(These notes can also be found online at amite.church, under the TEACHING tab.)
I Dare You to Be a Disciple!
Matthew 4:19, Luke 9:23-26
How would you define a “Christian”? Some would say that a Christian is someone who believes certain things about God or Jesus. Others might add that a Christian is someone who goes to church or is a “good God-fearing person” who tries to do the right thing. These same concepts are found in the dictionary which reads, “a Christian is religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ and who is a member of a Christian denomination.”
While these notions are certainly popular, are they biblical? The word “Christian” is only found three times and primarily used by outsiders as a negative thing by calling God’s people “goody-goodies”. Later, Christians tweaked and embraced it to mean “little Christs” or “followers of Jesus”.
The word “disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament. The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciples are “students that follow a teacher”. In referring to what and who they were following, the earliest self-description we know of is followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 11:26). And this description has no little significance. In describing what we call “Christianity” today as “The Way,” these first followers of Jesus made a radical claim about the person and work of Jesus. They were serious about following Christ.
What is a Disciple?
What is the definition of a disciple? It is critical that we have an accurate understating of what Jesus meant by “disciple”. A definition enables us to evaluate if we are disciples, and it helps others to understand what it means to actually be a disciple of Jesus.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – (Matthew 4:19 ESV)
A disciple, according to Jesus, is defined by: (1) someone who knows and follows Jesus; (2) someone who is being changed by Jesus; and (3) someone who is committed to the mission of Jesus.
“Follow Me” = someone who knows and follows Jesus
For someone to be a disciple of Jesus, there has to be a commitment to actually follow Him. Jesus invites us to listen and obey Him. If we follow Christ, we must come under His authority and direction. This is what follow means. We allow someone else to lead. This means a daily decision to purposely do the things that Jesus said. Many believers want to receive the blessings of Jesus, but have no actual interest in allowing Jesus into their daily decision making. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus gives an invitation to be in relationship with Him, as we submit to His leadership. Many people will say that they believe that Jesus is Savior. Many will even call Him their master. But a disciple is someone who follows Jesus as Lord.
“I Will Make You” = someone who is being changed by Jesus
We can make the commitment, but only Jesus can turn us into genuine disciples through transformation. Jesus wants to change us. He is not a dead man or someone who left this world without a trace. He is alive, and He transforms us into new persons if we follow Him as His Disciples. We are changed as we stay in relationship with Him through Bible Study, prayer, the counsel of other believers, and life experiences. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – (Romans 8:29 ESV) God’s plan is to make us like Jesus. Our relationship with Him will lead us closer and closer to a living representative of His character and likeness. He wants us to look like Him.
“Fishers of Men” = someone who is committed to the mission of Jesus
Peter’s fishing crew had just brought in a humongous catch. The men must have thought, Wow! We won’t need to work for a few months after we sell all these fish! This was a business they understood. (Luke 5:1-11) Jesus seized this opportunity to begin the work He had come to complete: making disciples. He put disciple-making into a language these fishermen would understand. Fishers of men are those who work to fulfill Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.
A disciple is one that knows and follows Christ (HEAD), is being changed by Christ (HEART), and is committed to the mission of Christ (HANDS).
Sit and Soak Christianity
Lots of Christians think that they are doing their part by coming to church and sitting and listening. Making disciples is not about sitting and listening. We cannot change the definition of discipleship to (1) sit and (2) listen, and then expect to make disciples as Jesus did. (Luke 9:23-26) Maybe your understanding of discipleship is accurate, but your follow-through is weak. Maybe you’ve never been shown how to be a disciple. Maybe you’ve been confused. Or maybe you just need some help. Ask Jesus what needs to change in your life so it matches His definition of being and making disciples. I dare you to be a disciple!
(Adapted from real-life discipleship training manual by Jim Putman, Avery T. Willis Jr., Brandon Guindon, and Bill Krause. P.25-28)
Start with an icebreaker question to get everyone talking. Then choose questions that will work well with your family/group.
- Icebreaker: Tell about something you’ve secretly longed to do or be, but just couldn’t. It just isn’t you!
- What is the definition of a disciple? Why is it critical to have an accurate understating of what Jesus meant when He commands us to “make disciples”?
- How has your relationship with Jesus changed you since you got serious about following Him?
- Accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow Him begins with realizing who He is. Following Jesus affects the disciple’s thinking. Are you convinced? Have you come to the place that you believe that Jesus is who He said He was? What stands in the way of you following Jesus?
- Jesus changes us as we spend time following Him. As we get to know Him better, He gives us direction and guidance on how to live. The result of spending time with Jesus will be a greater love for God and for others. How often should you pray? How often should you read God Word? How often should you memorize Scripture? How often should you gather with God’s people? If these are the ways to follow Christ, then how much should we use them?
- Talk about Luke 9:23-26.
Take Action – Lead your group to help each person identify their next steps.
- Get into walking daily with God through prayer and regular Bible Reading.
- What are some practical steps you can take to be a disciple of Jesus?
- Disciple Groups at Amite will start in August. Are you ready to be a part?