Jesus Christ is the Head of the true church. (Ephesians 5:21-24)
In the Gospel of Matthew (28:18-20) Jesus came to His disciples and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commandments I have given you. And, be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.”
Someone once said concerning Christians, “You are either a missionary or a mission field.” In other words, if we are being true to Christ’s commission, we are prayerfully making Him known to others. If we are not making Him known, we are either being willfully disobedient or a “fake Christian.” I do not know how it is possible to be a genuine Christian and not be concerned about the souls of lost people. In Proverbs 11:30 we read, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and whoever captures (wins) souls is wise.” Do you want to glorify God, who loves you? In John 15:8 Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
In my mind, one of the greatest privileges God gives us, as His children, is to become a parent. I haven’t always been a parent. I experienced that privilege in June of 1960, when our daughter Pam was born. What a miracle! I experienced it again in September of 1962, when Sheldon was born. I hope you can see where I am going with this. I haven’t always been a grandparent. That privilege was given to us when Christopher was born. It happened again when Jonathon, Kaitlin and Caleb were born. I haven’t always been a great-grandparent. That privilege came to us when Evie was born.
By now, you are asking… “What’s your point?”
It is this ¾ being a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent is fantastic. But, very close to these privileges is the joy that I experience when I lead someone to Christ and they are born again. In fact, there are several men I am very close to who call me their “adopted father,” because I introduced them to Jesus and have been nurturing them ever since.
In John 17, Jesus is praying and at a certain point He prays for you, me and every true Christian. In verse 18 He prayed, “As you (Father) sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” What is to be our purpose for being in the world? The same as that of Jesus when He came into the world. In Luke 19:10, Jesus tells why He came into our world. “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” The Father sent Him into the world to seek and save you and me. Now He is sending us out into the world on the same mission, to be wise and win souls for Jesus.
Let’s see what the Apostle Paul has to say about making disciples. In Colossians 1:28-29 he wrote, “Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”
It is one thing to become a parent when a baby is born, but that is just the beginning. Then the work really begins. We have the responsibility to raise that child. The same is true when we win souls to Christ. That is exciting. But then comes the responsibility of helping them grow and become mature in Christ. We look forward to the day when they will start the process all over again, and win people to Christ.
In the two verses that Paul gives us in Colossians 1:28-29, he sets before us several core principles that are at the heart of making disciples.
1. The number one principle in making disciples, Paul says, is “Proclaiming Christ”. Colossians 1:28a
a. We do not proclaim ourselves. We proclaim Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 Paul said, “For Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek wisdom, BUT WE PREACH CHRIST crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”
We do this because according to Acts 4:1 (Peter speaking) … “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
· We must guard against promoting or proclaiming ourselves.
2. An important principle in making disciples, according to Paul is “warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom.”
· We cannot please God apart from faith. (Hebrews 11:6)
· The Bible says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17
A disciple is an apprentice. He/she chooses to learn from a wise, mature Christian. The discipler seeks the Lord for wisdom and guidance in helping the one we are working with to grow and become mature in their faith.
We need God’s wisdom that as we share Christ we do not soften the message or be too hard. The Holy Spirit will help us to find the right balance as we share Jesus.
3. Never forget, that as Paul puts it, the goal should be to present every believer mature in Christ. I think, over the years, many pastors and churches have felt their main goal was to make converts. That is just the beginning.
Peter showed a fair amount of immaturity in his early walk with Christ… but he finally got it together. In 2 Peter 3:18, he wrote “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
If a little baby doesn’t begin to grow, there is reason to be concerned. If you aren’t maturing in your faith and becoming stronger in every aspect of your life, there is reason to be concerned. One of the things a responsible parent does is teach that little one to feed himself/herself.
A growing Christian must learn how to read and study God’s Word. They must learn how to pray and feed themselves spiritually; they need to learn how they fit into the church and how to serve.
We learn from each other by faithfully coming together and sharing with each other. None of us have arrived. Some are more mature than others. In Philippians 3:12-21 Paul is talking about maturing in faith. He even says “follow my example”. (Be sure to read this passage.)
Jubilee has made great strides, in our short two-plus years, to give you opportunities to grow stronger and mature in Christ.
Are you taking advantage of these opportunities, such as:
Attending weekly church service;
Reading and meditating on this … the Jubilee Weekly Meditation;
Attending the Men’s Breakfast and Bible Study;
Attending the Women’s Bible Study;
Attending the monthly Prayer Meeting;
Attending the inspirational monthly Movie Time;
Attending the Sunday Adult Bible Class;
Attending our weekend Bible Conferences;
Enjoying and studying the free books from our Book Exchange Table;
Joining a leadership ministry, such as Deacons or Deaconess?
And, so much more.
4. Paul tells us that making disciples is not easy. He says in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I toil and struggle.” Making disciples is costly. It takes time, energy, hard work and sometimes money in the disciple making process.
I love you, my church family, passionately. Every week we seek to prepare a spiritual banquet for your encouragement and edification. How would you like preparing a wonderful dinner for someone and they didn’t show up. The table was all set and the food was hot, but they didn’t appear.
When Paul says that he toiled and struggled and strove to bring people to maturity in Christ I know exactly what He means, but we don’t give up. Some will grow, others will stagnate, but we press on. My goal is to bring the most happy, holy, wholesome, and mature people to Jesus, as possible.
One of the great challenges we face in seeking to make disciples for Christ is that people are lovers of ease and want to be entertained.
Jesus got tired. Paul got tired; I get tired. Sometimes, I fall asleep at my desk. But I refuse to give up and I will do everything I can to encourage you and motivate you to grow in Christ.
5. The last principle I see Paul talking about is God’s energy powerfully working in him. We will lose if we try to win and grow people in our own wisdom and strength. We must rely on God’s unchanging Word and the enabling of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The prophet Zechariah (4:16) wrote, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” says the LORD of hosts.
I can’t save anybody, but the Holy Spirit working in me and through me can draw people to Christ and make them hungry to grow.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit working in me and through me, I will do everything I can to bring you mature to Christ. Will you follow?
All for Jesus,