All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
What is the definition of a discipled person?
Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. - Matthew 4:19
1. Come, follow me: a disciple is someone who knows Christ and is following Him.
Jesus’ first words here are a simple invitation – to accept Him as Savior and Lord, the master of our lives. A disciple of Jesus follows Jesus. It’s that simple. He leads, we follow. In John 12:26 Jesus says, whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be. According to Jesus, a disciple is someone who knows Him (who He is and what He is like) and follows Him. Following Him means saying “yes” to Him and “no” to self. It involves death to self in order to gain life in Christ. Jesus used strong language to describe the cost of discipleship (following Him). Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’ (Matthew 16:24-26). As difficult as discipleship may be at times, many wonderful promises are given to those who choose to follow Him. He promises to never abandon them, but to be with them to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
This first attribute of a disciple is primarily a heart devotion to the person of Jesus Christ. The invitation to follow him speaks to us at the heart level.
2. I will make you: a disciple is someone who is being transformed by Christ.
The next four words speak of a transformation process. A disciple of Jesus becomes more like Jesus as He continually transforms our minds to become more like His. Not only must we accept the truth of who Jesus is, we must also surrender to the transformation of our inner being by the Holy Spirit so that we will be like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that disciples are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, and Romans 12:2 explains how disciples are transformed by the renewing of [their] mind. Jesus transformed his early disciples into something new, into people who were different than when they first encountered Him. But it was a process; it didn’t happen overnight. They often acted in ways that were clueless, selfish, and immature. Jesus chose them with an eye for who they would become, not for who they were when He first met them. Responding to the invitation to follow Jesus meant embarking on a journey of transformation wherein Jesus unmade them and then remade them in His image.
Discipleship is not merely the transfer of information leading to behavior modification; it involves transformation at the deepest levels of understanding, will and affection by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God in relationship with other disciples. This transformation occurs from the inside out. The second attribute of a disciple is primarily a spiritual response to the Holy Spirit. As Jesus changes the root (mind and heart) of our lives, the natural outflow is a change of fruit (behavior and actions). Galatians 5:22-23 describes the relational fruit that comes from inner transformation by the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus told his disciples, I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).
3. Fishers of men: a disciple is someone who is on mission for Christ.
The final three words of Jesus indicate an active response involving a reordering of purpose and priorities. A disciple of Jesus is saved for a purpose. Our acceptance of Jesus begins in the heart and extends to the head, but it must lead to a change in what we do with our hands and feet. This means we join Jesus on Him mission to love and redeem a lost and broken world.
Peter and Andrew had been fishermen their entire lives. It was all they knew. They would throw a net into the water, haul in a catch, and carry it to market. Following Jesus meant all that would change. Jesus was giving them a new purpose, to live out His purpose by involvement in God’s work of bringing lost people to salvation. From now on they were going to fish for men.
Modern day disciples respond in a similar way. We spend time with Jesus, and his Holy Spirit begins to transform us from the inside out, changing our perspectives, our passions, and our priorities. We begin to care about the things God cares about, especially lost people. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:15-20).
Being on mission means that we understand and acknowledge that we’re saved for a purpose – we’re saved to serve God’s kingdom purposes. Our mission is not simply to attend church, learn Bible information, or even give to God’s work. Those are all important and necessary, but they are not our primary mission as disciples of Christ. Our primary purpose is to join in Jesus’ mission in the world. We become fishers of men. This speaks to us at the level of our hands and feet; using our abilities and all God puts in our hands to serve Jesus in our community and around the world.
Putting it all together, we find that a disciple is someone who is:
• connecting to Christ (knowing and following him - heart)
• growing in Christ (being changed by him - head)
• serving Christ (serving Christ - hands)
• sharing Christ (participating in the great commission - feet)
This is how we define a disciple of Jesus Christ, and this is what we are trying to make at Upper St. Clair Alliance Church. Our goal is to present everyone mature in Christ. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
*Concepts adapted from Discipleshift, by Jim Putman & Bobby Harrington
How do we intend to carry out the Lord’s instructions to make disciples of all the nations of the world?
“Don’t grow a church through programs; grow people through a process.” Rick Warren
Our Focus will be on biblical discipleship (not evangelism). Our Methodology will be relational environments. We will carry out the Lord’s command through biblical values and practical discipleship commitments.
Our Biblical Values
• Radical obedience
• Prayerful dependence
• Spiritual empowerment
• Missional engagement
Our Discipleship Commitments
• We connect to Christ
• We grow in Christ
• We serve Christ
• We share Christ
Connecting - We are connecting to Christ
Connecting to Christ involves experiencing and growing in a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
We connect with God at Upper St. Clair Alliance Church primarily through our weekly worship celebration services.
Growing - We are growing in Christ
Growing in Christ involves understanding and applying the implications of the gospel for all of life. Growth occurs best in relational environments where the Bible is studied and applied in community. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work, (Ephesians 4:15, 16).
We grow in Christ at Upper St. Clair Alliance Church primarily through Sunday School and small groups.
Serving - We are serving Christ
Serving Christ involves joyfully using one’s gifts, abilities, and resources for the benefit of the body of Christ. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-13).
We serve Christ at Upper St. Clair Alliance Church primarily through participation in ministry teams.
Sharing - We are sharing Christ
Sharing Christ involves being on mission by becoming fishers of men in our community and around the world. Just before his ascension back to heaven, Jesus gave his disciples this everyday commission: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
We share Christ at Upper St. Clair Alliance Church primarily by becoming active witnesses to our lost friends, neighbors, associates, and family members, and by actively supporting C&MA missions.