“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:18-20
As we see in the great commission, Jesus calls us to teach one another to obey everything he commanded. It is a fatal decision to simply teach the bible without the call to obedience. The literal meaning of “teach to obey” is to “keep in the teachings of”. This is the definition of “discipling”. To hold to the teachings of Jesus we need to be called to obedience by another Christian. Discipling is a command in the bible. Sadly, some don’t have that conviction. They see it as “controlling” and overbearing. It is true that some have used the scriptures to their own advantage and misinterpreted the bible. For instance, sinful men would manipulate scriptures to condone slavery. That’s not the scriptures fault, but man’s. Some teachings can be twisted and misused but we cannot shy from holding to the bible. The scriptures are very clear about discipling and we must hold to that teaching the way the bible calls us to.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11
My wife and I have been disciples for over 20 years. Since becoming disciples we have seen the rise and fall of many men and women who have made the decision to make Jesus Lord. We were baptized in Tallahassee in our former fellowship and after being called out of lukewarmness we now stand with the Sold-out movement! In my experience over the years, without discipling the church crumbles.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2
The bible makes it clear, to teach others we must be qualified. There is a maturing we need to have as Christians so we can disciple other people. Without maturing the bible says we are at risk of falling away (Hebrews 5:11-14). Every Christian must have the conviction that if they aren’t growing they are dying. In other words, every Christian should eventually disciple another Christian. Without discipling, a disciple will fall away. Being held to the teaching and holding others to the teaching of Jesus are both salvation issues. Discipling is not optional.
“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” Colossians 1:28
The goal of discipling is maturity. Without discipling a church will not mature and will fall into lukewarmness because they aren’t being held to a biblical standard. This must happen at an individual level (Acts 20:31) and on a group level (Acts 20:28). New Christians have limited knowledge of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus so they need help. We were never meant to be carbon copies of our teachers, but we aspire to be as much like Jesus as we can be. The bible calls us to disciple one another in order for us to grow in being more like Christ.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
If a horse doesn’t get spurred, it won’t move. The spur is used to kick into the sides of a horse to make it move. That doesn’t feel great, but the horse gets going! That’s the same thing we need as followers of Jesus. Discipling is used to spur one another on. What spurs have you received lately? And what spurs have you given? We all must have the conviction to be spurred and spur others on in their walks with God. Of course, the purpose is to love and do God’s will. Never use discipling to break others down as that is not God’s will or purpose. Discipling is to help us get to heaven especially in calling out sin. We all must see our need for being called out of our sin. Without discipling we will all be oblivious to our sin and the sins of others. Tolerating sin is another fatal mistake for any Christian and for any church. If you haven’t been “spurred on” in discipling lately, you must repent and get help.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Here are some other helpful scriptures to give you a great perspective on discipling others and taking discipling:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13.
In summary, the goal of discipling is to encourage and support one another. To build deep convictions into the church to present everyone mature in Christ. Without being discipled, we will all lose our salvation. Every disciple needs discipling.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13