In the late 1970s, when I was ΙΝΕ College, I met a brother in Christ. Let’s Call him John. John had led a new friend to Christ, so every morning at 6, they Would meet at a Small 24-hour Lutheran chapel near the school to read the Bible and pray together. Besides this daily devotion, they would meet once a week, using the materials provided by the Navigators to study the Bible and build a foundation of faith in Christ. In this way John was training a disciple of Christ.
Every time they prayed together, John and his friend would always pray for his friend’s little sister, who had just come to the United States to study, and also was a new believer in Christ. Praise the Lord, their prayers Were heard. The little Sister Who Was in another university met people who were concerned with her spiritual growth. They were even using the same materials to Cultivate her and train her to become a disciple of Christ.
One day, this little sister came to visit her brother, who happened to be too busy to pick her up. So John
was tasked to go to the bus station to pick her up. When John first saw her, she seemed to him like some heavenly being or angel. To make the long story short, she eventually became his girlfriend, then his wife – they are now together as partners in life’s journey.
So I say, discipleship is really great. Not only can you train people to become disciples of Christ, but you might also end up marrying a disciple’s sister! What more could one want? More importantly, making disciples is Jesus’ command, we must obey:
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:19-20)
This Great Commission is familiar to many of us, and contains only one commandment: “To make disciples Of all nations”. But under this Commandment, there are 3 simple steps, which are participles in the original Greek text going, baptizing, teaching. These 3 participles explain the Work that must be done under the Great Commission.
- Going: To evangelize, bringing nonbelievers to Christ and new life. Jesus Christ calls us to go to all the earth to preach the gospel and bring people to God: “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but Whoever does not believe Will be condemned.'”(Mar 16:15-16)
- Baptizing: To do follow up work, bringing believers into submission to Christ and baptism, so that their lives are made new. If we do not disciple new believers after leading them to Christ, we would be treating them as unwanted babies, thrown into the trash can. We must disciple new believers until they submit to Christ, then they are able to be baptized. Through baptism they are buried With Christ and raised in Christ for a new life. As Apostle Paul says,“Or don’t you know that all of us Who Were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We Were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:3-4)
- Teaching: To train and bring those who have Submitted themselves to the Lord to become disciple makers, obeying the word of God, so that they are also able to bring non-believers to Christ, training and teaching them. In this way, new disciples are produced exponentially from generation to generation, as Apostle Paul told Timothy:“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 Tim 2:2)
In the first half of the last century, Christian organizations such as the Navigators (from the 1930s), Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru, from the 1950s), were created as para – church organizations to fill in the shortcomings of the church. The church had neglected the Great Commission, that is, the work of discipleship. There was a lack of individual evangelism, discipleship, and training.
In college, I received the vision of the Great Commission, and also had some discipleship training. So no matter where I am, I always remember the Lord’s Command and obey the Great Commission. I dare not forget it, because I know if I do not obey the Great Commission, my life is useless on this earth. Whether Was pastoring Churches for 17 years in the past, or teaching in the theological school for 17 years after that, or as SCAC president now, my focus is on discipleship and joining the Work in evangelism, discipleship, and training. Through all these, I experience God’s promise for his constant presence,
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:20b)
Praise the Lord, in recent years “discipleship” has become one of the most popular goals and activities in our church. This is good, but hopefully it does not come and go quickly like a gust of wind, disappearing in a blink of an eye.
Discipleship lasts a lifetime, and it is also an area of service We need to concentrate on, so that we can experience the presence of God together.
By Rev Dr Tie King Tai SCAC President