Genesis 3:15, 12:1-3
Colossians 1:4-6, 1:15-23, 3:3-4
1 Thessalonians 5:8
All of what we are, do, think, feel and say is to be wrapped up in Christ alone. Christ is the gospel, He is our life, He is our salvation, He is our hope, and He is our perfect example of disciple making. Any model and depiction of discipleship that is apart from the life, character and nature of Christ, is not a Christ-centered discipleship. Therefore, whatever we consider as a method and practice, we must first evaluate it with the life of Christ.
God’s eternal plan was to send the Redeemer to rescue Adam’s offspring from sin, death, Satan and the world (Genesis 3:15). It would be that Seed of the women who would come through Abraham and bless all nations (Genesis 12:3, Gal. 3:16, 19). Christ was God’s plan A and the only plan to restore, rescue and redeem Adam’s rebellious family.
Ephesians 4 and Colossians 1 are two passages that clearly lay this out, the first being Ephesians 4:7-16. In Ephesians 4, Paul outlines the 5 gifts Christ has given to the Church. Paul then explains the purpose and goal of these gifted individuals to the Church. They are to prepare the Church for the work of ministry so the body of Christ may be built up into maturity. What is then the goal of maturity? None other than Christ Himself. God wants us to attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then in verse 15, Paul states that we are to grow up into Christ who is the Head of the Church.
Our second passage is Colossians 1:28. This passage states that the purpose of Paul's life and ministry was to present the Church complete in Christ. Both passages are talking about a corporate growth that is to take place in the life of the Church. Personal and corporate growth have the same goal, Christ alone.
If Christ is the goal of our growth and maturity, what then should be the goal of our discipleship toward the Church? What are we to lead the Church into? Are all the things we are doing achieving that goal? Can a Church who is not living in dependence on the Word become what God wants for it?
It would be fitting at this juncture to mention that this “maturity into Christ” is a corporate growth process. In other words, it is not accomplished apart from the living organism of the Church. A loving and learning community will produce believers who are settled in their understanding of the truth. Believers who interrelate, care for one another, and grow in their understanding of Jesus Christ will stand a good chance of remaining stable and confident. After all, God never intended for individuals in the Church to grow outside of the Church itself. Corporate growth is God’s desire; therefore, we must be discipling the Church into that truth so that it will be embraced by the Church and lived out through her.
Our focus of discipleship must be unto Christ, not ministry. Far too often we look to the daunting task of ministry and cry out for help, which is understandable. However, the Church's need for ministerial help can't take precedence over the spiritual well-being of the Church. The Church needs mature men and women teaching, leading and discipling the Church. We cannot afford to rush an individual into formal ministry prior to focusing them--over a period of time--on Christ.