As church leaders, we like to talk about discipleship. We say we need to make disciples, and we quote Matthew 28:18-20. But, what does that really mean? What is a disciple? In Greek, the word “disciple” literally means “a learner.” Learning always has a practical component. Faith itself may come by hearing, but learning and being a disciple come from hearing and doing the Word of God. Living out what we hear and study is essential for the truth to become real in our lives.
Another way to define a disciple is to look at his or her relationships. “A disciple has a dependent relationship with Jesus, an interdependent relationship with other believers, and a redemptive relationship with the world.”1 Perhaps Jesus gave the best definition: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31).
So, being a disciple or a Christian isn’t something you do one time and then only give half-hearted allegiance to afterward. Being a Christian is a journey. It is a lifestyle. And we must remember that Jesus established some principles of discipleship to help us on that journey. It is important to know those principles well.
When Jesus walked this earth, He expected every person who followed Him to take discipleship seriously. He made it clear that He wasn’t interested in attracting a big crowd. Jesus wanted to transform individiuals into radically-committed disciples.
The blessings of discipleship are readily available to all who are willing to pay the price. Discipleship brings purpose to our lives so that, rather than wandering aimlessly, we walk steadily on the straight and narrow way that leads us back to our heavenly Father. Discipleship brings us comfort in sorrow, peace and joy in service, all of which help us to be more like Jesus.
In this issue, a special emphasis is given to discipleship. It is our desire that you will become more familiar with this topic and with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s plans to help your congregation fulfill its mission. As John Page says, “Missions and discipleship are two sides of the same spiritual coin, to be invested and spent in the economy of God’s Kingdom.”2
Enjoy the reading!
1 Michael C. Mack, “What Is a Disciple?” https://www.smallgroups. com/articles/1997/what-is-disciple.html, accessed July 12, 2018.
2 John Page, “Discipleship and Mission: Two Sides of the Same Coin,” https://www.seedbed.com/discipleship-and-mission-2/, accessed July 13, 2018.