The Mission of Discipleship

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets and followed him.”

Matthew 4:17-20

In this passage of Scripture, Herod just imprisoned John the Baptist.  Christ started His earthly ministry and began to preach the Gospel. As a result of His preaching, Christ calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John.  Why did He call these men to Him?  What was the purpose of making disciples?  What logically succeeds the preaching and the reception of the Gospel message in verse 17?

The answer is in verse 19; He would make them fishers of men.  The purpose of following Christ is soul winning.  The mission of discipleship is missions.  This is the first command Christ gave to Peter.  He then proceeded to teach and to command other things over the three years of His ministry.  Notice the last command Christ gave directly to Peter after the resurrection.  “And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.  Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry til I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.(John 21:19b-22)  Notice now the last command Christ gives to the eleven on Mount Olivet. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)  Christ’s first commands were to follow and to soul win.  His last commands were to follow and to soul win.  The three years worth of commands and teaching were to help them fulfill these two. It is no stretch that the beginning of our Christian life, the end of our Christian life, and everything in between would be filled with following, soul winning, and teaching others to do the same.

All believers are to follow Christ and to teach others to do the same. In following Christ you will be made a fisher of men. Soul winners are made not born. As we follow Christ, others should follow us. When someone stops following Christ, we ought to stop following that person. Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  See Paul’s reason for being, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)  Everything in Paul’s life lent itself to spreading the Gospel, so it should be in lives.

The mission of discipleship is missions. Therefore, it is not enough just to be a soul winner; we must teach our converts to be soul winners also. All of what we teach our converts to do is for the purpose of soul winning. Here are the top seven  topics we teach our people who are newly saved and how these topics apply to soul winning.

1. Assurance of Salvation. How can you expect someone to tell others about salvation if they are not sure about it themselves? I John 5:13-15 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.  And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” God wants us to know that we are saved. It is not a matter of thinking or hoping but of knowing. I need to teach a person the assurance of his salvation, so he can have a correct view of salvation to teach it to his converts. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one.” (John 10:28-30) These verses are some of the clearest on the definitiveness of salvation. Each Christian needs to learn this great Bible truth. Knowing salvation is a one time transaction between the lost man and God Almighty which lasts forever will spurn the soul winner to preach the Gospel more than ever. The purpose of teaching new converts the assurance of their salvation is missions.

2. Bible study. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15) In this verse, God commands us to study. God tells us we do not need to be ashamed if we has his approval. Studying will help us work better for Him and cause us to rightly divide the Word of Truth. God calls us workmen. What is the work we are to do? It is evangelizing the world. We need to know the Scripture because it is the power of God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)  “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.  For all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. This is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Peter 1:22-25)  It is very clear here that the Word of God is the seed we are born again from. This is one great reason why we need to teach our converts to study their bible. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (I Peter 3:15-16) We are commanded to have a reason of our salvation and to ably explain how to be saved. One cannot do that without studying his Bible. The purpose of teaching new converts to study their Bibles is missions.

3. Prayer. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost part parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psalm 2:8) God is saying here that one prayer request ought to be for people to be saved. He says the heathen; the heathen are lost people. The uttermost parts sounds an awful lot like Acts 1:8. Paul backs up this thought, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our SaviorWho will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.(I Timothy 2:1-4) We are to pray for all men to be saved and to teach others to pray for all men to be saved. The purpose of teaching new converts to pray is missions.

4. Church Attendance. Church is not a place of worship. Church is a body of believers whom Christ paid for with His own blood and through whom He does His work. The purpose of church is to provoke and be provoked. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)  In this passage there is a progression: hold fast the profession of faith, provoke to love and good works, and church attendance. The strongest Christians are those who attend church regularly. The most loving Christians are those who attend church regularly. The hardest working Christians are those who attend church regularly. The longest growing Christians are those who attend church regularly. The most encouraging Christians are those who attend church regularly. All these attributes are found in this passage. All these attributes are also found in the greatest missionaries. This is the way we can attack Hell. Mad Anthony Wayne told General Washington, “Give the order, sir. And I’ll lay siege to Hell.” Little did he know that Christ had already given that order. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)  Gates don’t attack; they defend. notice the example of the church in Acts, “And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts2:46-47) The purpose of teaching new converts to attend church is missions.

5. Baptism. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:8-11) The first thing to ask a new convert is, “Are you ashamed of Christ?” Baptism is the first thing new Christians did after being saved. Baptism is the first command given after soul winning in Matthew 28 and Mark 16. We are to win people to Christ, get them baptized, and teach them to do the same thing. Baptism is a picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and shows others that we are not ashamed of Christ. Baptism also shows God that we want to follow Christ’s example in Matthew 3 and that we want to obey His command in Acts 10. If a person is too ashamed to be baptized, he will be too ashamed to preach and proclaim the Gospel. The purpose of teaching our converts baptism is missions.

6. Tithes and Offerings. God commands us to tithe and give offerings. Much of God’s blessings come from being obedient to His commands, not the least of which are His financial commands. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)  God says that the firstfruits, or tithes, are His. When we pay what is due Him, He is honored. The result of honoring God with all our increase (not just our gross paycheck) is being filled and even bursting with blessings. Malachi 3:10 is a very familiar verse on tithes and offerings. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  We are to bring the tithes, not send them. God says that He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing. There is only one other place in the whole Bible where God mentions opening and closing the windows of heaven. That is the story of Noah. God wants to flood you with blessings like He flooded the earth with water (15 cubits above Mt. Everest). He cannot do that if we do not tithe. I know I want a blessing from God.

The blessing is not the end of the issue. Most preachers stop there, but God does not. What is the purpose of the blessing? You guessed it! “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.  That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.  Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.  O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.  Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.  The earth shall yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless usGod shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.  (Psalm 67) God’s blessings are given to us, so the whole world would come to Christ. The purpose of teaching our converts Godly finances is missions.

7. Service to God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hat before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)  We did not get saved by works, but God saved us to work. Christ said that his meat was to finish God’s work. We are to work and to serve God. What is the purpose of serving Him? Why ought I to teach my converts to get involved and to pitch in? Is ushering, driving a bus, being on staff, or other church work the be all end all? No, it emphatically is not! People are in those positions to reach people for Christ. David understood this. He killed Goliath because of missions. “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.(I Samuel 17:46)

Moses told Pharaoh that they must leave Egypt to serve the Lord. Why did God choose Israel? He chose them to proclaim the Gospel. “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.  The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:  But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8) God preached the Gospel to Abraham (Galatians 3). He told Abraham that all families of the earth would be blessed in Genesis 12:4. Salvation is a mighty good blessing. God started to implement that blessing with the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 7. All through the Gospels Christ used the fields as an analogy for the work God wants us to do. All those analogies were to get people saved. The Great Commission is to get people saved and baptized and to teach them to get others saved and baptized. Everyone is to serve God. The great thing is not only to serve God but also to serve with God. Paul the Apostle is the most recognized man in the New Testament aside from the Lord Himself. He labored more abundantly then the rest of the apostles. God wrote through Paul in II Corinthians 6:1-2, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) ” The purpose of teaching our converts to serve God is missions.

There are many things we ought to teach our converts. The Bible is full of doctrine to teach them. We have only scratched the surface of the top seven items we teach our converts and how they apply to missions. Many soul winners only teach these seven topics and think their job of discipleship is over. They are sadly mistaken. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Our job is to have new believers follow Christ and become soul winners. Therefore, the mission of discipleship is missions.

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