Make Disciples Matt. 28:18-20 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Some people believe that Matt 28:19 says, Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations… They get this from going back to the “Greek.” But Matt 28:19 doesn’t say that. It says, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations… There is a definite and important difference between the word teach and the phrase make disciples.
What is a disciple? He is a follower of Christ [Matt 16:24]. But after Acts 21:16 you don’t find the word “disciple.” That’s because you aren’t a disciple, per se, but rather you are a child of God [Jn 1:12]. As God’s children, the work of the Holy Spirit is to teach us [Jn 14:26] and to lead us [Rom 8:14] and to conform us to Christ’s image [Rom 8:29].
The critical time in the life of a new Christian is right after he gets saved. Those whom I have taught right after their salvation have panned out well. But they were the ones willing to be taught. I didn’t MAKE them learn or MAKE them disciples. They made themselves available to be taught. We teach and we commit to faithful men [2 Tim 2:2] but the men we teach must be faithful.
Your work, as a child of God, is to study [2 Tim 2:15] and to present your body [Rom 12:1] and to be transformed by the renewing of your mind [Rom 12:2]. You must be faithful.
So, we want Christians to follow us only to the extent that following us gets them to follow Christ [1 Cor 4:16, 11:1]. The disciple is to be as his master [Matt 9:24, 25]. We don’t want God’s children to be conformed to us. Our work is to feed [Acts 20:28; Jn 21:22, 15-18] and to edify by preaching and teaching [Eph 4:11-12].
If it is up to us to make disciples, then we will make them like us, not like Christ. If it up to us to make disciples we will tempted to employ any means to get them to follow. And that’s already happening, but with bad results. Notice it is possible to have disciples of men who follow men [Acts 20:30]. Paul had to fight this tendency of men to follow men in Corinth [1 Cor 3:3-7].
If you think it is up to us to make disciples then you might be inclined to lay back and hold us responsible for the way you turn out. If you don’t turn out then is it our fault? What about Demas [2 Tim 4:10] and Judas? Demas wasn’t Paul’s casualty. Demas fell out because he loved the world.
The wife of a missionary we support has been “discipling” two young ladies. They aren’t panning out. However, in time they may end up where the Lord wants them to be, like others that we have tried to “disciple” in the past. They have to follow the Lord. We must trust the Lord with them. What we do with teaching, preaching, Bible study, radio, web material and counsel is plenty of food for you to grow.
Become responsible for your own growth, learn from the preaching and teaching of the word of God as the Holy Spirit teaches you and applies it to your life, be faithful to study and read. There is plenty of food here for you to grow, but don’t expect us to make disciples. We’ll continue to teach just as the Lord instructed us to do. We’ll let him shape you the way he wants, not the way we want.