[Introduction to The Master of Discipleship December 27, 2013]
In the beginning God created a perfect, sinless world. Human beings enjoyed the privilege of honoring, worshiping, and following their Creator. Life should have continued thus for eternity.
Satan, however, seduced our first earthly parents, thus robbing humanity of ultimate meaning, purpose, and significance. Rebellion multiplied, infecting the entire planet.
Christ’s sacrifice provided our only hope. Calvary’s redemption offers us freedom and our only escape from insignificance and meaninglessness. Sinful humans were offered liberty, forgiveness, and the opportunity for restoration to their original estate.
God beckons believers everywhere to become heralds of this matchless grace, ambassadors who communicate this divine redemption to those enslaved by Satan, calling them to follow, worship, and praise their Maker. Christ’s example of disciple-making must become the model that believers follow in answering the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19, 20).
Therefore, the topic of our quarter is discipleship. Though the term has many facets, in this study we will look at discipleship as the process by which we become followers of Jesus and, as such, better soul-winners.
After all, Jesus is every Christian’s example, especially in the work of soul-winning. Is it illogical to suppose that the keys to effective evangelism are discovered in popular psychology, mass-marketing techniques, and elaborate promotional programs rather than in the following of the simple example of Christ?
How did Jesus attract His followers? What can we learn from Christ’s example that would enable us to more effectively lead others to Him? How can we fulfill the Great Commission?
How did Jesus appeal to such diverse groups: the wealthy and the destitute, the religious and the irreligious, the politically powerful and the powerless? How did Jesus unlock callous hearts, inspire hope among outcasts, gently awaken the child’s tender heart, and leap over ethnic and social barriers in order to make disciples? How did He penetrate the fortresses of wealth and power, open the cocoons of spiritually arrogant religious leaders, or revive hope among those fighting terminal illnesses?
These are not merely discussion questions that stimulate intellectual interchange; rather, they are a crucial area of study for Christians whose passionate desire is to follow Jesus’ example of guiding lost sheep to the loving Shepherd.
Paul also challenged believers to follow him as he followed Christ. It is unthinkable that believers in the twenty-first century should accept a lower standard than that which Paul established in the first century.
In the end, following Jesus vastly exceeds the limiting view that discipleship equals methods for correcting aberrant behaviors and habits, however important these changes are. A comprehensive understanding of discipleship is incomplete until it incorporates a passionate desire to follow Jesus and, as a supernatural result, a passionate desire to lead others to Christ, as well.
Or, as we have so eloquently been told: “No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. If we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace. If we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good we shall have something to tell. . . . There will be an intensity of desire to follow in the path that Jesus trod.”-Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 78, 79.
Thus, our subject for this quarter.
Dan Solís was born in Texas, U.S.A., the grandson of a sharecropper and migrant farm worker. He holds graduate degrees from Andrews University and Reformed Theological Seminary and has served the church as a pastor, conference departmental director, and college professor. He and his wife Cindy, an elementary school teacher, have three adult children serving the Lord in Washington, California, and Tennessee.