At our last church member’s meeting I shared with those in attendance an outline of our church vision and ministry strategy. I thought that it would be helpful to share this with the church via the Pastor’s pen so that everyone is aware of this. The purpose/goal of the North Pine Baptist Church, apart from worshipping and glorifying God, is to ‘make disciples’ of Jesus Christ. This is in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission given in Matthew 28:19-20.
There are many definitions of what a disciple is – the actual term means ‘learner’ or ‘apprentice’. A disciple is best summed up by Matthew 4:19. In this passage we read of Jesus calling his first disciples there on the shore of the sea of Galilee. He says to them, ‘Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men’. In this verse we discover that a disciple of Jesus is characterised by 3 things…
1. A disciple is someone who is following Jesus (‘follow me’) – this means that the person has made a conscious decision to seek to obey Jesus and his teachings/commands. They have confessed him as both Saviour and Lord and committed their lives to following him. This would certainly include being baptised at an age where the person is able to understand the meaning and significance of this. Of course, we can never be perfect in our obedience but a disciple will be someone whose heart’s desire is to want to put Jesus first in their lives and submit to his authority as set out in his Word, the Bible.
2. A disciple is someone who is being changed by Jesus (‘I will make you…’) we read in Romans 8:29, “For those whom He [God] foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” In other words, the goal of a disciple is to become more like Jesus (c.f. Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 1:28-29; 1 John 2:6;). When a person repents of their sins and puts their faith in Jesus as Saviour the Bible tells us that God then places His Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit then sets about helping us to obey God and become more like Jesus (the process known as ‘sanctification’).
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that ‘if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come’. God promises to carry out this work of
sanctification until he finally brings us to heaven where we will receive our ‘glorified’ (perfected) bodies (c.f. Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:28-30). God is at work in our lives through His Holy Spirit making us more like Jesus – for the genuine disciple there should be evidence that this work is taking place (e.g. growing in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Spiritual transformation is seen as a reality in their lives – their attitudes, behaviours and their motivations.
3. A disciple is someone who is committed to the mission of Jesus (‘fishers of men’) – a true disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who is involved in the work of helping others become disciples of Jesus—they are in the business of gospel proclamation. The plan of God is to bring people from every nation, tribe, and tongue into his eternal kingdom where they can enjoy His presence and the blessings of life forever with Jesus (c.f. Ephesians 1; Colossians 1; Revelation 7:9-10).
I trust that you will join us in this vision and purpose. After all, the process of making disciples must first begin in our own hearts and lives. Like the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Edmund Chan – a south east Asian pastor and disciple maker who has been very effective in helping train disciple-makers all over the world says this about making disciples… “Disciple-making is all about a certain kind of PERSON, radically committed to a certain kind of PURPOSE; who through a certain kind of PROCESS, reproduces a certain kind of PRODUCT.”
Next month we will look at the process we are going to employ to help us as a church make mature disciples of Jesus Christ.