Archive for November, 2014

Biblical Discipleship

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

I ran across an article this past week by Claude Hickman that I really liked, called Missions & Discipleship. Many times we see evangelism as one or maybe a few conversations where we share with someone what Christ did for them on the cross. After that we have no real plan or even any intention of taking them further. We focus of saving as many people as we can and once they are saved we drop them. Claude Hickman writes to uproot this idea and replace it with a Biblical model of evangelism and discipleship. He writes,

“If we look at the life of Jesus we see that he moved his disciples through several phases. The first is Evangelism, bringing them to believe in Him as the Messiah. The next phase is Establishing, grounding them in the basics of the Christian life. After awhile, some followers proved themselves to be faithful men and were selected for special training, or Equipping. Only after this filtering process did he Extend them to the nations on their own.”

“We also see that the early Church modeled this. Just read through Acts and see the pattern of developing believers, training them and then sending them to the nations.

 

Acts

Evangelizing – Acts 2:38,47 “Repent and be baptized…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Establishing – Acts 2:41,42 “Those who accepted his message were Baptized… they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Equipping Leaders – Acts 6:3,7 “Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.”

Extending – Acts 10:34-48 “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Evangelizing – Acts 11:20-21 “Some of them went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus…a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

Establishing – Acts 11:22-26 “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the Church and taught great numbers of people.”

Equipping Leaders – Acts 13:1 “In the Church of Antioch there were prophets and teachers (trained men).”

Extending – Acts 13:3-4 “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

 This was the Lord’s method, and the early church’s method: Evangelize, Establish, Equip, Extend.”

“The goal of discipleship is to multiply. Jesus could have lead large crusades to win thousands of people to the Kingdom, but He didn’t. Instead He chose to invest His life deeply into a few faithful men. He knew the result would be far more impacting for the future if He could train some disciple makers. The missionary Paul caught on to the same vision. In 2 Timothy 2:2, he exhorts Timothy to entrust the things he learned from Paul to, “faithful men, who are able to teach others also.” Four generations of discipleship in one verse; Paul to Timothy, to faithful men, to the others they would train. There is power in multiplication. If you lead one person to Christ each day for 33 years, that would be over 12,000 people. But instead, let’s say that you lead one person to Christ and discipled them in a year so that they could go out and win and train others, and that this process of evangelizing, establishing, equipping, and extending was built into each one. Even if it just started with you, within 33 years you would have reached over 4 billion people. Jesus knew that this was a powerful thing to give His life to. There are very few men and women out there who are reproducing themselves into others. If you find one, latch on to them. Do you want to see missionaries mobilized and sent out to the nations? Begin establishing, equipping and extending those around you. It is your greatest investment.”

Let’s go out this week living as true disciples of Christ, intending to multiply by evangelizing, establishing, equipping, and extending!

For a long time, I really struggled with the concept of reaching out to people that are in my life daily with the intention of showing them Christ. My relationship with Jesus was something private to me, and I could tell that to a random person I wouldn’t ever see again about Christ because they wouldn’t judge me for it later. This way, in my mind, I was still telling people about Christ, but not being “that obnoxious Christian” to my friends. There was an obvious gaping hole in this logic, but it was a comfort to me so I allowed myself to believe it.

When I was in high school, our youth minister Frank showed us a video of an atheist talking about Christians and sharing the gospel. He talks about how after a show (the atheist is a comedian) a Christian approached him, gave him a bible and had highlighted verses for him. This prompted him to make a video questioning why Christians who believe in a real place called hell, where people will go if they don’t hear the gospel, don’t evangelize. He says “How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them?” Frank put it like this; it would be like knowing the cure for cancer and deciding not to share it. The atheist suggested a great metaphor of not telling someone they’re about to be hit by a bus. As P.F. Bresee says, “We are debtors to every man to give him the gospel in the same measure in which we have received it.” Frank then went on to stress the importance of evangelism of not only people we love and care about, but to others too. I, at the time, was completely on the others thing, but I had totally missed the mark with the people I value the most.

My brother is one of those people that I was afraid to share the gospel with. I love him with all of my heart and would never wish any sort of harm to come to him, yet I was holding back from sharing my faith with him. I was afraid of messing up, not knowing enough, the usual excuses. However, once I counted to three and just started the conversation, it was great. To quote We Bought A Zoo, “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and something great will come of it.” You just need to get the ball rolling. You don’t have to have all the answers, but explain who the Lord is, how He moved in your life, what He has done. We actually need to speak up. Verbally. Not  only show Christ through your actions because who’s testimony have you heard that says, “I observed this one Christian who never spoke to me about Jesus, but their actions made me suddenly conscious of the gospel and now I believe.”  I think that John Piper explains it best in this quote on our role in sharing the gospel.

“We do two key things. We pray for God to open the eyes of the blind. And we speak words of truth about Christ so that when the people’s eyes are opened, there is something to believe. The Holy Spirit never opens the eyes of the heart until there is gospel truth in the mind to believe. That’s our job. We put the truth of Christ into a person’s mind with a testimony; we pray for the miracle of spiritual sight for the blind. And God in his time and in his way says, “Let there be light!” Don’t take on more than is your human responsibility in this process. But far more urgent for us is: DON’T TAKE ON LESS!”

I encourage you to pray for opportunities this week to share the work the Lord has done in your life. He is faithful and will give you opportunities; you just need to take them.