The Bible says “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) and in response to this claim from the Bible, I want to share a Discipleship Orientation with you containing some thoughts about Jesus’ strategy to obtain the faith we need to please God.
In the Bible, God has given us a plan to develop healthy, well balanced local Churches. The plan God had in mind is given to us at the end of Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus said “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
God wants everyone who is gathering around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to learn how to nurture faith in their own lives because we cannot pass on to the next generation something that we never did learn on our own.
We cannot help younger, less experience4d people receive the benefits of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross until we understand how to receive them on our own. We have to know what is available and how God intends to share it with us before we can help others receive it themselves.
Discipleship is God’s plan to pass on the benefits of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us, and anything that we fail to receive cannot be passed on to the next generation of the Church. When we fail to pass on to the next generation an accurate understanding of what God has available to share with people who are gathering around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will end up doing something to misled the next generation of the Church.
When we fail to pass on an accurate understanding of what God has to offer, we will end up trading the benefits of eternal life for the things God never promised we could have while we are a part of this broken and corrupt world.
While I am writing this down, the Hope of the Resurrection is being replaced in the English speaking for with a desire to win public elections and control civil government. This is just the latest trend to emerge within the Christian community’s misunderstanding of the Gospel in the English speaking world, and it will not be the last ungodly trend we have to deal with.
The Church in the English speaking world has replaced the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ with the hope of catching our political enemies in criminal behavior and punishing them any way we can, as quickly as we can.
The reason this is happening is because we have stopped nurturing faith in our lives.
Since we have stopped nurturing faith in our lives, we have completely misunderstood the extent of the corruption that exists in human nature. As a result of our misunderstanding the impact the corruption that exists in human nature has on our lives in this world, we are failing to accomplish God’s goal of making disciples within the local Church. Instead of teaching the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints, we have been teaching a lack of faith to the next generation, and all of the political chaos that is happening around the world is the inevitable result.
Now that I have diagnosed the problem according to the Bible, let’s talk about the solution. The Bible’s solution to the kind of problems we are having is for us to begin making discipleship a priority again.
The Bible’s Solution
What does that really mean? To be more precise,, what does discipleship look like on a practical level in a healthy, well balanced local Church? In order to answer that question, I want to share what the Bible says in the New Testament about Jesus Christ:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)
In the passage above, the Bible tells us the names of the five ministries we need to have a proper balance between in order to have a healthy, well balanced local Church. In case you are hearing this for the first time, the names of the five ministries of the Church are the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds (or pastors) and the teachers; and we should also add the deacons, whose only responsibility was to take care of the poor within the local Church.
I am going to describe in some detail what the Bible says in involved in the work done by each of the five ministries; as well as the work done among the poor by the deacons.
Balancing The Five Ministries of the Church
What would a balanced approach to the five ministries of the Church look like? While the New Testament explains it in great detail, there are a few things that should be said here at the beginning of our journey.
The first thing is that the order of the five ministries we are using is different from the order Paul used in his letter to the Ephesians. There are many who believe that Paul listed Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds (or Pastors) and teachers in descending order of importance and authority.
While I have no interest in disputing that claim at this time, I am not going to follow that assumption in the presentation(s) I am preparing to share with you. The order of the five ministries that I will be following looks like this: Evangelists, Teachers, Pastors, Prophets and Apostles.
If you will allow me the opportunity to begin exploring Christianity that way, it will be obvious to you why I chose to put them in that order the more time you spend listening to what I have to say.
In fact, if you listened to the Message of Christianity before you sat through this Discipleship Orientation, then you have already heard the most important things I have to say about the work of the Evangelist, and right now are being transferred into the work of the Teacher.
So let me share some thoughts on the work of the Teacher within the local Church. A while back I began thinking about how to use the freedom(s) found in America and some European countries to make the most of the opportunities they have. (Now if you live in a country where Christianity is illegal, please stay with me, I have something to share with you as well as soon as I am done with this).
For Christians who have freedom of religion, I wold propose this: we should seek to put together a ministry team (of sorts) in every major city (and if you live in a small town, the same idea I am about to describe can be organized at a county level).
In each major city, we should have what I call “The Seven Scholars.” These are seven people who are able to teach, and each one of them will dedicate their time to doing research on a different aspect of the Christian faith.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. As people begin exploring Christianity, they will have questions about Basic Christian Beliefs that can be divided up into seven different doctrinal topics: 1) The Bible, 2) The Existence and Character of God, 3) The Universe (and everything in it), 4) Jesus Christ, 5) Redemption, 6) The Church, and 7) The End of Time.
Now let me ask you a question: what would happen if all the different Churches in a single city began sharing their resources to have “Seven Scholars” who were suing their love of doing research to become able to answer questions about one of these seven topics?
Let’s take it a step further: what if these “Seven Scholars” could train Church members in their area of expertise and send the teams they have trained out on short term missions to smaller communities a few hours away to help improve the smaller Churches? (We could even expand this in order to begin sending them overseas on short term mission trips to other parts of the world eventually).
That’s all I have to say for now. The next time we meet I am going to begin sharing how the “Seven Scholars” can begin working on the Seven Tasks of the Teacher within the context of a healthy, well balanced local Church.
(to be continued)
I. Recommended Videos
Bringing Discipleship Back To The Local Church
Selling Jesus by The White Horse Inn
II. Recommended Books
The Lord’s Work Done In The Lord’s Way by K. P. Johannan
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken