Author Archives: Mark

How Do We Live For Discipleship?

We live for discipleship by being the spiritual example that our disciples need. This means that we are committed to seeing not only ourselves, but our disciples spiritually transformed. To do this we should be committed to practicing spiritual disciplines and spiritual training until they are spiritually mature.

Live A Life Committed To Spiritual Transformation

  • The purpose of discipleship is to “produce maturing and sanctifying disciples of Jesus” and this results in spiritual transformation or godliness. This is a training process that includes refusing or avoiding the godless way of life (false teachings) and exercising or training ourselves to be godly (right teachings). Godliness is profitable unto all things. Godliness is to have the right attitudes, actions and beliefs. This is a painful process of hard work, but we know that it is worth it because we trust in the living God, we want to become like Him, and we want to please Him.
    1 Timothy 4:7-10
  • Thus, discipleship includes living a life committed to spiritual transformation, for ourselves and our disciples. That means we desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus and not conformed to this world. This results in making us spiritually mature and being throughly equipped for all good works. But it takes great effort and training in spiritual disciplines.
    Transformation: Romans 8:29; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:16; Galatians 4:19; Purpose: 2 Timothy 3:17

Live A Life Committed To Spiritual Disciplines

  • Spiritual disciplines are important because, through the work of the Holy Spirit, they help us to be spiritually transformed. They help us to focus our lives on growing spiritually. We can’t just live normal lives and expect transformation to happen. We have to carve out time to purposefully practice spiritual disciplines. Just like intentional bodily exercise helps a person to build a healthy body, the Bible says, we are to “exercise” unto godliness—meaning that through consistent instruction, practice, and application we can develop godly behavior. Below are some (but not all) spiritual disciplines:
    It takes Effort: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 11:23-29; Philippians 3:12-14; Colossians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:1-7
    • Disciplines of Bible Study: (1) Bible Reading and Listening—to look at or hear and comprehend the Scriptures so that you can know more about God, to know His will, and to know how to properly obey God. (2) Bible Truth Meditation—to focus our mind on Bible truth and to think deeply and over a long period of time about it in such a way that it helps us change the way we think, to worship God or to have a greater understanding of truth and its applications. (3) Bible Verse Memorization—to commit verses of the Bible to memory so that God’s Word becomes part of who we are and it can be brought to memory when needed and the Holy Spirit can use it.
      (1) 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:6; (2) Psalm 1:1-3; (3) Psalm 119:9, 11; Colossians 3:16
    • Disciplines of the Christian Life: (4) Prayer in Jesus’ Name—to boldly talk to, confess, request of, and thank God continually and directly because of the access that we have through Jesus. (5) Worship and Praise—to reverently express adoration and admiration to God. Thus we are to fill our heart, soul, and minds with the goodness of God and respond to His wonderfulness in words, actions and attitudes of praise. This is often done in song, journaling and prayer. (6) Evangelizing the Lost—to give the good news of Jesus to those who don’t know it. This is being directly involved in God’s Kingdom work and advancing it. (7) Serving Others—to help or do good to others with the focus on serving God and not man. It helps us to not focus on ourselves but to humbly put others before ourselves and show the love of God to them, expecting nothing in return. (8) Faithful Stewardship—to be frugal and prudent with our wealth (money and possessions) to use it for God’s kingdom (not ours) and to excel at giving. (9) Celebration and Joy—to take great pleasure and joy in God, His goodness to us and to enjoy all the good things in life that He has given us. (10) Believer’s Fellowship—to gather together with other believers in a local church for edification. Our faith is meant to be lived out in community and relationships. This also includes confession among fellow believers with whom you trust when necessary.
      (4) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; (5) Psalm 99:1-9; (6) Mark 16:15; (7) Galatians 5:13; (8) 1 Timothy 6:6-11; (9) Ezra 6:15-16; (10) Hebrews 10:24-25
    • Disciplines of Self-denial: (11) Fasting—to go without food for a specific period of time to focus on depending on God; to show that He is the greatest substance in our life; to train and learn self-control which helps us overcome sin; to find joy in God not food or earthly things. One can also abstain from others things (such as sex), or make certain sacrifices to accomplish this. (12) Solitude and Silence—to deny self “social interaction” and “the busyness of noise” to find rest in God. We need times to be alone, away from the chaos, so we can hear ourselves think and to focus on God and be refreshed. We need times to be away from all the noise and problems of life and to think on God. We need uninterrupted times of us and God—this also helps us clearly see our sinfulness and the need of repentance.
      (11) Matthew 6:16-18; (12) Psalm 46:10
  • All of our spiritual disciplines are not to be done in a manner that displays our goodness in doing them and draws attention to ourselves—meaning we are not to do any of these for the praise of men. Such disciplines are to be done in secret—meaning we are doing them in obedience to God and He decides if they are to be known or not. This is the true test of spiritual disciplines—will we faithfully do them if no one else notices? (Note: It is not that we should hide them from other people knowing, but we shouldn’t be doing them for others’ approval and praise.)
    Matthew 5:14-16; 6:1-18

Live A Life Committed To Spiritual Training

  • Training to create godly habits. We are to train ourselves and our disciples in spiritual disciplines until the disciplines become a normal pattern of life or healthy spiritual habits. It is only through spiritual training that we can accomplish spiritual transformation. Every believer should be growing spiritually and eventually they ought to be teaching others.
    Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 5:14; 12:11; 1 Peter 3:15
  • Thus, discipleship includes living a life committed to spiritually training your disciples in spiritual disciplines until they are spiritual transformed. They need to see it modeled and not just told to do it. The principle is: “it is more caught than taught”—meaning that the disciplines are passed on from one believer to other believers by example. We are committed to the process of discipline through training until our disciples learn it enough to carry out the process themselves.

Review Questions

  • What is spiritual transformation?
  • Why are spiritual disciplines important?
  • What are some of the disciplines?
  • What does it mean that disciplines are to be done in secret?
  • What is spiritual training?

October 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

Please pray or rejoice with us over the following prayer request and praise reports:

  • More souls saved in China! Praise Jesus. Since we have been gone from China, the local church we were able to establish there has reported that they have seen at least six souls saved! Pray for them as they teach, baptize and disciple these new believers.
  • Support—praise the Lord—we have raised 3% of our new support goal with more new churches partnering with us. We are still waiting to hear from many more churches who have shown interest in partnering with us. We only need 27% more. Keep praying with us about this, as this is one of our goals while we are on furlough.
  • We have been able to be a part of some incredible missions conferences recently. Also, we are humbled to be able to present and preach in so many great churches. People are responding to the messages and the altars are being used. God is truly opening doors for our ministry. Since being home on furlough, I have been able to travel to GA, TN, SC, NC, and TX for meetings. My family has been able to travel to some of those meetings with me.
  • We were recently in a meeting that focused on “China”. The four other families out of our home church going to China and in States were able to attend it as well. We had a great time together! The church took us all on for support! Amen! If you would be interested in hosting a “China Missions Day/Conference/Revival,” please contact me.
  • Family—please pray for our children’s schooling: the two oldest children have started homeschool; our third oldest started preschool at a supporting church. The twins are some of happiest babies you will meet, pray for them to continue to grow healthy. Also, pray for my wife—who does a fantastic job—as she juggles these responsibilities: wife, mom, teacher, missionary wife, etc.
  • Praise that I was able to teach a course on “Persecution” at the Our Generation Training Center—a missionary training center at our home church. We had a great time together and I pray that the truths we studied will better prepare the students to take the gospel to the world.

Event Reminder: We will be participating and speaking at the Our Generation Summit in Mt. Sterling, Ohio this coming December 28-29, 2018. This conference is a gathering of Christians endeavoring to further the Gospel of Christ. This conference is open to individuals, couples, families, and church groups. If you are interested in missions, I hope that you will plan to attend. For more information contact us or visit: www.ogsummit.com.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known!

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

DOWNLOAD THIS PRAYER LETTER AS A PRINTABLE PDF

How Is An Environment Of Discipleship Created?

An environment of discipleship is created by a disciple of Jesus who intentionally invites others into a discipleship relationship, challenges them to change with the Word of God and trains them how to accomplish it. It aims to build a culture where if one is immersed into it they will intuitively learn from their surroundings. It is also a place where love reigns which allows discipleship to thrive.

We Must Be Intentional About Inviting, Challenging And Training

  • An environment of discipleship is created by being intentional about it. To establish an environment of discipleship we must be deliberate and purposeful about doing so. It doesn’t just accidentally happen but it is carefully orchestrated by one person—(who is fluent in discipleship)—who then teaches others to do the same. Thus, an environment of discipleship is created by being intentional about the following three areas:
    Jesus’ Intentionality: John 6:70; 15:16
    • Invitation: We need to intentionally and consistently be inviting others into our lives to establish a relationship with them so that we can help them become or mature as disciples of Jesus. This means we are inviting new people into a relationship with us, but also inviting those who we are training to be around us. This gives them access and permission to be with you.
      Jesus’ Invitations: Matthew 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18; John 1:35-42
    • Challenge: We need to intentionally and consistently be challenging others to change—to live the victorious Christian life—especially those who respond to our invitation. Basic challenges can be “open ended” to different groups, but the high pressure challenges that lead to real life change need to be given within the discipleship relationship because it is more personal, the permission for such challenges is already given, and the structure of accountability is setup to help it get accomplished.
      Jesus’ Challenges: Matthew 10:38; 16:21-26; 23:1; Mark 8:34-37; Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-27; John 15:1-11
    • Training: We need to intentionally and consistently be training others to accomplish the challenges we challenge them with. We must be fluent in the area we are challenging others about if we are to train them by example and through our teaching. In other words, we have to be living the victorious Christian life to be able to train others in it. Thus, every challenge must be backed by the promise of our help to make them successful at accomplishing it.
      Jesus’ Training: Matthew 5:1; 10:7-10; Mark 4:33-34; 6:7-9; Luke 9:1-4

We Must Establish A Strategic Culture Of Discipleship

  • An environment of discipleship is created by building a strategic culture. A culture of discipleship is when our attitudes, actions and words all work towards the achievement of discipleship. It is within this culture that others can “immerse” themselves into and learn by experiencing discipleship. Thus, discipleship is not viewed as just taking a class (learning information) or apprenticeship (learning skills), but as an entire way of life full of shared discipleship characteristics where people can “intentionally” and “intuitively” learn how to be a disciple of Jesus and how to train others to be disciples of Jesus. We refer to this as “strategically doing life together.” It is using everyday life to its fullest potential. As we do this we can remember to be strategic about the following three areas:
    Jesus’ Strategy: Mark 3:7-19; Acts 4:13
    • Strategic Relationships: One person can’t disciple everyone, but everyone can disciple someone. Our disciples will have more access into our lives than others do. We strategically give them more time. They have access into our everyday lives and we strategically use this time to invite, challenge and train them in all areas, whether formal or informal. Jesus ate with, traveled with, did ministry with His disciples, etc.
      Jesus’ Disciples: Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:12-16
    • Strategic Influence: Our training includes three key components. First, the trainer expounds knowledge through instruction (teach them how to do it). The trainee listens, contemplates, ask questions, talks about it and learns. Second, the trainer encourages emulation to cultivate ability (show them how to do it). The trainee imitates, mirrors, and does things just like their trainer until they are proficient. Thirdly, the trainer empowers confidence to bear responsibility and make decisions (allow them to do it). The trainee has the freedom to independently make plans and take action but is held accountable. Thus, that pattern is simple: (1) You serve—the disciples watch and learn. (2) You and the disciples both serve. (3) The disciples serve—you encourage and advise.
      Jesus’ Influence: (1) Luke 6:28; 9:18; 10:2 (2) Luke 9:28; 11:1-4; (3) John 14:12; Acts 1:24; 4:31; 6:6
    • Strategic Growth: There needs to be growth in the following three relationships: (1) the disciple and their relationship with God—eagerness in their devotion to God. (2) the disciple and their relationship with the church—edification in the local community of believers. (3) the disciple and their relationship with unbelievers—engagement in reaching the lost.
      Jesus’ Focuses: (1) Matthew 16:13-16; (2) Matthew 16:17-18; (3) Matthew 16:19; 28:16-20

We Must Love One Another Like Jesus Loved His Disciples

  • An environment of discipleship is created by loving one another like Jesus loved His disciples. This kind of environment allows your disciples to thrive. This creates an environment of influence (not dictatorship). Thus, training disciples in an environment of love should have the following characteristics:
    Matthew 20:28; John 13:34-35; 15:12-17; 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
    • Trust and Commitment—Discipleship requires that we trust the other person and be committed to the training process.
      Proverbs 11:14; 31:11-12; 1 Corinthians 13:7
    • Grace and Mercy—Discipleship requires that we extend grace and show mercy when the other person messes up or when conflicts arise.
      Luke 6:36-38; Ephesians 4:29
    • Humility and Submission—Discipleship requires that we humble ourselves and submit to one another for our mutual benefit and to be able to serve one another.
      Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:1-11
    • Encouragement and Affirmation—Discipleship requires that we encourage others in the Lord and affirm their importance in Christ and as they produce spiritual fruit.
      1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Timothy 1:3-4
    • Accountability and Transparency—Discipleship requires that we hold each other accountable and live transparent lives so that we can experience true growth.
      Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1-5

Review Questions

  • What are the three areas we need to be intentional about?
  • What is a strategic culture of discipleship?
  • What is the strategic focus of discipleship?
  • We must do what to one another like Jesus did?
  • What characteristics does an environment of love have?

Goforth China Tour

2019 Missions Trip Opportunity: Here is an incredible opportunity if you are considering China as a mission field! Project China and Vision Baptist Missions are hosting a missions trip to China called “Goforth China Tour”. One of our colabourers is leading up this trip and He has done a great job getting it organized.

You find out some information below, but for more information and to register, please visit his website: http://www.reachingchina.org/goforthchinatour/

Overview

Join Project China missionaries to explore and evangelize in China together!

The Goforth China Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel China through the eyes of missionary Jonathan Goforth. Experience the life, testimony, and legacy of the great evangelist as you visit the cities of Shanghai, Harbin, and Dalian and discover both how the Lord worked mightily in China in years past and how He wants to use you – yes, you! – to continue that work in China today. Personally led by Project China missionaries, the tour will encompass one-on-one evangelism opportunities, practical instruction on the state of Christianity in various regions in China, a trek along the Great Wall, and even a glimpse across the Yalu River into North Korea! See the need for yourself, allow the Spirit of God to use your eyes to stir your heart, and consider what part you have to play in what the Lord is doing in the world’s most populous nation.

Registration is sure to fill up quickly and space is limited for this exciting event, so please act now! We look forward to seeing you in summer 2019 as we traverse China and witness first-hand its great need of the gospel.

Basic Itinerary: June 30 – July 11, 2019*

Days 1 & 2 – Shanghai

Days 3 & 4 – Harbin

Days 5 – 10 – Dalian & Dandong (North Korean border)

*Dates and itinerary details are still subject to change. Exact dates are to be determined as the trip draws closer.

Rates

Early Registration Discount: Register by February 15, 2019
Receive a $200 discount per person off of the Standard Registration Rate

Standard Registration Rate: Register after February 15, 2019
Please inquire upon registration.

Register Here

Reserve your spot, maybe you can be one of the 8 Over Exaggerated Short-termers! ;-)

 

How Are Disciples Trained In The Lord?

How Are Disciples Trained In The Lord?

Disciples are trained in the Lord when we encourage them to imitate our example so that we can lead them to follow Jesus. We can only do that if we first become the disciple that we want them to become and be devoted to them until Jesus is formed in them.
Philippians 4:9

We Train Disciples By Encouraging Them To Imitate Our Example

  • Disciples are trained by imitating the life of another disciple. This means that we invite them to imitate our lives because, Lord willingly, we are imitating Jesus’ life. So the goal isn’t for our disciples to become just like us, but they are to become like us in so much that we are like Jesus. We encourage them to imitate our way of life in Christ Jesus. People need a model to follow. Teaching isn’t enough. They need to see someone living out the victorious Christian life so they know how to do it too. Disciples receive instruction through various means but they can only truly be trained “in person” because they need to imitate a face-to-face example. Is your life imitate-able?
    1 Corinthians 4:14-17; 11:1; Galatians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9; 2 Timothy 3:10-14; 1 John 1:1
  • Disciples are trained by placing themselves in positions of submission to be trained. Life-on-life mentorship requires a commitment of submission. All believers are equal in value and none are superior, but we do have different roles and positions of authority and influence. In the discipleship relationship, the mentor (the leading believer) has the primary position of responsibility to faithfully lead. The mentees (the following believers) have the secondary position to accept the leadership of, yield to and learn from their mentor. All of this is done with the goal of maturing and sanctifying disciples of Jesus.
    Luke 6:40; Ephesians 5:21; (Submission to Leadership: 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17)
  • Disciples are trained by following disciples who train them to be disciples of Jesus not themselves. We are not to train up disciples for ourselves. This discipleship relationship does not void the mutual “submission, service and humility” that should be characteristic of all believers. We are to put on the mind which was also in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the only Master. We are all to be serving with humble attitudes, striving to live godly in Christ Jesus for God’s glory.
    Matthew 23:7-12; Philippians 2:3-11; 3:17-18
  • Things to remember when establishing this type of training:
    • Relationship: Spiritual growth takes places when we are willing to submit to one another to benefit from a discipleship relationship. It is humbling to know we can’t grow on our own, but God uses relationships and community to grow one another. We can’t be self-dependent. We should be investing our lives into others and others should be investing their lives into us. We need other disciples and other disciples need us. (Note: Obedience to many commands requires interaction with others.)
    • Following: A disciple chooses who to follow—someone who can show them how to follow Jesus. Any believer who desires to train other believers can invite others into a discipleship relationship, but the decision to follow can’t be forced only offered. 
    • Engagement: A discipleship relationship is a two-way relationship. Both sides are engaging the other side. The mentor leads but is also challenged to grow from the questions asked and the accountability to properly lead his mentees. The mentees are growing from the mentor’s leadership, life, character, attitudes, words, ministry and teachings. There is mutual influence. Both should benefit greatly from this relationship.

We Train Disciples By Becoming What We Want Them to Become

  • Before we can invite others to follow us, we need to know where we are going. We need to already be following Jesus and growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    2 Peter 3:18
  • A changed and changing life: Has your life radically changed since believing in Jesus? We are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. We are to be actively putting off the “old man”—our old sinful way of living, and putting on the “new man”—our new righteous way of living. Before salvation, we sacrificed others to bless ourselves but now that we are saved we sacrifice ourselves to bless others. Our actions, attitudes, character, morals, are all being molded into Christ-likeness. If our lives aren’t changing and growing then we can’t train disciples.
    A Changed Life: Psalm 15:1-5; Ephesians 4:17-28; Colossians 3:1-8; James 1:21-26
  • The Basics: Are you doing the following basics: reading the bible; praying; faithfully attending church; memorizing bible verses; giving generously; actively witnessing to others; using your spiritual gifts in the local church? How is your family life? Are you striving to obey the Bible in all areas? We can only teach others to do what we are doing.
    (1) Joshua 1:8; (2) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; (3) Hebrews 10:25-27; (4) Psalm 119:11; (5) 2 Corinthians 9:7; (6) Matthew 5:13-16; (7) 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; (8) 1 Timothy 3:5; (9) Luke 11:28; (11) Matthew 5:19; 23:3; Romans 2:21-23
  • Become Imitate-able: If we train disciples in the Lord by inviting them into our lives to imitate it, then we need to evaluate if our lives are worth imitating. We can only reproduce what we are. The desire to train disciples should cause us to seriously evaluate ourselves and our spiritual walk. A negative outcome of that evaluation shouldn’t keep us from training disciples, but it should: (1) encourage us to strengthen those areas where we are weak; (2) seek those more mature than ourselves to train us; (3) be committed to doing the best that we can so that we can train others for the glory of God.

We Train Disciples By Being Devoted Until Jesus Is Formed In Them

  • A devotion to train. Paul not only calls Timothy to become a disciple-making disciple but he explains the cost to do so. We need to be devoted: (1) to “endure hardness”—the world opposes us training disciples and like Paul we need to be willing to share in suffering to do so; (2) to be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ”—to live a wartime life with our allegiance to Jesus (and not this world) and His mission; (3) to not “entangleth” ourselves with the affairs of this life—to not get intertwined and distracted with this world so that we don’t train disciples; (4) to “please him” who hath chosen you to be a soldier—God chose us and we live to please Him, not others, this is our single and utmost purpose and focus; (5) to “strive lawfully”—like an athlete, we put forth great effort to train disciples but we must do so in accordance to God’s Word and like Jesus did, no shortcuts; (6) to “laboureth”—like a farmer, take the initiate and through tough, thorough and time-consuming work wait for God to give the increase as we make disciples.
    2 Timothy 2:1-7; (Reject Worldliness: James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; Hard Work: 1 Corinthians 3:5-8; Colossians 1:28-29)
  • A devotion to finish. Paul was committed to the Galatian believers when they had many problems. He didn’t forsake them but was willing to go through much heartache to help them understand the gospel, its implications and how to be conformed to the image of Jesus—until Christ be formed in them. Paul truly cared for them, he calls them his little children and he desired to be with them. He was committed to finish what he started.
    Galatians 4:19-20

Review Questions

  • We train disciples by encouraging them to do what?
  • What are three things to remember when establishing this type of training?
  • We train disciples by becoming what?
  • We train disciples by being devoted until when?
  • What are the six areas we need to be devoted in to train disciples?

How Do Discipleship Relationships Start?

How Do Discipleship Relationships Start?

Discipleship relationships start when we seize and seek opportunities. Sharing the gospel becomes “a way of life”. The gospel is the foundation of all our discipleship relationships. Thus, we need to be actively sharing the gospel and embracing opportunities.

Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seize Opportunities

  • Everything starts with prayer. Jesus went out into a mountain to pray all night to God the night before He chose twelve of His disciples to be apostles. Also, believers are commanded to pray for unbelievers because God is willing for them to be saved. So if we are wanting to start a discipleship relationship with another person we need to start with prayer. Question: Are you praying for believers and unbelievers and “watching” for opportunities of who you can establish a discipleship relationship with?
    Luke 6:12-16; 23:33-36; Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Asking and Believing: Matthew 7:7-11
  • Seize current opportunities. Are you expecting God to answer your prayers? Next, you need to be looking for opportunities to seize. A discipleship relationship can start with a believer or an unbeliever—anyone who is willing to spend time you and learn from you. It often starts with those that you know—such as your family and friends. (Your family is your first disciples.) But you also need to be looking for people (inside and outside the church) who have similar interest as you or people who want to know more about the Bible. Question: Are you seizing current opportunities to start a discipleship relationship?
    • Believers: If a person is a believer then they already have an established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to find out where they are at in their spiritual walk and, if you are able to help them grow in their faith, invite them to spend time with you studying the bible and developing a spiritual friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship. (Remember: you can only lead people to do what you have already been doing.) Question: What believers around you can you help grow and mature in their faith?
    • Unbelievers: If a person isn’t a believer then there is no established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to start with teaching them the gospel. You can invite them to spend time with you for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them and establishing a friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the goal of leading them to become a genuine disciple through repentance and faith in Jesus alone as Lord and Saviour. Question: What unbelievers do you know that you can you share the gospel with?

Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seek Opportunities

  • Make new opportunities. What if you currently don’t know any believers or unbelievers that you can start a discipleship relationship with, what should you do? You need to start making opportunities—meaning you need to be actively involved in reaching new people—those who you don’t currently know—through evangelism. Thus, the ultimate catalyst to initiate new discipleship relationships is witnessing to unbelievers. Jesus trained His disciples to be fishers of men—people that make disciples of all nations—but this absolutely included preaching the gospel. Witnessing is part of the great commission process. We cannot make disciples without evangelism. All believers are given the Holy Spirit for this very purpose—to be Jesus’ witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. Questions: Are you trying to initiate new discipleship relationships by witnessing to unbelievers—even those you don’t currently know?
    Mark 1:17; 16:15; Luke 19:10; (Examples of Jesus Evangelizing: Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 10:25-37; John 4:5-29)
  • Just like those who responded to Jesus, we need to remember: (1) Not everyone will believe and become genuine disciples. But we should still continuously and intentionally preach the gospel. (2) Some will believe the gospel and become genuine disciples. We should continue to teach them in all things concerning following Jesus. This is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the gospel foundation established.
    Luke 4:14-30

Being Equipped With The Essentials Of Sharing The Gospel

  • Boldness: We boldly share the gospel knowing it is God who ultimately has to do the work of salvation in a person’s life. Each time you share the gospel you might get a scared, nervous or unsettling feeling but we don’t let this fear paralyze us from sharing the gospel. We need to pray for boldness and allow this boldness to overshadow our weakness as we trust in God to save sinners. We are His workers, but He gives the increase.
    Boldness: Proverbs 28:1; Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Salvation: Psalms 68:20; John 6:44; Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:6-9
  • Step 1—The Starting Point: Sharing the gospel can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. The starting point to share the gospel with either is to discover their knowledge of God and start where they are. Then you can properly contextualize (not change) the gospel message so they have a better understanding. For example, in the book of Acts we find that when they were sharing the gospel with the Jews they started with the prophets and law but when they were speaking to the Gentiles they started from Creation.
    (1) Start at Creation: Romans 1:19-20; (Preaching to Jews: Acts 26:22; 28:23; Preaching to Gentiles: Acts 14:15; 17:24)
    • Conscious Anxiety: Each society has different anxieties that they are conscious about, such as: sin, death, and the afterlife. We should be probing and find out what these anxieties are and try to share the gospel from that vantage point. 
    • Intentional Questions: Where did we come from?—Talk about the origin of man and God’s creation in comparison to other views. Why do you exist?—Talk about the purpose of life and the reasons for living. What is right and wrong?—Talk about man’s inherit knowledge of morality and the standard of good. What happens after you die?—Talk about life after death and eternity. 
  • Step 2—The Law of God: The purpose of using the law to share the gospel is to show people: they are sinners; they have offended a holy God: they will be judged by God one day; and they will receive death and hell as the price for sin. (Ask questions of sin, death, justice, etc.)
    (2) The Knowledge of Sin: Romans 3:10-12, 23; (3) The Judgment of God: Romans 2:5-6; (4) The Price of Sin: Romans 5:12
  • Step 3—The Gospel of Jesus Christ: The good news always follows the bad news. Thus, we need to share the core message of the gospel which means to show people: the atoning death of Jesus Christ; the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; salvation is a free gift from God; the great exchange of righteousness; and that Jesus is the only way. (Ask questions of forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc.)
    (5) Jesus’ Gift: Romans 6:23; (6) Jesus’ Death: Romans 5:8; (7) Jesus’ Resurrection: Romans 4:25
  • Step 4—The Crisis Point: Finally, when a person is humbled by their sin and the cross, it is time for them to make a decision. See if the person is willing to give all for Jesus, and encourage them to count the cost. We need to show them: how to repent towards God and how to put their faith in Jesus. (Ask questions of decision, time, application, etc.)
    (8) Confess and Believe: Romans 10:9-10

Review Questions

  • Everything starts with what? Are you doing that?
  • What does it mean to seize opportunities?
  • What does it mean to make new opportunities?
  • What does it mean to have boldness in sharing the gospel?
  • What are four essential steps of sharing the gospel?

Who Are The Equippers Of Discipleship?

Pastors are the equippers of discipleship because they are God’s choice servants to lead the local church to fulfill its purpose. Their job is to equip believers to service for the edification of the church until the church is spiritually mature and built up in love.

Pastors Are The Equippers Of Discipleship In The Local Church

  • Who: Who does God choose to lead and set the example for others to follow? God has not only given different spiritual gifts to all believers but He has also given special-gifted men to lead the church. Today, the “pastors and teachers” are the gifted men God is using to lead local churches. We also refer to this as “the office of a pastor”—but this office of leadership includes both responsibilities and gifting of pastoring or shepherding and teaching. These pastors are to lead the church in submission to the leadership of Jesus who is the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. There may also be “multiple pastors” or “plurality of elders” within a church, but this man is the lead pastor who has the main responsibility for spiritually leading a specific local church. Thus, the pastor is God’s choice servant to lead the local church to fulfill its purpose. (Note: we use the word “pastor” to be the same as “elder,” “bishop,” and “overseer”.)
    Ephesians 4:11; (Jesus as Supreme: Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Peter 2:25; Pastor’s Obligation: Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9; Apostles and Prophets were foundational, but have ceased for today: Ephesians 2:20)
  • Why: Why does God use pastors to lead? The answer is threefold: (1) “For the perfecting of the saints”—this means the pastor is to equip all the believers under his care to fulfill the purpose they were ordained for; (2) “for the work of the ministry”—believers were ordained to walk in good works and to serve—every believer is a minister; (3) “for the edifying of the body of Christ”—as each believer fulfills their duty of service, it builds up the church. Thus, a pastor’s job is to equip believers to service for the edification of the church.
    Ephesians 2:10; 4:12

Pastors Are Primarily And Continually To Be Training Disciples

  • When: When is the pastor’s task completed? The pastor is to carry out his job “till we all come”: (1) “in the unity of the faith”—the believers under his care should harmoniously become one or unified in the gospel and the revealed will of God in the Scriptures because of his teaching and training in sound doctrine; (2) “of the knowledge of the Son of God”—to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and have deeper and more personal relationship with Him; (3) “unto a perfect man”—to spiritually mature in Christ; (4) “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”—this maturity should be measured by the how much we are like Jesus. God wants us to become like Jesus in every area of our lives. Thus, the pastor is to equip believers to serve for the edification of the church until the church is spiritually mature.
    Ephesians 4:13; (Psalm 133:1; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:8-12; Colossians 1:9-10; 28-29; 2:2)
    • What: What does a spiritual mature person look like? A spiritually mature person is no longer a “child” spiritually—meaning they no longer do spiritually immature things. They are no longer easily deceived because they have a firm grasp on the Scriptures and the correct understanding and application of them. They won’t be spiritually tricked, taken advantage of, deceived by false teachers or their teachings. Thus, a spiritually mature person is able to brave “the waves and the wind” of false teaching without being overtaken by either, but instead firmly stands on the truth.
      Ephesians 4:14; (1 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3-4; Revelation 2:2)
    • How: How does the pastor lead? How does a spiritually mature person live? The answer for both questions is one word: love. The pastors speaks “the truth in love” so that everyone will grow up in every way into Jesus—which is the head, even Christ. Then the spiritually mature person takes the truth and applies it to start ministering in the body of Christ and when each part is working properly, it results in growing the body and builds itself up in love. Thus, a pastor leads through faithfully teaching the truth in love and the believers serve in love.
      Ephesians 4:15-16; (Ephesians 4:20-24; 5:1-2; Colossians 2:19; John 15:9-10)

Principles Concerning Pastors And Discipleship

  • Pastors are the spiritual coaches in the local church. Pastors equipping believers to service for the edification of the church, is like coaches training their basketball teams to win the championship. Thus, like a coach, a pastor doesn’t do all the serving and ministry within the local church, but he trains the church members to do it. The church members are not just the fans sitting in the stands watching the game being played, but they are the athletes playing the game while the coach is instructing them from the sidelines. When they aren’t playing the game, he is training them in practice—which often includes doing many hard things they don’t necessarily want to do, but must do to be able to be ready to play and win.
  • Pastors are the equippers of discipleship because God has called them to be the leaders of the local churches. The local churches’ mission is the great commission—to make disciples of all nations. The method to fulfill the great commission is discipleship—the life-on-life process where disciples spread the gospel to other people who become disciples and then they help them to become fully mature and serving believers of Jesus.
  • Pastors have more duties than just discipleship, but they use every other aspect of their pastoral duties to help train their disciples. Jesus had many ways that He served and taught people, but it seemed that in almost everything He did, He did it with the secondary purpose of training His disciples.
    Luke 8:49-9:6
  • Pastors are to train leaders of leaders. Not only does the pastor have the responsibility to be the example to the flock, but he has the responsibility to train others who can train others. Thus, like Jesus, He can’t spend large amounts of time with everyone, but with a few, who will then also minister to the larger group.
  • Pastors are more than just preachers and preaching is only a part of training disciples. Faithfully preaching the word of God is nonnegotiable to being a pastor, but discipleship is paramount for establishing spiritually healthy churches.
    Mark 1:38
  • Pastors train disciples through life-on-life training. They share with their disciples not only the gospel of God but also their souls. They are glad to spend and be spent for them.
    2 Corinthians 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Review Questions

  • Who does God choose to lead and set the example for others to follow?
  • Why does God use pastors to lead?
  • When is the pastor’s task completed?
  • How does the pastor lead?
  • What are some principles concerning pastors and discipleship?

Project China and North Korea ” Update”

In our last update about “Project China and North Korea,” we mentioned about purchasing about 248 SD cards that were loaded with Korean resources and would be taken into the country through a friend on the border. Since then we have the following update:

THE NORTH KOREAN INITIATIVE “UPDATE #2”: All the SD cards have arrived safely into North Korea! Pray! Get involved!

This is a small step to getting the gospel into a closed country. Our goal is to get trained men into the country, but until we can, we are doing what we can with what we have to send some light into the darkness. Will you help?

We would like to purchase more SD cards. The cost is around $3.50 per card (depending on the exchange rate). Everything else is already set in place in China to get the cards into North Korea. So here is an opportunity, if you are able and willing, to get involved in sending some gospel light into a spiritually dark region.

If you want to be involved in purchasing SD cards, you can send donations to the following: Vision Baptist Missions, PO Box 442, Alpharetta, GA 30009 with “The North Korean Initiative” written in the memo.

Thank you for always caring and giving.

What Is A Disciple-Making Disciple Like?

A disciple-making disciple is a person who: (1) has believed and called upon the name of the Lord to be saved; (2) is growing in their faith—meaning they are living for Jesus and have defining “disciple-required” characteristics that distinguish them from others who are followers of Jesus in name only; (3) and are actively striving to reproduce themselves by making disciples throughout their lifetime.

Disciple-Making Disciples Have A Firm, Active And Sanctifying Faith

  • A firm faith: Jesus asked His disciples, “But whom say ye that I am?” Every disciple needs to know that they personally have found the Messiah—the Christ, the Son of the living God. We need to know that Jesus is the one of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write. Thus, a personal relationship with Jesus is first and foremost.
    Matthew 16:13-16; John 1:41-51
  • An active faith: Jesus told His disciples, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Every disciple should be engaging the world around them through speaking God’s word and ministering in God’s strength—that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus.
    Acts 1:8; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11
  • A sanctifying faith: Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” Every disciple is being sanctified as they press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus—to obtain the glory of their Lord—to be conformed to His image.
    John 17:17; Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:14

Disciple-Making Disciples Have Distinguishing Characteristics

  • A persistent commitment to the Bible: Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed”. Thus, true disciples are those who continue believing in Jesus and obeying all that Jesus has taught and said—as revealed to us in the Bible.
    John 8:31-32
  • A sacrificial love for one another: Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Jesus’ new commandment for His disciples was to love to the same degree that He had loved them. Being with Jesus they had experienced the very love of God in a new way and would eventually understand Jesus showed God’s love to the world when He sacrificially died on the cross for sinful mankind.
    Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:1, 34-35; 15:9-13; Romans 5:8
  • A healthy bearer of much fruit: Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” We cannot do anything on our own, but we are to abide in Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches. This abiding allows us to glorify God by producing “much fruit” and showing ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples.
    John 15:1-8
  • An unrivaled devotion to Jesus: Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” The relationships with our family members are often the dearest relationships we have, but Jesus says that we need to “hate” those relationships—meaning to “love less” those relationships in comparison to Him. Another way to say it: we are to “love Jesus supremely.” He is even more important than our own lives. (Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t a command to “hate” people but it is a command to choose Jesus above all else, which can seem like “hate” in comparison.)
    Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26
  • An utmost determination to follow Jesus: Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Jesus expects His disciples to be determined to daily denying their own wills (living for self), removing hurdles to following Him and bearing any ramifications for doing so and firmly embracing His will (living for God) even if it means paying a great price to do so. The cross represents an instrument of death—it means that we die to ourselves but we live unto God. It represents the extent that Jesus is calling us to deny ourselves so that we are free and able to follow and serve Him. We reject the life of “self-determination” and accept the life of “Jesus-determination”.
    Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27; Galatians 2:20
  • A complete forsaking of everything: Jesus said, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is talking about absolute surrender. His disciples are to be completely surrendered to His will without reservation, thus renouncing all rights, privileges, demands, possessions, appeasements or indulgences in the process. Everything in the life of a believer comes under the Lordship of Jesus—there are no negotiations just unconditional surrender. (Don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that you have to sell all your possession immediately and aren’t allow to own anything, but this is putting every aspect of your life under the Lordship of Jesus to do as He pleases and the willingness to follow Him at any cost and in every respect.)
    Luke 5:11, 28; 12:33; 14:33; 18:22
  • A courageous desire to imitate Jesus: Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” The objective of discipleship is for the disciple or student to become like his teacher. Each disciple that is fully trained (perfect) will be just like his teacher. So there should be a desire in every disciple to be like Jesus in every way—even if that means the way the world treated Him they will treat us. Thus, this is a courageous desire because it promises varying degrees of persecution for everyone who lives like Jesus.
    Matthew 10:24-25; Luke 6:40; John 15:20
  • A willingness to obey orders from Jesus: The Bible says, “The disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them.” Jesus effectively becomes the boss of our lives and we should be willing to be obedient and submissive to all His commands.
    Matthew 11:1; 21:1-2, 6; John 21:15-17

Disciple-Making Disciples Have Disciples Who Reproduce Disciples

  • A passion to make disciples of all nations: Jesus told His disciples to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” During their training, the disciples were bringing others to Jesus and even sent out to preach. At the end of their training, Jesus told them to go out and “teach”—make disciples—of all nations. They were to reproduce themselves—to train disciples who will train disciples. Thus, a disciple-making disciple must have disciples who train disciples.
    Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 5:27-32; 10:1; John 1:40-45; (2 Timothy 2:2)

Review Questions

  • Disciple-making disciples have what kind of faith?
  • What are the eight distinguishing characteristics of disciple-making disciples?
  • Disciple-making disciples must reproduce what?
  • Are you a disciple-making disciple? Why? 
  • Where are your disciples? Are they making disciples?