of the Gospel
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (ESV)
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As Christians, the most important action we can take is to obey the "Great Commission." Most people think of the Great Commission as spreading the gospel by bringing Christ to people and hence to bring people to Christ. Most Christians are familiar with the Matthew version.
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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
But guess what? The Great Commission says to "make disciples." All Christians are called to be disciples and to make disciples.
Some believe that that being a Christian and being a disciple are two different things. There is “ordinary” Christianity for the typical Christian, and then there is a higher, more challenging version known as being a disciple. John MacArthur puts it this way: “In the past hundred years or so, it has become popular to speak of discipleship as a higher level of Christian experience. In the new terminology, a person becomes a believer at salvation; he becomes a disciple later, when he moves past faith to obedience. Such a view conveniently relegates the difficult demands of Jesus to a post-salvation experience.” I do not believe that Christians are divided into the varsity (disciples) and junior varsity (“ordinary Christians”). I believe that all Christians are on the same team and we are all called to begin a journey of discipleship once we are saved. MacArthur concurs: “Every believer is a disciple and vice versa. A careful reading of Acts shows that the word disciple has been a synonym for Christian from the earliest days of the church (cf. 6:1-2, 7; 11:26; 14:20, 22; 15:10).”
So how do we define disciple?
Merriam-Webster: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. Not a bad definition if we substitute "Jesus Christ" for "another."
Billy Graham liked to keep things simple: A disciple is simply someone who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow Him in his or her daily life.
Our own Pastor Bob elaborates: A disciple is a lifelong, loving, devoted, disciplined Christian who is a follower, learner and servant of Jesus Christ, bearing fruit that remains.
I put together the following definition for Pastor Bob’s class: a disciple is one who sincerely loves, trusts and follows Jesus Christ by learning his ways, applying those ways to one’s own life, and assisting others to do the same.
And indirectly from today's (02/14/2021) sermon: to be a disciple is to be an active participant in the process of sanctification. Of course, one needs to know what sanctification means: to become more like Jesus Christ.
If Jesus calls us to "make disciples of all nations," why are doing so poorly right here in the USA? We are still a "Christian nation," but the portion of the population identifying as Christian is declining and among self-identified Christians, many rarely attend church. How can this be? The shocking answer: among Christians identifying as evangelical, over 90% have never presented the gospel to anyone in their entire lives! Sure "evangelicals" should be evangelizing. And if you need some assistance in evangelism, here are some resources: Evangelism.
But maybe we are getting the cart before the horse. Can you present the gospel message to someone else if you don't know it yourself? Can you discuss biblical truth if you don't know much about the Bible? Consider the following article: Our Evangelical Forebears’ Two Big Mistakes. What are those two mistakes?
First, they overestimated the depths of the Christian influence on American culture. Rather than focusing on influencing culture - something that was assumed - we have let culture influence us.
The second mistake was a superficial understanding of the Lordship of Christ. Christian truth does not exist in a sealed chamber called “religion.” It is true truth about the world because God is the Creator of the world. Therefore, Christ is Lord not just of my religion but of my life. No distinction can be made between “sacred” and “secular.”
What do we need to do to correct these "errors?" From the article: Our failure to practice the Great Commission (to make disciples rather than merely converts) meant that the foundations of Christian culture were being undermined even while it looked like we were being successful in reaching people with the Gospel. Too many of our “converts” were not truly born again, and hardly any were being taught the Christian worldview, much less sound doctrine.
We need to make disciples, not merely converts. But discipleship begins with us, personally. We can hardly expect to do a good job discipling others if we are making no effort to become better disciples ourselves! And while it is helpful to have someone to disciple us, don't use the lack of such a person as an excuse to not to get started. There is so much we can do on our own!
Fear not! There are plenty of resources and tools that can help you.
The following links are to discipleship resources on this website. Many of these link to additional resources at other websites. Indentation indicates that that the page is also accessible via a link from the parent page above the indent. All the discipleship pages on this website are accessible from the directory below. If you get lost, you can return to this page via the link (Return to main discipleship page / index) at the top of each page.
Navigators 2:7 Series - This is a great three "semester" course on discipleship from the Navigators. It is listed first because the course covers all of the topics listed below. However, it does require a significant commitment of time. For those just getting started, it may be best to begin a little slower! Follow the link to find out more.
Quiet Time - Most Christians will agree that spending time in Scripture and in prayer is important. Easier said than done. But is it really all that difficult? Getting started is the key.
Prayer - No Quiet Time would be complete without prayer, but we certainly do not have to restrict our prayer life to our Quiet Time. There is no "right" way to pray, though we may find it helpful to use a template or acronym as a guide.
Prayer Verses - The Bible has a lot to say about prayer! Here is a small selection of prayer verses.
Devotions - For many, daily devotions are a great way to get in the habit of daily Quiet Time. Devotions - with a devotional - provide for both prayer and Scripture, usually in a structured format. Of course, you will need a
Bible Reading Plans - We all intend to read the Bible "one of these days." Why not start now with a daily reading plan? You don't have to start with the entire Bible, but if you've developed the habit of daily Quiet Time, why not add a reading plan to your QT. And if you haven't begun daily QT, committing to a reading plan might be what it takes to get started!
Journaling - Ever had a great insight or thought, only to have forgotten it moments later? Maybe you don't yet have "senior moments." But even if you don't, why not start keeping a journal as part of your QT?
Scripture Memorization - Most Christians will agree that memorizing Scripture is a good thing, but not many do it. It is not as difficult as you imagine and there are lots of resources available to help you get started - and to keep going!
Navigators 2:7 Series - You don't have to take the course to get a benefit. Scripture memorization is a big part of the course and many Scripture memory (flash) cards are available at the link!
TMS: Topical Memory System - More good stuff from the Navigators.
Evangelism Verses - It is always handy to be prepared to evangelize by having some appropriate verses committed to memory. Here is a handy downloadable collection of 10 verses targeted to evangelism and the gospel message.