Transformation of the church from membership to discipleship
Discipleship is a term in the Christian context that is used to describe a conversion into the Christian doctrine. Being converted meant that the individual had a different spiritual worldview before accepting to follow the teachings of the Christian God and the Bible. Before the introduction of discipleship, people used to claim a belonging into Christian doctrine through membership in the church. Every church had its own members. This membership was highly valued for it determined access to any privilege that may be accorded to the members. It is the teachings of Jesus and His followers like Paul that hammered the concept of discipleship in the Christian context.
Discipleship started in the days of John the Baptist, but it gained roots in the days of Jesus, and mushroomed in the days of Paul and other disciples. The teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament bring out the contradiction between a member of the church and a disciple of Christ. The church that existed before the coming of Jesus had a major emphasis in being a member of the church and following the law.
However, according to the teachings of Jesus, this was not the will of God. Jesus came to teach grace, and to make disciples through the grace, while this early church believed in following the law.
The context of the New Testament characterizes a period of transformation of the church. The events that happen are clearly indicative of a change in the system of belief of the Christians. Edwards asserts that the religious culture that existed in the context of the New Testament and the religious culture that Jesus introduces totally contradict. Jesus came boldly to teach fellowship with the trinity. He taught people to be followers. By teaching people to be followers, He introduced discipleship.
The first disciples were of John the Baptist. However, the context of following Christ to become a disciple is clearly brought out by Jesus. He called out His first disciples, and commissioned them to make disciples in all the ends of the earth. Paul took the mantle and transformed every place he went through the gospel. The nature of the church changed.
The introduction of the good news by Jesus brought the concept of discipleship. It was spread by the first disciples He chose. Later it was spread to all parts of the world.
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