DISCIPLE OF CHRIST OR CHURCH MEMBER?
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
Jesus Christ gave us the command to make disciples of all nations, which is what the Great Commission is all about. But the difference is the case in our churches today. People are focused on making members for their different denominational churches in the name of working for God. But if you look closely to the Master’s commandment, He didn’t say, “Make church members of all the nations” He said, “make disciples of all the nations” Matthew 28:19.
There is a clear difference between making disciples and making church members; there is a crystal clear difference between being a Christ’s disciple and being a church member. You can be a certified, recognized and appreciated church’s member, who is well known in the church, did all sorts of New Covert’s, Believers or Membership trainings, and yet you are not a disciple of Christ. You can go through all these “so called” workers trainings, ministers trainings or Pastoral trainings and yet you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ, you can be so committed into your church, that most of your time and money are spent on different church’s activities, programs and services, and you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ. You can be devoted to your church as a member, as a worker, as a leader, minister or pastor and yet not a disciple of Christ Jesus.
The Great Commission Jesus Christ gave to us is, “Make disciples of all nations” But the devil has deceived us and turned it to “make church members of all nations”. That is the reason you see every denominations struggling to have large number of members that is the reason you see them everywhere, every street, they want to have their own denominational branches or assemblies or parishes, whatever name they call them.
Think about it, if a church or a Pastor says they want to create another branch or parish in a particular street, is it because there are no existing biblical churches in that particular location? If the motive is that all or most denominations in the area are unbiblical and teaching errors, that is good. But they create their new branches there and preach and teach the same thing. They don’t care about that, their mission and focus is to make members from every street, every town, city and state, but not necessary in every village. Because they are not after the mission of making disciples, they only want to make members for their denominations.
You will see in a particular street where different denominational churches are staying side by side. You will see a two, three storey building of different denominations on each floor, the ground floor is denomination A, the first floor is another denomination of B, and second floor is a different Pentecostal denomination C. When church A is doing Sunday School, church B who does not do Sunday School in her denomination will be doing heavy Praise Worship with loud shouts and instruments, and church C will be having a “fireful” and prophetic moment of prayer; all at the same time with their speakers loud enough so as not to be overshadowed and suppressed by the other church. Everything will be boiling in the air, in the name of serving God? This is because they are looking for members not disciples. It is confusion; it may be seen as united confusion, friendly confusion or prophetic confusion; whatever name we call it, such is confusion and God is not an Author of confusion.
Every church wants to have the largest congregation, many branches or parishes and many rich people, all in the name of the Lord. Competition and rivalry among denominations all in the name of the Lord.
It’s a terrible thing in the Christianity of today that the devil has turned the Great Commission to the great competition. The devil has diverted and deceived pastors and churches to think and believe that making church members, creating more parishes or branches are as the same as making disciples. You see more denominations and more parishes of churches today, and at the same time you see more sins, more evil, more competitions, and more immorality. Why? Because most of these pastors and their churches are only making members not disciples. Anybody can be a member, but a not a disciple.
Anybody can be a worker, an ordained minister of a church. Is it not to be regular, committed and do their different classes? But it takes those who are genuinely saved, regenerated, who have forsaken their sins and living new life in Jesus to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. John 8:10, 11, 31, 32.
THE DIFFERENCE IS CLEAR!
There are clear differences between a church members and a disciple of Jesus Christ:
A disciple of Christ is somebody who genuinely comes to Jesus Christ for the salvation of his soul and eternal life and keeping following Him for the bread of life. John 6: 63-67. But a church member may have other purposes like problem solving, prosperity, prophecies, healing, etc.
A disciple of Christ is somebody who come to Jesus and repent from all his sins, forsake them and continuing in the Word of God. Acts 14:21,22. A church member does not necessarily need to be genuinely saved; they may just answer altar call and be committed and faithful to the church ordinances. Are you a disciple or a church member?
To make disciples, Christ, and Him alone must be preached with the sole aim of leading people to salvation in Christ and helping them to grow and live in holiness, truth and righteousness, and to make heaven. To make members, no need of priority of genuine repentance, salvation, restitution and holiness of life, just preach what will attract people in the name of Jesus. If your purpose is to make people get to heaven, it’s not a must to make them members of your church. You can have thousands members in your church and none of them is a disciple of Christ. The population of a church is not in proportion to the spiritual value of that church. The number of the members in a church is not in any proportion to the number of Christ’s disciples in that church.
Many pastor and church is looking for numerical growth today, they want to make members of every nation, every city and every street, and they are ready to preach and perform anything, ready to change any standard to have this dream of mega church come through.
Some denominations say their vision is to have their denominations at every corner of every street and to make members for their denominations from every family. That is a human and personal ambition and not Christ’s ambition. It’s an idea generated from personal ambition to build personal empire not the kingdom of God. You see, there are some things that you don’t need to speak in tongues or have the gift of prophecy before you know if they are biblical or not; all you need to do is to check the Word of God and compare them with the Scriptures that doesn’t change. Jesus said, “make disciples of all nations” He didn’t say, “make your church members of all nations” The only means such denominations can justify their visions or missions is if they claim and prove that their church is the only biblical church through which people can get to heaven and through their church alone people can become disciples of Christ. But if you don’t believe your church is the only church recognized by God and that not all your church’s member are real disciples of Christ, then you don’t need to have your church’s member in every family and at every corner. Christ’s mission is to have His disciples in every family not in your own denomination, except if you believe only your church members are Christ’s disciples in the world.
Most of the missions in the ministries today are selfish, self ego generated missions. Pastors are just building their own empires in the name of God. Pastors are seeking their personal glory in the name of working for God. They are using you to fulfill their own ambition and personal agenda, to boost their personal ego in the name of working for God. They want to have large congregations; they want to have the biggest church auditoriums – multibillionaire, so that it will be written at the back of their books – for that, they are ready to swear on both Testaments, to say anything with God’s name to convince you.
SOME UN-BIBLICAL METHODS OF MAKING AND MAINTAINING MEMBERS
(1) Membership Certificate
Most pastors and their churches today are using various strategies to make and maintain members. Some even go to the point of making their church members to have membership certificate. That is funny. They may tell you, “If you don’t go through our membership class and have certificate, you are not a bona fide member of this church” there are different classes in different churches today, to promote holiness and maintain old standards or maintain members? You wonder why you didn’t hear such things among our founding fathers of faith. Well, you can certify somebody as a genuine member of your church, right? You can be certified by your pastor or General/Senior Pastor as a genuine member but you may not be part of the Disciples of Christ. Having your name written in your church’s book does not mean your name is written in the Book of life in heaven.
Paper certificate is useless; membership certificate is immaterial to becoming disciple of Christ. It may be part of the modern system to maintain church membership. If our genuine aim is to help people to be true Disciples of Christ, there is no need making them to be your certified church members as if being recognized as a genuine member of your church has anything to do with being recognized in heaven. Only Jesus knows His own in a church, no pastor can judge by certificate the true and genuine members of Christ’s kingdom. The classes and certificates are not enough evidence to certify people as genuine disciples of God. Only God can determine His own in the public meeting, so such act is usurping God’s territory and very inadequate.
You see, in those days, our founding fathers of faith were not using all these human ideas, they only preached Jesus alone, and it was evidential in their own personal lives and the lives of the members, because the Bible says by their fruits you will know them, not by their church’s certificates or by their commitment to their church classes and activities. Being a devoted church member or minister does not imply you are a true disciple of Christ. Your church can say anything to sooth you, to make you so confident as if you are a candidate of heaven as long you come to their church, if you build your life on that, it will amount to disappointment at the end of your life.
(2) Membership Marriage
Some churches go to the point of telling their church members not to visit any other churches or marry from another church apart from their own. That is nothing but selfish ideology, not Christ’s or biblical ideas. Not all churches are biblical but that does not mean every other church apart from your own is unbiblical. How can we invite other church members to our church and we don’t want our own church members to be invited to other churches? That is not the commandment of Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with the Great Commission. Jesus says, “Do unto others as you want them to do to you” if you don’t want your church members to attend or visit other denominations, then you don’t need to invite people from other denominations too. It’s all about personal and human ambition and wisdom to make and maintain members. Except if such denomination can biblical prove that their own denomination is the only heavenly recognized church on earth and all others are fake and all their members are sinners going to hell.
Some churches don’t allow their single sisters to go and marry in another denominations, maybe they can allow their single brothers to marry from another denominations and bring the women to their church but not that their sisters would go and marry in another church and then join the church. If your ambition is for kingdom of God, not for your own personal denomination, you don’t need such smart not-biblical tactic. The Bible standard for choosing marital partner is simply “only in the Lord” 1 Corinthians 7:39. It doesn’t says, “Only in your denominational church” a selfless pastor will not care if his single members marry from his church or not, he will only care if the person is in the Lord, not necessarily in your denomination.
Teaching or persuading people to marry only in your denomination is an extra-biblical teaching, EXCEPT you are saying only your church members are in the Lord and other children of God from all other denominations are outside the Lord. You don’t justify people by the church they attend, that is an ungodly judgment, heaven doesn’t recognize any denomination and no denomination is registered in heaven, only people who are washed by the Blood of the Lamb and living daily in righteousness, truth and holiness are recognized in heaven, irrespective of your denominations. So why are we fighting, competing and dividing more and more everyday as if becoming a church member is the same with the command of Jesus Christ of becoming His true disciples and making disciples for Him? Why can’t we base on the biblical standard that by their fruits you shall know those who are truly in the Lord and not by their denominations? Why can’t we stop the great competition of making members for our churches and let’s start the Great Commission of making disciples for Christ Jesus of all nations and of all denominations?
(3) Motivational Methods
Some pastors, in the process of making more members, they changed their messages to motivational, miraculous speaking in order to sooth people. Since many people want preachers that will deceive them by telling them what they want to hear not what they need to hear. So to make many members you must make mention what the many people want to hear at many times. People want motivational messages not rebuking messages, people want prosperity messages not message of purity, people want to go to churches where they perform miracles not where they practice holiness. So many preachers have become motivational speakers; others go to the point of getting demonic powers to perform miracles. You preach prosperity, breakthrough, faith for fantastic living and to overcome problems of life, but not the faith for holy life or to overcome temptations. They preach materials blessings and business success with long life. They sweeten their messages to psych your emotion and make you scream, to motivate you in your sins not from your sin. And you feel calmed, cooled and comfortable in your sins but uncomfortable with poverty.
With these, preachers can only make members for their denominations; with these, you can only become a member of a denomination and not disciple of Christ Jesus. You can be busing preaching, praying and sacrificing in the name of serving God, but all for nothing for your eternity. If your preaching, praying and teachings are not turning people to righteousness, all your effort are baseless. The Bible says in the book of Daniel 12:3, “Those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like stars forever and ever.” That is for people who are wise not the foolish ones.
If your purpose for the ministry or God’s work is to turn people to prosperity, to business success, wealthy life, healing and miracles, you are a big looser because no eternal reward for you. Only those who turn people to righteousness are recognized and will be rewarded in heaven. You may be popular here on earth and prospered and rich, but when this world passes away, your gains also pass away. If you are a member or minister of any of church but you are not living a righteous life, you are a great looser. Imagine your offerings, sacrifices and services are waste, your effort and giving are useless. You are just busy for nothing, your pastors and church can be deceiving you to continue like that as if everything is fine with you, they can try to misinterpret the Bible to calm you; Satan can be throwing miracles into your way in the name of testimonies to make you feel as if nothing is wrong or God is okay with you, but you alone has the power to choose not to be deceived by people or satan.
You can examine your own life, put aside all the physical and material testimonies, the certificates, the ordained “tittles”, the position you have in and outside the church; are you a true disciple of Jesus Christ or just a church member, minister? It’s not by claiming or ordinary confession, but it’s by your fruit testified to by people. If you are not yet a true disciple of Christ, you can become one NOW. All you need is to be sincere with yourself, realize your situation and repent from all your sins both open and secret ones and ask Jesus to forgive you as you determine to forsake them. Start a simple and sincere new life in Jesus with daily Bible reading and prayer and be zealous for God’s work not a church works.
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