C.S. Lewis once noted that a “good ship must be three things.”
The first is that it must be seaworthy. It must be solid and sturdy, not rotting or termite-infested. It must not display any leaks. It must be well-constructed with a thoughtful purpose by professional hands and maintained by the same.
The second characteristic of a good ship is that it sails in formation. It cannot survive on its own in dangerous waters with pirates lurking, storms brewing and without protection.
The third characteristic of a good ship is that it knows its port. It must be captained by one who knows the way. It must know where it is going and how to get there. The ship cannot complete its mission if it is off course or lost, for the cargo must be delivered. The map must be followed.
As you can see, these parallels are the basics of discipleship. First of all, it must be seaworthy. The ship is fashioned by men who have learned the art of ship-building. Its construction gives it the opportunity of sailing the open seas. Without this thought-out plan, the boat would secede to the pressures of its environment.
The Bible says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The only reason we have an opportunity to do anything for God is because the Lord designed us with a well-constructed plan. He said in Jeremiah 29;11, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you.” God has a plan and has created us to be true followers of Christ and instruct others in following Christ.
Next, we see that the ship’s success is dependent on other variables. It must sail in formation, not alone.
When our Lord came from Heaven to become a man, He chose twelve disciples. These men lived with our Lord, learning of His life and pattern. They were not independent religious entities; they were totally dependent upon Christ. He was their “Teacher.” He had come from Heaven with a pattern, and this pattern was pressed on them. When our Lord ascended to Heaven, He left the pattern with them (the Apostle’s doctrine, Acts 2:42).
Christ said to them, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The prosperous Christian, then, is totally dependent for spiritual success on their Lord, their spiritual leaders (Pastor, primarily, Hebrews 13:17, and teachers, 2 Timothy 3:10-17) and their local church (Ephesians 4). It is impossible to be a good Christian sailing independently of these three God-ordained Helpers.
Finally, the ship must know its port. The cargo must be delivered (the gospel of Christ), and the map for the journey has been thus provided. It is called the Word of God!
The wonderful journey of discipleship is a journey through the Word of God with the person of Jesus Christ, the author of the Bible (John 1:1-3). As we learn in Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Christ is not only the subject of the Christian life but the teacher also! What a blessing it is to have the author of the Bible living within (I Cor. 2:10-16, John 16:13).
Our mission, then, is the salvation of lost souls (Mark 16:15), the discipling of new converts (II Timothy 2:2), the starting of new churches (Acts 13:1-12) and the strengthening of the saints (Luke 22:32). To accomplish all of these means, God gave us His Word.
In conclusion, are you a faithful disciple, and are you discipling others according to the Word of God? Let’s put the “ship” back in “discipleship” and discover the joy of multiplying disciples!