The Power of Discipleship Matthew 28:19
On Sunday Pastor Osien consolidated the focus of the church this year by teaching on The Power of Discipleship. He noted that even though Jesus spoke to multitudes during his time here on earth, the crowds did not have a lasting impact on his ministry and vision. It was the disciples who took the gospel further.
This explains the heart of Jesus’ ministry in investing in the lives of the disciples. For one to know you and replicate your heart, you must spend time with them. Jesus literally moved, lived, ate and even slept in the same house with his disciples for years before they could catch his heart. The power of discipleship is in spending time with your followers. In John 5:19 Jesus said, “…..the son can do only what he sees his father doing.” In discipleship our lifestyles must be available for those who follow us to emulate.The instruction to the disciples according to Matthew 28:19 was for them to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus had already shown them what to do. We begin to see the response to that command in Acts 11:19. Those disciples started telling the message only to the Jews; at least they started. In verse 20 we begin to see them coming out of their comfort zone by engaging the Greeks as well. They told them about the good news of the Lord. For people to follow you, you must have good news for their ears. Good news about what the Lord has done for you. Your testimony is a way of sharing the goodness of God and a channel of making disciples.
In verse 22 we notice that the church in Jerusalem also started to send out their own disciples. This is growth! Barnabas, we are told arrived and encouraged them. Discipleship is about encouraging those you care about. We can encourage people from where they are. For some it could be about their career, for some education, others trouble with relationships, and to some how the church operates. A good disciple maker must be ready to encourage. Those you encourage soon become your disciples and that gives you room to begin to teach them about the Lord. We already see development in discipling others from Barnabas’ example.
Verse 24 tells us that after encouraging the believers in Antioch, he went to Tarsus to look for Saul. Jesus did say we must “go” and we already see Barnabas going from place to place. Now he has sought for Saul. Discipleship has to do with looking for new believers and connecting them with other believers. Having found Saul, Barnabas lived with him for a whole year. Discipleship requires closeness. You cannot influence those whom you are not close to. When you shelter someone like Barnabas did with Saul, you minister to their heart and develop a bond with them. This is what Jesus did. When the disciples asked him where he lived, (John 1:38-39) Jesus responded by inviting them home. This is the foundation and basis of discipleship. Taking someone on board your life.
The combination of Paul and Barnabas resulted in effective disciples like John Mark, Luke, Silas, Timothy, Titus and many more. Barnabas was a disciple maker. He made a disciple out of Paul, facilitated the discipleship of Silas, John Mark and the rest. When Paul was able to stand on his own, he made his own disciples of Timothy and Silas, Alexander, Dorcas, Lois and many more. I Corinthians 11:1 shows us the pattern as Paul calls on his followers to imitate him as he imitated Christ. Jesus must be the focus of all discipleship programs and the early church did well to show that. Disciples can be sent to extend our vision and mission but we must be ready to spend and be spent for them.
In Acts 20 Paul now has his own elders! In Acts 27 Paul is now walking with Silas, just as Barnabas walked with him. In 1 Timothy he addresses Timothy as his true son and is well acquainted with his mother and grandmother. He even sends him to go and minister to the church at Ephesus. Discipleship will always allow you to send those you have nurtured with confidence that they will keep the faith. The church grows through discipleship. In Titus 2 Paul instructs one of his disciples, Titus on how to manage a church. In the book of Philemon we come across Onesimus and Philemon, disciples of Paul.
If discipleship is carried out following the pattern of Jesus, the church will grow and expand like we have never seen before. But discipleship requires your time. A busy church can not disciple effectively. Crowds are good but they don’t grow the church. Disciple do. This is our year to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation.
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