Don’t be fooled into thinking that making disciples is learning a technique and doing it. It can be easy to get that impression. There is something missing in that line of thinking that can get you and others hurt because it doesn’t take into account the seriousness of the spiritual reality of what takes place when you get serious about discipleship.
The missing piece is spiritual warfare.
Being and making disciples is spiritual warfare. That means suffering will be involved. The unprepared probably won’t last. Not preparing those you disciple for this means they also may not last.
Have you ever noticed what Jesus said about this in Matthew 13:18-21 when explaining the parable of the sower? Jesus told us this would be the reality and I can’t say that I really took this as a reality in our lives and work today…boy did I miss the point! Have you ever noticed this?
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Jesus told us this would happen. Have we paid attention and taken him seriously? He is talking about making disciples – sowing seed to new people and what happens when they receive it. Maybe people you have discipled never lasted and maybe some of those didn’t last because of what Jesus said here. And maybe it would have been helpful to know this up front so you could help them guard against this.
Thinking making disciples is mastering technique is like being a real war but thinking you are only on the practice field. Live fire is happening from a real enemy but you don’t think there is any danger in it.
Jesus showed his disciples how to make disciples and that took them into cemeteries with demoniacs, places with evil spirits, raging storms, and even the “gates of hell” in Caesarea Phillip. How many times do we see this disciple making adventure with Jesus put his disciples in places where they were afraid?
Once you set your mind, heart and purpose to making disciples…Satan will do everything he can to discourage you. The word satan means opposition and he will oppose you as you do God’s work. If you aren’t facing opposition, you might be in a season of rest or just blessed with peace…but a prolonged season of no resistance might just mean you aren’t in the fight and Satan isn’t taking you seriously.
David Young said at the Renew gathering in 2021 that not understanding this is like going to war armed with a potato!
You can know all the strategy but if you don’t realize you are already in a war then you may have already lost.
We must prepare for combat. We must train our hearts and minds for difficulty. Fasting and prayer are essential components of doing this and the fasting needs to be on a regular (disciplined) basis to be prepared for what Satan throws at you. This was Jesus’ approach in Matthew 4. This war will demand that we rely totally on God (the Holy Spirit) and what God has said in His Word.
Know going in, that suffering is inevitable. It is going to happen. Jesus said it would happen. The New Testament letters tell us it will happen. What happens does it say if it isn’t happening? To prepare yourself.
Take some time to meditate on 1 Peter 5:8-11,
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
- Read this at least twice out loud
- Pay close attention to the verbs (prowls, resist, stand firm, restore…)
- Pray over these words
- Prowls – pray for awareness and protection
- Resist – pray for strength and support
- Stand firm – Pray for courage
- Called you – Pray for a reminder of your calling
- Have suffered – Pray for perseverance
- Restore you – Pray for God to restore what you will lose
- Make you strong and steadfast – Ask God for this
- Last – thank God for the suffering and his provision
May God richly bless you on this journey of making disciples who make disciples. Let me know if I can ever be of help – email me.