The Latin American Missions Conference powerfully underscored the principle of evangelizing “all nations” in Jesus’ Great Commission! There were joyful disciples gathered from Sao Paulo Brazil, Santiago Chile, all over the United States, and of course Mexico City. The fellowship and shared spirit transcended language and culture, and cemented the truth that we are not “Mexican disciples” or “Chilean disciple” or “Phoenix disciples” – we are “Global Disciples!” Our “culture” is defined by his Word and the practice of discipleship!
What makes all of this possible is our total submission to the great commission. One of the most undervalued and overlooked things can be the command of Jesus to not just “teach” everything that Jesus commanded but to “teach to obey” everything that Jesus commanded! This is where the value of one our core convictions as a movement of churches comes into focus: “We believe that the church is composed of only sold-out disciples in discipling relationships.” When we recognize the value of consistent, deep, and devoted discipling relationship and are totally committed to the practice we can embrace the promise of Jesus Christ in the great commission that “surely [he] is with [us] always, to the very end of the age!” One of the lessons for sister’s given by Daniela Otero (she now serves alongside her Husband Jose in leading the new church planting in Bogota Columbia) addressed this simple principle of obedience to Jesus’ commands. Basically, when we are continually being taught to obey Jesus Christ’s commands, we ensure that we are actually in Him. Without this call to obedience, and should we be contemptuous of the call to obedience, we are no longer in Christ. Discipleship keeps us in Christ! It’s the essential element to following Jesus, being in Christ, keeping you in Christ and doing as he did!
“The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:4-6
Practicing discipleship ensures the authenticity of our discipleship in Jesus as Jesus taught in John 8:31-32 “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Discipling relationships are part of what ensures our freedom in Christ! Freedom from sin, not freedom from the “control of righteousness!” The world pounds us with the concepts of independence, no boundaries, and freedom to do as we please as preeminent values of an individual. The world’s mantra is “well, If am not hurting anyone else, then it’s find for me to do so.” This is simply not what freedom is in the scriptures. The world’s purpose for this kind of freedom is self, Christ’s purpose in giving us our freedom in Christ was for use to become selfless, and slaves to righteousness!
The Value & Necessity of Practicing Discipleship!
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. …When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” – Romans 6:18,20-22
We are to use the bible in our practice of one-another discipleship and in obeying Jesus’ command to be “teaching [one another] to obey everything that [Jesus] commanded!” Far be it from us to fail to “watch [our] life and doctrine closely” for to do so is to fail to “save [ourselves] and [our] hearers!” (1 Timothy 4:16) The bible is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” and is what “thoroughly equips us for every good work!” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The scriptures reassure us that through the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we are “…full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (Rom 15:14-15) We are called in our relationships to “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly as [we] teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16)
Consistent Discipleship Is The Key!
Being in each other’s lives and having that weekly, consistent “discipling time” as a time of confession (c.f. James 5:16, 1 John 1:5-10), support (John 13:34-35), encouragement (Hebrews 3:12-13), and calling one another to obey the bible ensures our love for one another! Without a call to obey the scriptures we cannot even know we love each other as “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.” (1 John 5:2) More than this, when we are calling each other to “obey everything that [Jesus] has commanded” we ensure that we actually love God! “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
What makes discipling relationships work spiritually is a reverence for Christ. The scriptures teach us that we are to “submit to one another out of a reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) We have to love correction as it’s the key to knowledge and discipline spiritually and to hate it God’s word calls “stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1) True spiritual growth cannot be had at the table of negotiations, it is never had at a bargain, nor is it ever “on sale.” It’s costly (everything – Luke 14:33), it’s inconvenient (deny self – Luke 9:23), it’s painful (daily cross-carrying – Luke 9:23-24), and yet it is absolutely worth it!
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58
True spiritual growth drives you to your knees – which puts you right next to Jesus Christ! “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered…” Hebrews 5:7-8
Let’s “speak the truth in love” and “build one another up in love” – and GROW! (Ephesians 4:25) Let’s grow in our love for God, our love for each other, and our love for the lost! Let’s grow in our love of discipling, of confession, repentance, correction, rebuke and training in righteousness. Let’s grow God’s kingdom – to him being all the Glory!