This month we continue to look at the process of ’making disciples’. The purpose or mission of NPBC is to worship and glorify God and to ‘make disciples’ of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). 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’ (c.f. Matthew 4:19). Making disciples of Jesus Christ involves following a certain method (known as the 4 “P’s”).
Before we continue to explore that, though, let me remind you 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. It is this activity that is described by the 4 “P’s”. Last month we focused on the second of these:
‘Prayerful dependence upon the Spirit of God’. Here is the third one…
People as God’s fellow workers – In Acts 4 we read of the account of Peter and John appearing before the Jewish religious council (the Sanhedrin). They are on trial for teaching the people that Jesus is God’s Messiah. In v.8 it says that “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit” then begins to address the council and gives a powerful speech proclaiming that salvation is found only in Jesus. In other words, he proclaims the gospel. Upon hearing Peter’s words the religious leaders are amazed – the writer of Acts says this, “Now when they (the religious leaders) saw the boldness of Peter of John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognised they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).” These religious leaders could see that Peter and John were just simple fishermen without any religious training, but they took note that they had been with Jesus.
This was a direct fulfilment of what Jesus had stated to his disciples back in Matthew 10:18-20, “ and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
God’s people are the agency by which God’s Word is proclaimed, in prayerful dependence upon God’s Spirit. In other words, God entrusts His mission into the hands of ordinary people like you and me. God works sovereignly in, under, and through our actions with His own action to achieve His purposes. In doing so, God does not violate our will or render our action any less our action. When we do something we really are doing something – but God works in and through that activity to bring growth in a way that we cannot control. It’s 100% us and 100% God.
We are God’s servants (slaves) planting and watering and praying for God to give the growth. We are not responsible for the results, we are just called to faithfully live out and speak the love and grace and truth of Jesus to those around us. ALL of God’s people are given the ability, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to communicate the good news about Jesus and His kingdom to one another and the world. We will do this in different ways and in different contexts, taking up different opportunities, with different levels of gifting, and different levels of responsibility (e.g. some will be pastors and teachers). If we are to be a disciple-making church we need to be people who are willing to be used by God to communicate His life-giving word to those around us.
Next month we will discuss the fourth ’P’ – Persevering step by step. Until then…
*Adapted from ‘The Vine Project’ by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne © Matthias Media 2016