How Do We Make Disciples of All Nations if We’re Not Gifted in Apologetics or Evangelism?

Hey TD!

Each year at our church we have a missions conference, encouraging and exhorting us to consider going overseas to be a missionary and to “do missions.”  This weekend was no different.  Some leave these weekends feeling challenged and called to make plans to do just that.  Others, on the other hand, feel a conflict within, like they are being slighted as Christians if they don’t go.  Some feel uncomfortable when a missionary comes to speak because they feel that they are made to feel guilty and less of a Christian than overseas missionaries are.

“Some feel uncomfortable when a missionary comes to speak because they feel that they are made to feel guilty and less of a Christian than overseas missionaries are.”

I want to remind you that it is your obedience to what you know God is asking of you that is the key to all of this.  It’s not about going overseas or not.  It’s about obeying Him, being who He wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do, doing it how He wants you to do it and where He wants you to do it.  And that is different for each person.  It’s not a matter of what geographical state you are in as much as it is a matter of what spiritual and mental state you are in – a state of wanting what you want and living for that, or a state of wanting what He wants and living for that.

“It’s not a matter of what geographical state you are in as much as it is a matter of what spiritual and mental state you are in …”

The truth is that Christ’s followers are missionaries everywhere, all the time.  For those who are Christ’s, heaven is your real home, and anywhere on planet earth is a foreign place to you – whether you’re in the SGV or in China.  And we need to live like that, doing missions everywhere, all the time.  If you are doing that, you are a certified, bona fide missionary.  It’s not the location of your body; rather, it’s the location of your heart.  But that heart will be willing to stay or go wherever the Lord wants.

And that’s what our friend, Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason), in today’s video above is focused on – figuring out a way to represent the Lord well wherever you are, even if apologetics or evangelism is not your particular gifting or bent.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Watch and then work with your small group leader to help you figure out how to obey the call. – Arthur

 

The Church and Discipleship

discipleship-the-key-to-spiritual-growth

Hey TD,

We will be continuing our look at a key to spiritual gowth – discipleship.   When reading this article a few weeks ago, I found myself highlighting most of the article.  It’s a valuable article to read.  May we take it to heart. – Arthur

The Church and Discipleship by Jay Bauman

W hen I was fourteen years old, I had my first summer job: historical tour guide. I led tours through a well known historical site in a small, quaint town in the upper Midwest United States.

On my first day on the job, my boss handed me a large manual and said I needed to learn all of the historical facts of the site to be ready to give tours. The problem was, I didn’t have a lot of interest in learning the facts. So, I skimmed through it just to get enough basic information to start giving tours.

I ended up being a poor tour guide as a result. People started asking me questions on my tours—a lot of questions, the kinds of questions that history buffs love. What did the people eat? What did they wear? What was a typical day like? And I didn’t really know the answers, so I just started making things up. People seemed to like the answers I was giving, so I just continued on with my half-truths to pass the tours and to pass the time.

One afternoon, my boss told me that he was going to come on my tour the following morning. I was scared to death. I knew that I had been telling half-truths and didn’t know the manual. And one evening would not be enough time for me to learn everything I should have already known. I was in trouble. And since I had been lying on these tours for so long, I was confused about what was really true and what was a lie. I didn’t even know the facts anymore. In essence, I had begun lying even to myself.

The following morning, my boss went on my tour. That same day, I was fired.

Sometimes our discipleship efforts in the local church mirror this experience. Someone is converted in the context of our local church. Perhaps they even seem to have had a powerful encounter with God. We hand them our manual (a Bible), and we assume that this is sufficient for their long-term development. We don’t check in with them to see how they are doing. We don’t walk with them. As long as they are attending church services and performing their religious tasks, we assume everything is OK.

Yet, when we look a little closer, we see that they have not learned the Word, that they have not applied the Word, or even that they don’t know the Word. And often, they have begun to lie to themselves about basic truths of Scripture. They needed discipleship. But what we gave them was a service opportunity, something just to keep things running at our church. We just left them alone until something stopped working.

“But true discipleship is not just about hanging out … It’s about progressively becoming more aware of our sinfulness and of God’s holiness. It’s about the cross’s looming larger and larger in our lives as we embrace gospel truths.”

The Great Commission calls us to make disciples (Matt. 28:18–20). All power on heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, who gives power and a call to us. Making disciples means that we embrace this call by accompanying people along their way. Some churches call this “doing life together.”

But true discipleship is not just about hanging out. True discipleship is about embracing gospel truths in the context of a biblical community that results in life change. It’s about visibly seeing sanctification in the life of a new believer. It’s about progressively becoming more aware of our sinfulness and of God’s holiness. It’s about the cross’s looming larger and larger in our lives as we embrace gospel truths.

Gospel-centered churches understand this. The true measure of a church’s success is not its size but whether it is making disciples. We have a vast problem in our churches, not only in American churches but in churches around the world. We have many “conversions” but few disciples. We have many “conversions” but few who embrace the lordship of Christ.

Sometimes, under the guise of “leadership training,” churches try to stimulate some form of holiness in new believers. Often, they teach business principles sprinkled with Scriptures that are taken out of context. But leadership training is not the same as discipleship. Many churches talk about vision, potential, and human flourishing endlessly, but it is not true discipleship unless we are teaching gospel truths about sin, confession, and repentance. It is not true discipleship unless we are leading people to the cross.

The Apostle Paul calls us to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Disciple-makers understand that people need help putting on the new self.

True disciple-makers are not just interested in developing leaders, or superficial tour guides. They are interested in seeing the cross loom large in the life of a new believer. They are passionate about sanctification. They are passionate about teaching gospel truths. And the result of this kind of biblical discipleship is amazing—people and churches whose testimony truly reflects God’s character, bringing much glory to Jesus.

Rev. Jay Bauman is founding pastor of Igreja do Redentorin Rio de Janeiro and founder of the church-planting network Restore Brazil.

Discipleship? What’s That?

discipleship-the-key-to-spiritual-growth

Hey TD!

As we begin our new theme next week, I’d like to begin prepping us with the right mindset regarding how we approach our life in Christ.

The late Dallas Willard once remarked that true discipleship is “the great omission in the great commission on the part of churches.” Unfortunately, he’s right. Some churches focus lots on evangelism, but little on discipling those they have evangelized.  At least they’re evangelizing.  Most churches neither consistently evangelize nor disciple – they run programs.  And you won’t find that prescribed in the Bible.

True followers of anyone (aka disciples) do what the person they’re following does.  That’s what it means to follow.  It means emulating and imitating another in healthy, essential, core ways.  It means receiving a baton securely from the previous runner, running, and transferring that baton securely to the next runner.  It means being a link in the chain that securely connects the links it’s connected to, not being a weak or broken link that compromises the whole chain.

In the midst of the strain, pressure, and pull being exerted on the “Christian chain” (the Christian faith through the generations), it’s not an easy task to be that kind of link.  Yet, that’s the calling of each Christian – to  receive and to pass on.  It takes focus, resolve, purpose … and a plan.  Remember, if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.

“Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have.”

We’ll be posting more thoughts on discipleship/mentoring in the coming weeks, but before we do, let’s start at the beginning.  Before we emphasize Jesus’ “go and make disciples” mandate in Matt. 28, we need to apply things in order. Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have.  Before we can begin legitimately begin “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (v. 20), there must be a growing and active obedience in the life of the discipler.  And that, I believe, is what keeps the church from doing more discipleship.

I believe that there are often “noble” intentions behind people not mentoring others in Christ. People are often not really being obedient to Christ in their own lives and thus, in their consciences, they know they are not able to rightly “teach them to obey all I have commanded you” and don’t want to be hypocritical nor do a poor job.  And which one of us cannot identify with that sentiment?  Of course we can.  And it’s right in a sense.  If we are not obeying Christ in our lives, we ought not to be mentoring people to follow and obey Christ.

But I don’t think the final solution is to therefore not disciple; rather, the answer ought to be to begin the hard and disciplined work of making the necessary adjustments in our lives to actually obey and worship the Christ in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction.

If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction.  And, who knows, you may very well find yourself discipling a younger believer to follow Christ in a few years, as you yourself are doing!

 “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20

– Arthur

 

We’re Called to Make Disciples, not Simply Converts

Hey TD,

The Christian faith is a sharing faith; a faith that shares and gives life to others, both Christians and non-Christians alike.  And it is a faith that shares time, talent, treasure, and … Truth … to those in our lives; the Truth of God.  That sharing is to happen at all levels, from conversion, to spiritual infancy, to spiritual childhood, to spiritual adolescence, to spiritual maturity.  As we learn how to follow Christ, we are to share with others how to do the same.  It’s called discipleship.  And that’s what we Christians are ultimately functionally called to.

This is what our dear legendary mentor and friend, Dr. RC Sproul, reminds us of in the article below.  Please read, and if anyone has helped you learn to follow Christ, you are blessed.  Pray a prayer of thanks and petition for him or her.  And then pray for your role in this calling. – Arthur

We’re Called to Make Disciples, not Simply Converts

FROM Mar 07, 2016 Category: Articles

We should take notice of what Jesus did not say in the Great Commission. He did not say, “Go therefore and make converts of as many people as possible.”

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20)

One of the most exciting times of my life was when I was first converted to Christ. I was filled with a zeal for evangelism. However, much to my consternation, when I told my friends about my conversion to Christ, they thought I was crazy. They were tragically amused, remaining unconvinced despite my sharing the gospel with them. Finally, they asked me, “Why don’t you start a class and teach us what you have learned about Jesus?” They were serious. I was elated. We scheduled a time to meet, and I got there a little bit early—but they never showed up.

Despite my profound desire for evangelism, I was a failure at it. This realization came to me early in my ministry. Yet, I also discovered that there are many people whom Christ has called and whom He has gifted by His Spirit to be particularly effective in evangelism. To this day, I’m surprised if anybody attributes their conversion in some part to my influence. In one respect, I’m glad that the Great Commission is not a commission principally to evangelism.

The words that preceded Jesus’ commission were these: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He then went on to say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” When Jesus gave this commission to the church, He was speaking authoritatively. He gave a mandate to the church of all ages not simply to evangelize but to make disciples. That leads us to a significant question: What is a disciple?

The simplest definition of disciple is one who directs his mind toward specific knowledge and conduct. So, we might say that a disciple is a learner or pupil. The Greek philosophers—people such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—had disciples. Socrates described himself ultimately as a disciple of Homer, the person Socrates regarded as the greatest thinker of all of Greek history.

We tend to think of Homer as a poet rather than a philosopher. But Socrates saw him as the supreme teacher of ancient Greece. Then, of course, Socrates had his own student—his chief disciple—whose name was Plato. Plato had his disciples, the chief one being Aristotle. Aristotle also had his disciples, the most famous being Alexander the Great. It is astonishing to think about how drastically the ancient world was shaped by four men: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great. In fact, it is nearly impossible to understand the history of Western civilization without understanding the influence of those four individuals, who in their own way were each disciples of another.

Aristotle, in particular, was known as a “peripatetic” philosopher. That is, he was a nomadic teacher who walked from place to place, not teaching in a fixed location. The students of Aristotle would follow him as he walked the streets of Athens. In one respect, Aristotle’s disciples lived life with him, learning from him in the course of a normal daily routine.

The aforementioned concepts help illumine the nature of discipleship. However, they fail to capture the full essence of biblical discipleship. Discipleship in the biblical sense involves walking with the Teacher and learning from His words, but it is more than that.

Jesus was a rabbi and, of course, the most important peripatetic teacher and disciple-maker in history. Wherever He walked, His students would follow. At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, He chose particular individuals to be His disciples. They were required to memorize the teachings that He spoke as He walked. What’s more, people didn’t file an application to get into the School of Jesus. Jesus selected His disciples. He went to prospective disciples where they were, whether in the marketplace or at their place of work, and give this simple command: “Follow me.” The command was literal—He called them to drop their present duties. They had to leave their work, their families, and their friends in order to follow Jesus.

Jesus was more than just a peripatetic teacher however. His disciples called him “Master.” Their entire way of life changed because of their following Jesus not merely as a great teacher, but as the Lord of all. That’s the essence of discipleship—submitting fully to the authority of Christ, the One whose lordship goes beyond just the classroom. Jesus’ lordship encompasses all of life. The Greek philosophers learned from their teachers but then tried to improve on that teaching. Christ’s disciples have no such warrant. We are called to understand and teach only what God has revealed through Christ, including the Old Testament Scriptures, for they point to Christ; and the New Testament Scriptures, for they are the words of those Christ appointed to speak in His name.

The Great Commission is the call of Christ for His disciples to extend His authority over the whole world. We are to share the gospel with everyone so that more and more people might call Him Master. This calling is not simply a call to evangelism. It isn’t merely a call to get students for our seminaries, our colleges, or for Ligonier Ministries. Rather, Christ calls us to make disciples. Disciples are people who have committed in their hearts and minds to follow the thinking and conduct of the Master forever. Such discipleship is a lifelong experience.

When we’re involved in discipleship, we do not graduate until we get to heaven. Discipleship is a lifelong experience of learning the mind of Christ and following the will of Christ, submitting ourselves in complete obedience to His lordship. Thus, when Jesus tells us to go to all nations, we are to go into all the world with His agenda, not our own. The Great Commission calls us to flood this world with knowledgeable, articulate Christians who worship God and follow Jesus Christ passionately. Our mission at Ligonier is discipleship in the biblical sense. By God’s grace, we want to help the church raise up a generation of people who are dedicated in heart and soul to the Master and His authority. We want to call people to obedience and to following Christ in their daily lives.