Discipleship – The Command

Jesus commanded and modeled discipleship for the early believers. Paul continued with the practice of discipleship in the early church. Today’s church is to follow the commandment of Jesus and the model’s of Jesus, Paul, and the early church.

Matthew 28:18-20 provides the key passage for Jesus commandment for the believer to make disciples. The command in this passage is to make disciples.

Prior to the commandment this passage gives believers the basis for confidence that this commandment can be fulfilled. Matthew 28:18 provides Christians amazing assurance and power to make disciples. The fact that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to Christ assures Christians that no one has the authority to overrule the commandment. Believers are empowered by the sheer amazement at the authority and control which Christ has in heaven and earth.

It is the authority of Christ by which he clearly commands every believer to make disciples. The term used for make disciples is that of making followers or learners. Disciple making is not a forcing but encouraging people to be disciples. Christ did not leave believers with simply the command to make disciples but gave three specific means by which Christians are to make disciples.

The first means of making a disciple is to go found in Matthew 28:19. Normally when you hear this it comes with a commandment or admonition to leave and go to other places or countries. Instead the actual verb could be better translated into “As you go”. The believer is to make disciples as they live their lives. Disciple making is done through bringing people along as you are living your life. Christians discipling is a very personal and life on life experience.

The second means of making a disciple is to baptize them. This indicates the close relationship between disciple making and evangelism. Baptizing the disciple is akin to making sure that they are actually identifying with Christ. Salvation of the believer is normally followed by baptism which is a public identification with Christ, Acts 8:36-38.

The third means of making a disciple involves teaching in combination with an admonition to actually practice what is taught. Disciple making involves teaching all of God’s commandments and that means that no part of the scriptures are off limits. The great part of the disciple making is that there is never a lack of what should be covered. The content of what is to be taught is already present and should already be practiced in their life already.

In conclusion Christians are commanded to be disciple makers. The disciple maker is supposed to be done in the course of everyday life, baptizing new believers, and teaching them to observe all that God has commanded them. Remember also that each believer is encouraged to keep the commandments by Christ’s authority which is complete in both the heavens and the earth.

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Harvest Tellico – 1st Baptism

Harvest Tellico enjoyed it’s first baptism on Saturday at Tellico Lake.

It was awesome to see Cheryl get baptized. It was so encouraging to hear that the LORD changed her life. The testimony of a transformed life is always so amazing.

I wish that I had been able to get a picture of the joy which was on Cheryl’s face as she came out of the water. However, I believe that the excitement is readily apparent on both of their faces as they come to shore.

Meeting Places

Everyone has their own meeting place where they prefer to get together with others. Starbucks actually seeks to be your third place, where they strive to be the third place people go consistently besides their home and work. I have experienced many different meeting places where I have enjoyed the presence of friends, family and random strangers.

What got me thinking about this was I saw a Tim Hawkins “Insanitized” comedy show where he played the Chick-fil-A song. (Check out the song at this page. http://www.timhawkins.net/video.php) As I heard this song I immediately began to think of my friends at Grace Bible Church (http://www.gcbcob.org) in Clute, TX.

Well back to meeting places. In Clute the obvious meeting place was Chick-fil-A. There were some great meetings with Clint, Alex and Bryan. I miss and enjoyed my time with those guys at Chick-fil-A.

Coming back to Temecula, CA there were two places which stood out as common meeting places for me. The first meeting places was reserved for breakfasts and some wonderful conversations with Erick, Adam, Pat and others. If you ever are down in the area you should really check out Carnitas Express. Wonderful food with a very inviting environment for longer meetings and conversations especially in the morning for breakfast.

However the other place which I enjoyed was Starbucks. At Starbucks there were multiple opportunities to witness to others along with the ability to meet with people and simply talk with them over coffee. I will miss Starbucks as it is a real great place for people to simply come and talk with others. 

Now in East Tennessee I do not have Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, or Carnitas Express near me in Madisonville. However I believe that I have found a place which will rival all of the above. This place is Henry’s Sub shop, http://www.henryssubshop.com/, it has good food, wireless internet and sweet tea. I am looking forward to making Henry’s the meeting place for me out here.

Harvest Tellico (http://www.harvesttellico.org/) has unofficially adopted Henry’s as our preferred meeting place.

Pray for Henry’s Sub shop that it would be a good place for fellowship, discussion, and evangelistic opportunities.

Gospel Focus

Church planting places an emphasis on evangelism.The gospel is key to evangelism and because of it I feel like I am having to constantly remind myself of the gospel. The gospel is central to the Christian walk.

In my reading recently I have come across multiple references to the gospel. Some in the positive light as in reminding people that the gospel is to be taught every time the preacher opens the scriptures. Some have been in negative light as in the following story.

This is an excerpt from a dialog between a Chaplin and a police officer during 9/11.

Officer: Not until now did I think I needed to get ready to meet my Maker.

Chaplin: I’m sure you’re more ready than you think

Officer: No, I’m not ready, Father, I mean, I’m a religious man, I guess, but I don’t know about being ready to die.

Chaplin: Well, you can get ready. It’s real simple. God’s taken care of it.

Officer: What do you mean?

Chaplin: (Pointing to the pocket Bible the officer was holding.) Being ready isn’t about being religious. The way your Good Book right there explains it, you’re ready if you just believe in the Lord and tell people what you believe. Remember the story about the thief on the cross next to Christ?

Officer: Yeah. Where is it?

Chaplin: The thief didn’t have time to get ready. He was dying, just like Christ. All he did was acknowledge his need and say he believed who Christ was. And Christ responded by saying that the man would be in paradise with him that day. So – do you believe?

Officer: Yeah, I do

Chaplin: Okay. You’re ready.

I find it very hard to believe that the Chaplin is actually proud of this conversation. The gospel is very simple as you read in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 the gospel can actually be summed up in only a couple of sentences. The gospel is really important to the Christian and that is why I am so concerned with this conversation.

The first difference is the content of the message between the gospel and what the Chaplin delivered. What Paul delivered of first importance is that Christ died for our sins, Christ was buried, Christ was raised on the third day. The core of the gospel is the work Christ did on the cross for without it there could be no salvation for sinners. The core of the message which the Chaplin delivered was God took care of it. The clear difference between the gospel Paul preached and the gospel the Chaplin delivered is the content. Christ has died for man’s sins, was buried and raised again on the third day. No mention of the work of is a part of the message which the Chaplin delivered. Remember the warning of Galatians 1:8-9 which says that if anyone preaches a gospel other than the one which was originally delivered let him be accursed, the Chaplin should be more careful with what he says.

Let’s now talk about the next difference which is the call to respond to the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 says that the gospel was first received, then stood on, and were saved by. Then there is the conditional statement that follows these three parts of the response to the gospel. The conditional statement is one giving the person a tangible response which is to hold fast to the gospel which was delivered unless they would have believed in vain.  The call to believe is like the Chaplin told the officer except it goes beyond mere belief. If the officer does not hold fast to the gospel and stand fast in it he has no assurance he will be saved. The gospel calls for a response either to reject it or to be transformed by it. Mere belief does not make the officer ready but a holding fast and standing on the gospel would make him ready.

To all church planters and Christians out there here is my plea. GET THE GOSPEL RIGHT! Do not go beyond the gospel unless you are clearly holding fast and standing on it.