THE APOSTOLIC MENTOR – Part One
Discipling The Next Generation
“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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Multiplication is essential if we hope to extend the kingdom to the ends of the earth. Jesus set the pattern. He was the Perfect Pattern Son, the Perfect Pattern Apostle. The apostle will do well to carefully examine the methodology for multiplication which was evident in the life and ministry of Jesus.
His command is backed by His example. A high, high priority in the earthly life of Messiah was discipling and mentoring. While he discipled more than twelve, He gave special attention and effort to reproducing apostles. He mentored them. They were sent to the then known world, the uttermost parts. Their commission: disciple the nations, every ethnic people group on the face of the earth.
Today’s apostle bears in his soul the burden of Jesus for the discipling of the nations. Regardless of his chronological age, he will disciple sons as a father, labouring in childbearing until Christ be formed in them. It is essential to be trans-generational in ministry, always preparing the next generation to carry on until Jesus comes.
Let’s examine the way in which Jesus made disciples. We will consider five major steps.
1. THE CALL
There can be no successful ministry without a calling from God. Jesus prayed all night before extending the call. He went through the names, over the list, perhaps several times until He was certain that He had the mind of His Father (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus did nothing of His own initiative, but only what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19,30). The success of Jesus’ mentoring efforts rested largely on selecting and calling the right men. Only the Father looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7).
The apostle/mentor must pray and receive guidance from God before calling people into a discipleship and mentoring relationship. He must know what he is to do with them before he calls them. Jesus gives us an important overview:
He appointed the twelve, (1) so that they would be with Him and (2) that He could send them out (a) to preach, and (b) to have authority to cast out the demons (Mark 3:14-15).
It takes a commitment of life, time and effort to properly mentor tomorrow’s servant-leaders. Before they can be sent out to preach and restore kingdom dominion in people’s lives, they first must be equipped. Jesus’ first priority and primary ministry on the earth was to be with His disciples, imparting to them all that they would need in order to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) which He would leave with them.
In addition to understanding the required investment of time, the apostle must have an understanding of the purpose and content of his responsibilities to those whom the Father gives him. He is to prepare the next generation of labourers for the white harvest fields. He is to establish them upon the foundation of Jesus Christ so that they will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).
This requires a sensitivity to and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Considering the illustration of the potter and the clay (see Jeremiah 18:1-6), we realize that both hands need to be used to mold the clay into a vessel. There is the hand on the inside of the vessel, and also the hand on the outside of the vessel. As the wheel turns, the two hands must work in a coordinated manner to perfect the vessel.
In our analogy, the hand on the inside of the individual is the Holy Spirit, and the hand on the outside is the mentor. When we are considering the church as the vessel, the “hand” on the outside is the fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12). Here again, the work on the outside of the vessel must be coordinated with and by the Holy Spirit. The workers must be directed by the Holy Spirit for Christ to be formed in the individual and in the church.
2. OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all nations, leading to obedience of faith;to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)
The apostle’s objective is obedient disciples. However, he is not labouring for an obedience which is in response to mere gentile authority. Neither is he satisfied with humanistic behaviour modification. Paul’s objective is the obedience that is by faith, a way of life referred to as “The Way.” This kind of obedience comes as a result of conversion following the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ, according to revelation knowledge, and under the anointing. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, the Anointed One.” (Romans 10:17)
Once the call had been extended and the disciples had responded, Jesus began to train them in the way of the Kingdom. He gave them clear instructions. It is good that disciples understand the objectives and are given measurable, achievable goals. This is necessary for their obedience and their progress to be measured.