Clearly Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” (See Matt. 28:18-20) Many people talk about discipling, and classes are taught on the subject. The truth is that true disciple makers are in rare supply. In this 10 part series we will put forward ten characteristics of a biblically based disciple maker.
#1 He maintains a consistent vine-branch relationship with Christ
- He chooses to be under the pruning discipline of the Father : “…Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (Jn. 15:2b). It is God’s intention to purge the disciple’s life of all dross so that he become complete in his mental and moral character; spiritually fit like an Olympic athlete, “ attaining the whole measure of the fitness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b). We are talking here about a painful process of sanctification: “ …Endure hardship as discipline…that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Jn. 15:2b; Heb. 12:7a, 10b, 11).
QUESTION : Are you willingly surrendering to the Father’s discipline in order to become a more effective laborer in his harvest field?
He is being cleansed by the word of God: “…You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jn. 15:3b). Hence, he is a vessel God can use: “ In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work ” (2 Tim. 2:20, 21). (See Eph. 5:26)
QUESTION : Are you regularly experiencing His cleansing as a result of consistent exposure to the Word of God?
He maintains an intimate relationship with Jesus that results in abundant, lasting fruit that glorifies the Father : “ Remain [reside] in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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 ” (Jn. 15:4, 5). (See Jn. 15:8,16)
QUESTION : Have you resolved to spend whatever time necessary with Jesus in prayer and intake of his Word to cultivate intimacy with him? If so, the fruit will naturally happen on the Master’s time table.
He is vitally united to Christ, whose word is alive in his heart. Thus, God answers his prayers that are in agreement with the Father’s plan : “ If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you….This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (Jn. 15:7; I Jn. 5:14). (See Jn. 15:10)
QUESTION : Do you consistently petition God for answered prayer in accordance with His will?
He loves others as Christ loves us: “ My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep ” (Jn. 15:12, 13; 10:11).
QUESTION : Are you in love and willingly sacrificing your life for those you seek to disciple?
This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.
R. Dwight Hill