word of God is in the role of a master. He should be someone who has followed the Lord and kept His commandments for a number of years. He has learned the ways of Christ. Now he is to impart this information, as well as his example, to younger believers who thus will learn the ways of God.
This is what it means to preach Christ—to bring the Presence and knowledge of Christ to other people so they can learn to keep Christ’s commandments.
The purpose of all the gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit is to bring us to maturity as a member of Christ’s body, maturity being measured by the fullness of the stature of Christ. We are to be one in faith, one in knowledge with all other members of the Body.
To be one in faith is not referring to agreement in points of theology. Such agreement is relatively worthless in the Kingdom of God.
To be one in faith means that both of us have learned to look to the Lord Jesus for every detail of life. When two Christians are at the same level of looking to Jesus and interacting with Him they have a wonderful unity of spirit.
Whenever two Christian are not in agreement it is because one or the other or both are living according to his or her fleshly mind.
To come to the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God is to attain the same level of iron righteousness and integrity, of fiery holiness, and of stern obedience to the Father that is true of mature Christians
When we have come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, then we are mature as measured by the full stature of Christ.
To disciple an individual is to teach him or her to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles so he may come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to a perfect man, a perfect member of the Body of Christ.
Such perfection and maturity is impossible to us but it is ordained by the Lord God of Heaven. It shall come to pass in all of us, according to the Word of God, if we keep looking to Jesus.
Each gift and ministry of the Body of Christ is for the purpose of helping the disciple become like His Master. When he becomes like His Master he then is able to disciple other believers, helping them learn the righteous ways of the Lord.
When we come to the full stature of Christ we then can meet the need God has for an eternal abode, and also the need mankind has for a witness, and later for a deliverer, ruler, and priest. The ultimate role of each member of Christ, Head and Body, is to fulfill the needs of God and man.
Today we have three problems as far as teaching people and making them disciples of Jesus.
First, the incorrect understanding of the Apostle Paul has led us to believe that it is not necessary to keep the commandments of Christ. We of today believe that Paul meant we are saved by believing that Jesus is Christ and how we behave is not critically important. You can never make a disciple with this kind of understanding.
This would be like a master carpenter saying all you have to do to be my disciple is to believe I am a master carpenter. There is nothing you have to learn about the trade of carpentry. How ridiculous!
Think about this. Suppose in early times a young man was brought to a master printer, or perhaps he decided to come on his own. He was applying to be an apprentice (apprentice and disciple are the same thing). Let us say the master printer agreed to take on another apprentice.
"Yippee!" the boy shouted. "Look at me. I’m a printer."
The printer said, "Take off your coat, sweep out the shop, and put more wood in the stove."
If the boy remains at the job, putting up with abuse from the other boys and the heavy hand of the master, running errands, cleaning the shop, finally being allowed to handle type, he will be a journeyman printer some day. After he has learned what there is to know about the various aspects of printing he will be regarded as a master. Then he will set up his own shop and take on apprentices who will be eager to gain the knowledge and skill of the master.
This is the way it is today. People become members of the Christian religion, not apprentices. They "make a decision for Christ" and yell, "Yippee! I’m a Christian." In fact, they don’t even do that sometimes.
According to the Book of Acts the term "Christians" is the name given to the disciples.
How would it be if the "master Christian," the one of many years of experience in the "trade," set up a shop, a church. Then he took on apprentices. The people came expecting to be taught the knowledge of the ways of the Lord gained by the teacher over a long period of time.
If these were the role expectations, the pastor was a "master" Christian and the members of the congregation were apprentices, the elders being journeymen, more would be accomplished in one year as far as growth in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God than takes place during the entire lifetime of the members of the Christian churches.
The believers don’t need "sermons," they need to be taught iron righteousness and integrity, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
After they gain proficiency in these they are to set up shop and take on their own apprentices.
Of course, not all members of the Body of Christ are teachers. But according to the Scriptures each one has a gift with which to build up the members of the Body. Are we incorrect in this?
The second problem is that in many instances the Word of God is not being preached but some tradition, such as prosperity, getting what we want by faith, or the pre-tribulation rapture. This kind of preaching does not make disciples. The individual cannot learn how to keep Christ’s commandments by being taught about how to get rich.
Often the pastor will preach about some plan that is on his heart, such as raising money to put in a new parking lot. The evangelist tells fifteen stories about his success in other places and then gives an altar call.
None of this is food for the sheep. None of this will disciple the listener. People are built up in Christ only by the Word of God. Let us teach the Word! Where are the expositors of the sacred text?
In some churches the people jump up and down next to their pews, practicing for the "rapture." This is not how one learns to keep Christ’s commandments. People learn to keep Christ’s commandments as they are taught them by someone who himself has learned to keep them.
The third problem is that of stressing "spiritual" experiences instead of teaching the commandments of Christ. It appears that the False Prophet of the last days will stress miracles. Miracles and other spiritual and emotional phenomena are of use only as long as they lead people to keep Christ’s commandments. When we stress miracles and emotional experiences we are pointing toward the sign rather than the destination.
Because of the present desire for signs and miracles people are being led astray into emotional experiences that result in twitching, jerking, making animal sounds, rolling on the floor, swooning, and so forth. How can these teach us to keep the commandments of Christ? Are they not delicious, self-centered, highly subjective experiences that do not build up the Body of Christ?
We do not say there are not to be times when there are people falling prostrate under the power of God, seeing visions, dreaming dreams, laughing, crying, gaining release from bondages and inhibitions. There should be such times as necessary. But such are never to take the place of the exposition of the Word of God nor are they to be sought or made the centerpiece of each Christian gathering.
When the Word of God is being taught, believers rolling on the floor or laughing uncontrollably are out of Divine order. Are such goings on decent and orderly? Do they not detract from the discipling of the believers? Can such confusion possibly be coming from the Holy Spirit of God? We need to be children in malice but adults in the understanding of the righteous, decent, orderly ways of the Lord.
We who are supposed to be teaching the commandments of Christ, making disciples of all nations, must return to the Word of God. We are to be showing younger people how to follow Christ. It is only as the Word is preached that people are discipled. They are discipled by the Word itself as it is preached under the anointing of the Spirit of God.
It is God’s will that the younger generation carry the Ark of God against the enemy. To do so they must be given the corn of the Word. They will not be able to fight as long as they are eating manna. Strength comes from the corn of the land of promise. Those who teach and preach must get before the Lord in prayer until they are given corn to feed to the new generation of warriors.
God has prepared a feast of His Word for the days in which we are living. Every commander of battle knows you do not send troops against the enemy on an empty stomach.
The Bible says that in the end time the wheat and tares will come to maturity side by side. This means wickedness will come to maturity. Righteousness will come to maturity. Christ will come to maturity in His people. Antichrist will come to maturity in the wicked.
The Holy Spirit will come in greater measure to the true saints. The spirit of the False Prophet will enter the majority of the believers. Only a remnant will hold to the truth and be preserved from delusion.
God the Father will arise and shake terribly the earth and the heavens. Satan will muster his forces and do what he can do to debauch the creation in one last horrible manifestation of wickedness and filth.
We see the growth of evil in the United States today. People are becoming mean. Sales people are cutting in on the efforts of their fellow workers. Self-seeking individuals are stepping on their comrades and taking credit for the accomplishments of others. People in the trades are suffering as contractors are making every effort to amass wealth by using poor material and lying to the government about the wages they are paying. Farm workers are abused and made to live in hovels with their children while the wealthy farm owners drive off in their Cadillacs.
From the clerk to the chief executive officer there is a display of meanness and self serving.
We have not mentioned the destruction of the home and the orgies of lust and violence. One prominent writer advises older women to try to get married men to practice infidelity. Her idea seems to be if a woman cannot keep her husband true it is her own fault.
God has an answer for the cesspool in which we are existing. The answer, and the only answer, is the formation and dwelling of Christ in the believers to an unprecedented degree. We are to be given more of Christ.
We don’t need more religion we need more of Christ. While evangelism is always necessary, it may be true in the United States today that there is a far, far greater need to disciple the believers in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Father than there is for evangelism.
We find in our jail work that a sizable number of those who attend the chapel services have had considerable experience in the Christian religion. Some of them come from strong Christian families, even the families of ministers. Many have made several "decisions for Christ."
Evangelism is needed in the jails and prisons, but an even greater need is for discipling.
The purpose of receiving more of Christ is so we may be wise enough, strong enough, courageous enough to faithfully keep His commandments and those of His Apostles.
When others lie to us we are to tell the truth.
When other rage at us we are to peaceful and courteous.
When others betray us we are to remain faithful to God, looking to Him for the way out of the predicament in which others have placed us.
When others step on us as they claw their way to the "top" we are to remain in prayer, keeping our mind fixed on that which is lovely.
We are to keep Christ’s commandments. We are not to fret about the evil that surrounds us but to think about that which is full of hope and joy.
We are to be lights in the darkness. We cannot do this in our adamic nature, we must have Christ formed in us so the Father and He can dwell in us through the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The perversity in America today is so virulent, so poisonous, that our good intentions vanish like a drop of water in a furnace. Only Christ has Virtue powerful enough to overcome the lies and treachery surrounding us.
Evil cannot be overcome by evil, only by the good that comes from God.
How can the adult who was molested as a child, or exposed to satanic ritual abuse, ever forgive those who raped his or her personality? Adam cannot forgive. Christ can forgive. There is this kind of Virtue in Him. As Christ is in us the power and Virtue to forgive and to go on with life enter us.
This is not to say that professional help is not needed on occasion. Professional help often is required. But mental health professionals can go only so far. Full, wholesome emotional and mental health come only through the Life of God that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not to be consumed with the evil of Satan. The whole creation is filled with the Glory of God and we can choose to see that Glory and think about it. The choice is ours. Meditating on the evil in people will only drag us down spiritually and emotionally.
Jesus Christ is standing at the door of the foul fleshpot that America is becoming, a nation that at one time had been at least moderately Christian. The political writers are telling us our government is corrupt far beyond what we imagine. This may be true. But Jesus is greater than all. As we look to Him we personally can live a victorious life and then will be received joyfully by the Lord when we die or when He returns.
The Great Commission charges preachers to make disciples, teaching them to keep the commandments of Christ. When we do not keep Christ’s commandments we are not His disciples. It is the Word of God that makes disciples, causing them to be born again of the incorruptible Seed of God.
We notice the Lord said if we love Him we will keep His commandments. If we keep His commandments the Father will love us and He and the Father will make their home with us.
Our nation needs at least a few true Christians—disciples who keep the commandments of Christ. We have millions of adherents to the Christian religion but few disciples it appears.
Why do we have only a few true Christians while the remaining millions are only members of the Christian religion?
As we have stated—
First, we are interpreting Paul to mean that Divine grace is a substitute for keeping the commandments of Christ. Away with this horrible perversion of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! Let it be banished forever from the thinking of God’s elect!
Second, we are preaching our interpretation of the mysteries of the Christian religion instead of righteousness. The people of the world will never glorify God as long as we are talking about how we can get what we want by faith; how we can control the creation with our word and our imaging; how we all are going to fly away to Heaven before we can be harmed.
The teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture is the most anti-Semitic, self-centered, self-serving, anti-scriptural doctrine one could invent. A Christian friend, a pastor, said the teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture is of demonic origin, the purpose being to make the believers complacent. Is he correct? There is not one verse in the entire Bible that teaches "Christ is coming to take His waiting bride to Heaven." Not one passage that suggests such a thing! How long will we persist in teaching the mythology of the believers disappearing from the earth and being carried to mansions in Paradise? The purpose of the return of Christ, and we with Him, is to establish justice and peace among the saved nation of the earth.
Will be continue to preach our traditions although they manifestly are unscriptural? Or do we love the truth? If we do not love the truth God Himself will send a strong delusion upon us.
We have today what is termed "renewal." God grant we have a renewal of repentance, of keeping Christ’s commandments.
We personally have been preaching for almost fifty years that the greatest revival of all time will come to the earth before the return of the Lord. The double set of fifty rings, one bronze and one gold, over the veil of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, inform us of the double portion of judgment and Divinity that will visit the earth before the end of the Church Age.
Terrific glory and judgment are on the way.
But some of the manifestations of today seem to be delicious personal, emotional experiences that are not directed toward building the iron character that the Spirit of God desires to form in the saints—iron that is absolutely necessary if we are to keep Christ’s commandments in a world sick with lust, covetousness, treachery, and violence.
If I bark like a dog, neigh like a horse, roll on the floor, twitch, jerk, and so forth, are these the good works the world is waiting to see? Will the unsaved glorify God when I bray like a donkey? When I pick myself off the floor will I keep the commandments of Christ or will I seek ever more sensational "experiences"?
My wife, Audrey, says that when God is around people will not speak like donkeys but donkeys will speak like people.
There certainly is no evidence whatever in the scriptures that people have ever been inspired by the Spirit of God to make animal sounds. It seems degrading and not in keeping with the dignity and courtesy of the Spirit of Almighty God!
Some have said we should not limit God. I agree wholeheartedly to this. I believe the day will come when the saints do greater works than the Lord Jesus performed on the earth; that man will be in the image of the Lord according to the image revealed in the first chapter of Ezekiel; that man will sit with Christ on the highest throne of creation; that the fruit of the person who is totally obedient to God will compare with that of the faithful Abraham.
I personally believe that the revival that is at hand, as symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, will result in the profession of faith in Christ by the majority of people living on the earth. This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to every nation for a witness before the time of witnessing has come to an end.
This to me is what it means to not limit God.
But to mean that God is able to make us speak like a dog or roll on the floor is not my idea of drawing on the might and wisdom of the Creator of the galaxies. How do you feel about this?
Didn’t Paul command us to interpret if we speak in tongues while there are unlearned in the assembly? How much more then should we refrain from making animal sounds that even animals cannot understand? If I neigh like a horse, is the trumpet giving a certain sound that will lead the army of the Lord into battle? The saints are the riders, not the horses!
None of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the New Testament so much as resembles the present manifestations of "renewal."
Haven’t we been commanded to test the spirits? Are we to accept uncritically that which is not found in the New Testament either in letter or in spirit and implication?
We wave banners in our own assembly and praise the Lord. Banners are not found in the New Testament. But we are in control of what we are doing and we are heralding the coming of the King, Jesus. We are not yielding ourselves to spirits in the meeting that compel us to laugh uncontrollably.
We will laugh in the Spirit but we will stop when laughing is not appropriate. Sometimes the Spirit fills us with laughter but we remain in control so that all is done decently and in order.
As we have stated, when the Word is being preached, that which creates disciples of the Lord, for someone to break out in laughter, to make animal sounds, or to roll on the floor is neither decent nor orderly.
Saying "the Lord made me do it" reveals an ignorance of the Lord and His ways. The Spirit of the Lord never compels questionable, confusing, disorderly, unscriptural behavior—never! never! never!
It is the responsibility of the elders of the assembly to guide the believers into profitable manifestations of the Spirit of God and to lovingly stop exhibitions that seem inappropriate. An uncomfortable feeling about what is taking place is sufficient authorization and motivation for the pastor and elders to stop any activity in the assembly. Not to do so is to fail in our role before God.
In our assembly we are not afraid to step out in new activities as seems appropriate, such as having members of the worship team prophesy with a music background. Also we have been known to march around the church for fifteen minutes carrying the great banner portraying Christ coming on His white horse, while the only music is coming from the drums. We do not do this every Sunday at eleven o’clock, but only as we all feel the moving of the Lord.
I include these personal references to show we are not against revival or the moving of the Lord but are indicating we can do all things, as well as doing them decently and in order.
All that is done is under the careful supervision of elders, and each participant knows that to rebel against the authority structure of the church will result in a loss of the anointing.
So we are not by any means discouraging the believers from reaching out to touch the hem of Christ’s garments. We think there can be an infinite variety of expressions of Christ as the various gifts and ministries are assigned to the multitude of personalities of the believers.
When the true Divine renewal comes, let us exclaim, "This is that!"
But meanwhile let us be careful what we receive is really "that" and not some impression of the enemy that leads us away from keeping the commandments of Christ.
If our Christian faith does not transform our character until the iron is formed that will govern the nations in righteousness, then we are not addressing ourselves to our discipleship as we should.
One time the sons of the prophets decided to build a larger building. Sound familiar?
But they were chopping wood with a borrowed axe. This means they were operating in the spiritual strength of others.
As will always happen, they lost the axe head and had only the helve with which to cut wood.
They called for the man of God. Elisha told them to throw a stick into the water and the iron would swim.
So it is with us. We may be trying to build when we have only the handle of the axe. If we will throw the stick, meaning our personal cross, into the waters of renewal, the iron strength of Divine righteousness will float.
Do you want the iron of God? Then flee from that which is vain, the religious games being played, and seek the God of Elijah and Elisha, of Paul, of Peter, of the Lord Jesus. Take up your cross, for apart from bearing your cross behind Jesus Christ you cannot be a disciple and you will be open to deception. Learn of Christ. Pray for the strength and wisdom to keep His commandments and those of His Apostles.
Soon the iron will swim in your personality and you will build the true house of God and Christ. The true house of God is your own personality.
Then God will have an eternal dwelling place and our sick society will have some light, some salt, a moral anchor to hold to when the raging of the wicked ones is as a storm against the wall.
That day is upon us in America. The age of moral horrors is here. Paul’s prophecy has come to pass. We are lovers of ourselves. The end is moral chaos and finally Divine judgment.
Let us arise and build the wall against sin. Maybe the Lord will see our repentance and notice our seeking of His face. Maybe if we stand in the gap God will heal us before America becomes no more than a chapter in the history books.
Let us become, and then make, disciples!