Go and Preach the Gospel

Is it possible to be a disciple without making more disciples?

Popular verse from the Gospel of Matthew about discipleship. (Image: © Bigstock)

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Most Messianic Gentiles began as Christians. A large number of them come from a conservative, evangelical background.

All their lives they have been taught the core values of this tradition: doctrinal correctness (or, as others would see it, doctrinal conservatism), a personal relationship with Jesus, and a passion for reaching lost people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many Evangelicals are dispensational, and dispensationalism teaches that the Jewish people still have a prophetic role to play in God’s plan; for many dispensationalists, then, a further search into the Jewish roots of their faith is a natural step.

It is also very common (and completely expected) to see these Messianic Gentiles take the core value of doctrinal correctness with them as they embark on their search for a more Jewish framework within which to read the Scriptures or even, for many, for a more Jewish expression of faith.

It is easy to see this core value expressed in a variety of ways in different Messianic ministries, publications, and websites. It seems that if people in this movement want one thing, it is to be right—to know or to have the right interpretation of the Bible, the right theology, and the right way to observe the commandments of God. These desires are just as easy to identify in fundamentalist Christianity, the twentieth-century religious movement out of which the conservative Protestant denominations were born and, in some sense, the spiritual grandfather of the Messianic movement.

I consider this search for truth, for rightness, to be a positive thing. However, unfortunately, this desire to be right has overshadowed another important aspect of what it means to live a life of faith in Messiah: the obligation to make disciples.

I have traveled all over the U.S. and throughout the world visiting Messianic congregations. I am sad to say that it is rare to find one that is actively seeking to reach lost people—those who have no connection with Yeshua—and to bring them to a place of faith, a place of connection with God through the Messiah.

In contrast, the church I attended in the States continues to prioritize evangelism as one of its core values. While not every Christian understands the full weight of what it means to take on the yoke of discipleship, the believers in this congregation are certainly aware of the heavy responsibility of making more disciples.

In this respect—in the area of evangelism—the Messianic movement is being outdone by the very people they may perceive as being less “right” in other areas of doctrine or observance. To some this may seem to be a good trade-off; “We may not be making many disciples,” they may feel, “but Hashem will bless us because we are more obedient, more observant, more in tune than others are with what the Bible really means and teaches.”

However, it is impossible to be an obedient disciple without making more disciples. It is one of the core commandments in the Gospels and one of the primary duties of a disciple. When we read through the book of Acts, we do not see the apostles rejoicing or bragging that they were more right than all those who were not following Yeshua. Instead, they had a clear burden for those who had not yet believed in Yeshua, and they rejoiced to see the work of God in the lives of others—in the lives of those who had not previously been disciples but who had chosen to take on the yoke of discipleship as a result of the disciples’ efforts.

So even as we continue to press forward toward a more accurate understanding of the Scripture, a more holy life rooted in the commandments of the Torah, and a life of faith informed by our relationship to the Jewish people, we must not forget our responsibility to take the light of Yeshua to the nations.

Just as all of us are believers because someone took the time to present the good news of the kingdom to us, so we must carry that message forward and influence others to return to God in repentance and faith. We must not neglect the responsibility that our Master gave us before his ascension—a responsibility that is on par with every other commandment that we are required to obey:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)

Adapted from: Messiah Magazine 3, First Fruits of Zion, 2013.

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About the Author: Boaz Michael is the Founder and Director of First Fruits of Zion. He resides in Jerusalem, Israel. From there he directs First Fruits of Zion’s international efforts and is active in establishing a Messianic Jewish learning center in Jerusalem. More articles by Boaz Michael

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