Jesus Christ issued a simple call - it was the simple call of Jesus. He walked up to ordinary fishermen and said, "Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Or, I will show you how to fish for people. The Message says, "Come with Me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." Then it says, "They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed."
Am I asking questions, or am I simply dropping my nets and following? Our mandate is none other than this first, clear call of the Lord. It is the simple call of Jesus: Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men and women.
When Jesus left this earth, He gave us what is called the Great Commission. That mandate, to make disciples, involves, going, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all things that Jesus has taught. How will we teach others all the things that Jesus has taught? It is through the process of discipleship, or disciple-making.
What is discipleship? Discipleship is simply the term we use to describe the process of teaching a new Christian how to follow Jesus and become a fisher of men, someone who can lead another person to Christ and teach them to follow Jesus. Robert Coleman writes, "The Great Commission is not a special calling or gift of the Spirit; it is a command - an obligation incumbent upon the whole community of faith. There are no exceptions." In Matthew 28:18-20, as Jesus ends His earthly ministry, He basically told us, "Continue in the simple call of Jesus."
The learning and following of disciples is expressed through several characteristics. These qualities of life will be found in a growing disciple . . .
Abides in the Word of God (John 8:31-32)
Jesus said that IF YOU ABIDE (CONTINUE, REMAIN) IN MY WORD, THEN YOU ARE TRULY MY DISCIPLES. A convert has not yet learned to abide, to live a lifestyle that is soaked in the Word of God. The psalmist describes the person who meditates on the Word of God DAY and NIGHT (Psalm 1). God told Joshua that the key to his success was meditating on the Book of the Law day and night.
A disciple has learned to feed himself - he is not dependent on other people, his preacher, his teachers. He gleans from these sources, but He knows how to go to the true Source. He or she is a person of the Book. As a growing disciple, he is learning have a grip on the Word of God by . . .
READING THE WORD, HEARING THE WORD, MEMORIZING THE WORD, MEDITATING ON THE WORD, STUDYING THE WORD, and APPLYING THE WORD
Obedience (Matthew 7:21; John 14:21)
A disciple of Communism obeys the teachings of Communism. A disciple of an outstanding voice instructor follows the instructions of that person. A disciple of an ice skater couch follows the directions of that individual. So, a disciple of Jesus obeys Him. Habitual obedience characterize disciples. I apply that truth to mean that 90% of the time, a disciple is going Jesus' way.
How beautifully the fishermen illustrate this characteristic for us in Matthew 4. Did you see that when Jesus speaks to them, when He calls them, the Bible says, "And they immediately left their nets, and followed Him." The New Living translation reads that they left their nets at once and went with Him.
A good litmus test for our own discipleship is this: When Jesus speaks, do we obey Him? When the Holy Spirit speaks through God's Word, do I obey? When I know what the Lord wants me to do, is my obedience immediate, or do I ask a lot of questions? The Message says, "They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed."
Continued next Tuesday on Walk With Jesus Tuesday . . .