Last time, we looked to verse 24 as we talked about the priority of discipleship. Discipleship refers to my growing to become more like Christ. Making disciples is what every church is obligated to do:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” - Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
And being a disciple is what every Christian is obligated to do:
“Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.” - 1 John 2:6 (Amplified)
We looked at FBC’s discipleship strategy, “5 Circles of Involvement.”
1. We want to involve people in the celebration circle of our church through participating in a Sunday morning Celebration Service. The primary purpose of our Sunday morning Celebration Services is for us to seek God’s face together.
2. We want to involve people in the community circle of our church through participation in a Sunday morning Bible Fellowship. In our Bible Fellowships our primary focus is on studying God’s Word together.
3. We want to involve people in the commitment circle of our church through participation in a Growth Group. The primary purpose of our Growth Groups is to share God’s life together.
Through faithful participation in a Worship Celebration, a Bible Fellowship, and a Growth Group, you can grow to know Christ better and become more like Him. Such participation provides three essential ingredients for growing as a disciple. You will be equipped with truth (the essence of discipleship); encouraged by testimony (the process of discipleship), and empowered for transformation through accountability (the goal of discipleship).
You will be more connected with your church family and thus, be given the chance to develop the three kinds of relationships we all need if we are going to become a disciple and be a disciple-maker. Each of us needs a “Paul” in our life - someone who has gone before us; each of us needs a Barnabas” in our life - someone who will stand beside us; and each of us needs a “Timothy” in our life - someone who is coming behind us. Paul explained this to Timothy this way:
“You have heard me teach things (role of a “Paul”) that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses (role of a “Barnabas”). Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people (role of a “Timothy”) who will be able to pass them on to others.” - 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)
It’s been said that the Christian faith is always one generation away from extinction. Because
this is true, we must always be thinking not just about how we can grow; but we must think of how we can invest in others as well. So my participation in the first 3 circles of involvement is a practical way in which I can be helped to grow; and encouraging others to participate is a way I can help others grow, too.
And as we participate in these first three circles of involvement, we will be enabled to participate in the . . .
4. The communion circle, loving God supremely and loving others selflessly. In other words, we will be obeying the Great Commandment:
“Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul...and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” - Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
Believers who have entered into the Communion circle are involved in serving God’s people together - ministry - making Christ known to fellow believers. Paul describes this kind of church in Ephesians 4:11-16:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” - Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of church I want to be a part of!
Part of why churches have division is because they have not learned how to display their love for God through serving one another. And the reason why they do not know how to display their love for God through serving one another is because the focus of the church is not on making disciples.
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.” - A.W. Tozer
What is that standard that we must each seek to individually bow? Paul tells us in Ephesians
4:13: “the full and complete standard of Christ.”
As we each seek to grow toward Christ-likeness, we will display our love for God through our service to one another, and a unity of purpose will be found within the fellowship of our church that will result in drawing others to Christ. Which enables us to participate in . . .
5. The commission circle - joining fellow believers in reaching our city for Christ. In other words, we will participate with other believers in obeying in the Great Commission:
“Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” - Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
Believers who have entered into the Commission circle are involved in showing God’s love together - evangelism - making Christ known to unbelievers.
One of my favorite things to point out about evangelism is that Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, and His promise was:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:19 (NIV)
Two thoughts here about evangelism:
1) Evangelism is a natural result of discipleship. As I follow Jesus, I will find myself encouraging others to follow Jesus.
2) Evangelism is something we do together. The disciples didn’t fish with a pole, but with a net. Likewise, we are called, as a church family to reach people for Christ together!
This business of ministry and evangelism is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in verse 24 when he speaks of “love and good deeds.”
“Evangelism is not simply a matter if bringing individuals to personal faith, though of course that remains central to the whole enterprise. It is a matter of confronting the world with the good, but deeply disturbing, news of a different way of living…the way of love.” - N.T. Wright
“You are a Christian because somebody cared. Now it's your turn.”- Warren Wiersbe
“Evangelism is the spontaneous overflow of a glad and free heart in Jesus Christ.” - Robert Munger
As we commit ourselves to the work of being a disciple and making disciples, two things will result:
1. Blessing will come through us to others.
Are you one who “spurs others on,” or do you “hold others back?” Are people encouraged to learn more of Christ and to become more like Christ because of your influence? Oh, how we need to understand the wonderful opportunity we are offered in the call to be involved in the work of discipleship!
“We are blind until we see, that in the divine plan;
Nothing is worth the making, if it does not make the man.”
Each of us needs to answer the question of the old hymn today, “Is your life a channel of blessing?” it can be, if I participate in the discipleship process of my church.
2. Blessing will come to us through others.
There is no greater blessing one can receive than to know that you contributed in some way to someone else being equipped, encouraged and empowered to become more like Jesus. And perhaps the greatest blessing is that there is something about assuming responsibility for discipling others that makes us aware of our need and encourages us to continue to grow in our personal walk as a disciple.
(Show Video - “Will You Be That Someone?”)