Theology

How the Resurrection Impacts Discipleship

Nate Schill

The resurrection of Jesus Christ signifies His divine authority, which makes evangelism and discipleship a central focus of practical theology for believers. He told His eleven disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” (Matthew 28:18) and immediately following this statement, Jesus commissioned them to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (v. 19)

From this passage we can see how the New Testament connects the resurrection with discipleship; this small group of Jesus’ closest followers began witnessing to the nations and consequently turned the world upside down, transforming lives of Jews and Gentiles (Acts 17:6). Without the resurrection, what need would there be to make disciples of a solely crucified Christ? Disciples of resurrected life and future hope provide a purpose for eternity that believers can rejoice in.

The Resurrection and Discipleship

The reality of the resurrection ought to impact the way believers think about (and act on) discipleship. For instance, biblical scholars Gary Habermas and Michael Licona write about the importance of people skills in light of the resurrection. Humility is a key component of making disciples, because:

“The object is not to win the argument but rather to lead a sincere person to the truth.”[1]

Added to this, genuine love is a crucial character quality that leaves a lasting impression on a person.[2] As well, sharing the truth as a matter of discipleship involves overcoming intellectual obstacles, a ministry that J. P. Moreland advocates to “remove doubts that hinder spiritual growth.”[3]

Other helpful actions when making disciples include being a good listener and staying on the subject of the resurrection.[4] Showing grace and practicing compassion while making disciples will enhance a believer’s influence when sharing the hope and evidence of Christ’s resurrection.

Above all, employing the practice of prayer as a regular spiritual discipline aligns believers with the will of God (1 John 5:14). Each of these skills can be seen within the context of the Apostle Paul’s explanation of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, extending from freedom granted by the risen Savior (Galatians 5:1).

“Sharing the Crop”

Reflecting upon the truth of the resurrection impacts my life in at least two ways. First, as Christ’s disciple, I desire to continue learning from His Word and enjoying fellowship with Him and His church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, I believe it is just as important today to continue obeying Christ through the Great Commission by making disciples in my family, local church, workplace, neighborhood, and beyond. These two areas of impact are related by one element building upon the other… In 2 Timothy 2:6, Paul says,

It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

As a disciple, I enjoy being fed by God’s Word first to be spiritually healthy and then to share that “crop” with others. What an honor it is to be (and make) disciples for Christ, who conquered death and is alive today; who is seated at the right hand of God in heaven (Ephesians 1:20); who will come again soon (Revelation 22:20).

End Notes

[1] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004), 192.

[2] Ibid., 194.

[3] J. P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012), Location 2192, Kindle.

[4] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 194-197.

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