The Pattern to Follow to Make Followers of Christ

June 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

(Read 2 Timothy 1:13-2:2)

How did the early church, without a complete Bible, with no Bible schools or seminaries, with no buildings to meet in, with no powerful and popular members in high and influential places, and in the face of frequent and vicious persecution, turn out such fruitful followers of Christ in such a brief period of time? Dr. Thom Wolfe suggest the correct answer was that, “Paul and the early church had a standard, a pattern, a model which he taught in every church in every place he went. It was a “tupos” (a pattern) that was to be received, retained, remembered, and reproduced. It was the universal discipleship model.”

Before proceeding, we need to remind ourselves again of Jesus’ description of what he meant by being and building followers of Himself. He said to His first disciples in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” In this statement, Jesus reveals three key points of being a follower of Christ. A follower, or disciple, of Christ is one who is:

(1) committed to Christ’s person(“follow me”)

(2) changed by Christ’s power — (“I will make you”)

(3) commissioned by Christ’s plan — (“fishers of men”).

With these three ideas in mind, we approach these verses in 2 Timothy looking for Paul’s pattern, or outline, for disciple-making. The two letters of Paul to Timothy involve the greatest disciple-maker that ever lived apart from the Lord Jesus himself, and perhaps the greatest model of a disciple in the process of being built into a reproductive, multiplying, world-visionary, world-impacting disciple, in Timothy.

No study of the New Testament standard for building disciples would be complete without spending time examining the process of disciple-making set forth by Paul and Timothy. Our text in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 is on par with the Great Commission as stated in it’s most detailed account in Matthew 28:19-20.

1. The Options the Disciple Faces — 2 Timothy 1:16-18

The “therefore” in 2 Tim. 2:1 takes us back to at least verses 13-18 in Chapter 1. In Chapter 2 verse one, the word “you” is major emphasis (the Holy Spirit shouts!) Why? Because of the conclusion of chapter one in which he has contrasted the “faithless many” and a “faithful one”.  Paul is saying to his disciple, “Timothy, as for YOU, make the choice to be faithful and a finisher, not fickle and a fallout!”A.

A. Defection – 2 Tim. 1:13-15

Although “all” those in Asia Minor had deserted Paul, he singles out two men in particular, Phygelus (fih jel uhs) and Hermogenes (her MAHJ ih neez). Commentator Guy King said, “They couldn’t help their ugly names, but they could have helped their ugly character.”

We know nothing of these individuals but what is here mentioned. It would seem that they were prominent persons, and those from whom the apostle had been discipling and had expected better for his investment in them. “The ecclesiastical traditions allege that they were of the seventy disciples, and in the end became followers of Simon Magus.” This is only conjecture. It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man – the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all – is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the discipling process with the greatest of disciple-makers. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.

Lesson: Do not be surprised when potential disciples defect and drop out on you!

 B. Dedication – 2 Timothy 1:16-18

Paul dismisses the faithless defectors with one short verse but uses three verses to commend Onesiphorus. In verse 16 he is in Rome, and then in verse 18 he is half-way across the Roman Empire. All of this effort and expense      in order to catch up with the greatest disciple?maker in history and minister to him as well as getting further infected with the Master and his Mandate. Onesiphorus had shown great kindness to Paul: he refreshed him, he often refreshed him with his letters, and counsels, and comforts, and he was not ashamed of his chains. He was not ashamed of Paul, notwithstanding the disgrace he was now under. He was kind to him not once or twice, but often; not only when he was at Ephesus among his own friends, but when Onesiphorus was at Rome; he took care to seek Paul out very diligently, and found him, as stated in 2 Tim 1:17.

C. Decision – 2 Timothy 2:1

Two little monosyllable words in the Greek bear the stress of this second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:1, the words are, “su oun” and in 4:5, “su de” and could be translated “YOU therefore” or “but for YOU!” Paul suspends Timothy between the “faithless and the faithful” and says in essence, “YOU” must make the choice of which category you will live! Others may conform to the spirit of the age, yield to the pressures of public opinion, run for fear of their lives, or trade the truth of the gospel for the trinkets of the market – “BUT NOT YOU”! “YOU THEREFORE!”

Lesson – We Face this Choice on a Regular Basis.

The ancient Arabs created a special breed of horses, sometimes called “Arabian stallions.”  At first, they were bred for exclusive use in the King’s stables.  As part of the equestrian training, a trainer carried a whistle on a rawhide rope around his neck.  For months the horse was trained to stop all activity at the sound of the trainer’s whistle and make a “bee line” for the trainer.  Rigid obedience was required.  The tiniest refusal was total disobedience.  Then, for five days food was withheld from the horse, and for three days the horse was refused water to drink.  It was kept in a corral in these final days of training.  On the last day, a trough of food and water was placed visibly about 50-75 yards from the corral.  The horse would stampede in hunger and thirst on the trough side of the corral.  Then suddenly, the corral door would be sprung open, and the surprised horse would gallop toward the trough.  But, when the horse was yet about 15 yards from the trough, the trainer standing off to the side would blow the whistle!  Everything about the horse would tighten in confusion.  A choice had to quickly be made.  The choice?  Trough or trainer?  Which would it be?  If the horse continued to the trough and gratified its hunger and thirst, thus disobeying the command of the trainer, it would either be recycled through the process or dismissed altogether.  If the horse “voted” against its own drives and instincts and in favor of the trainer and the training process, thus going immediately to the trainer, it was then dismissed to go to the trough for food and water.

Dear brothers, everyday such a choice confronts us. Will it be the trough of self-gratification, or the Trainer’s commands?  Convenience or commitment? Interpersonal disciple-making relationships or Independent safe and cozy relationships? But as for YOU — WHICH?

II. The Outline the Discipler Follows

A Pattern to Keep – 2 Timothy 1:13a:”Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me…”

Dr. Thom Wolfe is right when he asserts: “In the 21st century, with all the open doors to the good news (gospel) conversation, we must reevaluate just how the apostles were able to go into an area, preach the good news, gather converts, nurture them, and move on in such a way that they could write back and, with such confidence, remind them of a core of teaching that seemed to be so pervasive and so commonly understood by all (see 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:5). Even more perplexing is the fact that Paul and the church planting team were often only in a city a few weeks, a few months, or at most, a few years. How did they do it? How could they create such radiant persons and such responsible and reproductive leaders?”

So, the question is, “How did Paul establish leaders so quickly, solidly, and reproducibly, that became the basis for the earliest Christianity? The answer is he had a pattern, a standard, or an outline, that could be received personally, remembered easily, and reproduced strategically.

This standard is referred to in 2 Timothy 1.13: “Retain the standard (hupotuposis) of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” It is the “pattern (tupos) of teaching” to which Christians were handed over (Romans 6.17).

Paul uses a vivid picture. He says that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to come. The word he uses is “hupotuposis” which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a first draft, a preliminary model.

Thus, Paul knew himself to be a living standard/model/paradigm/example of God’s unlimited patience (I Timothy 1.15-17, vs. 16: hupotuposis). He urged others to “imitate him and his way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (I Corinthians 4.16-17).

This pattern, or outline, involved:

a.Sound teaching

2 Timothy 1:13a, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me…” From this Greek word, ” hugiano” translated “sound”, we get our English word hygiene which refers to “clean or healthy practice” which promote good health! It means healthy, sound, wholesome, free from flaw, defect or error and emphasizes the absence of disease or malfunction. In the present context, it refers to words which produce good spiritual health. False “ear tickling” teaching (2 Tim. 4:3,4) by contrast leads to spiritual sickness at best and eternal death at worst!

“Unhealthy” teaching composed of unsound words will manifest itself in ungodly behavior, because what (healthy or unhealthy doctrine) one is taught and what one believes affects how one behaves. Truth and falsehood will always be discerned by the fruit they produce (Mt 7:15-16). God’s truth produces godliness (Titus 1:1). The transformation wrought by the intake of sound words is visibly manifest by holy conduct.

b. Specific template

2 Timothy 1:13b, “..in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” We use the word “template” as a frame in which the “healthy words” are to be given.

How was Timothy to cling to the sound words he had heard from Paul? Was it to be a formal, lifeless retention of a mechanical formula and rigid orthodoxy?

Clearly not and so Paul adds “in the faith and love” which mark the sphere in which the pattern of sound words must be held.

We are to believe and broadcast God’s Word in the faith, that is, with the right attitude of confidence toward God and His Word; and we are to defend it in love with the right attitude of kindness and compassion toward unbelievers and toward poorly taught and immature believers. (“Speaking the truth in love…” Eph 4:15).

c. Supervised trust

2 Timothy 1:14b, “… guard the good deposit entrusted to you.Timothy is to guard, watch, and defend the truth once for all delivered to the saints in view of the defection from the truth beginning even in the first century.

Because God, through the apostle Paul, had made an investment in Timothy, and he must not let that fail.

The word deposited is “paratheke” and was originally a banking term, although other writers had also applied it to teaching. Jewish bankers stressed that one was responsible to safeguard or multiply any money given one for safekeeping. Jewish teachers felt that they were passing on a sacred deposit to their disciples, who were expected to pass it on to others in turn.

d. Spirit’s teamwork

2 Timothy 1:14a, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us …”

We are not independent operators but co-partners in the co-mission! We must not think we can protect this spiritual truth by our own strength, but must abide in Christ, let His Word richly dwell in us, be filled with His Spirit, humbly maintaining a sense of determined dependence upon our Helper, the Holy Spirit. So in this verse we see mans responsibility (guard) and God’s sovereignty (through the Holy Spirit) working together to bring about the intended result. The ministry of the Holy Spirit will enable Timothy and all believers to be a good steward of the Gospel.

A Power to Seek

Before Paul sets forth the process of building disciples, he first reminds Timothy of the supernatural power needed to complete the Master’s assignment.

Paul admonishes Timothy to “be strengthened” and uses the Greek word “endunamou.” It is as a present passive imperative verb  meaning, “go on being empowered” or go on “keeping in touch with the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A Person to Know

Note the location of the power is “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus “(2 Tim. 2:1b). Christ is the source for power only when and while we keep in touch with Him. So Paul reminds Timothy that the assignment to turn men into disciples doesn’t rest on his ability but on the availability and unlimited accessibility that we have to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

  1. Followers who make followers must spend much time with their disciples, teaching them about Christ Jesus.

Christ Jesus is unique to Paul. All the other writers refer to Him as Jesus Christ because they first knew Him as Jesus (humanity) and then Christ (deity). But Paul meet him first as Christ – the Messiah (brilliant vision, and    voice from heaven on Damascus Road). Then clarification as to whom the Messiah  was — Jesus – in Saul of Tarsus’ former opinion – the despised Nazarene peasant — a nobody from nowhere!

The preaching/teaching of the book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul are totally Christ-centered and Christ-saturated.

For example, in the first chapter of the book of Colossians, Paul mentions Jesus 30 times in 29 verses. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-10, Paul mentions Jesus 13 times. In Ephesians 1 there are 26 references to Christ Jesus. In Philippians chapter 1, he mentions Jesus 20 times. Notice I am only using one chapter of these references. If you will examine the rest of the chapters in these letters, the number of times our Lord Jesus is referred to is nothing short of astounding!

It is clearly manifest in the Scriptures that the Apostles identified the Gospel with Christ; so that, in their view and practice, to preach the Gospel was neither more nor less than to preach Christ. The record which, in a few words, describes their ministry is that, “daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42). Paul, in his letter to the Romans defines the whole Gospel by saying that it is “concerning Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:3). The employment of his two years’ imprisonment at Rome was all comprehended in “teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus.” And his whole ministry was given unto him, he testifies, that he “might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.” As he could say, “For me to live is Christ;” so for him to preach was Christ. To him Christ and the Gospel were one.

We must model for our disciples the imperativeness of:

(1) Seeking Him Continuously;

(2) Seeing HIM Preeminently;

(3) Savoring Him Passionately;

(4) Sharing Him Extensively.

The Glory of His Person Must Captivate Our Hearts and The Thrill of His Mission Must Dominate Our Lives!

Lesson – Spend much time with your disciples teaching them about the person of Christ. (Use those great Christological passages like John 1:1-18; John 8 (I AM); John 10; Romans 1:1-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:12-23; Hebrews 1:1-4; 1 John 1:1-3; Revelation 1:9-20.)

A Process to Follow — 2 Timothy 2:2:

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

The importance of the first person we begin with. The first two, in our text, Paul and Timothy, are the first and the foremost in the pattern for being and building followers of Christ. If the process fails at the first, it will sever the future potential of deposit in the lives of faithful men and others

The process requires a Personal Relationship.

The choice for building disciples must be intentional and relational. Some synonyms for intentional are: deliberate, calculated, on purpose, premeditated. We must understand that we will not build disciples by accident or as a residual effect of typical institutional type church programs.

The personal nature of Paul’s relationship with Timothy is often revealed in scripture by such verses as 1Timothy 1:2: “To Timothy, my true child in the faith…”; 1Tim. 1:18) “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my  child. ” 2 Tim. 3:10-11: “Timothy, you know what I teach and how I live. You know what I want to do and what I believe. You have seen how patient and loving I am, and how in the past I put up with trouble and suffering in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. Yet the Lord rescued me from all those terrible troubles (CEV).

Paul chose a man of most unlikely character — very timid, fearful, and very many years younger than he and discipled him into a champion for Christ. Disciple-making is spiritual parenting. Timothy wasn’t Paul’s “blood son” but his “under the blood of Jesus” son!

One disciple-maker observed, “You as a discipler, need to make Paul’s kind of commitment. If you truly love your disciples, you will spend time and money and anything else to see them mature. If you are too preoccupied with your own needs and interests, not willing to give your total energy to those disciples, you will never see them grow to be all that they can be. If you give of yourself to your disciples, then they in return will give of themselves to what you believe in. Discipling demands sacrifice, and that means hard work.”

The process involves a Mutual Partnership.

The mission is simple: to be a follower and make followers or disciples of Christ. In order to make disciples, we must know what Jesus intended. What is the finished product to look like?

A disciple is a pupil, a student, a learner, a practitioner of his or her master’s commands. A disciple seeks to learn wisdom from his or her teacher in order to imitate the teacher’s way of life. The practice of steadfast obedience, faithful following, and radical commitment are all contained in the word “disciple.”

The process operates as a Spiritual Apprenticeship.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice” (Philippians 4:9).

One great man has said, “Use them or lose them.” A disciple’s involvement must be real. A disciple must speak of ‘our ministry’ instead of ‘your ministry’. Paul knew how to pass on responsibility. Necessity may have demanded it, but he saw to it that Timothy could cope and that he received encouragement. 2 Tim. 1:4-5. Timothy went on to serve alone and towards the end of Paul’s life he was invited to minister to his discipler (2 Tim 4:21).

The Importance of Fruitful Relationships With the Persons We Bond With

(a) It involves Imitation 2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2; Philippians 4:9

As previously stated the word “pattern” or “form” is “hupotuposis” in the Greek, and means a “sketch, form, pattern, or outline for imitation.”

1 Corinthians 4:16, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers (mimetes, mim-ay-tace’; an imitator) of me.” 1Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

A disciple is more than a pupil, he is an adherent. A disciple is more than a learner, he is an imitator. A disciple is identified by the imitation of the one who followed. The problem is that our nation looks down on imitation, because it is a threat to independence. The reality, however, is that you cannot have discipleship without imitation.

Almost without exception, during question and answer times in disciplemaking conferences, I have this question asked me: “Should not the disciples we are working with follow the Lord and not us? Isn’t the command to follow or imitate, limited to following Jesus Christ or imitating the Apostles?” Sounding noble, this question is often asked but betrays a lack of clarity and commitment to New Testament ministry. The probing question, “What did they do in New Testament times?” ceases to be our determining guide for ministry today. However, the Scripture claims that it is both authoritative and sufficient not only for Christian maturity but also for all ministry. (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus often called others to “Follow me,” with the Apostle Paul imitating his example. cf. 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; 3:7, 9; Phil. 4:9; Acts 20:20. We presume the other Apostles did the same as they gave their lives to the Great Commission. cf. Matt. 28:19-20. They are to be our models of how we do ministry and not the exceptions simply because they were special Apostles. Paul commanded Timothy to mentor other faithful men in the same way in which he was mentored. cf 2 Timothy 2:1-2 compare with 3:10-11. This isn’t just for these special men but the outworking of the Great Commission given to all believers.

(b) It involves Impartation

Building Disciples involves a Maturing Friendship that is Reproductive in Intent – 2 Timothy 2:2c, “… commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

What is emphasized is that “disciple” (Greek word, mathetes) always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the whole life of the one described as a disciple.” (Kittel, vol. 4, p. 441) They were controlled by the man to whom they had committed themselves, extending to all areas of the inner life. This was not simply a loose casual friendship or even relationship among peers. It suggests a definite leader and an obedient follower, or an intentional, healthy, life, love, and learning imparting type relationship.

The process is not ended when a Christian makes a disciple as Christ commanded. Indeed, the process has but barely begun at that point. It is at this point that many disciple-makers abort the process by being falsely satisfied with a disciple or a group of disciples. No, the process is not properly undertaken until each disciple envisions and acts toward (at least) four more generations of disciples.

There is only one command in 2 Timothy 2:2. The one command is in the word “commit,” or “deposit.” Remember, Christian, this is a command of God! And one part of the verse bears major emphasis, or heavy stress, in the Greek text. It is the term, “others, also.” “Others, also!” “Others, also!!” “OTHERS, ALSO!!! This is the passion and pulse beat of Jesus. We must never be content to merely build disciples who are defined as a good, Christ-like person. This model easily degenerates into disciples who spend their whole life trying to be a better Christian. This twists us into a self-help, self-gratifying, self-curling, turned-in-upon-itself, caricature of Christianity. And note that the quality of the process that reaches the fourth generation must “enable” the fourth generation disciples to “teach others, also.” In other words, the disciple must not be permitted to merely see himself as a learner (the basic meaning of the word “disciple”), but he must be so trained (“enabled”) that he sees himself as a teacher. What an assignment! What an assignment! So the goals of a disciple-maker must include the development of teaching attitudes and aptitudes in an emerging fourth generation of disciples. WHAT AN ASSIGNMENT!!!

Remember this axiom, “There is no success without a successor!”

Herb Hodges writes, “Think expansively of the full genius of Paul’s oft repeated introduction to several of his letters: “Paul and Timothy.” Here is the genius of the strategy of Jesus. That innocent sounding phrase combines all the factors:

Here is the genius of the strategy of Jesus.

Let’s rehearse all the factors in the outline:

Personal Relationship + Mutual Partnership + Spiritual Apprenticeship + Maturing Friendship = Fruitful Discipleship!

III. The Outcome the Disciples Fashion

The Goal is Generational Multiplication

This will happen when the discipler:

(1) Protects the gospel deposit by proclaiming it in its fullness — 2 Timothy 1:14, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

One of the ways we protect the gospel is by proclaiming it in its fullness so that others will hear it, receive it, and repeat it to others and others.

The word “deposit”, which is translated as “commit” in some translations, is a banking term that has in it the idea of investment with the end result being “multiplication” of the assets. Why is a deposit of money made in a bank? To perpetuate and increase the principal. This, I think, is the very reason Jesus used so many illustrations about money. Money can be multiplied by proper investment! The Gospel, a far greater treasure than any amount of money, can be multiplied by proper investment! Indeed, it must be. This is our Commission!

  (2) Perpetuate the gospel deposit by multiplying it in fruitfulness.

The Master’s plan for discipleship by imparting life, not just teaching about life – is spiritual parenting. It is birthing, loving, nurturing, showing, telling, confirming, correcting, supervising and releasing disciples to make disciples who can then repeat the process once more. It is both an adventure of a lifetime and a lifetime of adventure

Perpetuating the gospel deposited into our care involves investing it’s treasure in the lives of faithful men/women so that it has a continuing and ceaseless history of blessing the lives of men in all future history. This is precisely what the process disciple-making entails. What a stewardship!

Apparently, this is a gigantic stewardship with which every Christian is entrusted, and for which he is responsible. And the New Testament makes it clear that the purpose of my stewardship of the Gospel is multiplication. I am to so invest the Gospel in the lives of others through evangelism and strategic disciple-making that multiplication is guaranteed.

Paul         Timothy       Faithful Men        Others, OTHERS, OTHERS!

Do you have a Timothy in your life? If so, ask him, “How are you doing in the process?” “Are you faithfully handling the deposit?” “Are you being true to your entrustment?” “Is your sense of entitlement (what you own as a Christian) matched by a blessed sense of entrustment (what you owe as a Christian)?” “Timothy, how are you doing?” “And, by the way, Timothy, where are your Timothys?”

Jesus clearly modeled the strategy which He mandated in the Great Commission, and both model and mandate are exemplified in the words, “Paul and Timothy.” The Commission of Jesus is to “turn people into disciples,” and His own method and ministry provide the only acceptable interpretation of His command. Every Christian is commanded to “turn people into disciples,” and this must be done reasonably after the model of Jesus if it is to be done properly. One of my most important environments is the small atmosphere which prevails around me and my disciple. One of my most important involvements is my involvement with my disciple. The procedure and product of my disciple-making ministry must be constantly measured by those of Jesus, so the final test is in the product. I cannot succeed without a successor, a disciple. The principle of succession is an indispensable principle in true Christianity.

The potential of spiritual multiplication is the same as that of biological multiplication. The only reason we don’t recognize this is that the process of spiritual multiplication has been hidden beneath a thousand other practices and techniques which have prevailed in the church throughout its recent history. We have substituted the building of crowds and institutions for the qualitative building of individuals.

An old adage says, “Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.”

When truth reaches you, does it become terminal or germinal? If it becomes terminal with you, you will never know the real victory of the Christian life. If it becomes germinal with you, each disciple you build may be “the foundation of many generations” through the process of spiritual multiplication.

Herb Hodges asks a probing and disturbing question: “Since the Greek word translated “disciple” (the word mathetes) gives us the root word for our word “mathematics,” and since God’s strategy is a mathematical strategy, could it be that the Christian’s Final Exam will be a math test? And the one question will concern multiplication of disciples? What can one expect if they have not a single disciple to show for their entire Christian experience?

Begin now to ask God for a Timothy that you can disciple. When God gives you a personal Timothy, begin to spend time with him. Pray for him. Develop ambitions for him. Take him with you on your ministry assignments. Teach him what you know. Find opportunities for him to develop his ministry gifts. Be aware that there is a price to pay in handing over ministries to younger assistants. They will not, at first, do the same high-quality work as the leader. However, you must remember your own mistakes and failures as you were starting out. But mistakes and failures are “the back door to success.” One day, you will stand before Jesus, and you will be glad then for all the investments you made in your Timothy.

 

Enjoying God Personally

May 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

John 16:23-24, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

John 17:13, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’ This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told.  Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.” Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, 1989), page 116.

While pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor John Piper and his staff coined a vision statement that should be that of every Christian and every church: We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.”

The spreading of joy in God is the reason why missions exist. Piper went on to say, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.”

Pastor Sam Storms captures the thinking of so many Christians, myself included, when he wrote, “There was a time when I thought the verb “enjoy” and the noun “God” should never be used in the same sentence. I could understand “fearing” God and “obeying” God, even “loving” God. But “enjoying” God struck me as inconsistent with the biblical mandate both to glorify God, on the one hand, and deny myself, on the other. How could I be committed above all else to seeking God’s glory if I were concerned about my own joy? My gladness and God’s glory seemed to cancel each other out. I had to choose between one or the other, but embracing them both struck me as out of the question. Worse still, enjoying God sounded a bit too lighthearted, almost casual, perhaps even flippant, and I knew that Christianity was serious business.

“Then I read Jonathan Edwards (1703-58). Something he said hit me like a bolt of lightning. Edwards said, ‘Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An understanding of the perfections of God, merely, cannot be the end of the creation; for he had as good not understand it, as see it and not be at all moved with joy at the sight. Neither can the highest end of creation be the declaring God’s glory to others; for the declaring God’s glory is good for nothing otherwise than to raise joy in ourselves and others at what is declared.’

“‘God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. God made the world that he might communicate, and the creature receive, his glory . . . both [with] the mind and the heart. He that testifies his having an idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation [i.e., his heartfelt commendation or praise] of it and his delight in it.'”

“Edwards’ point is that passionate and joyful admiration of God, and not merely intellectual apprehension, is the aim of our existence. If God is to be supremely glorified in us it’s critically essential that we be supremely glad in him and in what he has done for us in Jesus.”

  1. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” The first Christmas was the occasion of God’s opening the door of Heaven and allowing His joy to go public! Through that door the angel of the Lord appeared to a group of lowly shepherds and said, in essence, “This is it! I “gospelize you with great joy.” I bring you the greatest news this world has ever heard ?? Joy to the World the Lord Has Come!” And suddenly the doors of Heaven where flung wide open and there was with the angel of the Lord a choir made up of a multitude of other angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace toward men with whom He is well pleased!”

Joy to the world still remains God’s goal. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (beginning right now!). Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17c, “…. he gives us richly all things to enjoy.” We will one day fully and finally enter into the joys of the Lord. Jesus came as a man of joy and accomplished His mission because of the joy that was set before him (Heb 12:2).  He said to his disciples, “My joy I leave with you.” In John 17:13, “And now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

The book of Luke begins with John the Baptist leaping for joy in his mother’s womb. The joy increases in the presence of a baby born in a cow stable and ends with joy at and empty tomb in the presence of a risen, living Lord. (Read Luke 24:52-53). Luke continues to unfold the goal of God in the experience of bringing joy to the world in the book of Acts. The disciples, filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, were so exultant, so excited, so joy?filled, that the people accused them of being drunk with new wine!  The converts at Pentecost came together with “gladness and singleness of heart.” Wherever the gospel came in power there was “great joy in that place.” Paul writes, “Rejoice (i.e. literally,  celebrate!) in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice, celebrate.” Peter writes about “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

A Bible teacher asked a young man in the catechism class, “What is the chief end of man?” To which he replied, “To glorify God and annoy Him forever!” Although the correct answer is to enjoy Him forever, Philip Yancey, after visiting churches around the world, said, “My impression is that “not many people in church look as if they’re enjoying God or them­selves.” What an indictment! By the way, if we don’t enjoy Him, we do annoy Him! Puritan Jeremy Taylor said, “God threatens serious things if we will not be happy!”

William Tyndale described the Christian gospel as “good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings, that makes a man’s heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.” Augustine said, “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.” Martin Luther said, “The Christian ought to be a living doxology.” John Wesley said, “Sour godliness is the Devil’s religion.”

Where has all the joy gone?  How come so few seem to truly enjoy God” Beloved, isn’t it time we ask the Lord to restore unto His people the JOY of His salvation?

Enjoying God Begins by Knowing Him Personally

Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”

What is the goal of the Christian life? What is our reason for being? Why should anyone want to be a Christian? Someone would say that it’s for the sake of inner comfort and peace (no, but this is abundantly supplied). Someone else would say that it’s for the sake of the power to cope with the demands, the petty hassles, the frustrations, or even the tragedies of life (no, but this is abundantly supplied). Someone else answers, “To miss Hell and go to Heaven when we die.” (no, but this is a part of the salvation package). Another person suggests that it is for the sake of having a purpose, a reason for living (no, but this is abundantly supplied). Another says it’s for the sake of the forgiveness of sins (no, although of course this too is essential and is abundantly supplied). None of these fringe benefits, which seem to have moved from the fringes into the center of things in the testimonies of too many modern Christians, is the central thing. What is it? Knowing God! This is life eternal to know the living God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Three little boys were secretly overheard by one of the Dads as they engaged in one of those, “my-Dad-is-bigger-and-better-than-your-Dad” type of conversations.

One little boy said, “My Dad knows the famous golfer, Jack Nicklaus!”

The second shouted, “Hey, that’s nothing, my Dad knows the President of the United States!”

The father of the third little fellow heard his son say, “Hey, that’s nothing, my Dad KNOWS GOD!”

The thought that it is possible to know God is mind-boggling! The testimony that one knows God personally and intimately through the Lord Jesus Christ is the miracle of all miracles!

What does it mean to know God? How does one come to know God? How well can God be known? Let’s turn to God’s revelation of Himself in His Word and find not just information but intimate involvement with God, our Heavenly Father.

The Experience of Knowing God is a Matter of Special Grace

What are the Ways in which we can Know a Person?

(1) Historically– (as an American, feeling like you know George Washington, Abe Lincoln, etc):

(2) Contemporaneously (such as a very popular, well-known person that you especially like):

(3) Personally (you have personally been introduced to this person):

(4) Intimately (you have spent time in this person’s presence and opened your heart up so as to become close friends).

Everyone knows God in one way, but not everyone knows God in a personal way! — (Read Romans 1:18-21)

The voice of God in creation and in conscience is not sufficient to save us, but this knowledge does take away all excuses from all peoples in all times and places!

1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Knowing God Personally and Savingly Requires a Special Revelation of God to our hearts, by His Spirit, from His Word!

(a) God’s knowing us implies personal affection and powerful communication – Galatians 4:9, “…But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God,…”

Perhaps a more modern term than revelation — which means to reveal something — is the word communication. Communication suggests someone approaching us, coming close to us, speaking to us, telling us about himself, opening his heart and mind to us, giving us what he has, telling us what he knows, asking for our attention and getting our response to what he is communicating. This is exactly what God has done in His Son, the Word that became flesh! The word is the communication, the in-fleshing of the heart and mind of God. This is what He does in the person of the Holy Spirit who calls and communicates to our hearts the desire to both will and do of the Father’s good pleasure.

John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

When God says He knows His people, He’s not referring to specific information that He has about them, but instead to specific intentions and special affections for them. The Old Testament word for knowing God is the same one used for describing sexual intimacy Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain,…” To foreknow is to fore love, to be affectionate toward.

(b) God’s knowing us requires redeeming, communicating, regenerating action on His part

Galatians 1:15-16, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, (16) to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood.

Matthew 11:27, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

When Paul says, “we are known by God,” and that it “pleased the Father to reveal His Son in him,” he is declaring that the grace-work of God had come in His loving, redeeming, choosing, calling, communicating, persevering way, and brought him and all who come to Him into a lasting, love relationship with the Father. Without this work of special grace, we would never know God.

Knowing God is a Matter of Seeking His Face

  1. One can know a great deal about God without a real intimate knowledge of Him.

Knowledge to a Westerner is about getting information and using our minds. However, in the biblical conception, knowledge is not essentially or even primarily rooted in the intellect and mental activity. Rather, it is more experiential and is embedded in the emotions, so that it may encompass such qualities as contact, intimacy, concern, relatedness and mutuality.

We must allow the Spirit of God to turn the information (truth) we learn about God into meditation before God with, which results in involvement in prayer and praise to God. Meditation is activity of holy thought con­sciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God as a means to communion with God.

The reason why so many Christians have such a superficial relationship with God is because they do not seek His face but His hand. Instead of coming to Him as Father, most believers approach Him as though He were the Chairman of Relief and Welfare.

  1. Knowing God Intimately begins with a Sense of Personal Relationship ?? Psalm 63:1a, “O God, thou art my God ?? (Elohim, Eli?? O thou Ever?Awesome One, my Strong God art Thou.) David said again in Psalm 118:28, “Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; thou art my God, and I will exalt thee.”

To “know God” is to have a vital relationship with him, one characterized by faithfulness, and rooted in love, confidence, and profound, enduring regard. Trust and knowledge are integral and inseparable aspects of such a relationship.

  1. Knowing God Prompts One to Forever go on Seeking Intimate Companionship with Him ?? Psalm 63:1b,”early will I seek thee.”
  2. Finders become Seekers ?? early will I seek thee

The word early carries three ideas, early, earnestly and eagerly. Hebs. 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Psalms 34:10, “… But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.”; Psalms 105:4, “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore!”; Psalms 119:2, “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!” ; Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Knowing God is a Matter of Individual Pace

What we love most intimately, we long for the most passionately. In Psalm 63, we learn that David sought God personally in the morning ?? v 1; publicly in the daytime ?? v 2; and privately in the nighttime ?? v 6

Those who have once caught a glimpse of the glory long for more to be made manifested. ?? Psalm 63:2

Moses had been in the presence of God for 80 days, and yet after having seen and experienced so much, his request to God was, “Show me thy glory! Moses knew and was known by God, but the taste that he had been given only served to whet his appetite to know Him more dearly and clearly, so he cries out in Exodus 33:13, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.”

Paul, after having known Christ for thirty years declares that his heart’s desire is in Philippians 3:10,that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,…”

We know as much of God as we want to. All true Christians know God, and all know Him on different levels, all based upon their heart hunger for Him and not their intellectual hunt for theological facts. It’s passionate lovers of God that long to know Him in an ever-increasing manner.

Many Christians are thirsting for miracles and manifestations ?? for one spine?tingling experience after another. But Jesus is jealous for us to seek Him for Himself. He is looking for His Bride, not just someone who “dates” Him on weekends! He is looking for hearts that allow him to feel at home, and not for hearts that offer Him motel service for a couple of weekend love?affairs. He is seeking for passionate worshippers, not dutiful workers. Many have turned Christianity into a history lesson instead of a never?ending love?affair with Jesus.

How does one get to know God more intimately?

In the Bible, we discover different figures that explain, expand and explore how and what it means to know God.

  1. A Father/Son relationship — To know the Father requires, loving the Father, learning from the Father by obeying Him, and living to fulfill Father’s purposes — to see His kingdom come more fully, His will done more completely, and His name revered pervasively!
  2. A wife knowing her husband — With God as the Husband and Christians as the wife, we must seek intimacy, practice fidelity, live in transparency and openness, and cultivate union and communion.
  3. A subject knowing his King — God is the King, we are the subjects. In this relationship there is serving and obeying, bowing freely and fearing His authority, and honoring the request of the King.
  4. A sheep knowing it’s Shepherd — From this analogy we see a relationship thought of in terms of following or obeying, trusting our Great Shepherd.
  5. The Exploits of Those who Know their God

Daniel 11:32, ‘Those who do wickedly against the covenant He shall corrupt with flattery, but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” One translation says,  “These people shall stand firm and take action.”

What does it mean to know God? How does it translate into daily life?The people who know God have great energy for God — “These people shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32)

Hebrews 11:33 -35…”who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” 

One could sum these verses up by stating that those who know God have backbone or courage!

Those who know God have great thoughts of God

Our God Large and in Charge! He is Completely Righteous, Inexhaustibly Powerful, Absolutely Truth, Eternally Unchangeable, Gloriously Holy, Infallibly Wise, Infinitely Loving and Personally Joyful — and by grace I can say I KNOW HIM! Hallelujah!

Those who know God show great boldness for God

Men who fear only God and who perceive that He rules over every detail of their lives do not quit because of the odds against them, nor the dangers around them, because they know the God above them has their times in His hands!

The disciples must have been shocked when the Lord commissioned them to make disciples of all the nations.  That assignment was nothing short of overwhelming.  It was a case of eleven men against the world, eleven relatively ignorant men of the most despised nation under the sun against all the power and wisdom of the world.

“Impossible!” they thought.  “Utterly impossible!” they reasoned.  “Unthinkable!” they felt.

Their Commander knew their thoughts, but His thoughts were infinitely higher.  Said He in effect:  “Did you in your own strength confide, your striving would indeed be losing.  But remember that you are not alone.  I, the man of God’s own choosing, am on your side.  Lord Sabaoth is my name.  Mine are all authority and all power on earth and in heaven.  Yes, even Satan and all his host cannot so much as stir without my permission. With this confidence they strode into every part of the know world confronting demons, diseases, and moral and spiritual darkness, announcing Jesus is Lord!

Those who know God have great contentment in God

Oswald Chambers, in commenting on the Hebrew men about to be cast into the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel: ‘These Hebrew children committed their case to God and graciously and peacefully and calmly and quietly washed their hands of the consequences.”

The famed trapeze artist Rodleigh gives us a glimpse of what goes on between the one suspended in air, hurtling through space, and the one waiting for the right split second to grab him and kept him from falling. He said, “When I fly to Joe I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me to safely over the apron behind the catch-bar …You see the worst thing a flyer can do is to try and catch the catcher… Don’t try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust!” Nailed pierced hands are stretched out to you — but if you’re hands are full, clenched into a fist, are wrapped around yourself, or even grabbing for someone to catch you– you’ll keep falling! Stretch out your arms in trust and say nothing in my hands I bring — take me Father, I am yours and your alone!

Those who know God have great enjoyment in their true identity!

The basis of our identity is of utmost importance. Most people try to answer this question by what they do for a living, where they go to school, how lovely their family is, what they own, etc.

If God is to love you, what must He give you? He must give you what is best for you. What is the best thing He can give us. The best thing in all the universe is God. If He were to give you all health, best job, best spouse, best computer, best vacations, best success in any realm, and yet withhold Himself, then He would hate you. And if He gives you Himself and nothing besides, he loves you infinitely.

If you had been granted an interview with John, the disciple, and asked him, “Who are you? What is your primary identity?” He wouldn’t have replied, “Why I am a handpicked disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. I traveled in the elite circle with Peter and James. I’m an evangelist and pastor of one of the great churches of the New Testament — the church at Ephesus. I’m also the author of the books of John and Revelation, as well as having three personal letters published in the Bible. Listen to how he identified himself:

John 13:23, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. John 20:2 , Then she runs and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them,; John 21:7 , Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter; John 21:20  Then Peter, turning about, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following;”

Pay close attention: “Define and declare yourself radically as one beloved of God. God’s love for you and His choice of you constitutes your worth. The basis of my personal worth isn’t in my possessions, my talents, my relationships with significant others in my life, my reputation or the esteem of others, not kudos of appreciation from parents and kids, not applause and appreciation and everyone telling you are to them. You must stand anchored in God, before whom you stand naked, with nothing to offer him but my own wicked, deceitful heart — this God, my Father tells me “You are my son, my beloved one. You are worth Jesus to me because that’s how much I paid for you!”

Accept that Jesus loves you as you are and not as you should be, for none of us are as we should be! Let the truth “that Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so,” become the most important thing in your life.

You say, “Oh, I know God loves me, but.” The late Brennan Manning issues a warning that we must heed, “When God’s love is taken for granted, we paint Him into a corner and rob him of the opportunity to love us in a new and surprising way, and faith begins to shrivel and shrink. When I become so spiritually advanced that Abba, (the term of intimacy and endearment) becomes old hat, then the Father’s been had, Jesus has been tamed, and the Holy Spirit has been corralled, and the Pentecostal fire has been extinguished. ”

What image do you project of the God of the Bible? What does God think about when He thinks of you? One Christian lady said, “Pity, because I am pathetic!” One man said, “Disappointment and anger, because I have let Him down big time and many times!” When God opens His mouth to speak of you, what does He say? He rejoices in you and sings over you with inexpressible joy!

Zephaniah 3:16, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

The following is a “free” translation of 3:17 by Dennis Jernigan, whom the passionate Lover pursued, captured and delivered from a lifestyle of homosexuality, and so liberated him to life that he is now happily married and the father of nine children!: “The eternal self-existent God, the God who is Three in One, He who dwells in the center of your being is a powerful and valiant warrior. He has come to set you free, to keep you safe and bring you to victory. He is cheered and He beams with exceeding joy and takes pleasure in your presence. He has engraved a place for Himself in you and there He quietly rests in His love and affection for you. He cannot contain Himself at the thought of you and with the greatest joy spins around wildly in anticipation over you… and has placed you above all other creations and in the highest place in His priorities. In fact, He shouts and sings in triumph joyfully proclaiming the gladness of His heart in a song of rejoicing! All because of you!!”

Truly what manner of love is this?!” Listen as God speaks again in Isaiah 62:4-5, “You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

The Bible isn’t a book of rules, rituals and regulations to aid religion, but a passionate love story of God with His people. It isn’t the revelation of an outraged Judge who reluctantly shows kindness to criminals he finds despicable. It reveals the Relentless Pursuit of the Passionate Lover who pursues His people and treats them as a Bridegroom who promises to maintain honeymoon intensity, pleasures, energy, excitement, enthusiasm, and honeymoon enjoyment. He rejoices in them and sings over them. He pursues passionately — 2 Chr 16:9  “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”  In Luke 15, the Father sees the lost Son coming back from the far country runs out to me him and shocks him with his emotional and extravagant reception and restoration.

From the moment Adam and Eve left Him for someone else, God has come crying. The cry in the Garden “Adam where are you?” was not the police-type-call of a wrathful Judge, but the heartbroken cries of a Wounded Lover!

He pursues patiently and powerfully. He provides joyously and satisfyingly. Jerm 32:41, “I will rejoice in doing them good.” Dt 30:9, “I will delight in prospering you.”

The Security the Lord wants us Rejoice In

The people of humble faith are commanded in 3:14 to sing, shout, and rejoice or be glad. Great enthusiasm is suggested by the threefold call to sing, shout, and be glad. “Sing, — it is the thrilling, trembling burst of joy; shout, — a yet louder swell of joy–like a trumpet blast; and then too, deep within, be glad, — the calm even joy of the inward soul; exult, the triumph of the soul which cannot contain itself for joy; and this with the whole heart, no corner of it not pervaded with joy”

So put aside all pride and boasting in self today. Take refuge in the name of God. Bank your hope on the righteousness of Christ and not your own. And let yourself awaken to the wonder that the Lord, the King of kings, rejoices over you with gladness and exults over you with loud singing.

What pleases God more than anything else? The prophetic word spoken to widow Marjory Kempe in 1667 remains ancient but ever new and true: “More pleasing to me than all your prayers, works and penances is that you would BELIEVE THAT I LOVE YOU!”

The only acceptable response to love is to receive and reciprocate it. Julian of Norwich: “The greatest honor we can give the Almighty is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love.”

Can you imagine what it would be like if you could hear God singing? And even more staggering, is the revelation that He’s singing over me. He is rejoicing over my good with all his heart and with all his soul (cf. Jeremiah 32:4l)!

Are you a Christian, a true believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? If so do you really believe that God is outrageously in love with you? Do you believe this? Can you feel the wonder of this today? That God is rejoicing over you with loud singing? Faith means that you want God and want to want nothing else!

God wants to remove all doubt, hesitancy and excuses for not believing His love for you.

The chief end, or the reason for man’s being created is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever, beginning right Now! God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him!

Let this prayer of Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter become yours: “Oh, God, I want to know You heart to heart so that when I see You face to face You won’t be a stranger to me.”

Oh, the wonder of it all! Just to think that this Majestic God will condescend to allow us to know Him in an ever-increasing depth of intimacy!

Our response should be to see the love of God, not as a benign action but a consuming fire. Poet John Donne cries out for the heart of all who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good: “Take me to you, for I — except You enthrall me, never shall be free, nor even chaste, except You ravish me.”

Dr. Sam Storms never spoke truer words than when he said, “The one thing that gives us hope, that conquers despair, and brings strength for the struggle is the assurance that no matter how bad the problem, God loves us. Pain becomes bearable and tomorrow no longer terrifies us when your soul is touched with the reality of God’s delight in you. Not only does He love you, now and forever, but He is delighted to do so. He is ecstatic in His affection for you. His joy over you is almost too much to bear. He sings and shouts with uninhibited happiness … over you!”

When the night is falling,
And the day is done,
I can hear You calling, “Come.”
I will come while You sing over me.

When the night surrounds me,
All my dreams undone,
I can hear You calling, “Come.”
I will come while You sing over me.
When the night would hide my way,
I will listen until I hear You say…

How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you.

When this life is over,
And the race is run,
I will hear You calling, “Come.”
I will come while You sing over me,

How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you, child, I love you.
How I love you.
–Dennis Jernigan

Enjoying the joy of being Enjoyed by God is the only thing that makes life livable!

 

The Vocation of Disciple-making — Part 2 — Satan’s Substitute

May 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The historical fact is that the Great Commission worked incredible well for the first three centuries of the church’s history. It is estimated that in 100 AD there were roughly 250,000 Christians and 250 years later that estimate had climbed to around 20 million! This increase came in spite of wide spread, bitter, and often violent persecution throughout this period of time. The increase came without the aid of church buildings, Bible schools or seminaries, monies, or the imprimatur of the rich and famous.

The fruitfulness of the people of God in the face of such Satanic, demonic opposition must have frustrated the devil out of the devil! Finally, Satan realized that if you can’t beat them join them. Adopting this paradigm, he transitioned very subtly and slowly the majority of the Church into employing his substitute program. It is not difficult to see that the original Commission has been tampered with. In fact it has been amended and for 1700 plus years, the Church, for the most part, has fallen for Satan’s program, all the while assuming they are operating by the Savior’s Strategy.

This last statement is not to be taken as a blanket criticism and condemnation of the Church and the good and godly men and women who have and are serving Jesus with all their hearts in local churches and on mission fields. A good work has and is being done in spite of the paradigm that has been in use for centuries. The challenge for every believer is to ask and answer the question, “Is the strategy I/we are operating by the one that Jesus set forth that employed all available believers in an ever-enlarging sphere of impact by multiplying disciples intent upon making disciples of all nations?  If not, then in many respects we are operating by Satan’s Substitute.

In order to see this more clearly, we will briefly point out the Savior’s Strategy as was considered in the first part of this teaching, and then compare it with Satan’s Substitute:

The Savior’s Strategy — Authorize all Available Believers with the Right to Act as His Representatives v18 “all authority”

  1. All of Heaven’s authority is declared to belong to Jesus — Jesus says in essence, “Therefore … since I’m the Lord, in charge, you are to do this …..make disciple of all nations.”

By divine right of being and by divine reward for His successful mission, Jesus declares that ALL authority had been given Him over the two worlds in which He and we operate – heaven and earth. Because He has become the Head of a new Body, the Church, all in the Body have been delegated all the authority, out of the very being of God, that’s necessary for the fulfilling of our commission. He has given to His Body both authority – the right to act – and power – the resources to accomplish what He assigned.

Satan’s Substitute — Departmentalize Believers into Full-time Professionals and Part-time Participants

Satan’s most important blow against the Commission was directed at this first point, to employ all the personnel. He achieved this by essential denying the priesthood of all believers and asserting that only those with a special calling were commissioned with a special authority to act as his ministers, everyone else was just ordinary members with no authority other than what the church leaders conferred on them.

So, early in church history, Satan orchestrated a division of the Church into two groups, and he overemphasized the distinctions. The large majority he called “the laity,” and the small minority he began to call “the clergy.”

There is no such thing as a higher verses a lower calling or a sacred verses a secular calling.

The harmful distinction was introduced as early as the 3rd century by Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea. Eusebius was a prolific writer and early church historian who argued that there are “two ways of life.” One is the “perfect life” and the other is the “permitted life.”

Two ways of life were given by the law of Christ to his Church.  The one is above nature, and beyond common human living… Wholly and permanently separated from the common customary life of mankind, it devotes itself to the service of God alone… Such then is the perfect form of the Christian life. And the other, more humble, more human, permits [permitted form] me to… have minds for farming, for trade, and the other more secular interests as well as for religion… And a kind of secondary grade of piety is attributed to them.”

The perfect life is contemplative, ascetical (denying yourself any pleasure), and limited to monks, nuns and priests. The permitted life is mundane, secular and is reserved for the rest of us (soldiers, farmers, businessmen, and those of who “just have jobs”). Unfortunately this line of thinking influenced some of the pillars of the Christian faith. Such a distinction can be found in the writings of Augustine and Aquinas among others.

This is a part of Satan’s Substitute plan that continues to plague us today. We still hear phrases such as “full-time Christian service.”

This two-tier class system of “clergy/laity, sacred/secular, and full-time ministers, who do the work of the ministry, with all others just members, who are expected to “pray, pay and get of the way,” has been in place for almost 1700 years.

The place beyond home, where most spend the majority of their time is the workplace. But is seen as little more than another forum for personal witness, telling “others what Jesus means to me.”

The words of William Diehl, a former Bethlehem Steel executive should haunt us: “In almost thirty years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job-ministry to others.  My church has never once offered to improve those skills which would make me a better minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing.  There has never been an enquiry into the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate the faith to my co-workers.  I have never been in a congregation where there was any affirmation of aministry in my career.  In short, I must conclude that my church doesn’t have the least interest whether or how I minister in my daily work.”

We must ask ourselves whether the teachers, doctors, dentist, union leaders, factory workers, artists, community organizers, political volunteers, and the rest of our congregation feel very much the same way.  That, in short, the church doesn’t have the least interest in whether or how they bear witness to the redemptive rule of God in the many places where He has placed them.

Every Christian must be taught that they are a minister and a missionary with a mission to see the kingdom of heaven come more fully into every dimension and discipline of life. Not just in the church house, but in the schoolhouse, the statehouse, family’s house, business house, in every legitimate house.

The Savior’s Strategy — Utilize all Available Believers for World Impact all of you”

The Bible is a missionary book, featuring a missionary God, whose will and purpose is “to call and create a missionary people.” Every Christian is some type of missionary, just as they are some type of disciple. The missionary isn’t one who travels the greatest distance from home, but the one who strategizing on how to make disciples beginning with the near, the neighbors, the neglected, and the next, and the next, unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Satan’s Substitute – Minimize those Available for Ministry by Stressing a Come and Hear in a Building a Man with the Message as the Standard!

Satan has introduced a subtle substitute into the mentality of the Church. Two of the greatest of Gospel words are “come” and “go.” Once we have come to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30, for example), we are to “go and tell” all men what we have found in Christ.  Satan is a master manipulator and twister of words.  He induced a slow perversion in the Church from “go and tell” to “come and hear.”

The Church changed from being a Go and Tell living Body to a Come and Hear Building. The Church needs to stop trying to bring people “into the church,” and start bringing the Church to the people. The Church must be seen as a living building and body; a 24/7 following of Christ in which Christians live and do everyday life. Christians are to incarnate the gospel wherever they are and to be Jesus to everyone around them!

The function of the Church is not a holy people, coming regularly to a holy place, at a holy day, at a holy hour, to participate in a holy ritual, lead by a holy man, dressed in holy clothes.

As a result of Satan’s alteration of the commission, the church has developed two massive “UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS,” and these two problems constantly support each other, thus making the situation steadily worse.

There is the problem of the UNEMPLOYMENT of the PEOPLE of the local church body.

This deep level unemployment problem by the congregation as a whole has impacted men the most. It has left men in the church frustrated and intimidated. They feel paralyzed spiritually because they are not in “full-time Christian service.” They feel that the church is trying to feminize them socially. They are demoralized relationally because without embracing the discipling mandate, relationships are few at most and shallow at best. They know that they are being utilized inadequately! If they can’t preach, teach or be a deacon, then they are relegated to trivial task and used as cash-cows if they make good money!

Matt Carter,, Austin Stone Church, in Austin, Texas, asks, “Do you want to know why the American church is declining?

“Do you want to know why 18 to 30 year olds are leaving the church in record numbers?

“It’s because most churches never give ordinary people the opportunity to be used by God in a powerful way. The saints have traded their helmets of salvation and shields of faith for bulletins and offering plates. The active, vibrant church from Acts has bred and morphed into one big, consumer driven performance where the majority of God’s children just sit back and watch the show as mere spectators. And most people have better things to do with their lives than go to a weekly performance carried on by religious professionals.

“The danger is that our church members sit in Sunday services their entire lives, listening to messages and singing worship songs, praising God, and one day, they die. From this world they pass straight into the next, entering heaven, but never knowing the thrill and the joy of seeing God use them on this earth in a life-changing, self-sacrificing, comfort-corrupting, disciple-making, God-glorifying, gospel-advancing, Kingdom-ushering way.”

Then, there is the closely related problem of the UNDEREMPLOYMENT of the PASTORS.

The typical pastor in today’s church is overworked, but underemployed! You would think I mean over-employed, but they are over-worked, yet giftedly under-employed. Why? Because they are not doing what they were given to the Body of Christ to do – “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

As a result the majority of people are not playing in the game but warming the benches, and the small minority of pastors are the only players and they are running themselves to death on the field, “doing the work of the ministry.” Our churches have become a place that serves consumers instead of a place that creates mature sons to reproductive fruitfulness. The majority in our churches are “on their seats” and keep “coming to hear” rather than being “on their feet” where they can “go and tell.” We have shifted from churches on mission to churches that support missions; from a being a force in the world to a fortress from the world!

Here’s a huge truth: There is no Impact without Contact!

Consider a medical analogy.  The Center for Communicable Diseases fears an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa. It is so deadly that an outbreak could wipe out millions. What are they doing to prevent its spread? Isolate those who have contracted the disease so they have no contact with the healthy.

Suppose the Department of HELL wanted to stop an epidemic of New Testament Christianity. It would surely do everything possible to isolate the “carriers,” and thus stop the spread. And that is precisely what has happened in the Church at large. We have isolated ourselves in our “churches” i.e. buildings and have very little if any contact with lost persons.

The word “go” presumes that disciples cannot be made unless the potential discipler designs his going to deliberately make disciples. In fact, all Gospel activities mentioned in the New Testament have a penetration aspect to them; they are designed to “salt down” a society through the Christians who perform them.

In May of 1942, it appeared that Adolph Hitler would complete his blitzkrieg of Europe by capturing all of Western Europe with little meaningful resistance. He had entered France and was opposed only by a determined French resistance movement. English troops in France at the time numbered about 335,000, but they were seriously outmanned and outgunned by the heavily armed German invaders. The English hurriedly engineered the most massive retreat in military history, nestling that large contingency of soldiers up against the English Channel in the French seaport of Dunkirk, hoping against hope for some way to evacuate them to safety. Just as it appeared that Hitler would annihilate them, fog and bad weather stalled Hitler’s advance. Aided by this providential assistance, beginning on May 29 and extending through June 4, the English sent boats of all sizes and descriptions across the channel and ferried the entire army across the channel to the safety of home. When the fog and bad weather cleared and Hitler tried to move again, he was shocked to find that his victim had fled and he could only curse his lost opportunity.

Meanwhile, the English people were euphoric about their “success,” celebrating as if they had won the war. But the withdrawal was very deceiving. Though a great and successful military maneuver had been executed, victory had not been secured. Defeat had only been avoided, and that only temporarily.

On June 4, 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed Britain’s House of Commons and attempted to cool England’s misplaced confidence with a dose of military realism. In his speech, he made this dramatic announcement: “Wars are not won by evacuations!”

Wars are not won by evacuations! And yet, almost all Christian activities finally amount to strategic evacuations. At the bottom line, church-going is an evacuation (it removes us from the actual battle field into the security of our “faith fortress”), your personal quiet time is an evacuation, disciple-making groups and Bible-study groups are evacuations. These activities are vital and necessary (!!!), but they must be kept in proper perspective. The hostility of the world is largely forgotten and the attacks of the enemy are tempered into mild aggressions in these settings. However, boot-camp “victories,” while necessary to the entire military effort, are extremely mild compared to the victory or defeat that is secured on the battlefield itself.

Every Christian should realize that in the evening of each day, God examines the “having gone” of that day with serious scrutiny, to see whether he obeyed or disobeyed the mandate of Jesus to “turn people into disciples.”

The Savior’s Strategy – Visualize and Strategize for Total World Impact – “all nations”

The third point in our Lord’s Commission is to constantly ENLARGE or EXPLODE THE VISION. What is the Big Idea? What are we trying to do for whom? Vision answers “Why?” and Mission answers “How?” Vision inspires and explodes the mission hurling it ever outward, and the mission implements the vision.

The word translated nations is not referring to a geo-political state, as we know it today. The phrase all nations is “panta ta ethne,” or all ethnicities, tribes, or people groups. This is the field of activity in the Commission. Let us remind ourselves again – our Lord Jesus is not playing games with us. He fully expects us to “take on” the whole wide world!

Satan’s Substitute — Localize the Vision to Personal Christians or to One Local Church Size

Jesus’ Strategy involves Explosion of His disciples to the ends of the earth. Satan’s substitute is Implosion, which is a process in which objects are destroyed by collapsing in upon themselves. The opposite of explosion, implosion concentrates matter and energy. A true implosion occurs when the difference between internal (lower) and external (higher) pressure is so great that a structure collapses into itself. In contrast, building implosion techniques do not rely on the difference between internal and external pressure to collapse a structure. Instead, the technique weakens or removes critical supports so that the building can no longer withstand the force of gravity and is pulled down under its own weight.

Satan uses the tactic of reduced pressure on the inside and increasing pressure from the world system as well as cutting down some of the main supports of a church in order to get it to implode on itself. He is constantly turning our attention back to our own struggles, our own survival, the local institution in which we serve (and its success), etc. He is constantly seeking to shrink our vision to something traditional, local, institutional, or personal, and thus the overwhelming masses of the world’s population never even hear of Christ and the Gospel. Jesus gave us a plan to impact the entire world, but we settle for a frustrating, disillusioning, nonproductive substitute. Which plan are you following, the Savior’s strategy by which you can actually impact the world, or Satan’s substitute which secures the constant reduction of the Christian community and guarantees that billions will perish uninformed?

Satan’s substitute causes us to focus on a building’s seating capacity rather than on the body of Christ’s sending capacity; on how many we can count in attendance and not on how many count in action; on doing church instead of being church; from pervasive missions to not yet Christians to pervasive maintenance type ministries to the Christians; from external focus to internal focus; from immersion in the world for infection to extraction from the world to avoid contamination; from come to Jesus to come to church; and from making disciples to making decisions.

The Christian life requires full and undivided concentration upon its Object, Jesus, and upon its objective, His purpose. The Bible often reminds us to maintain focus upon Jesus and the assignment He has given us. The personal assignment is to cooperate with Him in our own transformation into Christ-likeness. The universal assignment is world impact by “turning people into disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Far too many Christians seem to have other focal points for their lives – self-piety, faithfulness in institutional church activities, etc. – and have apparently omitted His assignment from their lives. Christians and groups that have no vision of world-wide outreach, no strategy for multiplying themselves, are in danger of imploding, inbreeding, impotence, and too much introspection, so as to become extinct in one generation. Nature shows that inbreeding within the same family will produce deformity, and the same is true in the spiritual realm. The Christian life requires full and undivided concentration upon its Object, Jesus, and upon its objective, His personal and universal assignments for us.

The Savior’s Strategy – Evangelize and Equip Persons from all People Groups to become Disciples of Jesus – “make disciples”

There are seven verb forms in the Great Commission, but the only command (the only imperative mood verb) is to “turn men into disciples.” The Master’s Mandate is to make disciples and His method of fulfilling the great commission is by going, baptizing and teaching.

Satan’s Substitute – Moralize the Sinner by a Self-help Type Message; Neutralize the Christian by a Self-Centered Message

What is Satan’s substitute for making disciples? The first part of his plan is to moralize the sinner by a self-help type message. In other words, he exerts maximum effort to keep the non-believer in an unregenerate state.  The message today may sound like, “Smething good is going to happen to you!”  “I’m ok, you’re okay.” Remember “Possibility or positive thinking will move mountains!” “Smile God loves you!” “God is in heaven and all is right with the world!” He has his servants proclaiming that if we will follow certain principles or steps, our lives will be happy, healthy, and blessed with everything that would make this life wonderful.

This portion of Satan’s plan is aimed at keeping lost people lost, or to deceive them into believing they are saved because they are good moral, religious, church-going persons.

Satan convinces men that the gospel message is a self-help arrangement where God helps those who help themselves. He comforts the decent moral persons with the assurance that Christianity is about being good, and those who are moral and decent are doing something that merit’s God’s favor instead being about what Christ has done.

The second part of Satan’s substitute is aimed at neutralizing the Christian by a self-centered message. He attempts to eliminate the potential for believers to become world-visionary, world-impacting disciples by redefining what it means to be Christ-like: defining it primarily as inner essence of character without outer expression of conduct in respect to doing the one thing Jesus commanded, make disciples! Even if believers become disciples, Satan’s purpose is to make them disciples of a pet idea, or a pet procedure; anything to keep them from being true, Christ-like, New Testament disciples who make disciples who reproduce others, others, and others, until disciples are made of all people groups.

Research shows that less than 5% of Christians will ever share their faith, and less than 1% will ever make a Jesus standard disciple! Yet these are the very marching orders that Christ gives His church, to “make disciples”!

Satan’s most successful tactic has been to have Christians settle for an addition, instead of multiplication-type ministry. He knows that the world population is multiplying and with an additions functioning church, the majority will never be reached.

In addition ministry, I help the pastor or a staff member with their ministry. In addition ministry, the pastor or a staff members can expect that 80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the people. 80 percent of money received is given by 20 percent of the people.

In multiplication ministry, the pastor or staff member helps by equipping and empowering every available believer to be ministers who obey the Master’s Mandate of making, multiplying disciples. The Pastor and staff help me recruit others to disciple and equip as the going church and not to get some to come to church!

The Savior’s Strategy – Baptize the New Believers in Christ “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Savior’s strategy for each believer is identification with Jesus Christ in baptism that reveals death to everything he previously lived for, and a resurrection that means that he now lives only unto Christ. By baptism, a believer in Christ acknowledges death to his past and that he now has only one real focus for living, the glorious Person and all-consuming Purpose of Jesus Christ.

Satan’s Substitute — Antagonize Believers to Fight Over the Subjects, Mode and Meaning of Baptism

Baptism is one of the most divisive theological issues in the church today. Some churches practice infant baptism while many only use “believer’s baptism.” Many will only baptize by immersion while some will sprinkle or pour as an act of baptism.

What is Satan’s substitute at this point of the Commission? Satan’s substitutes involve basically three erroneous concepts:

(1) Baptismal regeneration;

(2) Baptismal rejection;

(3) Baptism as a mere ritual.

On the one hand, Satan says that baptism is a material, mechanical, ritualistic exercise, and thus it has no importance at all. So, Quakers and Salvation Army people don’t baptize at all, for that reason. On the other hand, Satan says that baptism is ALL important and that sinners cannot have eternal life without it. So the Church of Christ and other denominations make baptism the great capstone of eternal salvation. In the middle, holding the extremely weak view that baptism is a “mere symbol,” are Southern Baptists and other church bodies.

The Savior’s Strategy — Catechize Every Believer to become DMDs (disciples who make disciples) “…teaching them to observe (obey) all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

According to the dictionary the word catechize means “to teach”, “to instruct, somebody in the basic principles of the Christian religion using questions and answers.”

To teach them to obey is a present tense participle which indicates an ongoing, unceasing, uninterrupted, continual activity.  This means that there is never to be a moment of my life as a Christian when I am not teaching! Whether by intentional example, overt statement, specific planned curriculum, silent influence, structured or unstructured settings, I am to be an indefatigable communicator of the One Who is my Life. Every believer is to be a teacher, whether he has the gift of teaching or not.

We are to teach all that He commanded. This includes preaching and teaching the Word of God, then demonstrating the now presence of Jesus via the Holy Spirit, by healing the sick, casting out demons, and demonstrating the love of God through power evangelism. One of the great hindrance to the advancement of the Great Commission has been the denuding of the whole gospel into a partial one in which we tell people that they can miss hell and make heaven, but the power of God is reserved for another time and period.

It is God’s power wrapped in love that demonstrates that the Kingdom of God has been introduced on the earth!

We read in Matthew 12:28, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” And again in Act 10:38, “… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

In the ministry of Jesus, healing, miracles, signs and wonders was not a gimmick to gather crowds, nor was it a benefit He separated from the preaching of His evangelistic message. It was an essential part of His message and ministry. Compassion for people, not to prove a point or concern for projects, was His motive for ministry.

Healing, signs, wonders and miracles performed, glorify Christ and testify to His being alive and present among His people. Healing, signs, wonders and miracles clarify the heart of our heavenly Father, revealing that He is compassionate, good and great.

A major factor in the current revival in the Third World is inseparably connected to signs and wonders as expressions of the love of the Heavenly Father, the lordship of His Son over all, and the power of the Spirit to extend the kingdom of heaven.

Satan’s Substitute — Individualize the Gospel for Personal Consumption Rather than for Global Commission

As to this point in Satan’s substitute strategy, he first seeks to prevent the anointed teaching of the great truths of the Bible at all. Then he seeks to make “sermon tasters” out of Christians. In this manner, they will be immunized from true Christianity by a mild inoculation of the real thing. Or he makes believers into analysts or sifters of truth, presuming that they can discern and appreciate truth apart from the Holy Spirit. Thus, they assume superiority over the truth and over the teacher of the truth.

Most Christians today are so oriented to auditing lessons in Sunday School and auditing sermons in an auditorium that they unwittingly abort the intention of Heaven for the communication of truth.  Satan desires that Christians sit in an auditorium, and listen to an audition of the truth, while they audit it as to whether they like it or not. The New Testament word for “obedience,” hupokonan, means “to hear under,” and it pictures a person listening to God’s truth from a consistent position of humility. Satan’s strategy is to cancel the possibility of humble listening to truth, and thus to turn the believer back into a self-governed, self-centered lifestyle who constantly sits over the truth.

Satan wants us to be “cafeteria line Christians,” constantly appraising the truth, and picking and choosing with regard to our favorite truths, our favorite preachers, and our favorite sermons.  Thus, this point in the Great Commission is neutralized by Satan’s substitute strategy.

The Savior’s Strategy Sensitize every Disciple to the Presence, Purpose, and Power of the Holy Spirit  “And lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the age.”

Please note that the “lo” follows the “go”. The promise of Christ’s special Presence in this verse belongs only to those who are pouring their lives into all the prescribed activities to fulfill the Great Commission. In other words, you cannot validly claim the PROMISE unless you follow the PLAN.  Yet when we do, we become incarnations of his person – re-presenting Him to the world around us! If we want to know Christ’s presence we will be involved in his mission. Christ has not promised his presence to just any mission. He has promised his presence to those who seek to fulfill his mission.

Satan’s Substitute – Humanize the Assignment to Predictable Outcomes by Relying on Man’s Plans Instead of Holy Spirit Power

Satan tries to divert our attention to institution building and other reduced activities, and thus preclude the involvement of the Holy Spirit with us. Or he tries to convince us that we are all alone and that no one is listening when we pray. He tries to keep us ignorant of the Holy Spirit or indifferent to His Person, Presence, and power, or occupied with a self-centered counterfeit experience of Him.

One of the favorite tactics of the enemy of our souls is to get a minority group in the Church to abuse the ministry of the Holy Spirit so that the majority will refuse His work out of fear of excesses. If there is a single word for us as a local church it is, “Don’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit!” The blessed Heavenly Paraclete, the Comforter – the precious heavenly Guest, who makes our hearts His home, loves us so tenderly, cares for us so personally, works in us so patiently, and longs to work through us so powerfully – requires us to be ever so sensitive to his usually still small voice; ever so willing to obey, even when it may make us look foolish. Failure to do so results in a quenching of the Holy Spirit’s purposes and a grieving of His heart.

Pastor Jack Hayford defines the fullness of the Holy Spirit, not as spiritual superiority, nor maturity, but in terms of “stretchability.” It means that we allow the Holy Spirit to renew the wineskins of our souls, to expand the vision of our understanding, to enlarge our heart for Christ, and his people, and to extend our reach to the world.

When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, the swelling within stretches us to new limits. The inner pressure expels unneeded things and fills every aspect of our lives. The comfort zones of (1) our previous experiences, (2) our present level of growth, (3) our level of learning, (4)  our cherished customs, (5)  our prejudices, and  (6) our comfort zones, i.e., those things in which we feel we can explain, contain and maintain what is happening in us and around us. Remember and note carefully, when Jesus comes to your house, you can be blessed like Mary or burdened and bothered like Martha. His presence can bring pleasure to those who sit at His feet like Mary, or more pressures to those who labor and sweat more over the many little things than the one main thing ?? HIM!

When God is moving in our midst we are to be discerning of the counterfeit, but we must also be discerning of our own conceit. It is  our  natural tendency  to analyze any fresh move of God in order that we may either  formulize it into principles and legalize it into a fixed standard of measurements for all moves of God, or to rationalize in order to categorize so that we can  criticize it and paralyze it!

The Holy Spirit wants to expand the pregnancy of our new life in Christ within us until it gives birth.  When this happens we will discover that He will excite our minds, delight our emotions, and ignite our ministry!  There will be both personal enjoyment and public deployment.

The Holy Spirit longs for our willingness to be extended and expended, to be stretched and spent, to be broken and spilled out and used up in a passionate love for Jesus. And if we continue to grieve the Holy Spirit, the wineskins of our hearts become brittle and easily cracked. The absence of the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence leaves us dry, dull, and depressed. It leaves us chewing on dried grapes, and asking where is the juice,  instead of drinking the new wine and getting juiced up to fullness and spilled out in freshness and fervency.

Another of Satan’s substitute lies is to try and convince God’s people that the gospel isn’t what it used to be; that his lies are more powerful than God’s truth; that we are losing the battle; that the best we can hope for is to witness against the wickedness of this age and pray to get off the planet as quickly as possible.

Jesus said in Luke 19:18, “…occupy, or do business, until I come.” You can’t do business if you are planning on going out of business any moment!

In conclusion let’s give heed to Spurgeon’s challenge: “Let no man’s heart fail him! Christ hath died! Atonement is complete! God is satisfied! Peace is proclaimed!  Hell is trembling, Heaven adoring, earth waiting. Advance, ye saints to certain victory! You shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb!”

The Vocation of Disciple-making — The Savior’s Strategy –Part 1

May 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

It is imperative that we understand and are committed to Jesus’ assignment for us as believers. I fear that far too many believers are like the World War II Japanese suicide bomber, known then as kamikaze pilots, who flew 21 missions – he was involved with a war, but obviously was never clear or committed to his one assignment! Could it be that many Christians will have spent their whole lives doing many good things for Jesus, but never doing the main thing He commanded every believer to do? The answer is YES!

The last words of the risen Lord Jesus Christ before his ascension into heaven must have shaken his disciples to the core of their being. The very idea that a handful of nobodies from an insignificant part of the world, with no big men or monies, with no big mission organizations going before them, or underwriting their efforts, were to take on the whole known world seemed almost as silly as it was shocking.

May I say, two thousand years later, if we take them seriously, they still shock us, scare us and thrill us. For you see, the main thing hasn’t changed – our God seriously expects His redeemed people to take on the whole world just as He had modeled the method in His Son, Jesus.

Beginning with twelve men, Jesus impacted the whole world of that day before the advent of telegraphs, telephones, televisions, and telethons, using the one-person-tell-another-person method! These twelve rag-tag men, who had never been anywhere, went everywhere announcing the gospel and through the process of being and building DMD’s (disciples who make disciples), they impacted the known world of their day. Their impact and influence was so extensive that the Apostle Paul could write in less than 25 years from the official giving of the assignment: “… because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rom 1:8); “… the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing.”(Cols 1:6)

The only “marching orders” our Lord Jesus Christ ever gave to His Church, we call, “The Great Commission.”

Over the forty day period between His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, Jesus stated on 5 separate occasions, with 5 different emphases, found in the first 5 books of the New Testament, in 3 different locations, the one preeminent mandate that we refer to as, “The Great Commission.”

It is believed that the five different times in which Jesus spoke of the Commission would first begin with John’s account as found in John 20:21-22; then Mark’s account as found in Mark 16:15; then Matthew’s account in Matthew 28:18-20; followed by Luke’s two accounts, beginning with Luke 22:44-49, followed by Acts 1:8.

1. In John 20:21-22, we see the Great Co-Mission’s Pattern.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Location of the encounter with Jesus: Jerusalem

When: On the evening of Christ’s resurrection

To Whom: 10 disciples (Judas is dead and Thomas was absent)

The Assignment: “… as the Father has sent me (sent=apostello — to send off on a designated mission), even so I am sending you.”

The Emphasis: There is a distinct pattern all the Commission’s personnel is to follow.

The term “sent” and words that are synonymous with it appear almost 60 times in the Gospel of John. But of special importance in John is the linking of the mission of Jesus with that of his followers as, the “sent ones.” The disciples’ mission is essentially the same as the mission of the Son and the Spirit – to bring glory to God and to bring the liberating, curse-reversing, sin-atoning, message of the gospel of the kingdom of God to all the world so that they also become devotion-givers, disciple-makers, kingdom-extenders, and dominion-takers!

This must determine the way we think about and carry out the mission. It must be founded and modeled upon Jesus’. We are not authorized to do it in any other way.

How did the Father send the Son? Please take note that the Father sending the Son is more than just His coming from Heaven to earth. It was the whole earthly experience of Jesus as He modeled for us what the discipling process looks like. He was a disciple of His Father. What did that pattern look like? We must be clear on this pattern if we are to follow in being and building Jesus Standard disciples.

(a) Father’s Heart was Revealed through a Son — Jn. 1:18

(b) Father’s Life was Incarnated into the Son — Jn. 1:14

(c) Father’s Love was Enjoyed by the Son — Jn. 3:35; 5:19-20

(d) Father’s Life was Multiplied through the Son — Hebs 2:13

2. In Mark 16:15, we see the Great Co-Mission’s Proclamation.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Location of the encounter with Jesus: Jerusalem

When: Approximately 8 days after Jesus’ resurrection

To Whom: 11 disciples — Thomas has rejoined the other 10.

Assignment: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” (Many of the older translations use the word “preach”, but the Greek word is “kerruso” which means “to proclaim or announce as a herald, town crier, or ambassador of the King.” (When you hear the word “preach”, what comes to mind? (Probably, a preacher, called to preach, and preaching behind a pulpit.) For this reason many believers feel that announcing the gospel is not their job, because they have never been called to do so. However, no call is needed for this word, kerruso, since all our commanded to make the proclamation (By the way, it is an aorist, imperative mood verb in Mk. 16:15). The word kerruso is used 16 times in Mark’s gospel and 61 times in the New Testament.

Emphasis: Go and tell the whole creation the gospel message. Please note, the assignment is not come and hear one man on one special day of the week, but for every available believer, as they are going, to be telling the “good news” to those the Holy Spirit sets up with divine appointments for benevolent ambushes.

They are to be going with Jesus’ authority, as an ambassador, or a herald, or an announcer of the King. The message we are to be proclaiming or announcing, is not an invitation, but a proclamation. The gospel of God is an announcement of great power and provision.  King Jesus does not send out His people to conquer; He sends us out in HIS name — the One who has already conquered.

Turning from the last chapter of Mark back to the first, we read in Mark 1:14-15, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark’s gospel informs us to the fact that the coming of Jesus introduced a radical historical event that would bring a new state of affairs for the whole world. All this is inherent in the words, the “gospel of the kingdom of God.” Dudley Hall was right when he asserted that, “The gospel is an announcement of an event that changes history. After this event nothing will ever be the same again. After hearing this announcement, the hearer will never be the same again. If he or she believes, there is a new life introduced. If he or she does not believe, there is new accountability added to the guilt of sin. But the announcement is not some general offer of heaven and help. It is the bold proclamation that God has acted in history and done something that is monumental. The preaching of the gospel cannot be the timid plea to “accept Jesus as your savior and be assured of eternal salvation.” The nature of the message demands the proclamation be bold and majestic. It is about God and his actions first. The response comes later.”

The gospel addresses everything that was affected by the fall of mankind. It deals with sin, self, Satan, time, the earth, life after death, and the final return of Christ. The gospel is the “reversal of the curse”, the true restoration process with the final product being better than the original. Yet today we tend to focus on one aspect of it – missing hell and making heaven when we die — and make that “our gospel”.

Again, I cannot emphasize strongly and frequently enough that we don’t have to wait for a call to preach since all believers are commanded to go as heralds, ambassadors, or announcers, to proclaim the good news that through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus a new order of things has come into being.  Not just something in an individual’s heart, but a new reality in history. The fullness of time has come; a new creation has been birthed; the long-anticipated age of the Holy Spirit foretold by Joel has arrived. Now the last days of this present evil age has come as well as the new world of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The reason to believe and repent isn’t just to go to heaven when you die, or get peace in your heart now, or a have happier marriage and better kids.  The reason to repent and believe is quite simple, “God has made this Jesus, whom first century Romans and Jews crucified, both Lord and Christ” and this being true there are no other options other than rebellion and more religion; repent or perish!

The Gospel is not About a Free Pass to Heaven When You Die, But About a Full Relationship and Partnership with in the Kingdom of Heaven While You Live!

3. In Matthew 28:19-20, we see the Great Co-Mission’s Plan.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “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.”

Location of the encounter with Jesus: A mountain in Galilee.

When: Somewhere between 8-14 days after Jesus’ resurrection.

To Whom: The 11 disciples (and perhaps as many as 500 — 1 Cors 15:6).

Assignment: “… make disciples of all nations…”

Emphasis: How the Great Commission plan is to be carried out.

Jesus gives the most detailed account of how the Mandate is to be fulfilled. In this text, He sets forth several essential truths that must be consistently employed in order to see the Commission expand in the manner designed. Someone described these truths as 1,2,3, DO IT.

1) There is ONE command that applies to ALL believers“make disciples”

The two words “make disciples” translate one Greek word, “matheteusate.”

When we hear that this is the one command, what questions should we ask? What is a Jesus Standard disciple? What does it mean to make a Jesus Standard disciple? How do we do it?

The word “disciple” in the Greek is the word, “mathete.” It carries the idea of a learner who becomes attached to his teacher so as to become like his follower in doctrine and way of life.

Using the statement Jesus made in Mt 4:19, “… follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” we can define a disciples in a threefold manner:

(1) A disciple is one who is Committed to the Person of Christ –“follow me”

(2) A disciple is one who is being Changed by the Power of Christ — “I will make you”

(3) A disciple is one who is Commissioned into the Plan of Christ — “fishers of men”

So, according to Jesus, a disciple is one who follows Jesus, fishes for men, and fellowships with believers.

(2) There are TWO provisions that assures the success of the Great Commission:

(a) The exercise of Christ’s authority — Mt. 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Authority is the Greek word, “exousia”. It means literally “out of the being.” If it were not for this statement, the assignment to disciple all people groups would be ludicrous. But by divine right of being and by divine reward for His successful mission, Jesus declares that His authority extends over the two worlds in which He and we operate – heaven and earth. Because He has become the Head of a new Body – the Church, all in the Body have been delegated all the authority, out of the very being of God, that’s necessary for the fulfilling of our commission. He has given to His Body both authority – the right to act – and power – the resources to accomplish what He assigned.

He authorizes His disciples then, and every disciple since, to bear the name of God, obey the will of God, speak the Word of God, and do the work of God for the glory of God! A.T Robertson, “It is the sublimest of all spectacles to see the Risen Christ without money or army or state charging this band of five hundred men and women with world conquest and bring them to believe it possible and to undertake it with serious passion and power.” Yet that is precisely what Christ did.

(b) The expectation of Christ’s accompaniment (or presence) Mt 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus’ promise is that His empowering, enabling, supporting presence can be expected, enjoyed, and employed ‘day by day by day.’

This means that if we want to know Christ’s presence, we must be involved in his mission. Christ has not promised his presence to just any mission. He has promised his presence to those who seek to fulfill his mission. Prof, Craig Keener said, “If many Christians have lost a sense of Jesus’ presence and purpose among them, it may be because they have lost sight of the mission their Lord has given them” We have no guarantee of Christ’s presence if we won’t obey his commission.

3) There are THREE actions that will accomplish the Commission.

(a) GoingMt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”

(b) BaptizingMt. 28:19b, ”…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

(c) Teaching — Mt. 28:19c, “… teaching them to observe or obey all that I have commanded you.”

One pastor said concerning Matthew 28:18-20: “If a Christian understands all the rest of the gospel of Matthew but fails to understand this closing passage, he has missed the point of the entire book. This passage is the climax and major focal point not only of this gospel but of the entire New Testament. It is not an exaggeration to say that, in its broadest sense, it is the focal point of all Scripture, Old Testament as well as New.” WOW! and AMEN!

Jesus issued only one command in Matthew 28 – “make disciples,” and then He told believers the only way this could be done was by, “going, baptizing, and teaching them to obey.”

“Going” — The word “go” in the Commission is NOT a COMMAND.  It is an aorist tense participle which means, “As you are going,” or “since you are going, or “having gone.” Jesus would never be so senseless as to command us to do something that we are already doing! Where is the church you are a part of on Tuesday afternoon at three? Is it in the church building?  No, it is “GOING”.  The issue is not, Why doesn’t the church get out into the world?  It is rather, is the church performing its assignment as it contacts and penetrates the fields of harvest — the world?

As to who is to be going, all questions are removed based on the fact that the Greek word translated “go” has a second person, plural pronoun in it, which the KJV translates as “Go YE.” This is accurate for it means “all of you” or as we would say here in the South, “y’all.”

Jesus’ intention for the fulfillment of this Commission was that “ALL believers are to be at it, and they are to be ALWAYS at it.”  The one thing, apart from the Divine power, that made the Great Commission such a sweeping success at the beginning was that it marshaled its total work force to the point of service. There were no mere spectators or observers among them. Every member was a minister, a priest, and a missionary!

Church historian, Adolph Harnack said, “When the church won its greatest victories in the early days of the Roman Empire, it did so not by teachers or preachers or apostles, but by amateur, informal missionaries.”  This Commission calls for a personal ministry FROM EVERY BELIEVER.

(d.) “Baptizing them” reflects Jesus’ priority of establishing those new followers into the work of Christ and then the body of Christ. Baptism is an identification with the community of believers, and an involvement in the commission of all believers. The new believers are marked out by baptism as unashamedly belonging to Christ.

“Teaching them to obey” reflects His priority of training His followers for generational multiplication. Christ selected His disciples and trained each to reproduce their learning, love, and lives in others. Notice the assignment isn’t just teaching them the Word of God, but teaching them to obey the Word. Most of the teaching by believers today is merely information-based sermons or lessons without any accountability as to application or obedience. Jesus’ standard for teaching is obedience-based. Also take note that this is a present tense participle which indicates an ongoing, unceasing, uninterrupted, continual activity of teaching.  This means that there is never to be a moment of my life as a Christian when I am not teaching! Whether by intentional example, overt statement, specific planned curriculum, silent influence, structured or unstructured settings, I am to be a tireless communicator of the One Who is my Life. Every believer is to be a teacher, whether he has the gift of teaching or not. The means of communication which are available today are so many and so convincing that a Christian can hardly offer a valid excuse for not teaching.

4. In Luke 24:46-49, we see the Great Co-Mission’s Provision.

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Location of the encounter with Jesus: Jerusalem

When: About 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection.

To Whom: The 11 disciples.

Assignment: “… repentance and forgiveness of sins…”

Emphasis: The Explanation of the Commission’s message.

Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  A golden thread of gospel grace runs through the whole web of the Old Testament.

In brief, Jesus makes seven vital statements that make up the basics of the gospel message:

(1) The reality of who Jesus is: (the Messiah or Christ).

(2) The ruin of man in sin that only divine redemption can resolve — (of sins).

(3) The redemptive work of Jesus is the only solution for man’s sin problem (suffered death and raised to life).

(4) The response that is necessary to obtain the benefits of Jesus’ redemptive work (repentance).

(5) The result of godly sorrow that leads to true repentance (forgiveness of sins).

(6) The reaches of this gospel message is to extend to all the nations (proclaimed in his name to all nations).

(7) The resource provided for carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth (I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high).

The gospel is not a self-help report. It’s God’s way of dealing with His “problem” of how He, a holy and just God, can justify and accept sinners like you and me. Only God’s wisdom and work is great enough to devise a plan that will achieve this.

The gospel is God-authored, kingdom-based, Christ-centered, resurrection- shaped, Spirit-empowered, and God-glorifying. Its preeminent purpose is declared in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, …” Notice, the good news isn’t about fixing us so we can healthy, wealthy and wise, or to meet all our needs, but instead to bring us into a right relationship with God.

The highest, best and final good that makes all the other good things promised in the gospel good is knowing that the gospel is all about Christ; it’s about seeing and savoring the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

Believing the good news isn’t a matter of just coming to church, but coming to Christ; it isn’t getting religion but getting a supernatural revelation that brings you into a loving relationship with God through Christ so that you can take pleasure in what God takes pleasure in – His Son! Becoming a good news believer isn’t living up to a new set of rules, but it is letting a new Person life in you so that it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives in you.

Jesus is the Messiah, the Message, the Master, the Model, the Ministering High Priest, and the glorified, reigning God-Man!

Yet in spite of this incredibly good news, research shows that less than 5% of Christians will ever share their faith, and less than 1% will ever make a ‘disciple!’

Beloved, we will not do well if we withhold such glad tidings from a lost and dying world.

5. In Acts 1:8, we see the Great Co-Mission’s Power.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Location of the encounter with Jesus: The Mount of Olives.

When: 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection.

To Whom: The 11 disciples.

Assignment: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…to the end of the earth.”

Emphasis: The Explosive power that hurls disciples to the ends of the earth.

Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

He then explains that it is His physical absence that will open the door to His personal presence via one just like Him, called the Holy Spirit. He said that His leaving would result in His sending them another “Parakletos” that is “one called alongside on the inside to strengthen, help, comfort, conform, be our Advocate, or resident lawyer, and above all this, be Immanuel – God with us – both now and forever! The Greek word for another is “allos” which means one of the same kind, thus the Holy Spirit is just like Jesus without a body!

Jesus said that it is actually to our advantage that He did what He did – leave the earth for Heaven and then send back the Holy Spirit. This whole age between the initial and final coming of Jesus is the Age of Advantage! The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and he dwells within everyone who believes. Jesus, present with everyone who believes is better than Jesus in one place, and Jesus in you is better than Jesus outside you.

a. The Disciples of Jesus were taught that there was a Promise to be Embraced

Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for the “promise of the Father” in Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.” And again in Acts 1:4-5,And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 2:33, Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Acts 2:39,For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

b. The Disciples of Jesus were Taught that there was a Person to be Received

John 20:22, And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not an “it,” the “force,” a “liquid love,” or a “charge of divine electricity.” He is a person who desires an ever-deepening relationship with the child of God. But in order for this type of intimate relationship to become a reality, He must be received – and this in spite of a prominent, popular teaching that says, “Any praying, seeking, asking, or receiving of the Holy Spirit is foolish in light of the fact that the Christian already has all he is going to get, and he got that in the “package” that came with being saved.”

For the Christian to “receive the Holy Spirit” doesn’t mean to get Him or take Him for the first time, but to welcome Him and receive Him in a larger capacity. When you read in the obituaries that the family of the deceased will “receive friends” at such and such time, you understand that this doesn’t mean they will greet new friends, but will welcome the ones they already have.

  1. The Samaritan believer’s “received the Holy Spirit — Acts 8:14-17
    2. The Ephesian disciples “received” the Holy Spirit — Acts 19:2,6
    3. The Galatian believer’s “received” the Holy Spirit — Gals 3:2

Matthew Henry said, “What Christ said to them He says to all true believers, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” What Christ gives we must receive, must submit ourselves and our whole souls to the quickening, sanctifying, influences of the blessed Spirit — receive His motions, and comply with them: and those who obey this word as a precept shall receive the Holy Ghost as the guide of their way and the earnest of their inheritance.”

Have you received the Holy Spirit since you have believed?

c. The Disciples of Jesus were Taught that there was a Presence to be Enjoyed – John 14:18, 21, 23

Presence is a precious, priceless and very powerful word. Nothing can take the place of presence – not gifts, emails, photos, cards, calls, etc. When someone losses a mate, the one thing they miss more than anything else is presence! There is no substitute for it. The same is true in the Christian life – both individually and corporately. When the people of God assemble together, what they need more than anything else is the Presence of God. Jesus knew that nothing short of His presence could fill the disciples with hope and make them truly happy. He knew that only His presence could bring peace for enjoyment and power for employment for a great commandment and a great commission people.

When on receives the Holy Spirit, is baptized, filled, fallen upon by, endued with the Holy Spirit, they perceive it by God’s omnipresence becoming dynamically or manifestly present. The experience of receiving, welcoming, inviting the Holy Spirit is something to be known, felt, sensed, and grasped. Pentecost brought light, power, and joy to the believes by bringing the Presence of Jesus – minus a body – to them in the Holy Spirit. The same joy, peace, and power is available to every child of God.

It is Jesus’ presence via the Holy Spirit’s filling that brings peace and power for the recovery of Abounding Hope that creates a passion for the supremacy of Christ in all things for the joy of all peoples!

The church of the 21th century, unlike that of the first century, is for the most part filled with Christians who are good, sweet, nice, helpful, but who manifest no supernatural power in daily living or in ministry to others. How is it that a church may be filled with saved, moral, generous, gracious people who have been taught a concise exposition of the Word, yet have never been used of God to see the sick healed, the emotionally wounded made well, the oppressed, depressed and demonized delivered, nor has the discipleship commission of the great Commission hurled them forth to the ends of the earth as it did the first NT church? Because too many believers assume that the church is the frozen chosen minority destined to a peripheral place in history.

To accept a miracle-less, gift-less, power-less, church is to settle for a diminished statement of who Jesus is, of what His Church is and what Her mission is.

In far too many churches today there is a form of godliness, but a denial of the power thereof. There is a constant meeting, eating and retreating, but very little asking, seeking and knocking to be given the Holy Spirit that the Father promised to all who ask Him, (Lk 11:13) so that we can be glowing, growing and going to the ends of the earth with the whole gospel that alone can make men whole!

Many churches today are a lot like the old farmer whose crops failed during the depression and out of desperation for work, he stumbled upon a want ad from a circus. Upon applying, he was told that the job was to replace the gorilla that had died. They had skinned the dead monkey, tanned his hide, and had it sewn into a gorilla suit. All he had to do was put on the suit beat, beat his chest, make a lot of loud, grunting sounds, jump around a lot, then grab a rope and swing over the lion’s pit.  After doing this a few times, he came to really enjoy pretending to be a gorilla, and his enthusiasm made his show an instant success. Several months later the circus was in a little town in Illinois, when, during his performance the rope broke just as he was swinging over the big, bad lion’s pit. He had no sooner hit the ground than he felt the giant paw of the lion on his neck and heard and ear-piercing roar. The man-playing-gorilla began to scream out to the top of his voice, “Help, help!” Suddenly the paw moved from his neck to over his mouth and a voice whispered in his ear, “Shut up you idiot, are you’ll get us both fired!”

Mark Rutland said concerning this tale, “Because of their good, conservative, Bible-belt understanding of what a Christian looks like is pretty clearly defined, they are able over the years, to hide the inconsistencies and the powerlessness by always pulling on the same tired, old monkey suit. It is only in the crisis of the lion’s cage that we are forced to face the fraudulency of their true selves.”  God is engineering the circumstances of the lives of his people so that we are thrown into the face of the “roaring lion,” the devil, and there we are forced to face up to our play-acting and stand up strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, or be eaten-up!”

The church, apart from experiencing the Spirit of God and exercising in His gifts, is as powerless as a corpse. She sets forth a pretty menu, but can’t provide the meal. She sports all kind of musical, educational, and athletic teams – but few ministry teams who know that the Spirit and the gifts are ours; who can announce the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and he has anointed us to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent us to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. i.e. the grace of God!

John Wesley was saved on May 24th, 1738, as his “heart was strangely warmed.” Yet he records in his journal on Jan 1, 1739, that he and his brother Charles, along with 60 others were in a prayer meeting, when at 3:00 am “the power of God came suddenly upon them, insomuch that many cried out for exulting joy and many fell to the ground.”

Evangelist George Whitfield, long after his conversion, wrote in his diary, “Was filled with the Holy Ghost. Oh, that all who deny the promise of the Father might thus receive it themselves! Oh that all were partakers of my joy!”

I close with a free handed translation of Acts 1:8, “You shall receive virtue, miracle ability, supernatural energy, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you, for a specific purpose: to enable you to give absolute evidence and miraculous proof of my resurrection. It is this power working in you that will demonstrate and exhibit the proof of your testimony so as to verify your claims as with documented credentials. And you are to exhibit this supernatural evidence of my resurrection in your own communities, cities, and country, and even unto the remote, furtherest, and last frontiers of civilization!”

Vision: The Fuel that Disciples Run On!

May 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

Proverbs 29:18, KJV, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Proverbs 29:18, ESV, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law.”

Proverbs 29:18, could be translated, “Where there is no continuing redemptive revelation of God, the people of God are in a state of wasting away.”

Pastor Bill Hybels, in his book, Courageous Leadership, writes, “Vision is at the very core of leadership. Take vision away from a leader and you cut out his or her heart.  Vision is the fuel that leaders run on. It’s the energy that creates action. It’s the fire that ignites the passion of followers. It’s the clear call that sustains focused effort year after year, decade after decade, as people offer consistent and sacrificial service to God.”

If vision is the fuel that disciples run on, then it is no wonder that there is so little disciple-making taking place in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ today!

Futurologist Tom Sine was correct in his assessment of the situation existing in the Church in the Western world today as he writes, “I am even more concerned at how few take seriously the importance of vision. I firmly believe the number one crisis in the church today is a crisis of vision.”

Pastor Kris Volloton states, “Vision is the bridge between the present and the future. Without it, we perish or go “unrestrained,” as the New American Standard Bible puts it. Vision gives pain a purpose. Those without vision spend their lives taking the path of least resistance as they try to avoid discomfort. The level of sacrifice that a vision requires will determine the size of people who follow. Sacrifice separates the small from the great.”

In treating the text accurately, we must admit that the Hebrew word “vision” (from the vision [khazah, “to see”]) really refers to divine communication to prophets (as in 1Sam 3:1) and not to individual insight, goals or plans. The TEV translates the word as “guidance”; the NIV retains “revelation”, and the ESV translates it as “prophetic vision”.  Although the primary meaning of the text refers to divine communication to prophets, nevertheless, by way of secondary application, I think it is permissible to use the verse in respect to the importance of getting God’s vision by getting on our heart what He has on His, as well as understanding the implications of not having such a vision.

The fact of the matter is that church leaders or disciples without vision are like an airplane without wings — regardless of the energy and motion generated, it will never fly. Vision is non-negotiable for developing disciples who grow and reproduce!

The Absence of Proper Vision has Pervasive Implications!

The word translated “perish” in Proverbs 29:18 has various meanings, which agree with the text. It may be rendered, “the people become idle”; “to cease from the performance of good works,“ grow immoral in their manners” and “wicked in their practices”: to “become headstrong; to be fierce, obstinate, and ungovernable, and rebel against their superiors: to be “made naked”; “stripped of their ornaments; of their privileges, civil as well as religious, which is often the case where no vision is; as well as of all virtue and morality, and of the blessing and protection of God.” Thus we see that the word translated “perish” is a Hebrew word that is heavily pregnant with implications from “casting off restraint, to loosen, to dissolve, to break up, to go to pieces, and to perish!” 

Where there is no vision, no prophet to expound the law, no priest or Levite to teach the good knowledge of the Lord, no means of grace, the word of the Lord is scarce, there is no open vision (1 Samuel 3:1, “And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.”) There was no “open vision” means there was no publicly known prophet raised up, to whom the people could apply for counsel, direction, and instruction in divine things.

My mentor, Herb Hodges properly notes the implications of no vision as he writes, “What does “no vision” mean in Biblical terms? It means that there is no awareness of God and His Perfect Plan. It means that Satan, “the god of this world,” has “blinded the minds of men” to the only things that really and ultimately count! They cannot see or understand these things without regeneration and/or illumination (see I Corinthians 2:9?14).  Thus, there is no continuous traffic between heaven and the hearts of men. There is no commerce with that which is invisible, eternal, spiritual, and real. There is no listening to God and looking to Him. In short, “no vision” means that men do not see “the High and Holy One, Who inhabits Eternity,” so we are limited to our little horizons and our selfish, petty, sinful plans.”

Leonard Sweet said: “We are living a gospel that produces nice people rather than saints; that stands for convention rather than adventure; is respectable rather than passionate; that calls for safety first / take care living rather than heroic/take risks living; that is more at home with the status quo than the supernatural.”

George Barna said, “Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where they’re headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited, at best.  Unless you attend to His call upon your life and ministry, you are likely to experience confusion, weariness, dissipation and lack of impact.”

Preacher Rodney Johnson declared, “No organization will survive without vision. Apart from vision, individuals will perish. Without vision, our children will perish. Without vision, communities will perish.  Without vision, churches will perish. Without vision, societies will perish. Without vision, lost souls will perish. Without vision, the sick and the elderly will perish. Without vision, the incarcerated will perish.  Without vision, we as a people will surely perish.”

The Presence of Proper Vision Brings Productive Motivation!

A. Vision is Started by Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (NASB). For the Christian, it is impossible to talk of proper vision without speaking of faith. Vision and faith go hand in hand. Vision spawns faith and faith, in turn, enlarges vision. Here are two faith-building exercises God gave Abraham: Count the stars; count the sand. God used these metaphoric exercises to buttress Abraham’s vision. And it worked: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised” (see Romans 4:18-21).

A Louisiana Cajun had put his mule up for sale. A prospective buyer asked, `Are there any problems with the mule? The Cajun answered, Only that he don’t look so good.” The man answered, “Well, I dont really care about that. Does he work hard? Oh, yea, he work hard, he just dont look so good. So the man bought the mule, and the Cajun loaded him onto the new owners trailer. When he arrived at his farm, he put down the ramp and brought the mule off the trailer. The mule immediately ran into a tree, then into the side of the barn. The farmer cried angrily, “I’ve been cheated! This mule is blind! He reloaded the mule onto the trailer, went back to the original owner, and loudly exclaimed, You mis­represented this mule to me. This mule is blind. You lied to me! Oh, no, the Cajun replied, I dont lie to you. I tol you, `He dont look so good’! Friends, everything depends on how good we look, how well we see.

Vision has everything to do with sight, but not natural sight. Vision is seeing through the eyes of the heart. True vision is far more powerful than natural sight. A leader filled with vision can look beyond small numbers, financial difficulty, and impossibilities of the present and see, with clarity and passion, the future as if it has already come to pass. For the leader, present problems are temporary inconveniences to be tolerated on the road to what will certainly be a more glorious future. The future is just around the corner. In seeing it, the leader can almost touch it.

How Are We to Define Vision?

Vision is a mental image of God’s plan, based on God’s Word, imparted by the Holy Spirit to His willing people, accompanied by the power of God to accomplish the purpose of God.

Leroy Eims said: “Vision is seeing a harvest when everyone else sees a plowed field.”

Biblical vision never comes from a majority’s common agreement; it comes from God. A vision from God will be preceded by a greater vision of God. The often quoted “vision verse,” Proverbs 29:18, could be translated, “Where there is no continuing redemptive revelation of God, the people of God are in a state of wasting away.”

BIBLICAL VISION INVOLVES THREE TYPES OF SIGHT:

True Godly vision consists of foresight, insight and oversight that come from His-sight.

Foresight is like looking at life through a telescope. This outlook allows us to know what is ahead as it connects us to our future. Foresight is the element of vision that helps life make sense and gives us the motivation that we described earlier.

Insight is like viewing life through a microscope. This perception gives us an understanding of why things happen in life. It also helps determine the underlying motivations of the heart.

Oversight puts life into context. It is like flying over our house in a helicopter. There is a perspective that we can only receive from this vista that helps us understand where we are with respect to where everything else is. The sons of Issachar are great examples of this kind of vision. The book of I Chronicles says that these men understood the times and had knowledge of what Israel should do (12:32). People that are blessed with this type of vision often have great wisdom concerning the seasons of life.

His sight assures us that the vision we have is from God. A vision from the Lord creates a mission from heaven. This is illustrated in the life of Moses when he went up on the mountain, received a vision of the tabernacle, and was told to construct it according to the pattern that he had received. (Exodus 24:16-28:43) Visions like this are just “pipe dreams” without some sort of administrative plan to complete them. A lot of people have lofty ideas about things they would like to accomplish for God but they seem to have no sense of how to see the dream fulfilled.

David Shibley reminds us that “Your vision should be large enough to honor God and attract people.”

One visionary who always led in light of the Great Commission was Henrietta C. Mears, the founder of Gospel Light and the most innovative Christian educator of her day. She said: “There is no magic in small plans. When I consider my ministry, I think of the world. Anything less than that would not be worthy of Christ nor His will for my life.”

Missionary to India, William Carey said: “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.”

B. Vision is Substantiated by Scripture

Eugene Peterson said, “There is no living the life of faith, whether by prophet or person, without some kind of sustaining vision. At some deep level we need to be convinced, and in some way or other, we need periodic reminders, that no words are mere words. In particular, God’s words are not mere words. They are promises that lead to fulfillments. God performs what He announces. God does what He says.”

Where did Jesus’ visions come from? They came from the images of the Scriptures, for Jesus was steeped in the Old Tes­tament Scriptures. So when at his baptism Jesus heard the voice of the Father saying, “This is my beloved Son,” he was likely seeing in his mind the picture of Abraham ready to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, or the picture of the beloved servant from Isaiah Forty Two.

Jesus was far more than an entrepreneur. He was not just another ecstatic prophet. His visions were not created or invented; they were truths that he saw from his Father and truths he lived. He himself explained this: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19-20).

Jesus was a leader who paid attention. Vision for Jesus was seeing how the truth, as his Father showed it, touched life as Jesus lived it.

Leighton Ford writes, “If we are going to be leaders in Christ, our vision must come from the same place as Jesus’. It must come from the Word of our God, and from Spirit-filled minds and imaginations, and from asking, “How does Jesus see my world and my life and the people around me?” Our task is not to dream up visions or to develop strategies, but to see Jesus’ visions and understand what the Father’s strategy is for our lives.”

Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

We are to be like the Berean Christians, who with readiness of mind received the Word, yet they did not swallow it in a blind faith, but since Paul reasoned out of the scriptures and referred them to the Old Testament for the proof of what he said, they substantiated his teachings with their Bibles. No doubt they turned to the places to which he referred them, read the context, considered the scope and drift of them, compared them with other places of scripture, examined whether Paul’s inferences from them were natural and genuine and his arguments upon them cogent, and determined accordingly.

Likewise, we are to make sure that any vision we receive or formulate is supported by scripture. It may be extra-biblical in that it is not directly stated or forbidden in scripture, but that does not make it unbiblical.

C. Vision is Sustained by Hope

A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” – George Washington Carver

Biblical hope is a future certainty grounded in a present reality – and the present reality is the indwelling, infilling presence of the Holy Spirit – who is the Other Jesus without a body.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

The above text declares that we are to abound in this true and sure hope because it is life-giving, faith-supporting, vision-sustaining, love-affirming, joy-creating, peace-giving, power-imparting, and victory-assuring. This hope in future certainty is based upon the Word of God; it springs from the power of the Holy Spirit; it centers in and celebrates the Presence of the Person of Christ. This hope is designed to permeate, enliven, fill, embolden, and energize the believer – enabling them to enjoy God, irrespective of how dark the times, difficult their troubles, or how powerful the enemy appears!

Dudley Hall writes: “Hope is the foundation of all purposeful behavior. Something has happened in history that makes everything make sense. There is a future that makes the present meaningful. The recipients of the gospel have a reservoir of blessings in the bank of heaven. They can draw on the account now and forever.”

Vision sustains the disciple when his or her best hopes are reduced to ashes because its hope is heavenly conceived and not just humanly crafted.

D. Vision is the Shaper of Our Thoughts

“Visions,” says Thomas Sowell, “are the silent shapers of our thoughts, which grip the actors in history and determine how they act. One way of seeing things is what he calls the “constrained” vision, which takes very seriously human evil and self-centeredness.”

“A vision is the dominant factor that governs your life. It determines all the choices you are making. It’s what’s left after all the layers are peeled away like an onion. It’s what your mind naturally gravitates toward when it is not legitimately concentrating on something else. It’s … what determines your friendships and your relationships that you are cultivating … It’s what your prayers are about–what you dream about and are giving money toward.” (Phil Grant)

Some years ago a British communist worker, Douglas Hyde, came to faith in Christ. In his book Dedication and Leadership, he analyzed why the communists were so successful and what others could learn about leadership development from them: “Marx concluded his Communist Manifesto with the words “You have a world to win.” Here is a tremendous aim. In material terms, one could hardly aim higher. The belief that the world is there to be won and that Communists can win it is firmly implanted in the mind of every Com­munist cadre. It is with him all the time Communists, says Hyde, believe that if you make big demands on people you will get a big response.”

The vision of world conquest has captured the imagination of millions of Communists, but Jesus’ vision was even wider. See, for example, how Jesus’ vision of the kingdom he proclaims actually goes into action in the first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus shows his followers that his kingdom is God’s total answer for their total need. He calls fishermen to follow him, drives out an evil spirit and heals many of diseases. He teaches with authority in the synagogue and cleanses a man who has leprosy. He forgives and heals a paralyzed man and calls a tax collector to follow him.

Here was a total kingdom. It offered teaching for the ignorant of mind, deliverance for those oppressed spiritually, healing for the diseased, forgive­ness for the sinner, and reconciliation for all to God. Here was good news for the entire world!

E. Vision is Strengthened by Constant Repetition and Clear Articulation

Discipleship is about relationship, leadership, and Great Commission partnership that is strategizing on going to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all nations. Effective discipleship/leadership begins with a clear vision, whether for your personal life, your family, or an organization. If your followers don’t know where you are going and where you are trying to take them, they will have a hard time getting excited about the journey. It is especially important to have a compelling vision that provides direc­tion and focuses everyone’s energy on getting where they are headed.

According to Ken and Jesse Stoner in their book, Full Steam Ahead: The Power of Vision, a compelling vision has three parts. To engage the hearts and minds of others, you must be able to communicate the following three things:

  1. Your purpose — What “business” are you in? Where are you going and why? Or in terms of your family, what is your family all about? Where is your family going and why?
  2. Your picture of the future — What will your future look like if you are accomplishing your purpose?
  3. Your values — What do you stand for? On what principles will you make your ongoing decisions?

A compelling vision tells people who they are, where they are going, and what will guide their journey.

A man was struggling to get his washing machine through the front door of his home as his neighbor was walking past. The neighbor, being a good neighbor, stopped and asked if he could help. The man breathed a sigh of relief and said, “That would be great. I’ll get it from the inside and you get it from the outside. We should be able to handle this quickly.”

But after five minutes of continual struggle, they were both exhausted. Wiping the sweat from his brow, the neighbor said, “This thing is bigger than it looks. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get it into your house.”

“Into my house”, cried the man? “I’m trying to get this thing out of my house!”

Few things are more vital than clear communication, particularly for leaders. The ability to cast or clearly communicate one’s vision to others to the extent that cooperate with you in getting it out of the house is strategic.

Pastor Andy Stanley sets forth five things to do in regards to communicating one’s vision to others.

  1. State it simply — Generational reproduction requires greater simplicity. There is no advantage to a complex vision that no one knows or remembers. Your vision statement needs to be short to be remembered. Your vision statement does not need to be self-defining…it needs to be memorable
  2. Cast it convincingly — A good Biblical example is found in Nehemiah 2 — Define the Problem: without this, no one cares. Offer a Solution: what must be done, or what will go undone if we do not do it? Explain why and why now.
  3.  Repeat it regularly  — VISION LEAKS so repeat it regularly and encourage those to whom you are trying to convey the vision to repeat it with you.

A vision that remains merely in your mind is only a dream.  When you commit something to writing, a commitment to achievement of the written dream naturally follows.  Every Christian should carefully think out and carefully write out the personal “mission statement” which he intends to follow in obeying Christ.  The written vision and corresponding goals are like lane markers on a running track; they tell us and others where to run.  Without such lane markers, we are more likely to waste time by hesitating or by running haphazardly or in the wrong direction.

For future reference, for personal reinforcement, for a perpetual reminder, for penetrating relay of the message, the vision should be written down. “The weakest ink is far stronger than the strongest think.”

  1. Celebrate constantly– You are painting mental pictures (hard to see) so publicly share stories of success. Stories do more to clarify vision than anything…don’t miss the opportunity
  2. Embrace it personally and publicly — Don’t try and control people, instead invite them into your vision by showing them you believe in it (join a life group, be a disciple, etc.) A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. —John Maxwell

F. Vision, When Convincingly Shared Focuses the Energy Efficiently

Someone defined vision as a “mental image, a vivid description of what will happen when the mission is achieved. It engages our spirit, expressed our deepest wishes, inspires performance, connects us with others and aligns energy”.

Vision prioritizes your life and affects the choices we make. Time management moves from theory to necessity. Without a clear vision we tend to make choices based on what is pressing us at the moment.

With a clear vision, we make long-term choices that produce genuine change. We cease to react to circumstances and begin to act in light of the compelling vision. Interestingly, the greater the vision, the fewer your options. Your days and minutes are determined. Unnecessary activity diminishes in direct proportion to the size and clarity of the vision.

David Shibley writes, “God-given vision calls to you in the night and focuses you in the day.

Aubrey Malphur said it best: “Christian leaders are godly people (character) who know where they are going (vision) and have followers (influence). If you don’t know where you’re going, please don’t try to lead others. We don’t need more spiritual nomads.”

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. —Ralph Nader

Soon after the completion of Disney World someone said, “Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live to see this!” Mike Vance, creative director of Disney Studios replied, “He did see it—that’s why it’s here.”

G. Vision becomes Successful by Implementation

A formula concerning vision:

No vision = total failure; (The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. – Helen Keller)

Limited vision = little success;

A vision – a plan – action = only a dream;

A vision + a plan –  action = a haunting dream (guilt); but

A vision + a plan + action = a spiritually productive ministry.

“One man awake Can waken another; The second can waken His next-door brother. The three awake Can rouse a town By turning the whole Place upside down The many awake Can make such a fuss That it finally awakens The rest of us. One man up, With dawn in his eyes, MULTIPLIES!”

Ever hear of Ronald Gerald Wayne? He was born May 17, 1934, and is a retired electronics industry worker. He founded Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, providing key administrative oversight for the new venture. He soon, however, gave up his share of the new company for a total of $2,300.

He worked with Steve Jobs at Atari before he, Jobs, and Wozniak founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976. Serving as the venture’s “adult supervision”, Wayne drew the first Apple logo, wrote the three men’s original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual.

Wayne received a 10% stake in Apple but relinquished his stock for $800 dollars less than two weeks later, on April 13, 1976. Legally, all members of a partnership are personally responsible for any debts incurred by any partner; unlike Jobs and Wozniak, then 21 and 25,

Later that year, venture capitalist Arthur Rock and Mike Markkula helped develop a business plan and convert the partnership to a corporation. Wayne received another check, for $1,500, for his agreement to forfeit any claims against the new company.

Wayne also stated that he felt the Apple enterprise “would be successful, but at the same time there would be bumps along the way and I couldn’t risk it. I had already had a rather unfortunate business experience before. I was getting too old and those two were whirlwinds. It was like having a tiger by the tail and I couldn’t keep up with these guys.” Had he kept his 10% share of the stock, it would have been worth over 75 billion dollars in May 2017.

When God gives you His vision, you sense His presence, perceive His power and focus on His plan for fulfillment.

Clear vision creates the future. It fosters hope and lifts people. A vision from God will lift you and all who embrace the vision out of despondency.

The words of Proverbs 29:18 were written by King Solomon, a man in whose reign the vision faded.  And there was no more disastrous failure in the history of Israel than that of Solomon.  The people went to pieces!  The nation collapsed!  The Kingdom was divided!

The alternative before us is clear: it is either “VISION OR DIVISION”!  This is true universally, nationally, locally, but especially is it true in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the individual Christian life!

We must wait upon God in quietness and prayer, armed with a deep sense of need and a teachable heart, and ask Him to restore the vision?? of His overwhelming Personal Glory, and of His overpowering Plan for us and the world!

Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators, said, “Spiritual vision is getting on your heart what is on God’s heart—people – the world of people!”  Paul prayed that the Colossian Christians might “see things from God’s point of view” (Colossians 1:9, Phillips).  What a revolution would occur if we did.

 

Eight Basic Rules For Making Disciples

April 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

Although discipling is done by relationships and not by rules, there are certain rules that if not followed will insure failure on a consistent basis. The following eight rules are by no means exhaustive. However, ignoring them or breaking them will produce at best a less-than-Jesus’-standard type disciple and at worst a sterile Christian who spends the whole of their Christian life trying to replicate the inner essence of Christ-likeness without reproducing the outward expressions of His labors. For this reason it is imperative we get a firm grasp on these eight basic truths of disciple-making.

1. Start Smart

James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” It should be obvious that we desperately need Jesus’ viewpoint and His strategy for making disciples. For that reason we should be asking Father for wisdom so that we are operating by Jesus’ standard and not our own, or the latest how-to books on church growth and leadership. In order to start smart:

(a) We need a Clear Concept of the Product.

Biblically, wisdom is seeing things from God’s point of view. It should be obvious that men do not naturally, automatically, or easily have such wisdom.

In fact, this requires a supernatural intervention by the Spirit of God. For this reason, we should be continually praying like the Apostle Paul admonishes us to in Eph 1:17-18a; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…” Disciple-makers should pray for themselves, and the disciples they are trying to build, this prayer continuously, “Lord open the eyes of my heart and of these men you have given me so that we may see from your point of view. Holy Spirit of Wisdom, guide me and them as to the best use of the knowledge you have given us access to.”

A clear concept of obeying the Great Commission requires that we are clear on these three basic questions:

(1a) What is a disciple?

(2a) What does it mean to turn men into disciples?

(3a) How does one do it?

If we don’t have a clear understanding of what a disciple is as defined by Jesus’ standard, then we will likely turn out something that is subnormal, or abnormal. Just as architects have a blueprint and often make a “to scale” replica, as well as having specifications that will be adhered to in the construction of what the owner’s desire built, even so must disciple-makers adhere to the Lord’s specific design and dynamics in building disciples.

(b) We need a Correct Course for the Procedure.

 George Barna was right when he said, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities, but stunningly few have a church of disciples!” One of the reasons is because they don’t have a clear concept and thus they have set out on a wrong course. A correct course should involve these three goals:

(1b) The immediate goals of getting the persons to genuine faith in Christ and then getting them grounded in the faith.  Even if the persons being discipled have been in the faith for a long time, don’t assume anything. Unless they are grounded to the point that they can tell and teach what they know to their disciple, they are not truly grounded in the Word.

(2b) The intermediate goals of growing them up in the faith getting TWI as their vision. They must grow to maturity. Just as biological babies don’t reproduce, neither do spiritual babies. The course heading must begin with TWI incorporated into their vision. Personal and local vision is far too small for a Global mission!

The Japanese produce a small tree that has been appropriately labeled “the Japanese dwarf tree”, or “Bonsai“(which means “tray planting”) The tree grows to a height of only 12 to 18 inches. They accomplished this by cutting the tap root of the tree and forcing it to grow from its surface root. This stunts its growth. Application: When any of the “tap roots” of the Christian life are cut (such as worship, prayer, or the study of Scripture), the believer’s growth is terribly stunted. Too many Christians seem to sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know,  And that’s as far as I want to go.”

For a Christian to fail to grow is to experience all possible tragedies in one. You see, being introduced to a person is not the same as knowing that person. One’s wedding day is only the start of an ongoing commitment. To come to know Christ should be only the beginning of a developing romance — one that may grow forever.

However, we need to be reminded that maturity isn’t produced by the additions of raw truth or time. One can make a lot of additions without growing — (It’s called getting fat!) Physically I have stopped growing in my body and any additions I make means I just get fatter! Churches can have the same problem; that is making a lot of additions but not growing up and going out in reproductive multiplication of others for the glory of God, but instead just becoming “pew-potatoes” who grow fat and lazy. A person can grow old in the faith and not grow up in it. Paul’s words in Eph. 4:14 reveal that immaturity must be confronted – “be no more children”; instability must be corrected – “tossed to and fro”; gullibility must be changed – “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

(3b) The ultimate goals of reproducing the faith in others.  The test of any Christian ministry is the multiplication of that ministry in the lives of others. The history of the Christian church proves that the ultimate goal of this Divine concept is tragically easy for human minds to miss. If you do not make disciples, you disagree with the standard of Jesus and disobey the command of Jesus. If you do not build your disciples to the point of world-visionary, world-impacting, consummate, reproducing disciple-making, you have not agreed with nor conformed to the standard of Jesus — regardless of whatever else may be true of your life!

2. Start Small

We live in times in which the small, the few, and the weak are disparaged. If it isn’t massive in numbers, and mighty in influence; if it isn’t big, beautiful (and brawny); if it isn’t large, loud, and lauded by the masses — it isn’t considered worthwhile.

It is only natural that this same mindset and tendency finds its way into the church. Even where we find a people determined to take Jesus’ mandate serious, they often fail in making disciples because they try to do too much with too many too soon. Remember that although Jesus’ ministry reached 1000’s, and touched 1000’s more, He trained only 12 men. He gave His life on the cross for millions, but He gave His 3 ½ years of public life to 12 men. Miracles, multitudes, and mass ministry benefited from Jesus’ work, but they didn’t constitute His work. Men were His work. Jesus saw the masses through the man, and He built the man to impact the masses a few persons at a time.

The fact is that Jesus was too smart to start large, but we seem to be too stupid to start small.  His standard is astounding, and it is doubtful we will ever fathom all of its insights and riches.

As disciple-makers, we can start small because we understand something of the Power and Potential of the Seed!

Jesus, in encouraging His disciples not to be discouraged because of the apparent smallness of the seed of the kingdom message, declares in Mark 4:30-32, And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Everyone of us humans started very, very small — one cell in our mother’s womb. Nine months later, when we were born, we had multiplied to over 50 trillion cells!

Zechariah 4:10, “For who has despised the day of small things?” For us today, we would answer almost everyone despises the day of small beginnings and things.

We must decide where we want our ministry to count—in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on our work after we have gone. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for.”

Disciple-maker and author, Neil Cole asks: “Why is small so big? Small does not cost a lot, is easy to reproduce, is more easily changed and exchanged. Small is mobile and harder to stop. Small is intimate, simple, and infiltrates easier. Small is something people think they can do. Big does not do any of these things. We can change the world more quickly by becoming much smaller in our strategy.”

Do not despise the day of small beginnings (Zech. 4:10), and do not be in too big a hurry to get past them.

Do not despise small beginnings — they contain the miracle and multiplying potential of wonderful hopes yet unfulfilled.

3. Start Slow

Reproduction takes time and to attempt to speed up the process is to risk abortion or deformity to the offspring. One of the reasons so many pastors reject Jesus’ standard for making disciples is because the first few years of the process that leads from additions to multiplication seems so slow compared to the mass ingathering of people in special evangelistic efforts or church growth campaigns. However, we should never let starting the process slowly be confused with the incredible potential built into the multiplication process. Yes, it takes time and requires going slow to avoid miscarriages and deformities in the disciples, and to assure reproductive maturity. But when the process is in full effect, the pervasive application and implications are swift and mind-boggling.

How effective is evangelism compared to the doubling effect of discipling? How quickly would the evangelists, making huge additions, and the disciple-maker, using Jesus’ start small and slow multiplication process each reach the population of the world?

When the world population was at approximately 6.8 billion people, if you could freeze it there, it would take an evangelist winning 5,000 persons each day, which is adding 1,825,000 converts to the church per year, four thousand years to reach the world, provided the population stayed at its current size.

In contrast, consider the discipler who in one year wins one and disciples one to reproductive maturity, so that at the church’s annual conference his statistics read – saved and discipled one! How slow! What an embarrassing report! After twenty years, the evangelist would be able to report at the annual church denominational meeting that over the past 20 years he now had won 36,500,000 persons to Christ. Then the disciple-maker would report that after 20 years he now had a total of 1,048,576 disciples. Still a rather small and apparently slow process compared to the evangelist approach. However, if this process of multiplication of disciples continues at this rate, the results are mind-boggling! At the end of the 33rd year, the disciple-maker, starting with just one and spending a whole year equipping his disciple, would have multiplied through them 8,589,934,592! That is 1.5 billion more persons than are on earth at the present time. So starting slow may seem unproductive and unimpressive for a number of years – but then the process of multiplication explodes!

4. Stick to Jesus’ Standard

What was Jesus’ standard? What model did Jesus follow that enabled him to take twelve very common men and equip them to become prolific reproducing disciple-makers? How did He produce a mind-set in twelve men that eventuated in massive world impact to the farthest reaches of the known world of His day within 60 years after His death? He didn’t have computers, cell phones, or television, telethons, telephones, telecommunication satellites, or texting — just tell-a-person!  How? How? How? Negatively, nothing of His program depended on a crowd, or on preaching (though He used mass communication to minister, to teach, and to emerge potential disciples). Nothing of His program was institutionalized (this is a mere admission of fact, not an evaluation of institutionalism). Nothing of His program centered in going to church (although He went to church regularly). Then What was his strategy?  His technique? His Standard?

Herb Hodges states that, “We can get a hint by examining the Biblical lists of the men whom He called as “Apostles.” Let it be said first that He trained them to send them away from Him, not to centralize increasing masses where He was. This strategy is conspicuously unlike today’s church, which tends to evaluate its success (and the success of its leaders) almost totally by the measurement of size.

a. A Commitment to the Light One Has – A complete commitment to the light one has will result in the Lord giving more light. Begin now walking in the light you have and don’t wait for vast amounts of light or truth that would enable you to answer all the questions your disciples might raise. Remember, you only need to be one-half step in front of another person to be a leader with them following. God will not give us another word or the next word if we are failing in our obedience to the previous words He has given us. Remember the light that shines furtherest of necessity shines brightest at home.

b. A Clarity as to the Lord’s Standard for Building Disciples Jesus’ standard not only promised large dividends to those who obey at the moment of hearing, but it promised (indeed, necessitated) ever-enlarging multiplication through all future generations as long as the standard was implemented fully and correctly. The genius of Jesus’ strategy, when it is properly implemented, guarantees increasing numbers of leaders for all future generations—until the end of time. Not only so, but each follower is to become a leader, and each leader is built to train other leaders. So the test of “followship” and leadership in the “Jesus movement” is not in how many followers a leader has, but rather in how many true leaders he is building with a motivation and strategy to multiply.  When properly implemented, this ministry of multiplication will never stop.

Jesus’ standard, or training strategy, requires:

c. A Curriculum that Makes Learning Effective and Transferable

Herb Hodges admonishes, “If you are capable of creating your own curriculum, or finding curriculum from another source, curriculum that is sound in truth and will cover all of the necessary bases and accomplish the required result, by all means do it.”

Three things are essential in order to go on to maturity in Christ: (1) There are basic truths we need to know; (2) There are basic things we need to do; (3) There are basic traits we need to develop. We must Know God, Grow in God, and Show others God.

The curriculum, or subjects, we employ must be readily teachable, easily learnable, and simply transferable. Or to say it another way: It must be received personally, remembered easily, so it can be repeated strategically.

Space does not allow us to include examples of the studies that might be used in each category.

5. Stop Doing It Alone!

If you study the strategy of ministry in the book of Acts, you will discover that it was almost always done in teams. We see Peter, James, and John. Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas and Mark, Paul, Silas, and Luke. Paul, Timothy, and Titus.

The key leaders of these groups or teams were constantly training their disciples in the SACIDD.SR method of Jesus (Selection, Association, Concentration, Impartation, Demonstration, Delegation, Supervision, Reproduction).

The story about a brick layer who was badly injured on the job:.

This brick layer tried to move 500 pounds of bricks from the top of a 4-story building to the sidewalk below. The problem was he tried to do it by himself.  This is his own story taken from his insurance claim form.

It would have taken too long to have moved the bricks down by hand and so I decided to put them in a barrel and lower them from a pulley which I had fastened to the top of the building.  After tying the rope securely at ground level, I went up to the top of the building and fastened the rope around the barrel loaded with bricks, swung it out over the sidewalk for the decent.

Then I went down to the sidewalk and I untied the rope, holding it securely to guide the barrel down slowly. But since I only weigh 140 lbs, the 500 lb load jerked me from the ground so fast that I forgot to let go of the rope. As I passed between the 2nd  and 3rd floor, I met the barrel coming down. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body.

I held tightly to the rope until I reached the top where my hand became jammed in the pulley. This accounts for my broken thumb.

At the same time however, the barrel hit the sidewalk with a bang and the bottom fell out. With the weight of the bricks gone the barrel weighed only 40 lbs. Thus my 140 lb body made a swift decent. I met the empty barrel coming up. This accounts for my broken ankle.

Slowed only slightly, I continued the decent and landed on the pile of bricks.  This accounts for my sprained back and broken collar bone.

At this point, I lost my presence of mind completely and let go of the rope and the empty barrel came crashing down on me.  This accounts for my head injuries.

And as for the last question on your insurance form, “What would you do if the same situation arose again?”  Please be advised I am finished trying to do the job all by myself.

Unfortunately, most church leaders, who have been trained to believe that they are the ministers who alone are called to do all the work of the ministry, wind up like the brick layer: battered, bruised, broken on a pile of bricks, and under a barrel of frustration and isolation!

The Process for Multiplying Disciples:

Action                                                             Result

I do it: ………………………………………….I model the process.

I do it and you are with me: ……………………I mentor you.

You do it and I am with you: ………………….I monitor you.

You do it: ……………………………………..You begin to master the craft and move forward.

You do it and someone is with you: …………..We multiply the process.

6. Start Here

Have you noticed how very few people are willing to start where they are with what they have? Instead they wind up either never doing anything because they cannot begin big and powerful or they go for broke and start up with an impressive show, the big venture, the spectacular splash, only to fizzle in the end. They want to capture the attention and admiration of as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This is the American way for the most part, but it is not God’s way. He begins everything He does in a small way; with a seed, an idea, a word or a baby, sub-atomic particles, atoms, etc. With proper cooperation with His design and laws, growth, increase and steady progress come to fruition.

An old Chinese proverbs says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Likewise the process of building multiplying disciples begins with the first one. It should be obvious that the most important one is the first one. If the multi-level down-line of disciples is to be vibrant and fruitful then the Paul and Timothy type persons must come before faithful men who then will be able to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

7. Start Now

The Chinese have a saying: “He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend most of his entire life on one leg!

The typical Christian feels like they have to have years of training and tons of courses covering every subject before they can begin to make disciples. However, persistent delay is often times nothing but a cover up for personal disobedience to the Word of the Lord. A “now” word from the Word of God obeyed will bring the “next” word. There is no need of expecting the next or a new word from the Lord if I have not put into practice the last word I heard.

Where you finish in life isn’t determined so much be where you start as by whether you start.

English playwright, James Albery sums up the going to do type of persons in this little saying:

“He slept beneath the moon,
He basked beneath the sun;
He lived a life of going-to-do,
And died with nothing done.”

8. Stay Steady

Don’t get discouraged because of slow learners. Consider the aggravations and frustrations that Jesus had with His twelve disciples over the entire 3 year period He trained them. Don’t get discouraged because of those who drop out or turn their back on the faith. Remember Jesus had twelve disciples, but one of them was the traitor Judas who sold Jesus to the enemy for 30 pieces of silver. Don’t opt or cop out by saying, “I tried and failed every time, so I guess just wasn’t my assignment.” Relearn, rethink, restudy Jesus’ strategy, and ask Father for a “Timothy” who will reproduce others like him.

Pray for the strength to be able to be like Paul admonished the Corinthian believers to be: 1Cors 15:58,Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Be steadfastIn other words, be firm, strong, and confident in the faith. Be fixed in the faith, and don’t let the power of sin, or the allurements of pretended philosophy, or the schemes of the devil dissuade you from taking Jesus’ Great Commission seriously.

Be UnmovableFirm, fixed, stable, unmoved. This is probably a stronger expression than the former, though meaning substantially the same thing – that we are to be firm and unshaken in our Christian hopes, and in our faith in the gospel and from our commitment to make disciples of all nations.

Always abounding in the work of the Lord Always engaged in enjoying His person, doing the will of God, in promoting his glory, and advancing his kingdom by multiplying the number of reproductive disciples who are reflectors of his image and glory. The phrase means not only to be engaged in this, but to be engaged diligently, laboriously; excelling in this.

Knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain – You know that your labor or work in the Lord, that is, in the cause of the Lord, will not be in vain. It will be rewarded. It is not as if you were to die and never live again. There will be a resurrection, and you will be suitably recompensed then. Yet if you build disciples according to Jesus’ standard, you will continue to live through your spiritual offspring for generations after your death.

Rehearse:

  1. Start Smart
  2. Start Small
  3. Start Slow
  4. Stick to Jesus’ Standard
  5. Stop Doing It Alone
  6. Start Here
  7. Start Now
  8. Stay Steady

 

The ABC’S of Generational Multiplication

March 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

1 Corinthians 4:14-16; 11:1

 To be born again into the kingdom of God is to receive the nature of a Father’s heart! Father God’s nature is generational. He is referred to as the God of Abraham (who had a son), Isaac (who had two sons), and Jacob (who had twelve sons). These twelve sons became known as the twelve tribes and eventually the NATION of Israel!).  The nature of Father’s kingdom is never to build just for ourselves but always beyond ourselves.

Psalm 78:4-6, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,…” Notice in this passage that there are four generations involved: the forefathers, and their children, children yet to be born, and their children. In 2 Tim. 2:2, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” In this verse we see four generations: Paul-Timothy-Faithful men – Others.

One doesn’t have to be a student of scripture for long until it becomes clear that everything God does is multigenerational. God seldom ever does anything in one generation or for just one generation.

Since we are commanded to make disciples of all nations, those believers who have no heart for the future are a serious problem for God’s generational transfer plan. WHY? Because the Christian faith is only one generation from extinction. Therefore, obeying the Great Commission is imperative and not optional. Our assignment requires “Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing!” which is to “make disciples” of all nations. We will only get one life-time to fulfill God’s purposes of securing a people of God after us. So a key measure of a Christian man’s value is what he leaves behind by way of spiritual offspring, because persons are the only thing that make it to heaven.

Life in Father’s kingdom requires that we are constantly becoming responsible to the generations past in order that we may reproduce this spiritual life in the generations to come. This process of generational transfer or multiplication is better known by the biblical term — disciples-making. Our mandate and mission is to make DMD’s with TWI! (Disciples Making Disciples with Total World Impact!)

The Procedure for Generational Transfer Requires Discipling Lives and Not Just Teaching Lessons

1 Corinthians 4:15-16, “Ten thousand people may teach you about Christ, but I am your only father. You became my children when I told you about Christ Jesus, “Wherefore I beseech you, be followers (mimetes, mim-ay-tace’; an imitator) of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Paul had no intention of depreciating the importance of teaching, because teaching is the initial stage of the disciple making process, for it establishes the disciple in the posture of a learner and then properly lays the necessary foundations. Disciples must be students who diligently give themselves to a thorough understanding of the basic foundations.

However, the ultimate goal of the disciple making process is generational transfer or fatherhood, for fathering is where reproduction takes place. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 4:15 that there are many teachers but few fathers. Paul lamented the fact that the Corinthians had many teachers but few fathers. What is the difference between teachers and fathers? Teachers impart lessons — Fathers impart their life! Teachers teach a subject in an impersonal format and go home every night. Fathers train a life in a personal relationship by their life and learning from babyhood to sonship, to fatherhood. Every parent understands this. It is much easier to be a teacher than a father because relational reproduction requires risk, resource expenditure, and intimacy.

Discipling is spiritual parenting and one of the essential elements of good parenting isn’t first rules and regulations, but having and maintaining a love relationship between parents and children. Fathers are about insuring the future by reproducing sons in the present. It is imperative that every father imparts life and learning to his sons before he departs this life. Teachers may impart knowledge and prophets may predict the future, but fathers shape it. One is like a thermometer the other is like a thermostat. Fathers rear what they reproduce. Fathers are defined, not by their own success but by that of their offspring.

The Pattern for Generational Transfer Requires Imitating the Pattern Son Jesus

No one has set forth Jesus’ method of generational multiplication any clearer and simpler than Robert Coleman in his book, The Master’s Plan of Evangelism. In it he employs eight principles that sum up Jesus’ model for making disciples. Whether or not we obey the only mandate the Master gave us, is contingent upon how well we embrace and employ the following eight truths!

1. Asking Father God for a Select Few
a.
Selection for Vocation — (Mk. 3:14a -“…He chose twelve…)

Jesus’ selection of the twelve was for the job, i.e. vocation, of becoming like Him and multiplying what He did. His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow. Remarkable as it may seem, Jesus started to gather these men before he ever organized an evangelistic campaign or even preached a sermon in public. Men were to be his method of winning the world to God.

Before Jesus ever preached His first sermon, He had already selected people to follow Him. Jesus was not interested in developing programs that would reach the multitudes, but in developing individuals that would impact the multitudes.

The men He selected would not impress us as being “key people”. (Nor did they impress the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.) They were rowdy, insensitive, quarrelling, envious and bigoted. They came from common backgrounds, a few were social outcasts. Within these individuals He was to initiate the Kingdom of God on earth and lay the foundation for the New Testament church.

Jesus ministry reached 1000’s, and touched 1000’s, but He trained 12 men. He gave His life on the cross for millions, but He gave His 3½ years of public life to 12 men. Miracles, multitudes, and mass ministry benefited from Jesus’ work, but they didn’t constitute His work. Men were His work. Jesus saw the masses through the man, and He built the man to impact the masses. Jesus recruited hundreds, developed seventy, choose twelve, graduated eleven, and focused on three!

Where do you start looking for potential disciples? We must start where Jesus did — by serious, extended prayer. Luke 6:12-13, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

Where do you look for potential disciples? There are only two places:

The Harvest Fields: Mt.13:38, “The field is the world…” John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”

What do you look for in a potential disciple from the Harvest Field or in an unsaved person?

Look for a T-H-I-N type person.

T– targeted by the Holy Spirit

H– Holy Spirit sets them up (a benevolent ambush is arranged)

I– interested in the gospel message

N- new believer is born

The Household of Faith: Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Ephesians 2:19, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

This person may be a new believer or one who has been in the faith for many years but doesn’t know how to build disciples. So what do you look for in this type person? You look for a F-A-T-S-O type person.

F- faithful

A- available

T- teachable

S- servant-spirited

O- obedient from the heart.

2. Bonding with Them for Fellowship

a. Association for Infection — (Mark 3:14b –“… chose twelve that they might be with Him…”)

Knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation. The process is better caught than taught. What you’ve got is what the person closely and regularly associated with you is going to be infected with.

Withness, Togetherness, Community, Fellowship – these words express the very reason for God saving us. God’s desire is for a Huge Family of hot-hearted, passionate sons who delight in Him and in each other, not a Labor Force of Field Hands who work for Him. What is this Withness, Togetherness, Community? Community: A unified people who possess a common way, embrace a common truth and celebrate a common life. 

Community, or Fellowship, is the Greek word, “koinonia” and is translated by our English New Testament by numerous terms: “communion, association, fellowship, sharing, partakers, common, contribution, communicate, and partnership.”

Although no one English word can catch the full meaning of the Greek, the New English Bible comes close as it translates all of the above by the expression “sharing in the common life.”

John 3:22, is a verse that you can read many times and not see anything extraordinary revealing about it: After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained (tarried –KJV) there with them and was baptizing.” The revelation is in the word remained with them. It is the Greek word, “diatribo?”, which is made up of two words –dia –through, (denotes the channel of action) and tribo which means “to rub”. While Jesus was with them, He rubbed off on them. Like a contagious disease, they caught what he was carrying!

3. Concentrating on Training Them in the Faith

  a. Concentration for Education — (Mt 11:29a -“…take up my yoke and learn (manthano; to learn, to understand.) of me…)

Concentration is another way of saying that you cannot build disciples without intentionality. You must be disciplined and teach and require specific disciplines of your disciples. You cannot does this in large numbers such as in a church service by preaching from the pulpit, or by lecturing to a small group from behind a lectern, or by teaching a Bible study. Why? It is too general and widespread and not concentrated enough.

Life teaches us the imperativeness of concentration. No horse will carry a work-load until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No river is ever turned into light and power until it is dammed up and directed into the channels that spin the turbines. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.

  1. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

Concentration involves person to person education, indoctrination, and implementation. It involves person to person relationships, discussion and interaction. Bible scholars estimate that Jesus spent 85% of His 3 1/2 years of earthly ministry concentrating on 12 men!

We must live, and require the disciples we are building to likewise live, as commanded men and women always under our Master’s orders. There can be no vacillation or insubordination toward the Great Commanders orders. We are engaged in cosmic spiritual warfare, the issues of which are life and death, and every day that we are indifferent to our responsibilities is a day lost to the cause of Christ. The most elemental truth of discipleship is that we are called to be servants of our Lord and to obey his Word. It is not our duty to reason and challenge what and why he said what he said, but only to carry out his orders. Unless there is this concentration and dedica­tion to all that we know he wants us to do now, however immature our understanding may be, our education, or training will never make reproducing disciples, only rebellious, immature spiritual kids who have never been broken from self-will and bound to the Savior’s will.

4. Discipling Them to Live in the Spirit’s Fullness

    a. Impartation for Empowerment –

John 17:11a, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world…”

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 20:21-22, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus gave what He had to His disciples. He gave Himself to His disciples:

He gave them His knowledge of the Father — Jn 15:15; 17:8,14

He gave them His peace – Jn. 16:33

He gave them His joy – Jn. 15:11

He gave them His love– Jn. 13:1

He gave them the Holy Spirit — Jn 20:22

Making disciples involves personal, intimate, long-term association for the purpose of impartation of life as well as learning.  Jesus gave himself away to his disciples. One of the first things he did after his resurrection from the dead was to surprise his disciples with his presence and then say to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22.

Jesus wanted his followers to obey him and do greater works than he did (John 14:12). But in recognizing this truth, he realized that his disciples would need to discover the indispensability of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment in order to fulfill their assignment. Also in having a deeper experience of his Spirit by receiving Him, they would know the love of God being poured out in their hearts and flowing from them to a lost world. That is why his demands were accepted without argument. The disciples understood that they were not just keeping a law, but were responding to One who loved them, and was will­ing to give himself for them.

There is no growing, going or reproducing, no reaching, teaching, training of disciples without the Other Jesus without a body, third person of the Trinity – blessed Holy Spirit, empowering our lives. We need to receive the Holy Spirit and go on daily being filled with the Spirit for the impartation of the life of Christ and reproduction of the ministry of Christ. When this is a reality in the discipler’s life, he can like Paul call his disciple to follow or imitate me as I imitate Christ.

We must teach our disciples about the Holy Spirit’s person, presence, power, gifts, and guidance. We must teach and model for them how to walk in the Spirit, worship in the Spirit, work in the gifts of the Spirit, and witness and war in the power  and provision of the Holy Spirit.

“How else could they ever fulfill the commission for their Lord with joy and inward peace? They needed an expression of Christ so real that their lives would be filled with His Presence. Evangelism had to be a burning compulsion within them purifying their desires and guiding their thoughts. Nothing less than a personal baptism of the Holy Spirit would suffice. The super-human work to which they were called demanded supernatural help-an enduement of power from on High.” The Master Plan of Evangelism, p.69.

5. Exhibiting a Leadership Style that They will Want to Follow
a. Demonstration for Instruction
— (John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”)

“An example” is the Greek word, hupodeigma.” The term means, “to show under the eyes as an illustration or warning.”

In 2 Peter 2:21, Simon Peter, wrote, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.” The word he used for Christ as our “example” “hupogrammos”, which literally means to “write underneath.” It refers to an outline which is traced from one sheet of paper to another. Today, we would call the completed drawing a “carbon copy.” It is also used as the model of handwriting to be copied by the schoolboy. It is used figuratively of a model of conduct for someone’s imitation.

In other words, you as a discipler must practice what you preach. You will never build a Jesus standard disciple by saying, “Just do as I say not as I do.”

The Christian’s life is to be a copy — albeit imperfect — of Christ. We are to be being transformed by the Word, then translate this into being a disciple of Christ and then transfer or transmit it to others, others, and others as DMD’s with TWI!

The ProcessPersonal Life Transformation – Public Living Translation – Parenting Lifestyle Transmission!

The disciples had a teacher who prac­ticed with them what he expected them to learn. Being with Jesus was OJT and meant that class was always in session – teaching them, training them by personal demonstration of how to do it, and transforming them so that they like good apprentices good repeat the process! People are looking for a demonstration, not just an explanation.

When it came to having a humble servant spirit that was willing to do the little and the lowly, Jesus did not first lecture them, but got down and washed their dirty feet. After which he said, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Prayer was not just taught as a part of the discipling curriculum, but demonstrated over and over again in all night prayer meetings led by Jesus. Ministering to the sick and delivering those in demonic bondage, was demonstrated in practical experiences before it was explained in technical terms. Evangelism was lived before them in spirit and in technique. Watching him, they learned what it was all about. He led them to recognize the need inherent in all classes of people, and the best methods of approaching them. It wasn’t outlined on the blackboard of a stuffy classroom nor written up in a “do it yourself” manual. His method was so real and practical that it just came naturally.

The process of generational transfer involves an apprenticeship in which the journeyman tells the learner what, tells them why, shows them how, does it with them, lets them do it, and then deploys them for world impact.

6. Finding Seekers by Going with Them into the Harvest Fields

    a. Delegation for Job Description Penetration — Luke 10:1, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.”

Jesus was always building into the lives of his disciples so that when the time came for him to go back to the Father, the disciples could take over his work and go out into the world with the redeeming gospel to make disciples of all nations. This plan was initially stated when Jesus called his disciples unto himself as he declared, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt 4:19). Patiently he made it progressively clearer as they followed him what this gigantic job assignment really entailed.

When he tells the disciples in Luke 10 to pray for workers, where do you think they were expecting these leaders to come from? Seminary or Bible colleges? Of course not. Other churches? None existed. The passage is about farming leaders, not robbing other ministries of them. No, there is no other solution than that the leaders for the harvest must come from the harvest itself. We must farm our leaders, not recruit them. The new disciples are the new workers, and the seed of the next generation is found in the fruit of the current one. This is farming, and it is the way God created the world to work. Farming, or harvesting, leaders is a long-term solution. Recruitment is a short answer to a long problem.

The patience with which Jesus brought this out to his dis­ciples reflects on his wisdom in not telling them too much too soon to overwhelm them with the apparent impossibility from a human perspective of taking on the whole world. He was never impulsive in his insistence on action. The first invitation to the disciples to follow him said nothing about going out and evangelizing the world, although this was his plan from the beginning. His method was to get the disciples into a vital experience with God, and to show them how he worked, before telling them they had to do it.

Someone suggested that Jesus’ whole process could be summed up by using an acronym made up from our English word: MAWL

M- model and your disciples watch as you employ the discipling process.

A – allow them to assist you in the process of building disciples.

W – watch and assist them as they employ the process to build disciples.

L – leave them to do what you imparted to them and you look for others and others, etc.

Jesus was training men to do a strategic assignment and when they knew enough to get started, he saw to it that they did something about it. The application of this principle is so pronounced that it needs to be considered as another part of his strategy of conquest through trained and spiritually alert men.

As Jesus was beginning his third general tour of Galilee (Mark 6:6; Matt. 9:35), he knew that the time had come when his disciples were ready for him to delegate responsibility for penetrating the darkness with gospel light. So he delegated them to put into practice what they had seen their Master do. So “he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth” (Mark 6:7; see Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:1-2). Like a mother eagle teaching her young to fly by pushing them out of the nest, Jesus pushed his disciples out into the world to try their own wings.

Just as he had sent the twelve out a few months before, he now sends out, “seventy others”, two by two to witness for their Lord (Luke 10:1). This group of disciples probably included the Twelve. The size of the group also indicates that this was due in measure to the increased activity of the Twelve in witnessing for Christ.

Jesus sent them out in pairs. In this action Jesus demonstrated that the Kingdom work is to be experienced in companionship. It is the work of friends. Together with the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can face anything.

All the resources for the harvest are found in the harvest. We do not need to feel impoverished or desperate. We simply need to do what Jesus instructed us to do. It can be scary, but the risk we take is the place for faith, and with faith we will see the fruit we need.

7. Guiding Them to Become Men who are Faithful and Fruitful

     a. Supervision for Observation, Confirmation, Correction and Continuation — (Mark 8:17, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them (his disciples), “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?”)(other references — Luke 10:17, 21; Luke 9:41)

Supervision is a process where a disciple is held accountable or respon­sible for those things entrusted to them. Accountability is a part of our daily lives. Why? Because practice does not make perfect only permanent!

In God’s Family in general and in discipling relationships in particular, accountability is mutual. Being accountable to someone does not mean that we are to submit to such an extent that they become the vehicle of God’s will over our lives?

Paul writes in 2 Cors 1:24, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.”

Jesus did not hesitate to confront his disciples in love for the purpose of correcting them so that the process of turning them into reproducing disciples would not miscarry. His supervision involved confirmation when they got it right, correction when they missed it for the purpose of continuation of the process.

Jesus’ format for making disciples that assured the ongoing success of the process involved: Instruction, impartation, demonstration, delegation, and then supervision. He kept check on them. In this process he used constant repetition, application, and correction. He built such confidence and security into his disciples so that they understood that correction as not rejection! Listen to the words of David in Psalm 141:5, “Let a righteous man strike me–it is a kindness; let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it…” He welcomes correction as a sign of affection, not rejection!

The gospel accounts are filled with illustrations on how Jesus checked up on the actions and reactions of his disciples as they faced various difficult situations. He kept after them constantly, giving them increasingly more attention as his ministry on earth came to a close. He would not let them rest in success or in failure. No matter what they did, there was always more to do and to learn. He rejoiced in their success, but nothing less than world conquest was his goal, and to that end he always superintended their efforts.

8. Helping Them to Become Reproducing Multipliers of Fruit

     a. Reproduction for Multiplication or Generational Transfer –John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

He expected them to mature from a childhood consumerism to sons that are producers, and on to become fathers that are reproducers.

The decisive test for those Jesus had discipled would be whether they would carry on his work after he had gone. Could they do as good a job without his physical presence and daily supervision as they could with it? Until this point was reached in their Christian nurture, Jesus from a purely human point of view could never be sure that his investment in their lives would pay off for the Kingdom. If the disciples failed to impart his Spirit and method to others who would keep this work going, then his ministry with them all these years would soon come to naught.

Here are some questions all disciples of Jesus should ask: “Will I still live when I die? Will there be sons and daughters in the faith who will say what I have said and do what I have done? Will I have a legacy when I’m gone?”

One of the most deflating moments for the United States in the his­tory of the Olympic Games occurred in 1988 in Seoul, Korea. The American 4 x 100-relay team was poised to break the world record and assume its position as the best in the world. It had peerless ath­letes. There was no thought that this team could lose. The only question was whether they would crack the world record. Yet as the final leg of the race approached, the unthinkable happened. The Americans dropped the baton. The handoff was not completed. In an instant, the race was over. The crowd, electrified moments ear­lier, was left in stunned silence. The American team had arrogantly relied on their inherent speed and failed to practice sufficiently the handoff that was so crucial for the completion of the race.

“Every Christian must see themselves as the link to the next generation,” writes William Barclay. We need to practice the hand-off. When all else fails, read the directions. It is not that Jesus’ way has been tried and found wanting; it has been largely talked about but not implemented. Return to small, reproducible, long-term re­lationships as the means of transmission of the gospel from one generation to the next.

Legacies are not about leaving large sums of money to our children or being immortalized by getting our names etched on a building. When we get to the shore’s edge and know that there is a boat there waiting to take us to the other side to be with Jesus, all that will truly matter is the investments we have made in others who are self initiat­ing, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Jesus because we made it the priority of our lives to walk with them toward maturity and generational transfer in Christ. There is no better eternal investment or legacy to leave behind.

So let’s rehearse Jesus’ eight procedural activities for building DMD’s with TWI:

SACIDD.SR

Selection

Association

Concentration

Impartation

Demonstration

Delegation

Supervision

Reproduction

The process of generational transfer requires following the eight fold method Jesus’ Strategy. Anything short of this will produce a lot of spiritual consumers and many spiritual producers, but few spiritual reproducers who pass on the heart of the Father through the birthing and discipling of many sons, so that the Lamb of God has the reward of His sufferings.

 

The Vocabulary of Disciple-making

March 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Discipleship

Having considered the vocation of every Christian to make disciples, we will now consider the vocabulary of disciple-making.

Our English words vocal, vocation and vocabulary have the same Latin root. The word in Latin is “vocare.” Every Christian is intended to see himself functioning in a vocation or calling (Ephesians 4:1, “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,), with a clear biblical understanding of the vocabulary that they are to give vocal expression to.

Here’s a basic principle of life in general and disciple-making in particular: If we misname it we will mismanage it. If we misname a disease, we will mistreat it. If we misname a tool, we will misuse it. Finding a person or things true identity is the key to fulfilling its (or their) destiny.

Someone well said, “He who defines wins.” Cultures are subverted and transformed for better or for worse beginning with vocabulary. As Christians we should believe that Christ must be Lord of our language. For this reason we must strive to be clear and concise in the terminology that we embrace. Whoever defines terminology in debated issues can gain the attention and support of those ignorant of what the terms really mean and thus influence the outcome of things. We are seeing this manifested today in a redefining of moral terms like never in our history.

For example, in America before the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortions legal, the person in the mother’s womb was called an unborn child. the expectant woman was said to be “with child.” In order to aid the legalization of abortion, there was a change in vocabulary and the expectant woman was carrying a “fetus,” or a “product of conception,” or a “mass of tissue.” Another example that illustrates the defining of a person or their identity by a change in vocabulary meaning is the LBGT movement. Today when the average person hears the word “gay,” they most likely think of homosexuals. When I was growing up “gay” was a term for being “happy” or “joyous.” It now is used to define a practice and lifestyle that scripture nowhere defines as joyful.

When it comes to the Master’s Mandate or Great Commission, we must be crystal clear on all the texts, terms, and teachings of Scripture in regards to turning men into disciples because if we misunderstand the definitions, we will mistake our job description and will make disciples inferior to Jesus’ Standard.

When we hear Jesus’ command to make disciples, what questions should we ask? Basically three:

(1) What is a disciple?

(2) What does it mean to make disciples?

(3) How do I do it?

 Failure to ask and seek Jesus’ meaning of what a “disciple” is and what it means to make disciples will result in the church continuing to ignorantly follow Satan’s substitute instead of obeying the Savior’s strategy.

In order to understand the concept fully, we need to explore a family of related words, some of which are actually used in the Bible, and some of which are “coined” from the Biblical words and their use.

Defining the Key Terms of Disciple-making

A. Disciple — The Picture of the Person We are to Be and to Build

The meaning of the NT term disciple is quite diverse. It is used of those who obviously had never believed in Christ, of believers with limited commitment, and of believers with the fullest commitment.

The term, “disciple,” has been so misnamed and reduced in the typical church that it includes everything from just a convert,  to a socializing group of believers having a Bible study, or a service in the church called “Discipleship training,” to a “deeply committed believer.”

I was in Malawi, South Africa a few years ago teaching disciple-making strategy to church leaders when I came across an article in World magazine entitled, “Words and Deeds”, by Van Kornegay. He quoted church leaders as saying that Africa’s greatest need is discipleship. “The church has done a good job of evangelizing but a poor job of discipling. Christianity here is a mile wide and an inch deep.” Most of the pastors throughout Africa have no formal Bible training and have no access to a library, and only a few books. Many do not even own a full Bible. Operation World reports that 100 million Christians in Africa do not even possess a copy of the Bible!

“Disciples are both the people who please the Lord and the people who will reach the world.  Therefore, a clear identification of a disciple is imperative.  Understanding what a disciple is and what a disciple does are top priorities for the church.  The irony of the church is that we throw the word “disciple” around freely, but too often with no definition.  Such a condition is like a shoe company trying to produce a product without specifications.  The product coming off the end of the assembly line would be interesting.” (Bill Hull; The Disciple Making Pastor, 54).

Without a clear picture of our objective we will spin our wheels, use up our time and energy, and still not make any disciples.

The word “disciple” in all its variations is used 269 times in the first five books of the New Testament.

Pastor Tony Evans states that, “The concept of discipleship is neither new nor exclusively Christian. Examples of disciples and disciplers are plentiful, both in modern and ancient societies.

To the Greeks, the process of discipleship afforded an effective way to pass on popular ideologies. The great philosopher, Aristotle, was a ”disciple” of Plato. Simply put, Aristotle was Plato’s apprentice. Through close association, Aristotle became steeped in Plato’s thoughts, feelings, reactions and convictions. Aristotle went on to disseminate that body of information throughout the Greek world. The discipleship process continued.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can find a modern-day parallel of discipleship taking place on city street corners. You see, the local drug pusher is a discipler. He’s looking for moldable young people whom he can train not only to become addicted, but to become his distributors, thus increasing his ”client base” and his wealth. Tragically, this variation on the discipling process is extremely effective.

In the New Testament, the word is employed in several general ways, then in an increasingly narrow way. It is used, first, to describe:

 1. A Curious Lister — Basically everyone who comes to Christ begins at this point as a curious or interested listener. All of those who came to hear Jesus at the beginning of His ministry are called “disciples.” A classic example of this is found in John 6:60, 66: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 6:66 , “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

The curious listener should move to the place where they become:

2. A Convinced Listener — This type of disciple is the person who consents that what they are hearing is true, although it may not radically change their life or lifestyle. The twelve disciples of Jesus were at this level for most of the time Jesus was with them during His public ministry. Only after His ascension to Heaven and the sending back of the Holy Spirit did they move beyond this level.

Friends, the church of the NT as well as the church of today is full of people who meet these two descriptions — curious listeners who have become convinced that Jesus was who He claimed to be and did what He said he came to do. We see these types of disciples in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 and in Hebrews 5:11-12. Tragically, this comprises the vast majority of those who fill our churches Sunday after Sunday. In all fairness, they are not all together to blame for their unfruitful state because the “institutional church system” that is most typically in operation today is designed to produce just such types of disciples.

3. A Committed Lifelong, Lover, Listener, Learner and Follower — This last use is the one Jesus intended in the Great Commission, and it constitutes our marching orders. We are to go everywhere and “turn men into committed, lifelong lovers, learners and followers of Jesus Christ.

This meaning is inherent in the word “disciple.” A “mathete” or disciple is an adherent (one who adheres or sticks, like adhesive tape, to another). A disciple is an apprentice, a person in training.

Tertullian, one of the leaders of the early church, called Christians “pupils in God’s school.” A disciple is first born, then built.  He is born by the Spirit of God with the right factory-installed equipment.  But, then he must be built, trained, taught, and led to a reproductive, multiplicative commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.

The verb form of the Greek word translated “make disciples” in the Great Commission is the word “matheteusate.” The noun “mathetes” or disciple, according to one famous Greek dictionary, “always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the entire life of the one described.” In other words, there is of necessity a personal, life-on-life relationship involved between the discipler and his disciples.

Thus discipleship is not simply a matter of how much you know and how well you can teach what you know. It is vitally concerned with how well you learn to obey what has been taught and modeled for you. And if the mechanism of discipleship does not move us from personal information to practical application, the process has failed.

Consider the medical surgeon. He spends years in school classroom learning about all the parts of the body and how they work. He learns what to cut, when to cut it, and how to put it back together after cutting it. But if a medical student proposes to perform surgery on you or a loved one, some further discussion is definitely in order. Regardless of his grades, he’s not ready to be turned loose on live people who want to stay that way. He needs hands-on, supervised training from another who has successful demonstrated their ability to reproduce the process. That’s the purpose for a lengthy internship. It’s the seasoning that turns raw information into professional expertise.

Discipleship is a spiritual relationship and internship. Specifically defined, it is “the process of spiritual development which takes a non-disciple and brings them saving faith in Christ. Then within a personal environment of a loving relationship, with teaching, training and accountability, the disciple progressively moves from spiritual infancy to spiritual fatherhood, ultimately repeating the process with others, others, others, ideally to at least a fourth generation.”

A disciple is a person involved in the process where they are equipped to align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the redemptive mission of Jesus. They are to be built to understand that they are a missionary everywhere they are! They are to be taught to view every believer as having been called and sent by Jesus as Christian missionaries with the Good News of Salvation together in community with other believers to their specific geographic and cultural context.

This is the type of disciple Jesus wants each of us to be and to build!

Contrast our churches and their strategy today, in which the procedure is something like blowing up a mountain of granite and expecting to get a number of polished statues.  The late pastor and discipler-maker Sam Shoemaker said: “Our churches should be stripped down to miniature organization and thus afford pastors and laymen the opportunity to learn the great spiritual art of winning and training others. It seems an almost universal experience that unless one puts this kind of work first in his life, it will be crowded out entirely. Our minds, our emotions, the hours of our days, should be filled with a special group of individuals at all times – individuals we seek to win, individuals we seek to train in taking responsibility, individuals to whom we look ourselves for spiritual fellowship and help.” This lifestyle was, of course, originally modeled by Jesus, and it should be mastered by us, also.

B. Discipler — The Person Who Makes Disciples

A discipler is merely a maturing disciple, for one surely cannot be a disciple of Jesus while ignoring the only marching orders Jesus gave to His church. In short, it would seem to be impossible to be a disciple without being a discipler. A discipler is a co-learner who recruits and leads others as they are learning together. The level of maturity needed to make disciples is only that of an half-step advantage. In other words, this process doesn’t take years of maturing, studying, training, and acquiring theological degrees.

Here is a basic truth of disciple-making — One must be a disciple in order to make disciples!

Jesus made disciples, so what does that mean? It means He was discipled! Who was His discipler? His Father in Heaven — Isaiah 50:4, NASB, “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back .”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father’s Prototype — His Pattern Son. He is the representation of everything the Father intends for us to be. Father’s blueprint, as constructed in His Son, is simple — He wants us to be Reproductions of His Son and then we will be Re-presenters of the Father who then Reproduce other spiritual sons. Jesus said in John 5:17, But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” John 5:19, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

Again in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

Good equippers approach disciple-making like Jesus did. How did He do it: He recruited hundreds, developed seventy, choose twelve, graduated eleven and focused on three.

What does it mean to turn men into disciples?

It means seeing them come to new birth into Father’s family with the goal of being like His Pattern Son in both inner essence of character and outward expression of conduct. And the clearest indicator is to make disciples like Jesus did. The greatest thing Jesus ever did, apart from His work on the cross was to make disciples. (The proof — note the same root word found in these two passages. John 17:4,I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished (teleio?sas)) the work which You have given Me to do. What was this work? The Work of Reproduction. We read in John 19:30, “ He said, “It is finished (tetelestai)!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.What was this work? The Work of Redemption.

One is never more Christ-like than when they are making Jesus Standard disciples.

This involves seeing your disciple Entering into the new birth of spiritual Childhood as a Consumer; helping them by Growing into Sonship from a Consumer to a Producer,  and then helping them as they are Maturing into Fatherhood to become a Reproducer. A Jesus Standard discipler will become a generational, world-visionary, world-impacting, multiplying, Reproducer!

A disciple is identified by the imitation of the one who he followed. The problem is that our nation looks down on imitation, because it is a threat to independence. The reality, however, is that you cannot have discipleship without imitation. Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”

C. Discipling — The Process of Building Men into Disciples

Discipling is one born again person with God’s own vision, imparting his whole life and learning to another person, by relationship, example, by leadership, and by teaching and training. This cannot be done in a classroom or in a church building in large numbers. It requires close-up, life-on-life, healthy relationships that model the message and methods and not just mouth them by teaching biblical facts.

Pastor Jeff Vanderstelt defines discipling as, “Leading people to increasingly commit all of life to the empowering presence of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This requires involvement and investment in life, in community, and on mission — together.”

Discipling is done by someone, not by something. It is done by persons, not by programs; by believers and not by books; by individuals, not by institutions; by Christians and not by churches or committees. Technically, discipling is one Christian person imparting his whole life and learning to another. It always involves life as well as learning transference.

There is a great deal of difference between preaching sermons, teaching bible studies and building disciples. Most church work, worship services, and educational and promotional efforts, results in the occasional reaching of pre-Christians and some spiritual growth of Christians, but very little discipling of believers by Jesus’ Standard.

The current process employed by most of our churches gets the sinner saved and trains them to serve in the church, meaning within the four walls of a building where they support the “full-time ministers” who do the work of the ministry. Herb Hodges calls this “putting them in a spiritual safety deposit box from which they emerge as a tamed and decent human being.” Discipling of saints, on the other hand, involves the qualitative construction of a saved individual so that individual will change the world by continuing the process.

The difference may be seen in this illustration that compares preaching, teaching and disciple-making. Suppose you have a person standing behind a line, holding a water hose in his hand. Twenty feet beyond the line, there are 100 small-mouth jars. The goal is to get as much water as possible in the jars.  Preaching is like turning on the water and spraying it from behind the line, hoping that some of the water enters the jars. However, the efficiency of such a technique is fairly predictable: not much water will get into the jars. Disciple-making, by comparison, is like taking the water hose to each jar and staying in close-up connection until the jar is full. There is little question where the greater efficiency lies.

So, we should use the preaching and teaching with larger audiences to filter and find potential disciples that we can invest in their life in an hands on, life-on-life way for multiplication of the process.

Without a constant standard of discipling-making, we dispense the truth in a mass way and count the people coming to a building, although we may be producing very few people who really count for the kingdom.  Discipling in a style like that of Jesus will correct that problem. When the disciples heard Jesus say that they were to “turn men into disciples,” they had to interpret that to mean that they were to make out of others what Jesus had made out of them. Discipling includes the entire disciple-making process, from conversion to trained disciple-maker. This is the very heart of what Christ expects of His church.

Personal, intimate, long-term association for the purpose of impartation of life as well as learning. Discipling is better caught than taught. What you’ve got is what they get. The principle of co-partnering relationships is an indispensable part in obeying the King’s Great Commission Mandate.

  1. The Training Strategy takes a Discipler who Instructs His Disciples“I will teach you the truth and the method”
  2. The Training Strategy takes a Discipler who Illustrates for His Disciples – “I will show you how to apply the truth and the method.”
  3. The Training Strategy takes a Discipler who Involves Himself with His Disciples“We will do it together”
  4. The Training Strategy takes a Discipler who Improves His Disciples – “I will coach, correct, and confirm you”
  5. The Training Strategy takes a Discipler who Inspires His Disciples“I will encourage you to greater fruitfulness”

Although disciple-making cannot be reduced to a formula that one can force others into to produce perfect disciples, yet there are several basic elements that define the process:

Relational Association (Love) + Life-impartation (Life) + Truth Deposition (Learning) = Character Transformation. Character Transformation + Jesus’ Clearly Defined Instructions = Discipleship Reproduction!

D. Discipline — The Price that Must Be Paid to Be and Build Disciples

Disciplines are the areas of life that reveal the cost of discipleship.

What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “discipline”? For me, “PAIN!”

Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Island Mission and one of the greatest visionary missionary-statesmen who has ever lived, wrote:  “A man may be consecrated, dedicated and devoted, but of little value if undisciplined.”

The term “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplinare,” which means “to teach.” Many people, however, myself included, associate the word with punishment, which falls short of the full meaning of the word. Discipline, properly practiced, uses a multifaceted approach, including models, rewards, and punishments that teach and reinforce desired behavior. Through discipline, children are able to learn self-control, self-direction, competence, and a sense of caring.

Disciplines are the enduring of short-term pain for long-term gain. As in life, so in discipleship training this axiom is true: NO PAIN, NO GAIN! Hebrews 12:11, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regrets!

Finish this familiar saying: Practice makes ________! Not true, Practice makes permanent! Proper practice makes perfect. But if you are doing something wrong, all the practice will not change the product. Insanity has been defined as “doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results.”

Discipline involves consistent training that properly directs, loving corrects, carefully protects and fruitfully perfects the disciples!

Discipline brings order to disorder, depth to breadth, and fruit to growth.

How serious is Christ’s mandate? How extensive and serious is the Church’s failure to obey the one command of the Commission? Is there real evidence of such failure?  I believe the evidence is prevailing and pervasive.

The apparent goal of Jesus was to produce “disciples” who would become “disciplers,” engaged in a lifetime vocation of “discipling” others and practicing the daily “disciplines” which are necessary to fulfill that purpose.

E. Multiplication — The Product of Building Disciples

The New Testament adds another crucial dimension to our vocation. We are to be engaged in discipleship THAT PRODUCES A MINISTRY OF MULTIPLICATION. It was clearly Christ’s intent that each disciple be engaged in a multiplying ministry. What is multiplication? Multiplication is when disciplers start producing other visionary, world-impacting disciplers. You see, God’s plan is to reach the world exactly the same way it was populated – by multiplication. In Genesis 9:1, God said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”  Someone said this was the first order ever given to man, and the only one he has obeyed. Jesus’ evangelistic mandate is essentially the same as God’s biological mandate.

Why do men fail to multiply biologically?

(1) Isolation — Some never marry, or there is no union of the sexes; and, thus, multiplication does not occur. The same deficiencies account for the Christian’s failure to multiply spiritually. When there is no union between a Christian and our Lord Jesus on a consistent basis, there will be little or no spiritual multiplication.

(2) Iniquity — Some suffer from disease or impairment to some vital reproductive part of the body.The presence of sin in a believer’s life will also impede the process of multiplication.

(3) Immaturity — Some don’t multiply because of immaturity. You simply don’t know any three-year-old fathers! Why? All the reproductive organs are present. But they are not sufficiently developed to allow reproduction. Thank God, babies don’t reproduce. Likewise, the stalemating of a Christian in spiritual babyhood will prevent multiplication. Paul said, “I wrote unto you as unto babes in Christ.” And the baby Christians in Corinth missed the world-impacting standard of spiritual multiplication.

Spiritual multiplication is God’s planned vision for reaching our present world and all future generations through those we win and train now. The strategy of Jesus’ ministry was evident:  He looked at the masses through the man; then He built the man to impact the masses.  He ministered to everyone before Him – but He only recruited for His Kingdom’s sake.  How we have distorted these standards in building institutions instead of individuals.  Jesus loved each individual, to be sure, but He always looked beyond His disciples to the men they would reach and train (see John 17:20).

In Acts 2:41, 47 and Acts 5:14, the word “added” defines God’s mathematical strategy at the very beginning of church history.  However, in Acts 6:1, we read that “the number of the disciples was multiplied greatly,” and in Acts 6:7, “the number of the disciples was multiplied greatly so that a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”   Then, by Acts 9:31, we read that “the churches…were multiplied.”  Apparently, the church never returned to mere additions unless it went out on the frontier and had to begin all over again, and even then it quickly moved back to multiplication.

When older persons meet acquaintances they haven’t seen in years, several key questions are usually asked: “Are you still married?” “How many children or grandchildren do you have?”

When we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we may well hear these same questions: Do you have any children (and if not, why not)?  How many children?  Then the real test of our participation in Jesus’ Plan begins:  How many generations of spiritual children do you have? That is persons who are Christians because of the way you built your own spiritual children? It will not be satisfying to know that we ministered to vast numbers and a few became producers. It will only be satisfying if we have spent our lives seeking to make out of our disciples what Jesus made out of His.

It is never too late to begin doing what is right — what we have been commanded to do.  If we keep doing what we have been doing, we will get more of the same. Anyone can “go back to Square One” and begin the multiplication process.  However, most of us would need to give ourselves immediately to a vocation of studying the life and ministry of Jesus, asking, “How did He do it with His men?” and studying also the great works on the disciple-making, multiplying process.

In closing, I quote my discipler Herb Hodges as he writes: “I can envision a growing army of world-visionary, world-impacting, reproducing multipliers whose entire history is a commitment to Jesus’ Commission to “turn men into disciples.” May God recruit and deploy that army before our very eyes.”

Discipleship

June 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Discipleship

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Sermons (25)

Make Sure You Understand the Assignment!!!
Matthew 13:51-53 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 10, 2013 (Special event).
The Heart and Soul of Disciple-making!
2 Timothy 2:1 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 10, 2013 (Special event).
Jesus' Standard for a Disciple
Luke 9:57-62 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2013 (Special event).
Caught in the "Acts" of Making Kingdom Disciples
Acts 1:1-8 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2013 (Special event).
Looking At Ourselves and for Potential Disciples the Way Jesus Did!
John 1:40-42 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2013 (Special event).
Basic Disciplines of Discipleship
Mark 4:21 - 2 Timothy 2:2 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Microsoft Word
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2013 (Special event).
SEVEN BASIC RULES FOR MAKING DISCIPLES!
James 1:5 - Acts 1:8 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Microsoft Word
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2013 (Special event).
Final Words for Fruitful Work
Matthew 28:19-20 - Acts 1:8 (Part of the Disciple-making series).
Microsoft Word
Preached by Wade Trimmer on June 9, 2012 (Special event).
Longterm, Redemptive Lifestyles
(Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on May 13, 2012 (N/A).
Leading Roles Required for Disciple-making
(Part of the Disciple-making series).
Adobe Acrobat
Preached by Wade Trimmer on May 13, 2012 (N/A).

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