“Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions],
so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence
but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal,
and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling
(self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness
against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God
and discredit the name of Christ).
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while
effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you
the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good
pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
Philippians 2:12-13 (AMP)
Many people think of disciples as the twelve disciples that Jesus had in His inner circle when He was on earth. While that is true, we see in the early church in Acts where the number of disciples grew and multiplied. That’s because after Jesus’ death and resurrection, He came and appeared to the disciples, giving them what’s known as “The Great Commission,” before He ascended back into heaven. Here’s what Jesus left the disciples with:
“Go then and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them into the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Teaching them to observe everything
that I have commanded you,
and behold, I am with you all the days
(perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion),
to the [very] close and consummation of the age.
Amen (so let it be).”
Matthew 28:19-20 (AMP)
The first thing to understand is that a disciple is a term used to refer to a “student” and a “follower.” When Jesus was going around first starting His public ministry, gathering up the twelve, He said to them, “Follow Me.” They got to be close to Him and study Him, as students. Then when it was time for Jesus to physically leave the earth, He told them to go out and make more disciples. They would now be the teachers, as together they all continued to follow Jesus.
This command wasn’t just for the early church, though. If you are a believer, a Christian, a Jesus-follower, you are also a disciple and the command to go out and make more disciples is for us, too. It’s not just our pastor’s job or the Sunday school teacher’s job. If the Holy Spirit is living in you, sisters, it’s our job, too.
So let’s break this down as it pertains to us and how we are to be intentional disciples. To be a student means to acquire knowledge, and to follow means to copy after or imitate. So in all simplicity, we need to study Jesus and imitate Him.
How are we going to study Him and come to know Him intimately enough that we can imitate Him? This is where the “disciplines of the Christian faith” come into play. (Notice the word “disciple” is part of “discipline” because these are things we need to do as disciples.) For me, I don’t think of them in such a formal way, but rather, they flow through my relationship and connection with Jesus every day.
There are several “disciplines” of the faith. I’m only going to list five, as they are the ones that most grow my relationship with Jesus. However, please know that our faith and living holy lives is not about following a “to-do” list. Living a holy life of faith is conformity to the character of God and obedience to the will of God. To know His character and His will, we’ve got to be close to Him. So another way to look at these is as relationship building tools for the Holy Spirit within you to use to draw you closer to God.
- Reading the Bible
In conclusion, to be intentional disciples, we first have to be filled with the Holy Spirit because we need His help. Next, we need to work the disciplines of our faith into our daily lives – which helps us to study and imitate Jesus as we learn His character and will. Then we will be able, through His supernatural strength and power, to live in obedience to His commands and His will for each of our lives. God’s top commands are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; to love our neighbors; and to go out and make more disciples. As we do our part to work in the disciplines, God works on our hearts (see Phil. 2:12-13 above), and fulfilling those commands flows through.
Go get close to God! Go help others do the same!
© 2015, Kristen Hamilton. All rights reserved. Love it? Please share, pin, tweet or email but do not use my work without permission.