Jesus gave His disciples what has come to be known as the Great Commission prior to ascending back to heaven. Part of His command to go and make disciples is that we teach them to obey everything He commanded. Notice how His instruction ends: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) But, also take note of how His instruction begins: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'” (Matt. 28:19) The Lord’s presence and authority go hand in hand.
Bible teachers’ part in the discipleship process is to help their students identify with Christ (as is done in baptism) and follow Him wholeheartedly (as reflected in obeying everything He commanded). To get further than the mere impartation of knowledge to making fully devoted disciples, teachers and students alike need an awareness of God’s presence because:
1) God’s presence equals God’s authority.
For discipleship efforts to lead to fully devoted followers who know and love the Lord, it has to be rooted in something more than the teacher’s words. To expect students to apply truth to life because the teacher said so is unrealistic. But, when students realize it is the Great “I AM” speaking to them behind those words, the One who has all authority (Matt. 28:18), they have a greater sense of accountability.
2) God’s presence equals God’s power.
Not only does an awareness of God’s presence build a greater accountability, but it also assures us of a Helper who will be with us, enabling us to do that which He commands. We can be strong and courageous when we know God is with us (Josh. 1:9) for “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3).
Bible teachers can get beyond the mere teaching of a lesson to being disciplemakers when they grasp the significance of God’s presence to the learning process.
More on Teachers Making Disciples: DISCIPLESHIP: Isn’t teaching a lesson enough? Teacher Training Worksheet