What is the real difference between being a disciple of Jesus and being a member of a church? Are we more interested in church growth, or expansion of God's kingdom? Is there a difference? Let's take a good look and see.
In today's institutional church world, church growth is determined by increasing the membership. Every church I have ever been in, except the one I founded, has given people opportunities to "join the church". Where do you find that in the Scriptures? Is that another one of those "traditions of men" Jesus warned us about in Matthew 15:8-9 and Paul warned us about in Colossians 2:8?
Why do we ask those who are born again to join the church when "they are the Church" -- the ekklesia?
You see we have our concept of the "Church" all distorted because of a religious system that simply propagates error in its teachings. This system is mostly composed of denominations, or groups following some personality, that promote their own special interpretations of the Scriptures.
WHAT QUALIFIES SOMEONE TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH?
What seem to be the qualifications of a good "church member":
What are the qualifications for being a good "club" member?
What is the difference?
Remember the definition of "the Church" I gave you?
The Church is the part of the kingdom of God that is composed of people who have rejected, or died to, the kingdom of darkness and have become the people of God and His family through being "born again" into a new kingdom - the family of God through covenant.
These people who are the family of God by "the new birth" are the "Church".
That is the definition of "the Church" that Jesus said He would build.
Matthew 16:18 -- "...I will build My church..."
Do you see the difference? You don't have to die to your old life and be born again to be a good member of a club, but you do to be a member of the Church.
If you have not experienced a "new birth" and have not had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ that caused you to bow your knee to Him and reject your old lifestyle in the kingdom of darkness, you can still be a good member of a church but not "THE" Church.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING A MEMBER AND BEING A DISCIPLE
A good church member is what we see described above. A disciple of Jesus is something totally different. We were never called to be church members, or part of a denomination, we were called to be one with Jesus, or DISCIPLES.
The term "disciple" can simply be re-termed as "an apprentice". An "apprentice" learns a craft or trade under the tutorship of a "master". In the case of being a spiritual apprentice, or follower of Jesus, it means learning a new lifestyle in the kingdom of God under the tutorship of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 -- "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
John 14:17: -- "that is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you."
** THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF THE NEW COVENANT
WHICH WE DEVELOP FULLY IN ANOTHER SECTION
OF THE COVENANT KINGDOM
WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP?
Matthew 28:19-20 -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;"
This Scripture is usually referred to as "The Great Commission" because it is the commission, or command, that Jesus gave to His followers to take the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations of the world and when someone receives this message and becomes a part of God's kingdom help them to learn how to be taught by the Holy Spirit and begin to live their new life.
Discipleship is all about LIFE and its formation in a person. It is not about cramming a lot of information into a person's brain. Being an apprentice of Jesus is about the formation of His life within you and not about going to discipleship classes. Jesus taught His apprentices the ways of God's kingdom by spending time WITH THEM and living the kingdom lifestyle in front of them, not telling them to study a training manual to gain information.
He said to Peter and Andrew, "Come, follow Me, and I will make you to become a fisher of men." His command to every one of the men He chose was "follow Me". Jesus spent three years with these men who eventually became the tools that turned the world upside done. He "imparted" His knowledge to them by living it in front of them and demonstrating it.
You might say that discipleship it something that is caught, not taught.
God's plan for rescuing those under the kingdom of darkness and restoring them to His righteous kingdom was through men, not through meetings or programs. Every person every reconciled into the kingdom of God has been given a very important ministry. That ministry is the ministry of reconciliation, or "with one hand holding onto God and the other hand reaching into the kingdom of darkness to rescue someone and introduce them to God's plan of redemption for their life."
Jesus started this plan with twelve men with whom He spent time and imparted change into their lives and they in turn would do the same to others. This is what discipleship is all about. It's about "equipping" others through "imparting life and skills over a period of spending time together doing the work of the ministry."
2 Corinthians 5:18 -- "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,.."
WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF A BIBLICAL PASTOR?
Ephesians 4:11-12 -- "He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as PASTORS and teachers, for the EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY, ..."
TO EQUIP YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DISCIPLESHIP TO BE ABLE TO DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION!!!!!
Not to run the institutional church work and deliver nice speeches on Sunday.
This process of creating disciples, not members, was the plan for Church growth that Jesus demonstrated for us to follow. If we will learn to follow His plan we can change the world in one generation of time.
Let me show you how this feat can be accomplished and how simple it is when we do it the way we were instructed.
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"Declaring the kingdom of God is at hand and that Jesus is Lord & King"
Covenant Kingdom Ministries
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073