In Matthew 28:16-19, the 11 remaining disciples of Jesus had gathered in Galilee to worship Jesus, even though a few still had doubts. When Jesus gave His parting instructions to “go and make disciples of all nations” (v. 19, NIV), I think they must have been amazed at His directive and wondered how they were to do what He had commanded.
I, too, am amazed that Jesus wants me to make disciples. I have endeavored to figure out just how I am to do this. I have discovered that a plethora of resources address the topic of making disciples, but these resources will not make a person a disciple-maker. I have come to the conclusion that making disciples incorporates two main principles: connection and correction.
These two principles were woven throughout the ministries of Jesus and Paul. The principle of connection has two facets. First, a person’s heart must have a connection to the reality of forgiveness and the newness of life that can be experienced in Christ. The greater this connection is to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the greater the desire is to grow in relationship with God. Second, there must be a relational connection between the person being discipled and the person doing the discipling. If these two connections do not occur, disciple-making becomes very difficult to attain. Connection is Holy Spirit-inspired, but it will take effort, compassion, encouragement and dedication on the part of the disciple and the disciple-maker.
The second principle, correction, is the aspect of making disciples that can be difficult for two primary reasons. First, no one likes to be corrected. Second, confronting the disciple with the need for correction can be very uncomfortable. Correction comes as the Word of God brings conviction and direction for change. It is important to say that loving correction can be one of the most powerful aspects of making disciples. Correction develops growth, maturity and confidence, and it yields “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11, NKJV).
In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Both connection and correction are found in this passage. The connection to Jesus and His Word is the path to the correction that will bring freedom.
In 1 Timothy 4:12-16, Paul exhorted Timothy regarding the connection and correction principles. Paul told Timothy to be an example to the believers by connecting to them relationally and by teaching them the Word, which will bring correction.
Making disciples will have the elements of connecting relationally and bringing correction. I sense the Holy Spirit reminding us to be attentive to the appropriate progression of connecting and correcting. Connecting in love must come first.
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