Disciple making – from Genesis to YOU
By Tal Robin
Becoming disciples of Yeshua is a core value and commandment that comes up again and again in the writings of the New Testament. In Matthew 28:19 Yeshua told us to go and make disciples. But is this a new action only from the New Testament period?
No. There is an unfolding development of discipleship from Genesis all the way to the Book of Revelation, just as there is also a gradual unveiling regarding the gospel and other truths in scripture, including the revelation of God and the Messiah.
In the Beginning God Created… Discipleship
Already in the Garden of Eden God walked with Adam and Eve and guided them, gave them instructions – began to train people to grow into His image. God also gave parents the ability, authority and responsibility to bring up their children in an initial discipleship. At the youngest ages, as infants and toddlers, mothers have a very special role in this.
Discipleship in the Hebrew Scriptures
The Hebrew scriptures present a number of training contexts – for example, the pattern of the Levitical priesthood combined with instructions that God gave regarding this position that were passed down from generation to generation.
In 1 Kings and 1 Samuel, we also see the concept of the “sons of the prophets” and the “band of the prophets.” Obviously, there must have been a process of being trained and taught. We see this in the interaction between Elisha and his “discipler” Elijah – shared experience and wisdom. With Samuel and Jeremiah, the emphasis is God directly equipping two young prophets, from childhood, and it reinforces the point that God invites people to be disciples – already from the times of the Hebrew scriptures. I view discipleship as a joint, cooperative action involving both God and human mentors.
The term disciple should describe the relationship between God and God’s people – a process of training in which a person follows God, gets closer to God, trusts Him more and comes to know God more. You develop qualities of holiness. You begin to do God’s works and you begin to train others in turn.
What your goal is will dictate who your teacher is and what you want to learn. For example, those who want to become mathematicians or doctors will find themselves a mentor in the field. Our goal is to be children of God, and men and women of God. [As disciples of Yeshua we can excel in other areas as well, there is no contradiction. On the contrary, all we do – we do as unto the Lord.]
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Luke 6: 40 says, “A disciple is not greater than the teacher, but everyone who completes his learning will become like his teacher.” Yeshua is the only one who can take you from where you are today, into the place of being a son or daughter of God – filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, doing His works, being where He is, with Him forever.
“I am the true vine and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He removes… He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1)
“By this is my father glorified that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:8)
We should ask ourselves, “Where am I in the discipleship process, in light of the standards set before us in the Bible?”
• “He who does not take up his cross and come follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
• “Therefore every one of you who is not willing to give up his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
• “By this shall all men know that are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)
To BE true disciples of Yeshua we must set aside what we have and take what Yeshua gives us! With soft, trusting hearts, we submit to God’s will, with Yeshua always being our master and teacher.
To MAKE disciples, we need to represent the Lord and His Majesty to the best of our ability! This includes sharing the gospel and teaching the Scriptures, always pointing people toward Yeshua and the kingdom of God, encouraging and admonishing others to live a life of obedience to Messiah. Whether you were saved this morning or years ago, this is a call for all of us as witnesses of Messiah to already encourage those who do not yet know the Lord to be disciples.
Always remember to get closer to the Lord. You are still in the discipleship process – no longer blind, but not yet perfectly like Yeshua.