Rediscovering Discipleship - Book Review
Gallaty describes the ultimate end goal of discipleship as "to be conformed into the image of Christ - to talk the way he talked, walk the way he walked, and respond the way he responded" (Gallaty, 2015, p 79). Christian, are you making it your ultimate goal to accomplish this task with your time?
In the foreword, Ed Stetzer calls the reader to reflect on personal engagement by asking: "are we seeking God in prayer, spending time in his Word, and surrounding ourselves with people who will challenge us to grow in our spiritual lives?" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 11). In Rediscovering Discipleship, Gallaty first calls his readers to know Jesus before going on mission, and then outlines a method for making disciples. Stetzer affirms this call to know Jesus by commenting, "Too many of us are so focused on what we're supposed to do for Jesus that we lose focus on Jesus himself" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 12). In fact, Gallaty mentions his purpose for writing the book was as a "clarion call for cultivating a deeper walk with Christ" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 15).
An area of extreme intrigue for this lover of Biblical Hebrew and Discipleship is that his book marries the importance between the two. Gallaty takes the reader through how a Hebrew thinker would have processed the Old Testament and the New Testament and argues that our current interpretation of our purpose in the world has been confused over generations of believers analyzing Scripture from a modern perspective, rather than trying to understand the author's original intent. For me, this area of Rediscovering Discipleship alone makes it worth adding to your library.
For anyone wrestling with difficulty of adding another Bible study to your week, or trying to jump in to a discipleship program, or going through a season of frustration or doubt, Gallaty provides words of encouragement. Gallaty comments on what he calls one of the most depressing verses of the Bible, Matthew 28:17 - "when they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted," and he shows how Jesus's words directly address their doubts:
"Jesus diverts their attention from their own inability to his sovereignty. In three verses (18-20), he uses the inclusive word all four times: (1) Jesus possesses all authority, (2) he commissions us to all nations, (3) we are to teach people to obey all he has commanded, and (4) he will be with us all the days (or always). The providence and presence of God bookend the Great Commission: 'All authority has been given to Me'...'I am with you always, to the end of the age.'
We may have our doubts. But Jesus has authority and gives that to us. Simply put, he says, 'Do what I ask, and I will be with you'" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 177).
Why does Jesus's words have weight? Gallaty comments, "the author isn't speaking about something that he's studied; he's speaking about something that he labored to create" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 178).
So as Jesus calls us to spread the Good News, we must. Gallaty writes, "If we believe that Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, we should be open to anything and anywhere God is leading. We should be quick to say 'Here I am, Lord; send me!' in response to his voice" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 179).
The work will be difficult, and we may not see immediate benefit from the time we invest. Gallaty explains:
"Yes, there will be days of discouragement. Your group may argue and disband. Someone you disciple may backslide or leave the church. But don't be discouraged. Remember that the one who defeated death sits on God's throne, and he is the one who calls you to make disciples. In his grace and through his power, we will do what he has asked us to do. We are never closer to Jesus than when we are doing what he commanded us to do. His final words, 'Make disciples,' should be our first work" (Gallaty, 2015, p. 182).