BECOME A DISCIPLE
Jesus has four invitations into discipleship. The purpose of this course is to walk you through all four steps that lead to becoming a genuine 21st-century disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
35 years ago I did a workshop at a Missions Conference entitled “Jesus’ 4 Invitations to Discipleship.” I was surprised at how popular it was. What is even more surprising is how the teaching has stood the test of time. I trust you sense that as you listen to the podcast “4 Invitations Into Discipleship.”
Here’s why I believe Jesus’ 4 invitations are so relevant for today. Revival fire is starting to spread in America. Many of those who are catching fire are relatively young Christians. They have a blaze in the boiler of their steam-engine but they need solid Biblical training to provide the tracks for them to run on.
That may describe you. In fact, even if you are just beginning to explore “Who Was He?” I hope that this “Become a Disciple” course will fire you up with a true passion to follow Christ for the rest of your life. Of if you are a mature Christian by America’s standards, my prayer for you is that you catch fire and become a harvest leader in the last days’ revival and the worldwide ingathering of souls.
A key component of this course is our commitment to follow the Lord’s model to become a fully committed 21st-century disciple, one step at a time. There are four distinct steps that you will take. In Jesus’ wisdom, each step is built upon another. Every step is designed to take three weeks. Altogether, you should expect to invest 12 weeks in learning how to “Become a Disciple.”
Some people believe Jesus just walked up unknown and unannounced to four fishermen at the Sea of Galilee and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). But that is too great a leap for most Christians. Many have tried and failed to do so. Jesus anticipated this.
His relationship with His first followers actually began almost one year earlier at the Jordan when He invited them to “Come and see” (Jn 1:39). It only took them hours to discover Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. But first-century Jews had a good Old Testament foundation in God’s word that helped them recognize Him.
You may not. In fact, in order to enable you to fully understand the gospel of the Kingdom, we have laid out hours of Bible study for you. In America, most Christians only have a superficial understanding of the gospel. But the gospel of the Kingdom is the foundation upon which all the rest of this course is built.
In this first step into discipleship, get ready to go deep and long into the word of God! Start the journal that will become the record of your life transformation. Write out your reflections. Live out the activation assignments. This is God’s process for every person who chooses to “Come and see” who Jesus actually is as the Savior of the world. Our course will focus you and guide you through this amazing discovery process.
The very next day Jesus gave His second invitation to “Follow Me” (Jn 1:42). His first five followers became disciples that day (Jn 2:2). The decision to become a follower of Jesus requires a whole-soul commitment to the Lordship of Jesus. This was the beginning of true Christian community. I believe the best definition of a local church is “a gathering of disciples.” As they made their way home together with Jesus, who lived near them in Capernaum, they began to live our their shared commitment to believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and to follow Him as their Lord. This course is not designed for you to go through alone. Even two or three disciples gathered together form the essential Christian community. It is God’s way that we learn Jesus as we live in community.
Step 2 of our Become a Disciple course takes you a step beyond what most American so-called Christians are willing to take. Once again, to successfully take this step in your own life, you must prepare yourself for in-depth Bible study, deep soul reflection, and activation assignments designed to literally change who you are and what you do. All the while, you are to journal your daily progress in your journey with Jesus.
Jesus’ third invitation into discipleship was months later, on one of their periodic excursions with the Lord, when He challenged them to “Look and see” an entire village of receptive Samaritans (Jn 4:35). In your third step of becoming a true disciple of Jesus, you will need to learn Jesus’ love for the lost. Frankly, very few who name the name of Jesus actually lift up their eyes to even see the lost, much less look at them with the love of the Lord.
Please do not underestimate what it will take to learn to live in the Lord’s love. God, in His very nature, is love (1 Jn 4:8). As fleshly human beings and in our sin nature we are, in essence, self-centered and sinful. As you can anticipate, in order to take the step of learning to live out Jesus’ love in the power of the Holy Spirit, it will take time for study, prayer, repentance, and activation.
It was only after thinking for several months about the Lord’s love for the lost that He came and gave them their fourth invitation to discipleship. Finally, after a year of character development, the Lord called them to leave everything and “become fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). He invited them to “Follow and lead” others to the Savior.
George Barna’s research has documented that 98% of “Christians” in America will never lead even one person to Christ. In fact, the vast majority will never share the gospel with even one person. Some have tried and failed. Most never try. Why? Because they need to be discipled up to this level.
In my own research and experience, I have been appalled at the lack of understanding of the gospel among so-called mature Christians, Bible college students, pastors and even those who call themselves evangelists! One of the main reasons our nation is dying is because the true Biblical Gospel of the Kingdom has become so obscured and oversimplified that it has no power to transform lives.
Jesus’ fourth invitation into discipleship includes His promise, “I will make you become…” (Mt 4:19). This is life-transforming! As you can see, the goal of this course is to literally change your character and your lifestyle. But isn’t that what you want? Jesus Himself is inviting you to walk with Him. To learn from Him. To take the same steps that transformed His first disciples into world-changers.
Let’s spell out the course requirements so that you will know exactly what we, and, we trust, the Lord, is requiring of you. In the “Become A Disciple” course:
- The Bible is our textbook
- You are required to keep a journal
- You will do daily devotions and keep careful notes what you hear from the Lord
- You will answer reflection questions in your journal
- You will do activation assignments and journal your life changes
- You will form a discipleship relationship with one or two others and informally share with them a weekly basis what you are learning
- You will become a part of a cohort who are studying the course with you
- You will meet with your discipleship team leader every two weeks who will guide you and your cohort through the course
- You will keep your Course Checklist up to date
- You will earn a certificate upon the completion of the course.
Once you finish “Become a Disciple,” the leaders of the Rising Movement invite you to take our course “Make Disciples.” This course also takes you through four of Jesus’ steps that flow out of His commission to “Make disciples of all the nations” as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. Going beyond journalling, “Make Disciples” is built upon Rick Clark’s book and workbooks entitled “Fire Team Evangelism” (also available in Spanish). Our trilogy of courses culminates with our third course on “Prepare Disciples” for Jesus’ return. These are the last days. The worldwide birthpains have begun. This course will take you through a complete overview of Biblical prophesy with a view that you and the Jesus followers you are disciplining will respond to Jesus’ invitation in Revelation 3:21, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him (or her) to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father in His throne.”
Until the day when we meet our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face, He has given us the mandate to “Become a Disciple,” “Make Disciples” and “Prepare Disciples” for His return. Our calling at the Rising Movement is to produce RISE Discipleship Training so that you can rise up and multiply disciples until you hear the Lord say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. You were faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt 25:21).