Discipleship Matters – Part 3
Dr. Michael Gossett

A Note from Michael Gossett



As we continue to dive into the elements and expectations of discipleship, I want to remind you where we have been in the last two weeks. If you have missed an article, you can click here for PART 1 and here for PART 2. In last week’s article, we looked at the second participle of the Great Commission, which is βαπτίζοντες (“baptizing”), and what it teaches us about baptism, as well as conversion. This is where we understand the true meaning of evangelism within the greater conversation of discipleship. Discipleship does not end at the point of evangelism and continues to what is identified as the third participle which is διδάσκοντες (“teaching”).

Teaching and the Model of Christ: The third participle, but the second phase that is seen in the Great Commission, is to teach or observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:20). Jesus’ mandate does not end with evangelistic efforts but gives explicit expectation for growth through teaching and fulfilling His commands. Teaching implies a pattern of ongoing training and development within the disciple’s life.[1] Jesus modeled this for the disciples throughout His three-year ministry on earth. He continuously taught and developed the disciples so that they could eventually go and minister on their own. When Jesus called the disciples, saying, “Follow Me” this was the first step of abiding in the teachings of Jesus seen in Matthew 4:18-22. After the disciples abandoned all to follow Jesus, they pursued intentional personal relationships with Him for the purpose of developing Christlikeness. Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey said, “For the twelve, the call to discipleship was a call to immerse their lives in the words of Jesus.”[2]  

The teaching component of the Great Commission is the primary route in which the disciple grows in his relationship with Jesus. Paul states that the aim of the disciple is to imitate God and walk in love just as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5:1-2). As disciples are being taught and nurtured, Christlikeness will flourish. The Great Commission admonishes believers to teach or observe all that I have commanded you. When Jesus was pressed by one of the religious scribes to give an answer to what the greatest command is, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV). In this summation of the commandments, Jesus reveals to his disciples that this is the focus of their development.

[1]  Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), 189.

[2] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is . . ., 73.

In Matthew 4:17, Jesus’ public ministry is introduced.[3] Jesus announces his intentions, emphasizing his desire to seek the lost. This announcement begins the ministry of Jesus as He calls disciples to follow Him. The remainder of His time with the disciples becomes the training ground He utilizes for the purpose of spiritual growth. Matthew chapters five through seven show that He trained the disciples through what they witnessed as well as what they heard. These chapters reveal the mentoring nature of Jesus’ relationships during this teaching phase.[4] The ultimate purpose found in the training and teaching of the disciples was to become more like Christ. Therein lies the foundational understanding for the discipleship process to produce Christlikeness.[5] Jesus proclaimed, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40, ESV). Jesus’ words to believers assumed each would teach his commands, leaving no room for a disciple not to participate.[6]

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, discipleship occurred when men and women spent time with their mentor.[7] The relational method of discipleship was widely known among the Greeks and Jews.[8] The purpose for discipleship was realized only through the example and commission of Jesus. In the examples of discipleship before Christ, Hull notes, “It meets the human need for friendship, guidance, and intimacy.”[9] As in the process of evangelism, discipleship occurs by grace alone through faith alone. Likewise, growth of the believer through Bible teaching is completely dependent on God. Jesus’ model for maturing believers through teaching is illuminated through the lens of Hebrews 12:2, which reminds us that by the Holy Spirit our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.[10] The purpose of the teaching stage of Jesus’ ministry is for disciples to be conformed to his likeness. According to Pettit, there are three primary elements necessary for people to grow in the likeness of Christ after salvation. The first is the Word of God, the second is the Spirit of God and the third is God’s people.

CONSIDER THIS: What is missing to help you grow in the likeness of Christ personally? Secondly, how are you helping others grow in the likeness of Christ? How are you growing in your obedience to Christ’s commands? How are you helping others grow in their obedience to Jesus? This is really the meaning of this third participle. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. When we connect others to Christ (Participle 2) and connect them to His church, we are then charged with the task of helping them Grow in Christ (Participle 3). The disciple is never done growing and will never be done helping others grow. I pray that you will take time this week to examine your patterns of growth and the habits that help you grow and will examine whether or not you are helping others grow closer to Christ. Find someone this week that you will invest in for the purpose of helping them grow.

[3] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 89.

[4] A.B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1988), 41.

[5] Allan Coppedge, The Biblical Principles of Discipleship, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989), 79-82.

[6] Gary L. McIntosh, Growing God’s Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2016), 18-19.

[7] Winfield Bevins, “How Jesus Made Disciples,” Gospel Centered Discipleship, September 26, 2017, accessed November 10, 2017, http://gcdispleship.com/2012/06/04/how-jesus-made-disciples/.

[8] Bill Hull, The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006), 62.

[9] Bill Hull, The Complete Book of Discipleship, 52.

[10] Paul Pettit, Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A community approach to becoming like Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2008), 44.

FREE DOWNLOAD: I love the free resource offered at GABC called, “Discipleship Guide.” This guide is designed specifically as a resource to help you walk with others in a discipleship relationship. Grab someone from your connect group, a friend, a mentor, or someone younger and just commit to going through the guide together. I know you will be amazed at the fruit from relationships such as this. Hold each other accountable. Pray for one another. Grow together in the likeness of Christ. Stay tuned next week for more…..


THIS SUNDAY: I am so excited to begin our brand new series, ANCHORED. We are studying the book of 1st Peter and will be looking at this letter for the next 12 weeks. I pray you will come excited and prayed up for God to move in your heart and the hearts of our church family.

GREEN ACRES CLASSIC: SIGN UP TODAY! I am so excited to announce the inaugural Green Acres Classic golf tournament that will be hosted by the Green Acres Baptist Church Foundation. The tournament will be on Monday, September 26, 2022, at Willow Brook Country Club. All proceeds will benefit the next generation of ministry leaders by supporting the Residency Program. This is just another thing I LOVE about our church family. We believe in raising up leaders so that the Mission of God will continue to advance.

The newly developed Residency Program is designed specifically for those called to full-time vocational ministry. Residents serve on our ministry staff for one year while being developed and discipled by our staff team.  Residents also have an opportunity to further their ministry education through a partnership with East Texas Baptist University.

Even if you decide not to enter the Green Acres Classic, you can still support this incredible new ministry of our church. Your support of the Green Acres Classic is an eternal investment that goes beyond the boundaries of this world! Please click the link to support this ministry: https://www.gabc.org/classic/ To learn more about the Green Acres Baptist Church Foundation CLICK HERE.

GREEN ACRES INSTITUTE: This past Sunday, you heard about a new opportunity that we have to partner with ETBU for a fully accredited Institute here at Green Acres Baptist Church. The Green Acres Institute is designed to help you grow in your studies theologically, but also to deepen your faith as a follower of Jesus. Also, because it is accredited fully, you can utilize our Institute credits to transfer toward any degree up to a Masters. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information on how you can take advantage of this incredible new ministry.

STARTING POINT: Come learn all about Green Acres! If you have just recently joined our church or are considering church membership, this class on September 18 is for you! It is designed to give you a better picture of who we are as a church family. Together, we want you to have a clear understanding of our mission, vision, and values here at Green Acres. For families with children ages birth to elementary, you are welcome to check your children in with Kids’ Ministry.

SENIOR ADULT LUNCHEON: I am excited to tell you that Hixon Frank (Executive Pastor), Todd Haymans (Discipleship Pastor), and I will be hosting and speaking at the Senior Adult luncheon on Thursday, August 25th. I hope that I will see you there for this time of encouragement with one another! To register for the luncheon, please go to REGISTER HERE.

HOLY LAND TRIP: Pastor David and I will lead a trip to Israel in February 2023, which is coming up quickly!  This is a rare opportunity to travel with both of us.   The dates are February 15-25, 2023.   Email jend@gabc.org for more information.

10 DAYS OF FASTING AND PRAYER: I am asking each of you to join in on our church-wide 10 days of fasting and prayer together. Starting on September 4, we are going to have 10 days of focused prayer for us to pray together as a church family. You will receive a fasting and prayer guide that will give you everything you need to journey with us on these 10 days. On September 14th, we will conclude our 10 day journey in the Worship Center for a Night of Prayer and Worship as one body praying to the one true God! Make plans to join us that evening!


I cannot wait to worship with you this Sunday!


You are loved and prayed for!

Michael Gossett