Make Disciples: Jesus’ Call to All Christians/Program 2

By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010
What does it means to make disciples along with some practical steps for getting started. In the process, we’ll discover making disciples can begin with the people around us in our lives today, and involves far more than a class, but rather life-on-life influence into the likeness of Christ.



Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing, Jesus wants every Christian in America, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, and Australia to do? Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple? How do you make a disciple?

My guest today who will tell us is Robby Gallaty, a man who pastors a church of 3,200 members and has four morning services, yet personally disciples seven or eight people each year. They in turn have gone on to disciple others. Now if you have never discipled anyone, is it really possible you could do this? What are the practical things you need to know? Today you will find out on this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’ve got a great one for you today. And I especially want to welcome those of you that are watching overseas, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Recently I heard from some folks in downtown Tehran, Iran; from Hong Kong; from Singapore; across India. We’re hearing from a lot of you folks in England and Scotland and France; Germany and Switzerland. And then down into Africa and across South America. And I tell you what, folks, it’s a thrill that God has given us this platform to be able to talk to you. And the topic that we have chosen today is one that applies to Christians in all 200 countries that are watching this program today. It’s Jesus’ main command that He gave to the church; to every Christian individually. It’s called the Great Commission. And today, to explain that, we have one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty. And he’s going to be explaining, teaching this from the Word of God. It’s going to encourage you; it’s going to uplift you. Now, There are promises in the Great Commission that you probably aren’t aware of. There’s just a whole bunch of information here that I think you’re going to find fascinating and so I’ve invited him to come and tell us. And, Robby, in the Great Commission, it starts off with one of the most amazing statements that Jesus Christ ever made. What is it?
Gallaty: Yeah, Matthew 28:16-20 is the Great Commission. Jesus said these words, “All authority, in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And then He says, “Therefore, go, make disciples.
Now, here’s a question, John, how have we missed this for so many years? How have we missed it? I did some studying and I looked at the original King James Version of the Bible. And for centuries if you read that translation, you have missed the thrust of the command. In the Great Commission, the word “therefore make disciples” is translated as “teach.” Let me read to you what the original King James says: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever, I have commanded you.” It’s interesting, the word “teach” is used in two places in the King James Version of the Bible. That word matheteuo, as you translate it from the Greek, is the word “disciple.” It’s the word “to make disciples.” It does mean teach, but the thrust of it is to make disciples. Now they have corrected that translation since then. And every other version since that time correctly translates it as “make disciples.”
Ankerberg: Yeah. And there is a difference between just teaching, doing evangelism and making disciples. And we want to get to that in this program.
Gallaty: Yeah. I want to divide it into two sections. First of all, I want to make a point. Before we can make disciples, we have to become a disciple. And then second point is, on the journey of discipleship, John, we must make disciples. It’s not an option, it’s not a suggestion, it’s not “this is what you could do.” This is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Alright, take us through those two points, Robby.
Gallaty: Yeah. In order to make disciples, we must be a disciple. In the Bible, the word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament. And two of those times – Acts 11 is the first time we see the word Christian – it’s used as a negative term. It’s a term of derision, according to one of the Bible dictionaries. No one would ever have thought, in the first century, to refer to themselves as a Christian. It was considered to be a “little Christ”. Now, today we use that word in a positive sense. So, the word Christian is used three times. Take a guess how many times the word “disciple” is used.
Ankerberg: A lot.
Gallaty: A lot – 269 times in the New Testament the word “disciple” is used. In the gospels alone, Jesus uses it 238 times. So, the natural question is this: what does Jesus expect of us, to be Christians or to be disciples? And the answer is He wants us to be disciples.
Ankerberg: Disciples.
Gallaty: Now, the word disciple is an interesting word. In fact, as we unpack it, let me explain it.
Ankerberg: Uh-hum.
Gallaty: A disciple is a learner; it’s someone who is an apprentice of someone else. Either the person is a disciple maker of disciples, or they’re being discipled by someone. Now, we know this term in our own society. It’s the idea of a residency in medicine, where a younger doctor will go study under a more seasoned practitioner. We have this terminology as a plumber will be an apprentice of someone else. As an electrician will be an apprentice of someone else.
Ankerberg: What are the other characteristics of being a disciple yourself?
Gallaty: Yeah. There are many characteristics of being a disciple in the Bible, and I encourage people to look those up. But let me give you three main characteristics. First of all, John, a disciple is disciplined. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4, “Have nothing to do with silly, irreverent controversies. Rather train yourself for godliness.” Now, that word train is an amazing word. It’s actually the word gumnazo in Greek, where we get the English word gymnasium. And so Paul commands Timothy, “You singularly train yourself.” It’s something that you’re commanded to do but it’s also something that you actively have to do every day.
On another occasion in Luke 9:57, three guys came to Jesus. You remember the story. One said, “I’ll follow you” and Jesus says, “Listen, I don’t even have a place to sleep. I’m not one of these high-flying rabbis; I don’t fly on the best planes. I don’t stay at the best hotels; I don’t even have a place to sleep.” The second guy comes up and says, “I’ll follow you, but let me go bury my father.” Jesus says, “No, the kingdom is too important. Let the dead bury their own dead. As for you, come follow me.” And then the last guy says, “Jesus, I’ll follow you, but first, let me go tell mom and dad bye.” Jesus says, “No, the kingdom is now, you can do that later.” And what Jesus shows us is this: to be a disciple, we have to be committed, not only disciplined, not only committed, but we have to be selfless. You know, all throughout scripture, Jesus says, “You have to deny family, you have to deny brother, you have to deny things, you have to even deny your own self to follow me as a disciple.”
Ankerberg: Some people are not willing to pay the cost of discipleship. They might not have the extreme cost that some of the folks in the past have had, where they actually were killed, but even the smaller costs, they’re not willing to do that. And if they aren’t, we talked last week, about the fact that Jesus said, “Some of those, when they get to heaven, they’re not going to be worthy of me. They’re going to lose rewards. And while you’re living now, He says you’re going to lose life, in the sense – why are you dead? Why do you feel static? Why do you feel that you’re not growing in the faith? It’s because you’re not following the main command that He gave us to do, which would bring you excitement, which would bring you into the will of God.
Gallaty: Yeah. Let me explain it this way. That’s a great point. A disciple is someone who continuously learns. So, here’s a question, can a person be a disciple without having a seminary or a Bible education? And the answer is yes.
Ankerberg: Absolutely.
Gallaty: They can be. And here’s the flipside. Can a person not be a disciple and have a seminary education, a master’s degree, a Ph.D., have pastored churches for years? And the answer is yes. And here’s the reason why. They’ve stopped learning, they’ve stopped growing, they’ve stopped developing, they’ve stopped nurturing the relationship they have with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Robby, I’ve seen surveys that show that, in the average church, just 10% of the people are involved in the work of the church, do all the work of the church, basically, and 90% just come and sit and listen. The Great Commission sets us up that we’re not supposed to operate that way. Pastors are not supposed to do everything, they’re not supposed to go to every meeting. What are pastors supposed to do? And where does this listening to the Great Commission come in?
Gallaty: Yeah. There is this expectation, John, in churches, that the pastor and the staff have to do all the work of ministry. I remember as an early believer I heard this story. It was the story of a more seasoned pastor who got a call from a young pastor. And he called him up and he said, “Church is going great; we’re seeing more people baptized than we ever have before. We’re seeing more decisions for Christ; we have more people coming; our Sunday School is expanding.” He said, “But I have one problem.” He said, “I look at the church and I realize I have no one who can replicate themselves in the life of another.” He said, “I need somebody who could do more than take tapes of my sermons to shut-ins.” He said, “I need somebody who can do more than run a business meeting, or even teach a Sunday School class.” He said, “This is what I need in the church: I need someone who can lead a person to Christ, walk them through the journey of faith and then replicate that in the life of someone else.” He said, “As I looked at my church, I had no one that can do that.”
The biblical mandate that Jesus gave to the church by the apostle Paul is in Ephesians 4:11-12. Listen to the words of Paul. He says in verse 11, “And he gave some to be the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers [Why?] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” And so the command that Paul gives to the church is this: your job, as ministers, is to replicate or reproduce your life into the lives of others in your church.
Pastors get so busy in administration, running business meetings, going from meeting to meeting. And I think if we changed our focus from trying to grow a big church numerically to growing people spiritually. You know I’d rather, John, in our church, instead of growing people a mile wide and an inch deep, I want to grow people deep in the Word of God, to know the will of God, to know the commands of God, and to know the way of God for our life.
Ankerberg: I think that’s so important. I think we need to say it one more time. Say it again.
Gallaty: Let me just clarify. It’s not just the job of the pastors to make disciples, it’s the job of all believers. Jesus gave the command to all believers. “Go therefore, and make disciples.” Bill Hybels is the pastor of a church of over 25,000 people. And after doing a study of his church, he found out, I quote, that he had “the wake-up call of his entire ministry,” and it was based on the fact that he was bringing a lot of people into church, but he wasn’t making disciples.
Ankerberg: Yeah. And we’re going to take a break right now, Robby, and when we come back I want you to explain to the people how you make disciples, okay? We’re talking about what a disciple is, but how do you make another disciple? And so, stick with us, we’ll be right back.

Ankerberg: Alright. We’re back. We’re talking with Robby Gallaty. And we’re talking about the number one thing that Jesus Christ commanded every Christian to do. And it’s part of the Great Commission. And we’ve talked about different aspects of it. We’ve talked about to make disciples, first of all, you’ve got to be a disciple. But now, you want to get to point number two of how do you make disciples?
Gallaty: Yeah. Up to this point, we should be convinced of the fact that we need to be disciplined in our Christian life. But the question is, Robby, how do we make disciples and why do we make disciples? I want to just give it to you in three points.
First of all, Jesus mandated it. Any questions? You know, Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” That is the thrust of the command. Through the years we have misunderstood the command. We have thought “going” is a command, or “teaching” is a command, or “baptizing” is the command. But those are participles which undergird the command “make disciples.” So, Jesus mandated it.
Secondly, he modeled it. In John 17, it’s called the high priestly prayer. It’s the prayer where Jesus gets alone with the Father, right before going to the cross. And He gets alone with God and He says these interesting words in verse 4, “I have completed the work that you gave me to do.” That word “completed” is the same word, John, that He used on the cross when He said, “It is finished.” What he’s saying is, it’s done. “You gave me a task to do and I have done it.” And so the natural question is, what was the task that God gave Him to do? Now, most people would say, well, it was to go to the cross to die for all the sins of the world. And that’s true. But the problem is that hadn’t happened yet. This is prior to the crucifixion. Some may say, well, God instructed Him to do miracles. And that was true, but not in this passage. Maybe God instructed Him to teach. And that’s true, but not in this passage. If you study the context of John 17, and I invite people to do that, you will see that 40 times in that passage, Jesus refers to the men that God gave Him to do. Listen to it in verse 6 when he says this in John 17, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world, yours they were, and you gave them to me and they have kept your word.” Do you see it? All through the text Jesus said, “God, you gave me a task to do, and I completed the task. And the task was to replicate my life into the life of other people, namely the apostles.
Ankerberg: Robby, the apostles also modeled this. Talk about that.
Gallaty: Yeah, in Acts 2, when Peter stood up and preached that great sermon on Pentecost, 3000 people, it says, came to know the Lord that day. Now, they were doing something different than we probably do today. They weren’t interested in filling out cards; they weren’t interested in people walking an aisle; they weren’t interested in counting heads. They were trying to figure out in their minds, how do we disciple 3000 people? Now, this is an overwhelming task. And so the apostles all through the book of Acts and into the New Testament modeled it.
I think the greatest example is 2 Timothy 2: 2. Here’s the Apostle Paul, he’s in prison, at the end of his life and he gives this charge to Timothy 2:1, “You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who are able to teach others also.” Four generations, John, in that verse, of discipleship. Paul invests in Timothy – one to two; Timothy entrusts to faithful men – two to three; who are able to teach others, also – three and four. Four generations of discipleship are in that one verse of scripture.
Gallaty: John, you know Billy Graham said that this verse impacted him more than any other verse in the Bible, according to discipleship. And it begs the question, can preaching alone make disciples? I did a Ph.D. paper this past fall, and I emailed Avery Willis, the founder and author of MasterLife, great disciple maker, and I asked him a question, can preaching produce disciples? And he wrote back and he said, “I hate to throw cold water on your paper,” he said, “but preaching to make disciples is like going into the nursery and spraying the babies with milk, and leaving and saying, “I just fed the kids. While it will help, in part, it will not produce disciples.”
Ankerberg: Um-hum. And we have statistics that actually show what is happening in the church right now.
Gallaty: Yeah, we have missed it, John. And I think the reason we have missed it is because we have made evangelism the end. You know, we do evangelism fairly well. We call people to respond to Christ, to sign a card or maybe walk an aisle, but the problem is, what do we do after that? We have dropped the ball and told people that they can come to Jesus to escape hell and to make heaven, and we have failed to help them cross the line of faith and become self-feeders in their own lives.
I came across some interesting statistics. Bob Gilliam of T-Net International did a survey of 4000 church-goers in 35 different denominations, and he came up with some interesting findings. Listen to what he said. He said that 24% of people in churches have indicated that their behavior was sliding backward. And he goes on to say that 41% said they were static in their spiritual growth. Almost three fourths of church members said they were static in their church growth. Now my question is this, should the Christian life be stagnant? Should believers be moving backward or staying the same? And I think not.
According to the Day Center at The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, they studied all 44,000 Southern Baptist churches by seven different criteria. And they found out that 9 out of 10 Southern Baptist Churches are plateaued or declining. And if you think about it, churches are plateaued, they’re declining, and so 9 out of 10 churches are plateaued or declining. The question is, why? And I think the reason is we have churches that are filled with undiscipled disciples. We have men and women who would love to read the Bible, who would love to pray, who would love to memorize scripture, but they just don’t know how. Nobody’s come alongside of their life and taken them by the hand and walked them the process of discipleship. And I think, John, we’re in desperate need of that in our church today.
Ankerberg: How do you go about that, Robby? People want to know, okay, how do we do that?
Gallaty: Well, I’ll tell you how not to do it.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Gallaty: What you probably shouldn’t do is go up to a person and say, “Would you like me to disciple you?” That sometimes doesn’t work. It’s probably too intrusive, it’s too confrontational. A better way to say it is this, “Would you like to study the Bible together? Would you like to meet once a week to memorize scripture? Would you like to meet once a week to be accountable to one another in the discipleship process?” I’ve been challenged to make disciples, because when I crossed the threshold of faith, two men came into my life, Tim LaFleur and David Platt. These two men met a man who’d just got off an addiction to cocaine and heroin in the world, who was an alcoholic in the world, crossed the threshold to faith. And they came into my life and walked me through the discipleship process. Now, I’ve been so impacted by discipleship – I’m a product of discipleship – that I invest my life into guys. Nine guys right now, John, every week, I invest my life into, and I teach them how to pray, we walk through life together, we hold each other accountable, we study the doctrines of the faith, we study theology. But we also study how to treat their wives, how to raise their kids, how to walk through scripture together.
Ankerberg: How much time do you spend with them?
Gallaty: I spend about an hour and a half a week. We meet over coffee, we’ll meet over lunch, and we live life together. It’s life on life discipleship. We look for teachable moments, which is an interesting thing. There are going to be times in the discipleship process where you’ll have a teachable moment. You can’t create this, you can’t manifest it, it just happens, where God gives you a divine opportunity to speak life into their life. And you begin to do that and it’s the little things that make the big difference.
Ankerberg: Alright, folks, Robby’s going to talk more about how you make disciples up ahead, in the programs we’re going to do up ahead. But what do you want people to walk come away from this program with?
Gallaty: John, I wouldn’t be here today if men wouldn’t have invested in me, if they wouldn’t have taken the time to pour into my life. And I just want to ask people, what are you doing to invest in the life of other people? How many people are you meeting with? Now, for some, they’re saying, “Pastor, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this concept.” And that’s okay; but you have to make a conscious effort today to say, “I want to begin the discipleship process.” Remember, you can’t make disciples until you become disciplined yourself. I think when we get to heaven, God’s not going to be impressed with how big our house was, how nice our cars were, how deep our 401K went. He’s going to ask us a question. And I think He’s going to ask us, “How many people did you personally invest in? How many people did you personally make disciples of all nations?”
Ankerberg: Yeah. And I think of some of you folks that are retired that are watching. You have, you meet for coffee with different friends; you could work the Lord into this and you could disciple your friends. You could open up this and see if they’re willing to meet and study the Word of God together. Others of you, that are so busy in your life, you can have lunch with people. There are ways that you can do this. Others of you that are working with university students, the fact is, there are times when you can meet, and you’ve got to set those times and they’re there. We’re going to talk more about that up ahead.
The question that we’re going to turn to in our next program, concerning this, is the Christians that just cold-heartedly say, “No, I’m not going to do this,” okay. Here you’ve got the truth. Here you’ve got the message that can bring them into a relationship with God, into eternal life, and you’re not sharing it with them? It would mean that you would dislike your neighbor a whole lot to keep him from knowing the wonderful gospel. And we’re going to talk more about that in our next program. I hope that you’ll join us.


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