You can read Part 1 of this post here.
Okay, so in the first post on this subject, we established that, according to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), making disciples boils down to baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commands us. We should find our curriculum for discipleship, then, by looking in the Gospels for the commands Jesus gave His disciples. Remember, the earliest disciples did not have the New Testament; therefore, we should be able to find all essential material for discipleship without having to go to the Epistles. I do not say this to devalue the complete Word of God in any way, but if Jesus told his disciples to teach new disciples all He had commanded them, this must be able to be done without the aid of the written New Testament.
Let’s look at seven major commands Jesus gave His disciples that we should be passing along as we teach others:
- Repent, Believe, Be Baptized, and Receive the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:15; John 3:16; Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:22; Luke 24:46-49)
Repentance and belief are essential for entering into the Kingdom of God. If you look at the messages preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others in the New Testament, you will find that they always preached a message of repentance. As seen in Mark 1:15 and elsewhere, we are also commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told His disciples in John 20:22 to receive the Holy Spirit, and He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they had been clothed with power from on high. The importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciple is confirmed through the early Church in Acts.
- Baptize New Believers (Matthew 28:18-20)
Fundamental to being a disciple is making other disciples. If I am not making new disciples, I cannot rightly say that I am a disciple of Jesus. In making new disciples, we are to baptize those who are responding to Christ in repentance and belief.
- Make Disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)
The second part of making new disciples is to teach them everything Jesus commanded us, which would mean teaching them to obey these same commands that we are trying to obey.
- Love (Matthew 22:34-40)
Jesus said that love for God and love for others was the essence of the Law and the Prophets. In many other places in the Gospels and throughout Scripture, we are given more precise instructions as to what loving God and loving others looks like.
- Pray (Matthew 6:5-13)
Jesus gives basic instructions on prayer in Matthew Chapter 6. His model prayer found here gives us direction on what kinds of things should be the subject of our prayers.
- Break Bread (Matthew 26:26-29)
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave His disciples an observance that was to be passed down through the generations.
- Give (Matthew 6:1-4)
Jesus commanded His disciples to give, and this is emphasized in many places in Scripture outside of the Gospels, as well. It’s worth noting that the kind of giving most talked about in the New Testament is giving to those in need. (As opposed to building buildings, paying local church leaders, etc.)
Okay, so there is our curriculum for discipleship. Notice how everything listed above comes out of the Gospels. In fact, if you only had one book of the Bible with which to disciple a new believer to maturity, you could do quite well with Matthew. Again, this is not to say we should not be teaching disciples other things from Scripture, but we need to get back to majoring in the basics. Who cares if someone can debate all kinds of difficult doctrines, if they are not obeying the seven basic commands given above?
So what do you think? Are you able and willing to go make disciples according to the pattern Jesus gave? It’s not easy, but it is simple.
Note: Thanks to Rob and Anne Thiessen and George Patterson for the material that I am borrowing this list of commands from. You can download their excellent set of Bible studies for evangelism and discipleship based on Old and New Testament stories and the seven commands of Christ by clicking here.