In last month’s Pastor’s Pen I spoke about the purpose/mission of NPBC. That purpose or mission is to worship and glorify God and to ‘make disciples’ of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). I then described what a disciple actually is using the verse, Matthew 4:19. A disciple is someone who is ‘following Jesus’; is someone who is ‘being changed by Jesus’; and is someone who is also ‘committed to the mission of Jesus’. Over the next few months I want to outline briefly how we should go about this task of ‘making disciples’. Making disciples of Jesus Christ involves following a certain method (known as the 4 “P’s”).
Before we explore that, though, let me point out that ultimately the work of making disciples is a spiritual work that can only be accomplished by God – only God can change the heart of a person and bring about spiritual regeneration (c.f. Ephesians 2:1 -9; John 6:44). Making disciples is God’s work, achieved however, as His word and Spirit work through the activity of his disciples and in the hearts of those they speak to. Therefore, the method that we employ in making disciples involves following the 4 “P’s”. We will focus individually on each of these over the next 4 months. Here is the first one…
1. Proclamation of the word of God – In the New Testament the word of God is the basic means for creating and growing disciples. The content of this ‘word’ is essentially the plan and promises of God centred around Jesus Christ. If we were to summarise this, it might read like this: God has fulfilled his age-long plans for His creation through sending His Son, born in the line of David, to die for sins and rise again as Saviour, Lord and Christ of all the world, so that people dwelling in spiritual darkness from every nation might now hear his call to repentance and faith, be forgiven, reconciled and justified, and life a life that increasingly seeks to obey all his commandments, as they await the sure hope of entering his eternal kingdom. This one message of Jesus Christ is the message of the Bible. So we proclaim the word of God by teaching the Bible.
The Bible is our authoritative and sufficient source for truly and faithfully knowing the word and speaking the word. It is this word that must be proclaimed, not just some inspirational thoughts about how to improve one’s life. If we truly believe that the Bible is God’s powerful word, then what we want to see flourish in our church culture is as many instances as possible of the Bible being spoken, read, studied, preached, explained, discussed, prayed over, and meditated upon. Of course, the contexts in which God’s word might be proclaimed are broad and multi-faceted – e.g. in private conversations; in a written note or email; on social media; in preaching to a large group or spoken about in a small group; it can take place in homes, in school playgrounds, in workplaces; at coffee shops or cafes; etc.
Martin Luther, speaking about the importance of the proclamation of the word of God in the making of disciples states, “One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness and freedom. That one thing is the most holy word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, as Christ says in John 4:4, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’. Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the word of God. If the soul has the word then it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing.”
Here are some Bible verses to meditate upon that speak of the word of God as being so essential in these things: Psalm 119:105,130; Isaiah 55:11; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 10:12-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23,25; James 1:22.
Next month we will discuss the next ’P’ – Prayerful dependence upon the Spirit of God. Until then…
*Adapted from ‘The Vine Project’ by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne © Matthias Media 2016