MercyMe Music Videos

Kim and I just saw the movie, “I Can Only Imagine” and will highly recommend it to you. Not only a great song but when you know the story behind the song and the band, the film is that much more significant.

While I’m at it, this song came out in the band’s early years. Our ISC/Journeyman Team at the IMB recommended that our creative videographers to get with the band and shoot a music video, this one is “Here Am I” (think missions and evangelism)…

And how can you forget this one, another story about his father, goes well with the film…

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Becoming a World Class Leader

This is the final command of Jesus, regarding the Great Commission, from Matthew 28:16-20, Sec. 256 in Thomas and Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels.

Purpose: These are some of the last words of our Savior to His faithful followers. Last words are important. Do you remember the last words of a loved one who died or moved far away? It’s rare that we would forget last words from a loved one. The purpose of this lesson is to remember these last words. Christ’s last words in this passage ought to be our first concern as the church! These last words are the church’s marching orders. This passage is often called the Great Commission. The Bible never calls it the Great Commission. It is great because our Lord gave it to us. But I often think that when normal everyday people like you and I hear that word “Great,” we immediately exclude ourselves. We think, “a Great Commission can only be achieved by great people.” I’d rather join Donn Spader in calling it the Everyday Commission for everyday kind of people like you and me.

Historical Background: Jesus has died on the cross and risen from the dead. The proof of His resurrection is his post resurrection appearances. This passage describes His eighth appearance. All four gospels and the Book of Acts give us different versions of the Great Commission. Matthew provides us with an inclusive version of the Great Commission, where the other Gospels and Acts focus on evangelism. This passage tells us why the church exists on planet earth. Jesus here calls the disciples to be purposeful in making disciples of a lost world who are heading toward a Christless eternity in Hell rather than unintentional. The imperative in this passage is our marching orders until Jesus comes.

Commanded in the Gospels: Matthew 28:19 – go (participle); 28:19 – “make disciples;” 28:19 – “baptizing” (participle); 28:20 – “teaching” (participle); Mark 16:15 – “preach.”

Jesus modeled making disciples throughout the gospels. We are told in Matthew 27:57 “…a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus” (literal translation). The Apostle John observes that “the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John” (John 4:1).

Illustrated in the Book of Acts: Acts 14:21

Amplified in the Epistles: Ephesians 4:20; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:14

1. When did Jesus prearrange to meet his disciples in Galilee? (Matthew 28:16; 26:32; 28:7-10) Jesus had predicted and prearranged a meeting in Galilee with the disciples and the brethren. Matthew 26:32 “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee” (Matthew 28:7-10). “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” 8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

2. What post-resurrection appearance was this Galilean meeting? Jesus appeared ten times after his resurrection and before his ascension. Matthew 28:16-20 was his eighth appearance.

Ten Post-Resurrection Appearances

  1. Appearance to Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9-11;John 20:11-18 [NASB Sec.248; NIV Sec.173]
  2. Appearance to the women, Matthew 28:9-10 [NASB Sec.249; NIV Sec.174]
  3. Appearances to the two disciples traveling to Emmaus, Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32 [NASB Sec.251; NIV Sec.176]
  4. Appearance to Peter, Luke 24:33-35; 1 Corinthians 15:5a [NASB Sec.252; NIV Sec.177]
  5. Appearance to the ten assembled disciples, Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25 [NASB Sec.253; NIV Sec.178]
  6. Appearance to the eleven disciples, John 20:26-31; 1 Corinthians 15:5b [NASB Sec.254; NIV Sec.179]
  7. Appearance to the seven disciples while fishing, John 21:1-35 [NASB Sec.255;NIV Sec.180]
  8. Appearance to the eleven in Galilee, Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6 [NASB Sec.256; NIV Sec.181]
  9. Appearance to James, Jesus’ brother, 1 Corinthians 15:7 [NASB Sec.257;NIV Sec.182]
  10. Appearances to the disciples in Jerusalem, Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8 [NASB Sec.258; NIV Sec.183]

3. How many people assembled for this meeting? (Matthew 28:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:6) Eleven Apostles were present, and when you harmonize the chronological sequence of Christ’s post resurrection appearances we can confidently conclude that there were also “more than five hundred brethren” (1 Corinthians 15:6). If this is true, and I believe that it is, then there are huge implications. This would mean that the imperative “making disciples” was not directed only to the apostolic leaders or to the church as an institution, but to every believer. These marching orders of the resurrected Lord were directed toward more than five hundred brethren who had joined the eleven on this mountainside (Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 15:6). I believe the local church is responsible to assist every believer in fulfilling the Great Commission.

4. Was Thomas among the group Matthew describes as “doubtful”? (Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:36-43;John 20:19-29; 1 John 1:1) No, the doubts that Thomas had were addressed in Jesus’ sixth post resurrection appearance (John 20:26-29). John records that Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) John records that one week after that statement of doubt Jesus presented himself to Thomas and gave him the evidence that he needed. Thomas’ response after examining the evidence was, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:17)! There were no doubts left in Thomas or any of the other apostles. We can only conclude that the “some” is a reference to a few of the five hundred brethren that were also present (1 Corinthians 15:6).

5. What activity in Matthew 28:17 prepared the disciples to passionately obey the Great Commission without reservation? (Matthew 28:17) The activity that prepared the disciples to obey this commission was bowing the knee in worship to the Lord Jesus Christ. True worshippers are relentless in fulfilling Christ’s mandate in this passage. Unfortunately many Churches are anthropological rather than doxological in their orientation. John Piper writes, “Missions in not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t … Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

6. What right did Jesus have to command his disciples to go all the nations? (Matthew 28:18) Jesus had authority [exousia]

7. Should Christians obey government if they forbid proclaiming the gospel by any means? (1 Peter 2:13-17; Acts 4:13-22; 5:17-32)

The Apostle Peter taught that we should obey those in government. 1 Peter 2:13-17 says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

In Acts 5:28 we are told that Peter had been forbidden to preach the gospel. The text says, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Peter’s response in Acts 5:29 was, “We must obey God rather than men.”

God wants us to pray for and “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” The only time we should disobey governmental authorities is when they totally disallow a biblical practice that we are commanded by Christ to obey. Then, for conscience sake, we must obey Christ who has the jurisdiction over those in heaven and on earth.

8. What is the main verb in Matthew’s version of the Great Commission? (Matthew 28:19-20) The main verb in this passage in the original language is to “make disciples” but the intent of Jesus’ command is to make disciples who can make disciples who can make disciples…” Jesus wanted to create a movement of multiplication (disciplemaking) not addition (evangelism only). Jesus didn’t merely want converts he wanted disciples.

The question has been asked, “Are disciples born or made?” They are born again to be made. The word “disciple” [mathetes] is a term that describes “a learner” [from manthano, “to learn”] in contrast to didaskalos, “a teacher,” hence it denotes “one who (follows one’s teaching” as a disciple – Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).

Disciplemaking describes the process of starting with the raw material of a seeker and seeing them become a believer, a worker and a reproducer. The word “disciple” is used to describe a person (seeker, believer, worker, and reproducer) at each level in the disciplemaking process. Seekers (John 1:35, 37; 2:2, 11); Believers (Luke 6:13; John 2:12, 17; 3:22; 4:2, 8, 27, 31, 33); Workers (Matthew 10:1; 11:1; 20:17; 26:20); and Reproducers (Matthew 28:16; John 15:8) are all called disciples.

Christian or Disciple?

  • Acts 11:26, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
  • Acts 26:28, Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”
  • 1 Peter 4:16, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

Every believer is a disciple but not every disciple is a believer. John 6:66 describes a group of seekers that are called disciples because they superficially connected themselves as learners of Christ until he began speaking the hard sayings. The early disciples in John 1 hadn’t placed their faith in Christ as their Messiah yet (John 2:11) but they were called disciples (John 1:35, 37; 2:2, 11; Luke 19:39) because they were learners in the sense that they were willing to investigate Jesus’ words and works. Other examples of disciples that weren’t believers include “disciples of John the Baptist” (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; John 3:25; Acts 19:1); “disciples of Moses” (John 9:28); “disciples of the Pharisees” (Luke 5:33).

Some passages are undefined concerning where a disciple is in the disciple making process. Luke reports, Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon (John 6:17, 19:37). Luke here identifies a large crowd of the disciples (more than the Twelve) but distinguishes them from the “great throng of people.” Jesus taught there were certain marks of a fully devoted disciple of Christ (Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 8:31; 13:35; 15:8). The Book of Acts uses the term “disciple” to describe those who associated themselves with the church as the Great Commission was being fulfilled (Acts 1:15; 6:1, 2, 7; 9:1, 10, 25, 26, 38; 11:26, 29; 13:52; 14:20, 22, 28; 15:10; 16:1; 18:23, 27; 19:9, 30; 20:1, 7, 30; 21:4, 16).

9. Why doesn’t the word “disciple” or “make disciples” occur in the epistles, especially if the Great Commission is for the church? (Matthew 11:29; Acts 14:21; Ephesians 4:20; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:14). The word “disciple” or “make disciples” doesn’t occur in the Epistles because they focus on addressing the corporate assembly rather than the individual believers.

It has been said if you want to know how to disciple people study the Gospels; if you want to know how to do church planting study the Book of Acts. And if you want to know how to maintain and correct the church, study the Epistles. The root for the word “disciple” is “learn” [manthano]. Jesus used this word “learn” as an invitation to be discipled in the Gospels (Matthew 11:28-30). This word was also used in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul who discipled young Timothy (1 Timothy 3:14) and believers in the churches that he planted (Ephesians 4:20; Philippians 4:9).

The book of Acts is a historical record of the first 30 years of the church. The church had no stated reason for existence if the Great Commission wasn’t their marching orders. The first Epistle to the church wasn’t sent until more than 15 years after the church’s inception at Pentecost. The expansion of the church over the first 30 years can be clearly outlined by the early church’s obedience to the Great Commission.

The Apostles moved from Jerusalem (Acts 1:12; 2:1,5) to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1), then even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 13:1-4; etc.). This was in obedience to the Acts 1:8 version of the Great Commission. Even though the Apostle Paul was the last apostle to be chosen, “as to one untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15:8) he also fulfilled the Great Commission to “make disciples.” Acts 14:21 says, “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples [matheteuo], they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.

Matthew 28:19-20 Paraphrased – “Go into all the world and recruit students for the school of Christ through salvation, initiating them into that school through baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then teach them to obey the commands of Christ and you can be assured that He will be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

10. How do we know that the church is to fulfill the Great Commission? (Acts 1:1, 8) First, the Book of Acts is simply a continuation of what Jesus began to do. Disciplemaking is the unfinished work of Christ. Acts 1:1 says, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.” We often speak of the finished work of Christ on the cross but the work of making disciples of every nation wasn’t accomplished in Jesus’ lifetime nor was it his intention. It was Jesus’ intention to create a movement of multiplication by investing his life in twelve ordinary men who could disciple others so that for generations to come the world could be reached.

The second reason is that the Great Commission wasn’t given to just the Apostles or the church as an institution but to every believer. Every believer is responsible to make disciples among their network of relationships at home, in the office, in community and in their family. Matthew’s version of the Great Commission was given to “The Eleven” and to “more than five hundred brethren” (1 Corinthians 15:6).

11. What three steps does Jesus say are involved in making disciples? (Matthew 28:19, 20)

  1. Step #1 is to “Go” [Aorist Participle] and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). The Aorist tense denotes urgency.
  2. Step #2 involves “baptizing” [Present Participle] every new convert and establishing him or her in their newfound faith.
  3. Step #3 involves “teaching” [Present Participle] them to observe all the commands that Christ gave his disciples when He walked among them.

These three steps parallel the three steps that Jesus used when making disciples.

  1. He first would “Go” and invite seekers to “Come and See” in order to investigate his words and works (John 1:39; 46; 4:29).
  2. His second step was to have his disciples baptize (John 4:1-2) the new believers and invite them to “Come and Follow” him in order to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20).
  3. His third step was to invite them to “Come and be with him” (Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:12-13). It was during this stage of disciplemaking that Jesus taught them the ministry and life skills needed to be successfully deployed as workers in the harvest field.

12. What is involved in the task of going? (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47) The first step in making a disciple involves reaching out to unchurched unbelievers. The early church gathered to worship and scattered to evangelize. The goal of the word “go” is to preach the gospel and win people to Christ (Matthew 28:19). Every believer is to “go” and share his faith with his family, friends and co-workers. The scope of this task is “every nation” including our own. Every believer is responsible to “go” next door, to the next cubical at work, or to teammates on the sports field. Wherever you are, that’s your “Jerusalem” and God commands you and empowers you to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Mark tells us in his version of the Great Commission to “preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Luke’s version of the Great Commission adds that we are to proclaim “repentance for forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47).

13. Who should we target when we begin to make disciples? (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) We should start where we are. The disciples were from Galilee but they were in Jerusalem so that is where they started from.

14. What is the key word for missions? (Acts 13:1-4; Romans 10:15) The key word for missions is not “go” but “send.” Romans 10:15 says, “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”‘ God wants us all to be “World Class Christians” who are committed to cross-cultural Disciplemaking and global church planting. (Romans 10:15; Acts 13:1-4).

15. Why is baptism so important as the second step in the disciple-making process? (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 10:48, 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11) The reason baptism is so important is because no one has ever seen a salvation. The spiritual regeneration of a man or woman is a miraculous work of the Spirit inside of a person (John 4:14; 7:37,38; Titus 3:5). We can only see the results of a salvation.

Baptism is the fruit of a genuine repentance. The newborn child is now a “son of obedience” rather than a “son of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2; 5:6; Colossians 3:6). There is a natural desire that a new believer has to take the first step of obedience. Jesus taught disciplemakers to use baptism as an early litmus test to discern whether someone has been genuinely saved.

Mark 16:16 says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” This verse is not doctrinal in nature but missional. The gospel writers didn’t give us the Great Commission to help us define the essence of the gospel, but to describe what to look for as evidence of a true salvation. It’s only natural that we should see a new convert’s willingness to submit to baptism after they’ve made a genuine profession of faith.

When we go to the epistles, the doctrinal books of the New Testament, baptism is clearly not a part of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17 writes – “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel…”. It’s clear that baptism is not part of the gospel. The Gospel isn’t the good news that if you trust Christ and get baptized you’ll be saved. It’s faith in Christ alone. If baptism were required, Paul certainly wouldn’t have said, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius” (1 Corinthians 1:14).

Mark 16:16 at first glance appears to teach that you must be baptized in order to be saved. A closer examination reveals that “faith” is the issue. Notice it doesn’t say “He who does not believe and isn’t baptized will be condemned.” To say that this passage demands that a person be baptized it would have to say “but he who does not believe and isn’t baptized will be condemned.” The thing that condemns a person is their unwillingness to place their faith (believe) in Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross and his resurrection.

Perhaps this illustration will help: If you get on a bus that’s going to New York and sit down, you’ll reach your destination. But what happens if you get on the bus and don’t sit down, will you still get to New York? Yes. In the same way, if you put your faith in Christ and aren’t baptized, you’ll still get to heaven. If you choose not to get on the bus, you won’t go to New York. In the same way, if you choose not to trust Christ as your Savior, you won’t get to heaven.

Once again, the reason Mark so clearly ties baptism to salvation is because he wants to stress the importance of baptism as an outward sign of what has already taken place inwardly. The earlier a person identifies with Christ and his body (the church) publicly ­the more dynamic the witness and the more consistent the growth spiritually.

16. How soon should a person be baptized? (Acts 2:41, 8:36; 16:30-33; 22:16 9:9, 18) The New Testament teaches that the command to be baptized should be obeyed by the new believer as soon as possible.

  • “at once” (Acts 8:36) – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
  • “same hour” (Acts 16:30-33) – And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
  • “same day” (Acts 2:41) – Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
  • Three days after being saved (Acts 9:9, 18; 22:12-16) – “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). “Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18). The Apostle Paul was saved while en route from Jerusalem to Damascus. His conversion experience temporarily blinded him. When he received his sight, Ananias asked him why he had waited so long to get baptized. Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. ‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:12-16).

17. What is the curriculum that is to be taught in the third step of the disciple-making process? (Matthew 28:20) The third step in the disciple-making process is “to teach” the disciplee “to observe all that I (Christ) commanded” (Matthew 28:20). This involves equipping believers so that they possess the character and competence needed to reproduce themselves.

Jesus gave 244 Discipleship Commands in the gospels and they fall into 43 command topics. Christ gave specific commands at the “Win” (6), “Build” (4), “Equip” (31), and “Multiply” (2) levels or phases of disciplemaking. The Bible promises ten special blessings to those who learn and obey these commands.

The Bible promises that if you obey the commands of Christ you will…

  1. Be Jesus’ friend. “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” (John 15:1)
  2. Enjoy God’s love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Fathers commandments, and abide in His love.” (John 15:10)
  3. See your prayers answered. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22)
  4. Prove your love to God. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
  5. Experience the security of your salvation. “By this we know that we have come to know Him,if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3)
  6. Know Jesus more deeply. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21)
  7. Have close fellowship with God. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23)
  8. Genuinely love others. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments” (1 John 5:2)
  9. Avoid many of the burdens of life. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
  10. Be known as Jesus’ disciple. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

18. What is the goal in teaching this curriculum? (Matthew 28:20; 1 John 2:3; John 14:15) The goal of the teaching is found in the infinitive – “to observe all that I commanded you”. We have not discipled an individual until they are obeying what they learned.

19. What is the promise Jesus gives to those who make disciples? (Matthew 28:20) Jesus said, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus here promises two things:

  1. He will”manifest His presence” in a unique way when we are making disciples – “all the time not sometimes” (always);
  2. This commission doesn’t have a short shelf life. This is the mission of the church that is to be fulfilled until He returns.

Sources:  The questions and answers for this study were gleaned from the following resources.

  1. Serendipity Bible for Groups by: Serendipity House, Zondervan Publishing House, 1 998
  2. Personal Disciple-Making by: Christopher B. Adsit, Here’s Life Publishers Inc., 1988.
  3. Go, Missions by: Ronald Blue, pages 341-353 Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 141, October­ December 1984, Number 564. A Theological Quarterly Published by Dallas Seminary Press
  4. The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 8 by: Frank E. Gaebelein, Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
  5. An Expository Study of Matthew 28:7 6-20 by: Edmond D. Hiebert, pages 338-354. Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 149, July-September 1992, Number 595, A Theological Quarterly Published by Dallas Seminary Press.
  6. Discipleship and the Church by: A Boyd Luter, Jr., pages 267-273. Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 137, July-September 1980, Number 547. Published by Dallas Seminary Press.
  7. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Matthew 24-28 by: John MacArthur, Moody Press, 1989
  8. The Great Commission by: Cleon Rogers, pages 258-267. BibliothecaSacra, Volume 130,July-September 1973, Number 519, A Theological Quarterly Published by Dallas Seminary Press.
  9. Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible by: C.l. Scofield, page 1124, John 20:16 Study Note. Oxford University Press, Inc. 1967.
  10. “Who Sends the Missionary?” Voice Magazine by: Timothy B. Shorb, pages 8-10, May/June; Published by Independent Fundamental Churches of America.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber Jr.]
© Copyright 1994 Richard D. Leineweber Jr.

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How to Develop Compassion

Today we are on the topic of developing a compassionate heart, one that is concerned about others, primarily the salvation of lost people around us. The command is found in Luke 16:9, to Make Friends (aorist imperative). But, in order to understand Luke 16:1-13, we must go back to Luke 15:1-2.

Passage for Today: Luke 16:1-13 – which is all about stewardship. You will notice this is the parable of the unjust steward. The main question has to do with why the rich man would commend his dishonest manager. A second question has to do with why Jesus cites the actions of the dishonest manager with approval, using him as an example for his disciples. Let’s deal with these in the lesson

Group Question: When have you been let go from a job, or passed over for a job you wanted?

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is to determine our willingness to invest our resources in light of eternity. God wants us to faithfully invest our time and financial resources to reach lost people. The command of Christ in this passage is that we “make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness.” Obedience to this command requires the faithful stewardship of our money.

Historical Background: To understand the context of chapter 16, we must go back to 15:1-2. Jesus has surrounded himself with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees stand on the perimeter, criticizing that Jesus would spend time with lost people. Chapter 15 is a series of three parables directed toward the Pharisees. They teach that lost people matter to God, they deserve an all-out search and when they are found we ought to celebrate.

Luke 16 starts with a parable about “The Unrighteous Steward.” The parable and command is directed toward His disciples but the Pharisees are within hearing range of His teaching. The Pharisees’ reaction to His teaching is found in 16:14 — “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.” Jesus then addresses the Pharisees directly in 16:15 — “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.'” Jesus accuses them of valuing (esteeming) the wrong things. Lost people matter to God and we ought to invest both time and money to reach them.

The Pharisees could not understand so Jesus then tells a true story of a real after death experience (unlike today these two men didn’t return to report what happened). The Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a true story because parables never use proper names. The Pharisees must have gasped as Jesus told the story of a fellow Pharisee that was unnamed but apparently easily identified by Jesus’ detailed description.

The main point of this story is that rich men who don’t come to God on his terms (Luke 16:29-31) and misuse the stewardship of their resources (a reflection of their unbelief) end up in Hell (Luke 16:19,22b,23-28).

Epistles address this theme as well: 1 Corinthians 4:12; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10

Discussion Questions:

1. What three parables did Jesus tell the Pharisees in Luke 15? The parable of the “Lost Sheep” (Luke 15:1-7); the “Lost Coin” (Luke 15:8-10); and the “Lost Son” (Luke 15:11-32).

2. Why did He tell them these three parables? (Luke 15:12) Jesus taught these three parables to set the religious leaders straight once and for all. It really aggravated these spiritual leaders of the day that this man who claimed to be the “Son of God” would feel so comfortable socializing with riff-raft. The Pharisees (Luke 15:1-2) couldn’t understand how Jesus could eat with, socialize with, hang out with those whose lives were not submitted to God. What bothered Jesus was that these leaders had a list in their minds of who mattered to God and who didn’t. They had it all figured out that they mattered to God but these irreligious, Gentile, pagan, market place outsiders didn’t matter to God.

This is one of the only times in the teaching ministry of Jesus where He tells three parables back, to back, to back. It was normally Jesus teaching style to confront a problem by the telling of a parable, the explaining of a parable, and then moving along. But this time, it’s as though Jesus is saying “I want to straighten out the confusion in your minds, once and for all. I’m going to tell you not one, not two, but three stories. I’m going to rapid-fire truth into your minds so that you will never again be confused on the issue of who matters to God and who doesn’t.

3. Collectively, what are these three parables teaching? (Luke 15:6,9,24) All three parables teach that lost people matter to God, they deserve an all-out search and when they are found it demands a celebration.

4. In the third parable, whom does the older brother represent? (Luke 15:25-32) The older son represents the Pharisees who were “angry’ (Luke 15:28) because Jesus was spending time with lost people instead of them. They were the religious establishment; if Jesus was going to check in with anybody it should have been them. On an earlier occasion Jesus informed the Pharisees that His mission was targeted to reach the unrighteous and the spiritually sick people of this world. In Luke 5:30 the Pharisees asked Jesus the question: “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” Luke 5:31-32 says, “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.'” Jesus’ suggestion was that he didn’t need to spend time with them because they were the healthy and the righteous was sarcasm. They were self-righteous and spiritually dead but couldn’t recognize it.

5. To whom does Jesus direct this parable? (Luke 16:1) It is clearly stated in Luke 16:1 that Jesus was directing this parable to his disciples. The word “also” seems to mean that at this same time, after speaking to the Pharisees (in Luke 15), Jesus proceeds to speak a parable to the disciples (Luke 16:1-13). it’s obvious from Luke 16:14 that the Pharisees hung around to see what He would say to his disciples.

6. When the Pharisees heard this command on stewardship, what did they do and why? (Luke 16:14) Luke 16:15 says, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these and were scoffing at Him.” The verb “scoffing” means “to turn out or up the nose at one, to sneer, to scoff.” The Pharisees being “lovers of money” rather than lovers of God precipitated this emotional response when Jesus commanded His disciples to invest their money to reach lost people.

7. What happened to one of the Pharisees’ friends who used his resources for himself alone? (Luke 16:19-31) This question suggests that the rich man who was “joyously living in splendor every day” (Luke 16:19) was a fellow Pharisee. The text seems to imply this when it describes the rich man in the story as dressing like a Pharisee and acting like one. The Pharisees (like this rich man) measured their spirituality by their wealth instead of their compassion for the poor.

They believed that financial prosperity was a sign of God’s blessing on their lives because they were righteous. In reality they were spiritually bankrupt. On more than one occasion Jesus reminded these Pharisees that they didn’t have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42) or they would have reacted differently when Jesus helped the poor and the afflicted. The rich man in this text (all too familiar a story with a poor beggar named Lazarus laying outside of their friend’s home, dogs licking his sores, to be just a coincidence) died and immediately went to a place of torment (Luke 16:23) and agony (Luke 16:24,25) called Hades. This rich man should have sought God’s mercy (Luke 16:24) while he was alive. It was too late to seek God’s mercy after he died.

8. What is a manager? (Luke 16:1) A “manager” was an individual who had been entrusted with the stewardship of another person’s property: from oikos, (house), and nemo, (to distribute or dispense). So, one who assigns to the members of the household their several duties, and pays to each his wages. The paymaster. He kept the household stores under lock and seal, giving out what was required, and for this purpose received a signet ring from his master.

Vincent writes, “A manager was a trusted servant, usually someone born in the household, who was chief of the management and distribution of household provisions. He provided food for all the other servants, thus managing his master’s resources for the well-being of others. He acted as an agent for his master, with full authority to transact business in the master’s name.”

9. Are managers or stewards held accountable? (Luke 16:2) The verse says, “And he (rich man — owner) called him and said to him (manager),”What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.” The owner wanted a complete audit of the books. “Balance the books and show me how you have been running my business or household.” The “rich man” in this story is a picture of God who will hold every believer accountable at the Bema Seat of Christ as a servant & a steward (Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The rich man in verse 8 is called the “master” (Greek kyrios).

10. Why was the manager losing his job? (Luke 16:1) He had mismanaged the Masters resources. Luke 16:1 says, “…this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.” The word “squandering” means “wasted.” Since this man wasn’t arrested or punished for swindling or theft, it appears that the owner didn’t suspect the manager of dishonesty but thought that he had been irresponsible and extravagant.

11. What did this man do before he was removed from his stewardship? (Luke 16:3-7) The text says the manager asked himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg” (Luke 16:3). Then the manager realized it wouldn’t be long before his employment would be terminated and he would be homeless. Then he got an idea how to be welcomed to stay with others. The verb “I know” in Luke 16:4 is better translated “I am resolved.” It is a burst of daylight to the puzzled, darkened man: We got it, I see into it now, a sudden solution. Cleverly, he arranged to give large discounts to his master’s debtors, which they would eagerly agree to pay. By reducing their debts to his master, he gained their indebtedness to him. The amounts owed were large; the wheat is said to be equal to the yield of about one hundred acres (Jeremias, Parables of Jesus, pg. 181). They would therefore be obligated to take him into their homes when he was put out of his master’s home.

12. Was the Master praising the manager for his unrighteousness? (Luke 16:4,8a) The master (rich man or owner) commended the unrighteous manager. He wasn’t applauding the man for unjust handling of the funds once he was notified that he was going to be dismissed but he was impressed with how shrewd he was about planning for his future.

13. Where does the parable end? (Luke 16:8) This parable ends in the middle of the verse. Jesus begins to draw a principle from the parable with these words — “for the sons of this age are more…”

14. How does Christ use this parable to contrast believers with unbelievers? (Luke 16:8b) Jesus said, “for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.” It is more literally translated, “The sons of this age are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” This means that ungodly, unregenerate men show more shrewdness or wisdom in providing for their future in this world than true believers show in laying up treasures in heaven. Unbelievers know how to manage their resources to prepare for the future and retirement. lf Christians were just as conscientious about preparing for heaven we would see many more people coming to Christ as we invest our resources in them.

15. What does Jesus command His disciples to do in Luke 16:9? “And I say to you, make friends (aorist imperative) for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.” The aorist imperative “make friends” denotes urgency. In the phrase, “Wealth of unrighteousness,” Christ commands His disciples to use not only their time but also their money to build redemptive friendships.

We should use money and other material things in such a way as to form friendships that potentially could endure throughout eternity. Money can be used to buy Bibles, Christian books, tracts, message tapes, dinners out, tickets to a concert or sporting event, sacrificial gifts that could help our lost friends with pressing needs all this with the goal of reaching a lost friend for Christ.

The unrighteous manager used his master’s money to buy earthly friends; believers are to use their Master’s money in a way that will accrue friends for eternity. The unrighteous manager anticipated being welcomed into the homes (Luke 16:4) of those for whom he had reduced the debt. In a similar manner, those who make an investment to help their lost friends come to Christ will be welcomed into their “dwellings” in heaven. What a reception in heaven that will be for those who make the maximum investment of their lives and possessions down here on earth.

The word “welcome” and “receive” (same Greek word) in Luke 16:4,9 echoes back to a previous occurrence of the word in Luke 15:2. If we receive (“to receive by deliberate and ready reception” Vines) lost people like Jesus did and invest our resources to see them come to Christ, they will receive us into their eternal dwellings in heaven. Note that eventually our money will “fail” us because it cannot be taken to heaven, but our lost friends who trust Christ can be taken and even precede us if they die first.

16. What is unrighteous mammon? (Luke 16:9) Christ did not commend the man’s dishonesty; He specifically called him “unrighteous” or “unjust” (Luke 16:8). He only used him as an illustration to show that even the most wicked sons of this world are shrewd enough to provide for themselves against coming evil. Believers ought to be more shrewd, because they are concerned with eternal matters, not just earthly ones.

17. If we use our resources to reach our unbelieving friends, what can we anticipate when we get to heaven? (Luke 16:9) The following verses show that the steward was not at all commended for his crookedness, but rather for his foresight. He had acted prudently. He looked to the future, and made provision for it. He sacrificed present gain for future reward. In applying this to our own lives, we must be very clear; the future of the child of God is not on this earth but in heaven. Just as the steward took steps to insure that he would have friends during his retirement here below, so the Christian should use his Master’s goods in such a way as to insure a welcoming party when he gets to heaven.

18. How do you know what a person values? (Matthew 6:21) A person invests his time, treasure, and talent into whatever he values. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

19. According to Jesus, how important is it to be faithful as a steward? (Luke 16:10-13) If we are “faithful in” our stewardship of “a very little thing,” then we will be “faithful” in handling “much” (spiritual treasures). On the other hand, if a man has “not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth,” why would God trust him when bigger considerations of eternal value are at stake? The relative unimportance of money is emphasized by the expression “a very little thing.”

20. What are the “true riches” in Luke 16:11? These refer to the souls of men. If God cannot trust us with unrighteous money, which is of a temporal nature, why would he entrust into our care new converts that are of an etemal nature?

21. Can a disciple of Christ love money and God at the same time? (Luke 16:13) No! “You cannot serve God and mammon.” It is utterly impossible to live for things and for God at the same time. If we are mastered by money, we cannot really be serving the Lord. It is a matter of divided loyalty. Motives are mixed. Decisions are not impartial.

Sources:

  1. Serendipity Bible for Groups by: Serendipity House, Zondervan Publishing House, 1998
  2. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 by: Frank E. Gaebelein (General Editor), Zondewan Publishing House, 1984
  3. Commentary on Luke by: Frederic Louis Godet, Kregel Publications, 1981.
  4. Investment Portfolio Exercise Heart for the Harvest Seminar Notebook and Study Guide. By Search Ministries, Inc., 1989
  5. The Gospel of Luke by: Vlfilliam Hedriksen Baker Book House, 1978.
  6. The Chronological Life of Christ Vol.2 by: Mark E. Moore, College Press Publishing Company, 1997
  7. The MacArthur Study Bible by: John F. MacArthur, Jr., Word Publishing, 1997.
  8. Believers Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments by: William MacDonald, Thomas Nelson, 1997
  9. Word Studies in the New Testament Vol.1 by: Marvi R. Vincent, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975
  10. Word Picture in the New Testament Vol.2 by: A. T. Robertson, Broadman Press, 1930

InvestmentPortfolioExercise

RelationalCircles

Copyright 2001, Richard D. Leineweber, Jr.

Additional Commentary: 1

Back to our original questions, why the rich man would commend his dishonest manager? and why did Jesus cite the actions of the dishonest manager with approval, using him as an example for his disciples.

The first question may be answered only when the actual action of the dishonest manager is fully understood. An old interpretation of this parable held that the rich man was impressed with the shrewdness of the manager because the latter, after being served notice of dismissal, dishonestly reduced the bills owed the rich man so as to ingratiate himself with these various clients and business associations. Although the rich man has been cheated yet again by the scoundrel, he is, nevertheless, impressed with his manager’s cleverness. Related to this interpretation is the suggestion that the manager has eliminated the interest part of the bill in conformity to the Old Testament’s law against usury (Deuteronomy 15:7–8; 23:20–21). So, the idea is that the dishonest manager has finally done a proper, biblical thing. This approach to the parable, however, is not satisfying. Why should the master praise the dishonest manager? Would he have anything good to say about someone who had not only wasted his money (Luke 16:1), but then after being fired (Luke 16:2) further cheated him? This seems highly unlikely.

More plausible is the suggestion of Derrett and Fitzmyer, that what the dishonest manager has done is to cancel out the profit that was due him (sort of a commission). By canceling the commissions, the debts were reduced, an action that would no doubt result in future kindness being shown the dishonest manager. So, the rich man has not at all been cheated by this final action of the fired manager. The master is still owed what is due him, while his former employee, by foregoing a few commissions, now has a brighter future. Having understood the parable this way, it is now much easier to understand why Jesus sees in the action of the dishonest manager a worthy example for his disciples. They, like the dishonest manager, should be able to recognize the advantage in giving up a little now so that some day in the future they may receive much more.

The main point in the lesson above is that Jesus (or Luke) is not urging his disciples to acquire wealth dishonestly but to make good use of the resources (particularly financial resources) of this world. Jesus is not recommending compromise and he is certainly not recommending dishonesty, but he is urging his followers not to overlook opportunities and resources that will sustain his people and advance the Christian mission. By using the resources of this world wisely, Christians can be assured that when it is gone they will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. While Jesus’ followers are on earth they should make use of the world’s available resources in order to maintain themselves and the work of the church. When, however, these resources are exhausted and life’s work is finished, the followers of Christ can look forward to entering a home that is eternal, not temporary, a home whose resources will never give out.

A second lesson is drawn from Luke 16:10-12. The principle of Luke 16:10 is that by the way a person handles himself with very little it is evident how such a person handles himself with much. We come to what for Luke is probably the heart of the matter in Luke 16:11. If the followers of Jesus cannot properly handle worldly wealth, then they cannot expect to be trusted with true riches. For us, if Christians cannot manage their money, property, and other possessions properly (such as supporting the poor and the ministry), they cannot expect to be entrusted with the rewards and wealth that last forever (Matthew 6:25–34). Implicitly, one’s stewardship in this life will form the basis for future reward and responsibility in heaven (Matthew 25:14–30). Luke 16:12 adds a new thought to this second lesson: if Jesus’ disciples have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property (like God’s “property”), who (God) will give them property (rewards) of their own?

Luke 16:13 provides a third lesson drawn from this parable. In Matthew this verse occurs in a much fuller context (Matthew 6:24) concerning the need to be loyal to God over against the things of the world. Here in Luke the saying brings out one more truth with respect to wealth that every follower of Jesus should know, a truth that has been presupposed in Luke 16:9–12. Christians owe their total allegiance to God and not to money. This saying prevents us from misunderstanding Luke 16:8–9. Whereas Christians are to put wealth to good purposes, they are not to become enslaved to it. Herein lies a grave danger for many Christians. What often passes for “good stewardship” or “God’s blessing” is really nothing short of greed and materialism.

1 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 240). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[Questions and responses by Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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The Keys to the Kingdom

Perhaps you have asked yourself questions like these: What does God want from me? How does he want me to live? I remember my early days as a believer, and I would often ask God to show me his will, reveal what he wanted from me. I remember finding verses like Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” or 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification;” or Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” The goal back then was to be the best Christian I could be, walking in faith, walking in the light, walking in purity, but notice that the emphasis was always on ME.

But there are much bigger questions that believers must wrestle with. What is God’s global purpose and how do I fit into that? How does God expect me to do the work of evangelism? How am I making disciples? The preacher is always talking about the Great Commission and the need and responsibility that we believers have to be an intentional witness for the risen Savior Jesus Christ. I’m no Peter or Paul or Timothy; I’m just an average Joe who believes the story of Jesus, his work on the cross, and have put my trust in him alone for my salvation. I’m not ambitious enough to think that I can change the world, nor clever enough that God would use a person like me to make a difference. So, where do I fit in the Kingdom of God? How will I find my place in the Kingdom, which is our theme for 2015?

Perhaps you have been watching the NBC series on Sunday night called AD, the Bible Continues. While there are some portions embellished for story sake, the main story of the early days of the Christian church is great to watch. Those people had to stand up for what they believed in while the threats of imprisonment and death were constantly on their minds. God can’t expect us to live that way in this modern society.

Today, we seek out every possible way to be free from discomfort, and when we sense the need to go deeper with God, we use phrases like, “getting out of our comfort zone” or “if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat” or we read books like “radical.” In actuality, we are NOT called to be RADICAL, but rather “radical” is a term that should describe the NORMAL Christian life. When we are not radically sold out to Jesus, we are living out some other gospel, not one that we read about in the New Testament.

Let’s get into First Thessalonians:

The first thing I want you to see in this passage is that Paul brought to the church a message with kingdom authority.

  1. Kingdom Authority:

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

The first thing I want you to see in these verses is…

The Manner of Paul’s Ministry (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2, 4)

  1. Paul was not a quitter (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2) He spoke with boldness, he suffered, he was mistreated, but he was dedicated to God, he continued to preach with a lot of opposition or contention.
  • He was jailed in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40) so he was a man with a police record, an ex-con, a jail-bird.
  • He was accused of being a man on the run from justice, and who would listen to such a man? There were people who twisted his message, his motives, and his methods.
  1. Paul was a steward (1 Thessalonians 2:4) he was entrusted with the gospel.
  • A steward owns nothing, but possesses and uses everything that belongs to his master.
  • A steward possesses faithfulness to his Master (1 Corinthians 4:1-2), we are not to aim for pleasing men, but pleasing God.

The people had no less than three charges against Paul. Let’s take a look at…

The Message of Paul’s Ministry (1 Thessalonians 2:3a). Paul’s message did not come from error; it was true and contained no deceit. This message came directly from God. People would accuse him of being mad, a crazy man, like…

  • Early in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 3:21), “When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.
  • Later in Paul’s life when Festus thought has was insane (Acts 26:24), “While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.

We need to have the same burning passion of constantly talking about Jesus, what he has done for us, and sharing what we know and have experienced.

The Motive of Paul’s Ministry (1 Thessalonians 2:3b). Another accusation came that Paul was preaching with impure motives. It is possible to preach the right message with the wrong motives. The early church had a practice of what is called “agape meals” which had been called “love Feasts” according to Jude 1:12. You can imagine how critics could take that term and reduce it toward something immoral, but Paul’s motivation was clean; it was pure.

The Method of Paul’s Ministry (1 Thessalonians 2:3c). There was no guile or trickery to win converts to faith in Jesus. The word has an image of “baiting a hook;” yet Paul did not trap people with cleaver salesmanship. Salvation does not come at the end of some cleaver argument or subtle presentation, salvation is the result of God’s Word connecting with the power of the Holy Spirit … for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:5). In this passage, we see there was no deceit in Paul’s method.

His message of kingdom authority came out of his kingdom authenticity.

  1. Kingdom Authenticity:

5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.

First Thessalonians tells us that Paul invested his life into this community, and made a difference. People knew the truth of his word and his words. He was not a cheap peddler of elixir, or a feel-good gospel, or a prosperity gospel. People accused him of flattery speech and being greedy, but Paul’s readers knew that he told the truth, just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Paul also appealed to the witness of God (1 Thessalonians 2:5, 10) and to their witness as well (1 Thessalonians 2:11). A person with flattery speech will manipulate rather than communicate. In America, we are getting used to being manipulated and lied to, especially during an election year. We see this regularly happening today in the mainstream media, if you repeat a lie often enough, and loudly enough, it will be accepted as the truth.

Authenticity means being who you claim to be as well as being who you ought to be. This is a challenge for all of us. There has to be authenticity in our pulpit ministry, corporate worship life, and in our individual and family lives, too.

Paul had kingdom authority and lived his life with kingdom authenticity; which could only happened while possessing a kingdom attitude.

  1. Kingdom Attitude:

7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,

This section begins and ends with two great illustrations: he behaved as a mother with her child and a father with his children. This reveals the care and concern that parents have for their kids, and as kingdom people, we should have toward those inside and outside of the faith. A kingdom attitude understands that we do not live only for ourselves. The church does not exist for itself. The church is probably the only organization that exists solely for the benefit of those who are not members.

Think about how Jesus treated his disciples. He lived among them, coached them, taught them, challenged them, encouraged them, all these things are done in close proximity, as the body of faith. Babies are not birthed only to let them fend for themselves; neither are we to do the same with the children of God.

Believers in Jesus Christ must invest their lives into the next generation; it is imperative for human families, it is essential with our spiritual family. We must be of the same attitude, to work day and night, proclaiming the good news of Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:9). This type of investment of life and involvement in the lives of other people is different than church business as usual.

Paul had kingdom authority and lived his life with kingdom authenticity; which could only happened while possessing a kingdom attitude; so to make this happen, we need a kingdom approach.

  1. Kingdom Approach:

12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

This verse tells us that the way in which we walk (meaning, the way we live our lives) must be in a manner worthy of God. The old approach is that we simply believe in the facts about Jesus whether we end up living according to that standard or not. It was all about right belief and praying a prayer of salvation. This approach has led us to the point we find the church today.

Think about the evangelism of the past, we were taught to go to strangers, knock on doors, or go to the unchurched people you know to make sure they hear a clear presentation of the gospel. We want them saved, to believe in the resurrected Jesus, the only way to the Father (John 14:6). That may be well and good, but I question the effectiveness of this approach. A kingdom approach involves living our lives in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom.

I’m not talking about lifestyle evangelism, which is generally translated as, “I won’t speak up and say anything about Jesus, I just let my life speak for me; after all, my actions will speak louder than my words.” The problem is that no one is perfect and lost people will be disappointed in other human beings in the long run.

While it is true that Jesus said to let your light shine before me so they will glorify the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), Paul said in Romans 10:17, that faith comes from hearing. People need to hear you putting in a good word for Jesus. Lifestyle alone is not sufficient.

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” It sounds good on the surface but let’s think about this logically. Doing acts of kindness for others will not invite them to fall on their knees and repent, it takes our speaking up so they can HEAR the gospel and follow Jesus. As an example of the importance of action, consider this, “Feed the hungry at all times, and if necessary, use food.” Being an advocate for hunger issues is different from feeding hungry people. How will people taste of the Bread of Life if we don’t provide the necessary food?

So, this new approach is all about getting involved in our community and impacting our circles of influence, more than creating the next great event designed to attract people to our church in hopes they hear the gospel from a professional pastor. In this attractional model, evangelism has become synonymous with an invitation to church.

So finally, Paul had kingdom authority and lived his life with kingdom authenticity; which could only happened when possessing a kingdom attitude; employing a kingdom approach, and being involved in kingdom activity.

  1. Kingdom Activity:

13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,

Paul sums up this entire section by thanking God that the Thessalonians received his message and accepted the message for what it was, the Word of God, and not the word of men. The challenge he has in this section comes right out of verse 14, that they would become imitators of the churches in Judea (1 Thessalonians 2:14). So, what is the church supposed to be doing?

One of the best places in Scripture to read about the activities of the early church is in the book of Acts 2:42-47. Back in April I was able to preach about Praying for the Church’s MVPs (the church’s Mission, Vision, and Proclamation) so I won’t revisit that today, but the point is, we are to be on mission in this life. The church must be active and on the move, we have marching orders, and HIS last command needs to be OUR first concern.

We have been entrusted with the gospel, and we must be good stewards of that which the Father has given to us. We are gifted in various areas, different people are able to serve in different capacities. It is important to find a place to give back, make a difference, and impact the kingdom of God.

We have kingdom authority and are challenged to live with kingdom authenticity; which can only happened when we have a kingdom attitude, employing a kingdom approach, and being involved in kingdom activity. This is how we make a difference in the lives of others, for the kingdom’s sake. These five things really are the keys to the kingdom.

Next Steps:

In what ways can you BLESS your neighbors and co-workers each week? Remember this means to

  1. Begin with prayer, then
  2. Listen, or
  3. Eat a meal that week with an unchurched person, or
  4. Serve someone in Jesus’ name, or
  5. Share YOUR story or HIS story.

How can you make sure that you are trying to please God rather than trying to please yourself or other people?

Into whom, and how, are you imparting the gospel of God and your own life to others (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9)?

What is the difference between accepting a message as the Word of God and responding to it? (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

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Share the Message

This is the final session in the God’s Not Dead series.

While preparation is vital to becoming an effective witness for Christ, at some point we need to step out and start sharing the gospel. You can connect more often and more deeply with people outside of the church. You can become involved in activities or join organizations with diverse participants. You can cultivate a lifestyle of hospitality. You can get involved with people who don’t know the Lord, then they will inevitably see the centrality of Jesus that marks your life.

At first you can defend the existence of God. Remember that knowing God exists is the beginning of faith. Then you can explain how he created the world as well as mankind. This knowledge should result in a desire of people to begin to seek God. This may lead to the opportunity for you to explain the Christian story that is expressed in the gospel. There is no greater privilege than to communicate this message to unbelievers. Second Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors for Christ.

Slide4

Before you can share the gospel, you need to understand it. Here is a good summary, God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should’ve died, in our place. Three days later he rose from the dead proving that he is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation to everyone who will repent and believe in him. Let’s look at the key aspects of the summary.

God became man in Jesus Christ. Creator of the universe came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest mystery of all time. So I’m trying to simply say that Jesus Christ was more than a great teacher or even a prophet, but he claimed to be God himself. Remember the CS Lewis argument of liar, Lord, or lunatic.

He lived the life that we should’ve lived. Jesus perfectly obeyed the moral law of God yet he was without sin. Through disobedience and rebellion we fell into the darkness and grip of sin. Christ’s perfect obedience as a man of God qualified him to represent us before God.

He died the death that we should’ve died, in our place. Because of sin, we deserve punishment. If there is no penalty for breaking God’s laws, then they ceased to be laws and become merely suggestions. Jesus Christ became our substitute by offering his perfect life as a sacrifice for our sins.

Three days later he rose from the dead, proving he is the Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead verified that he was indeed who he said he was. When people ask how you can know that Jesus Christ is truly the son of God, you can confidently stand on his resurrection as the proof of that claim.

He offers salvation to those who repent and believe in him. The gospel calls us to put our faith in Jesus Christ. Having faith means to trust and obey what he says is true. To repent means to turn from trusting in our own efforts, as well as to be sorry for our sinful ways. As you turn to Christ and trust in him, he promises to give you new life.

Slide5

Next we need to believe the gospel deeply. Real faith isn’t blind. We have been given overwhelming evidence that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his son. While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we have enough evidence to commit ourselves to believe what God has promised us. We also know that Jesus’ words are true and our sins are forgiven. Christ has paid the price for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). All of the guilt and shame has been removed from us so that we can stand blameless in God sight, as children of God.

By believing the gospel, we experience a promise Jesus gave us, that of the new birth (John 3:7). This is obviously a spiritual rather than a physical birth. We become new on the inside (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When we believe the message, this promised transformation takes place. It doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles, temptations, or setbacks, but we have a new source of strength inside of us. When these truths penetrate our hearts, they shape our speech, our decisions, our emotions, and our motivations.

Slide6

It is a popular statement, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Make no mistake, it is necessary to use words. It’s like feeding hungry people, and if necessary use food. Is our responsibility and privilege to communicate this message to a lost world around us.

Many times we avoid the responsibility. It all comes down to fear. One of the best ways to overcome the fear of talking about God is to simply start stepping out in faith to initiate conversations. To overcome this obstacle, there is a simple strategy called SALT.

  • Start a conversation
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Tell the story

TheGodTest is another a tool with questions to draw out a person’s foundational beliefs, such as their understanding of God, morality, and the meaning of life. Here is a summary:

(check out the teaching / training online).

Slide7

Mankind has a problem, which is a sin problem that can only be solved with God’s solution. Imagine being sick for more than two years with a mysterious ailment that no doctor could detect. When you finally find out what is wrong, it really is good news. Now they can start treating the real problem. The gospel is like an MRI for the soul that shows the source of people’s individual problems, and the challenges in society that results from their broken relationships with God.

There are countless voices in our culture promising to help us fix our problems. Only within Christianity is security really found, our value and acceptance by God’s rest on Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice. As we are transformed into new people, we can then confront the problems in our society such as racism, injustice, and poverty.

Slide8

On a regular basis, tragedy and crisis strike our world. Whether natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, or personal tragedy and loss. It is the love and mercy shown by the followers of Jesus that have historically made a huge difference in the lives of those who are hurting. The love and sacrifice shown by believers can help take away the pain and bring real peace and comfort.

As a Christian, you invite others into small groups focused on practical issues, such as marriage, finances, or relationships. As they experience biblical truth practically impacting their lives, they will likely desire to understand the full Christian story. You could also invite them to join in mercy ministries, such as helping the homeless. It is important to identify the talents that God has given to you, and to use them for his glory.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your greatest obstacles toward being a witness for Christ? How can you overcome them?
  2. What do you most need to become an effective witness: courage, knowledge, wisdom, power?
  3. How should you pray for God to assist you to gain what you need?
  4. What opportunities might you be missing where you could be a witness?

Follow Up:

  • Read John 3:16–18. Reflect on your life in light of the power of these verses. What do they mean to you? How have you responded in your beliefs and lifestyle?
  • Read Matthew 7:16 and Galatians 5:22–23. What traits characterize your life? What do other C and receive from you?
  • Make sure to go over the God Test questions in order to better prepare yourself to share the gospel with other people.

God Test

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Having No Fear

This is the second of six in the God’s Not dead series, these are my teaching notes and slides:

Slide2One of the major themes in the movie was that of persecution; all around the world people suffer for simply having faith in Jesus. Some would argue that the world is much more tolerant today than it was centuries ago, but the facts say otherwise. In many parts of the world, people lose freedoms; and thousands of people are killed because of their faith in Christ.

While in America, tolerance is demanded for most any lifestyle or belief, yet for those who believe in Christ, they are met with systematic intolerance, which is grossly unfair and often absurd. Believers are often intimidated.

There is a challenge called moral relativism: the philosophy that teaches all beliefs are equally right and true. While people have the right to believe whatever they want about God, that doesn’t mean that all beliefs are true. Jesus warned about persecution (Mark 4:17) But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Let’s look at a three clips from the movie, about people who experienced persecution for simply having faith in Jesus, or even discussing the existence of God…

Slide4

It was all through the movie: Josh and his long time girlfriend, Martin (the Chinese student) had a very negative father and he wanted him to focus on studies and grades, not God, and Ayisha, the girl in the Muslim family, whose father wanted her to recant, that “there is one God and he is not begotten.” (John 3:16)

95% of Americans say they believe in God, but many are moral relativists who don’t try to live according to God’s Word (Josh’s girlfriend is a great example, she did not want faith to get in the way of career plans or opportunities). She scoffed at the notion that Josh would put God’s desire over her wishes.

Slide5

If we are to make a difference in the world around us, we MUST get rid of this type of paralyzing fear.

When we fear criticism: we learn that our identity and value is based on what others think instead of God’s acceptance of us.

When we fear consequences: we learn to trust in circumstances and decisions of others more than Jesus’ care for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

When we fear not attaining our goals: we learn that we have placed our hope for meaning and fulfillment in some worldly achievement over being a valuable part of God’s kingdom.

Let’s pray for a break in these strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

How to overcome fears: meditate on God’s promises (2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13).

Remember that there are 365 references to “Fear Not” or “Don’t be Afraid.”  Don’t let fear stop you from doing the right thing.

Slide6

There may be other reason why someone might be adversarial to you and your faith. Don’t respond in anger, and remember that Satan, the adversary has blinded the people of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Their hostility might be the result of painful experiences in their past, in the professor’s case, losing his mother to cancer after asking God to heal her. In session 5, we will see that suffering is a huge stumbling block for many people. Try to find out the source of their pain, Josh asked, “What happened to you?”

Others may respond negatively because they feel Christians are bigoted and narrow minded, so, in essence, they are prejudging you. (MY college story of introducing myself as a follower of Jesus, a Christian = biased).

In philosophy, there is a straw-man argument: people build a false picture of something or someone, and then they attack it. How many times do we have to dismantle the negative press and false notions about Christianity? Maybe all Christians are hypocrites. Help them realize that out of 2 billion Christians, there are likely only a few who have hurt or disappointed them.

Remember that insults are not arguments: don’t focus on the insult but on the truth and reasonableness of your beliefs. While there may be many bad things that professing Christians have done, God still exists and has an ideal.

Slide7

There is an enemy of God and mankind, Satan. He is not the red suited figure with horns and a pitchfork, but an entity of evil that exists. We are wrestling with powers and principalities and spirits that affect hearts and minds (Ephesians 6:10). The goal of our enemy is to shut down the preaching of the gospel and the truth that God exists. It is vital that you not let persecution shut you down.

The apostles were told to stop speaking of the resurrection (Acts 4:20) but they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard and did so with BOLDNESS (Acts 4:29). The Romans did not like the fact that Christians claimed loyalty to another king, in fact, every knee would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

When you are told to stop, find creative ways to put in a good word for Jesus, his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

Slide8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Cares and worries of the world can distract us from God’s purposes in our lives; we can lose focus on our mission to share the gospel. Don’t give up; negative reactions can take a toll on our self-image and sense of worth (Allan’s story in Curacao, no fruit yet remaining faithful).

Stay strong, one day people might recognize your genuine integrity and come to you during times of struggle for counsel and guidance.

Some people will see your life and they refuse to repent, just seeing you brings out their rebellion. Rather than be convicted by the truth, they will suppress the truth and in anger lash out at you.

Today there is more persecution toward Christians than in any other time in history. More believers were martyred for their faith in the 20th century than in 1900 years prior combined.

You would think that technology and globalization would allow greater tolerance and understanding to everyone, but the opposite has occurred. The claims of Christ have set him apart from all other faiths and that is the offense that caused mankind to stumble.

Keep this in mind… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

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Being a Contagious Christian

This is the second command at the Adult Stage or the Equip Level of disciple-making. Last week was on persecution and handling false accusations, and today it is how to be salt and light in the world; how to be a contagious Christian and a person of influence.

Read Matthew 5:13-16

We find our main command in Matthew 5:16 (LET your light shine), Mark 9:50 (HAVE salt in yourselves), Luke 11:35 (WATCH out). The book of Acts illustrates this principle (Acts 9:36, 26:18), and the letters, too (Philippians 2:15, Colossians 4:6, 1 Peter 2:12).

After the beatitudes, Jesus shifts from pronouncements of blessing to instructions about His “new law” (see Matthew 5:21 for example). He compares His followers to salt and light, elements commonly used as metaphors in Jesus’ day. His point in this section is to show that disciples who fail to live a kingdom lifestyle are like something tasteless or devoid of light—undesirable and of no value.

Salt was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel (see Leviticus 2:13). It is a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and a purifying agent. Jews called the law the salt of the earth. Jesus claimed that His disciples exerted this influence. Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5 speak of “a covenant of salt,” possibly describing the covenant God had established with Israel as one He would preserve forever.

Pure salt cannot lose its flavor or effectiveness, but the salt that is common in the Dead Sea area is contaminated with gypsum and other minerals and may have a flat taste or be ineffective as a preservative. Such mineral salts were useful for little more than keeping footpaths free of vegetation.

Having Lost its Savor:

The kindred noun (μωρός) means dull, sluggish;

  • applied to the mind, stupid or silly;
  • applied to the taste, insipid, flat.

The verb here used of salt, to become insipid, also means to play the fool. Our Lord refers here to the familiar fact of salt losing its pungency and becoming useless.

Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus—enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’ ”

Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Matthew 5:13). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

As preservatives, disciples are to hinder the world’s corruption. The salt deposits along the Dead Sea contain not just sodium chloride but a variety of other minerals as well. This salt can become good for nothing when the rain washes out its saltiness over the years (see Colossians 2:20).

Christians in the World:

The word “world” in the New Testament is sometimes used as in the Old Testament to mean this earth, the good natural order that God created. Usually, however, it designates humanity as a whole, now fallen into sin and moral disorder, radically opposed to God. People in the world incur guilt and shame by their misuse of created things. Paul can even speak of creation itself yearning for deliverance from the evil occasioned by the fall of Adam and Eve (Rom. 8:20–23).

Christians are sent into the world of fallen humanity by their Lord (John 17:18) to witness to it about God’s Messiah and His kingdom (Matthew 24:14, Romans 10:18, Colossians 1:6, 23) and to serve its needs. But they are to do so without…

  1. Falling victim to its materialism (Matthew 6:19–24, 32)
  2. Its lack of concern about God and eternity (Luke 12:13–21)
  3. Its pursuit of pleasure and status above all else (1 John 2:15–17).

The outlook and mindset of human societies reflect more of the pride seen in Satan, who for now continues to influence them (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 5:19, Luke 4:5–7), than the humility seen in Christ. Christians are to empathize with people’s anxieties and needs in order to serve them and communicate God’s love for them effectively.

Christians are to consider themselves pilgrims in this fallen world, through which they momentarily pass as they travel home to God (1 Peter 2:11). The Bible sanctions neither monastic withdrawal from this world (John 17:15) nor worldliness (Titus 2:12). Jesus encourages His disciples to match the ingenuity of the unredeemed who use their resources to further their goals, but specifies that the disciples’ proper goals have to do, not with earthly security, but with heavenly glory (Luke 16:9).

Christians are to be different from those around them, observing God’s moral absolutes, practicing love, and not losing their dignity as bearers of God’s image (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:17–24, Colossians 3:5–11). Separation from fallen humanity’s values and lifestyles is a prerequisite for practicing Christlikeness in positive terms (Ephesians 4:25–5:17).

The Christian’s appointed task, therefore, is threefold:

  1. The church’s main mandate is evangelism (Matthew 28:19, 20, Luke 24:46–48), and every Christian must seek to further the conversion of unbelievers, not least by the example of one’s own changed life (1 Peter 2:12).
  2. The church is to love their neighbors and should constantly lead the Christian into deeds of mercy for all people, believers and unbelievers alike.
  3. Finally, Christians are called to fulfill the “cultural mandate” that God gave to mankind at creation (Genesis 1:28–30, Psalm 8:6–8). Humanity was created to manage God’s world, and this stewardship is part of the human vocation in Christ, with God’s honor and the good of others as its goal. The Protestant “work ethic” is essentially a religious discipline, the fulfillment of a divine “calling” to be stewards of God’s creation.

Knowing that God in providential kindness and forbearance continues, in the face of human sin, to preserve and enrich His erring world (Acts 14:16, 17), Christians are to involve themselves in all forms of lawful human activity. By acting in accord with Christian values they will become salt (a preservative agent) and light (an illumination that shows the way) in the human community (Matthew 5:13–16). As Christians thus fulfill their vocation, they will transform the cultures around them.

Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). The Reformation study Bible: Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson.

Sulfa Drugs and Streetlights:

Following Christ goes far beyond private spirituality. It also involves a believer’s public life, particularly through work and participation in the community. Jesus used two metaphors to describe that dynamic: salt (Matthew 5:13) and light (Matthew 5:14–16).

In Jesus’ day, salt was used to preserve foods like fish from decay. In the same way, believers can help to preserve society from moral and spiritual decay. Of course, in our culture, salt has given way to chemical preservatives (many of which have come under attack in recent years for their alleged role in causing cancer). So Jesus might use a different metaphor were He speaking today.

Perhaps He would talk in terms of an infection-fighting drug, such as an antibiotic like penicillin, or the sulfa drugs developed in the 1940s that have proved so valuable in fighting meningitis and pneumonia. Christians can help to ward off spiritual infections and diseases in the larger society. One of the most powerful arenas for influence is the workplace, particularly jobs that affect values, laws, and public opinion. That’s why believers need to pursue careers in education, government, and journalism, among many others. They may not be able to transform the entire society, but they can use whatever influence they have to promote Christlike values and hinder evil.

Jesus also called His followers “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), an image that fits perfectly into modern society. The Lord’s first-century listeners would be astonished at the availability and importance of light in our culture. We use it not only to illuminate but also to communicate. Thus, Jesus wants us as His followers to shine, to be visible and attractive, not to bring attention to ourselves, but to bring people to God (Matthew 5:16). Again, our vocations are one of the primary means we have to reflect Christ to others.

Jesus’ teaching here challenges us as His followers to ask:

  1. How are we engaging our society?
  2. What spiritual infections are we fighting to overcome?
  3. What positive changes are we trying to promote?
  4. What impact for God are we having through our work?
  5. Have we lost our saltiness (Matthew 5:13)?
  6. Are we standing like burned-out streetlights, ineffective and waiting to be removed? Or are we shining brilliantly with the love and truth of Christ?

Word in life study Bible. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 5:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Questions Regarding Christian Influence:

1. Since coming to Christ, do you have a greater influence on the world around you or does it have a greater influence on you?

2. Without what positive attitude would we become isolated from the world (Matthew 5:11-12)? Rejoicing and being glad. When persecution comes because we are Christians, and the world casts insults at us, without this positive attitude, we would huddle up and avoid the world for the sake of self-preservation and avoidance of persecution.

3. Do you spend more or less time with friends that you had before you followed Christ?

4. In what ways do you see yourself as a difference maker in your spheres of influence (work, neighborhood, extended family, marketplace)?

5. What is the first step in Christ’s simple strategy to make a difference in the world (Matthew 5:13, Colossians 4:16, Luke 4:22)?

6. What happens when your talk doesn’t match your walk (Matthew 5:13)? Your Christian witness is damaged. Tasteless salt is good for nothing but to be thrown out sand trampled underfoot, which happens to the believer who lives contrary to the claims of Christ. This is a false profession of faith. The person is claiming to be a follower of Christ yet has no lifestyle to back up that claim.

I’m not talking about verbal witnessing. The fact is that we are ALL witnesses if we profess to be followers and disciples of Jesus; the issue is whether we will be GOOD witnesses or BAD witnesses.

7. What did people do with contaminated salt in the first century Palestine (Matthew 5:13)? They would throw it away as unusable; it was no longer useful in the purpose for which it was created.

8. What is the second step in Christ’s strategy for making an impact on our world (Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:15)? We are the light of the world, setting an example of righteousness. Those without Christ are lost and dying is a world of darkness looking for hope. Imagine walking through your house with no power, no streetlamp, no night light, no moon light, no candles… in total darkness. Remember the joy as the power returns, the fear dissipates, the darkness flees, we are again part of a community in view of one another.

9. Jesus refers to what good works (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14)? These are OUR good works; yet these works are not for OUR benefit. They reveal a deeper relationship we have with the living God. God affects not only our theology, but our sociology. We live in a world that need

10. How do you feel when someone does something extraordinarily unselfish for you just because you matter a lot to God and them? Do you have an example to share?

11. Jesus came to not only seek and save, but also to do what (Matthew 20:28, Luke 19:10)?

12. What is the purpose of letting our light shine (Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12)?

13. What is the lie we believe that hinders us from adopting the strategy of Jesus (Matthew 5:15)?

Relational Network Diagram“The pulpit, not the media, is to be the most powerful voice in our land.” Bill Gothard

How to Become a Contagious Christian: (Hybels and Mittelberg, 1994)

HP + CP + CC = MI
High Potency + Close Proximity + Clear Communication = Maximum Impact

1. Develop a Contagious Christian character: Difference makers are highly potent in Christian character.

Here is how The Messages translates Matthew 5:13… Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

The ATTRACTIVENESS of authenticity (honest, truthful, genuine) – Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and SINCERITY of heart (Acts 2:46). We must be authentic in identity, emotional life, confession, living by conviction (in class I will tell about my Marine friend trained to correctly make up his bunk).

The PULL of compassion

  • Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)
  • Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:41)
  • But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
  • But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. (Matthew 12:7)
  • “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory. (Matthew 12:20)

The STRENGTH of sacrifice… small investments make big dividends. Sacrifices move people, melting the heart, they stop in their tracks and ask, “Why would you go out of your way for me?”

  • And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)
  • So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:10)

2. Build Spiritually Strategic Relationships: Difference makers are in close proximity with lost people; there is no impact without contact.

Radical identification while maintaining a radical difference… (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 17:25, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 1:20-21, 3:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 6:12, James 1:27, 1 John 2:15-17).

  • “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (John 17:6)
  • I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
  • As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:18)

Rubbing shoulders with irreligious people

  • The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:19)
  • For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; (Hebrews 7:26)

“Unconventional approaches that strategically mix the spiritual “haves” and “have-nots” are not merely acceptable; they are essential to God’s redemptive efforts.” – Bill Hybels (Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s Day parties)

3. Do ministry outside the four walls of the church: difference makers have a healthy ministry image and presence in their community. Here is the life of Jesus…

  • Jesus was invited to come and do ministry (John 4:45-47).
  • The new spread quickly (Luke 4:14, Matthew 4:24, Mark 7:36-37, Luke 7:11, 16-18).
  • People came from all over to hear him (Luke 6:17-19, 8:4, Mark 6:31, Matthew 15:3).
  • People were “wowed” (Luke 5:27, Mark 2:12, 5:20, Matthew 9:33, 15:31, Mark 7:37).
  • People immediately recognized him (high profile, Mark 6:54-56).
  • This kind of influence was repeated in the early church (Acts 2:47).

A healthy ministry image affects three areas:

  1. The degree to which people will learn.
  2. The intensity level people will have in identifying with the cause of the group.
  3. The amount of effort people will expend in bringing others into the group.

All of this is called, “attractional” but let’s look at four characteristics of Jesus’ ministry that fueled his healthy ministry image:

  1. A clear mission (Mark 1:38, Luke 4:43, 19:10, Matthew 20:28). He did not waiver in his mission; he was focused and clear. He was about making disciples who would take the mission and carry it on from generation to generation.
  2. A message of hope (Luke 4:18, Matthew 4:17). Jesus offered words of life, the good news. He spoke it with authority and grace proclaiming the time is fulfilled and the kingdom is at hand (Mark 1:15).
  3. A lifestyle of grace and truth (John 1:14, Luke 4:22). His words were full of grace yet full of truth, a winning combination.
  4. An attitude of expectancy (Matthew 6:30, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20, also Matthew 18:10, 15:28). Jesus was always dependent on the Father and constantly expected supernatural workings of the Spirit. He also challenged people to have great faith.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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Come and Follow Me

Having completed the first six commands at the Infant Stage, we are now into the first of four commands in this Youth Stage. In John 1 Jesus called to the disciples, “Come and see” (John 1:39), indicating that Jesus is a person worth investigating. Now Jesus calls this fishermen to “Come and follow me” (Matthew 4:19-22).

For nine month between the events of John 1 and Matthew 4, the disciples were investigating the words and works of Jesus.

  1. At the wedding at Cana the disciples became believers (John 2:11)
  2. They went to Capernaum and visited with Jesus (John 2:12)
  3. They celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:13-25)
  4. They were present when Jesus and Nicodemus had their nighttime meeting (John 3:1-21)
  5. They spent time in Judea with Jesus (John 3:22)
  6. They went with Jesus through Samaria (John 4:1-42)

While in Samaria, Jesus cast vision into these early disciples, to have a heart for the lost (John 4:35-36). They experienced the excitement of seeing people come to faith in Christ. This stirred something in these young believers. They saw Jesus do it but didn’t have the person “how to” class, so the disciples went back to fishing, and then Jesus came to Galilee (John 4:44-45) preaching in the surrounding areas (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14b-15, Luke 4:14b-15). Jesus preached the gospel in Cana (John 4:46-54) and preached and was rejected in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-31a), before they settled in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16).

Jesus is now trying to establish these disciples in their faith in order to grow them toward maturity. They needed training in evangelism, Jesus wanted it to be a part of their DNA. “Follow Me” is the first command in the Youth Stage (or Build Level) of discipleship. The following are the areas of spiritual formation upon which Jesus focused in this phase:

  1. Decisiveness: Jesus invited new believers into an accountability relationship to be trained in evangelism. They had to decide whether they wanted Jesus to make them into fishers of men. We live in a culture where no one likes to be made to do anything. (Matthew 4:18-22)
  2. Spiritual Warfare: Their first experience was a confrontation with the spirit world, in of all places, in church (Mark 1:21-28)
  3. Peer Care (acts of compassion): Jesus served others out of a heart of compassion (Mark 1:30-31).
  4. Solitude: Jesus modeled getting away to a lonely place to seek the Father in order to set his priorities (Mark 1:35-39).
  5. Dropouts: Jesus addressed the fears of his disciples who returned to their fishing business after committing to this Youth Stage (Luke 5:1-11). Maybe believers don’t follow through and need encouragement and nudging.
  6. Peer Share (friendship evangelism): Jesus maximizes his relationship with Matthew to reach his lost friends (Matthew 9:10-13).
  7. Spiritual Disciplines: Jesus assured the disciples of John the Baptist that the spiritual habits like fasting and prayer would need to be practiced (Matthew 9:14-15).
  8. Flexible Conscience: Jesus carefully fulfilled the law and exercised his freedom in amoral areas. Training the conscience is important to help the new believer obey God’s commands yet be flexible enough to exercise the freedom to use their new wineskins (structures, forms, approaches) to culturally adapt to their target audience when sharing the gospel (Matthew 9:16-17).
  9. Sabbath Rest: Jesus honored the sabbath (Matthew 12:1-21) yet refused to obey the traditions of men. He taught that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). They needed to establish rhythm in life and avoid ministerial burnout.

Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20

  1. What were the brothers doing when Jesus called them? Casting their nets. The phrase identifies their habitual employment; a humble vocation that called for skill, alertness, patience, and persistence.
  2. What were the second pair of brothers doing when Jesus called them? In the boat mending their nets; repairing or cleaning the nets after a night’s work. The idea was to “restore to a former condition.”
  3. What do we know about the fishing business on the Sea of Galilee? Nine towns and Bethsaida could be translated “Fishtown.” It was big business, so we must put to rest the idea that these men were ignorant and in poverty. While they were not trained in theology, they were NOT illiterate, stupid, or destitute. They had given up MUCH to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27).
  4. How did both sets of brothers respond to Jesus’ call? They immediately left their nets. The call was instant and complete; they were not indecisive.
  5. How might father Zebedee felt? While the boys made a sacrifice to follow Jesus, their father also involved sacrifice since this was no small fishing company. There were hire men. The sons and heirs walked away, perhaps the nickname, “sons of thunder” applies to Zebedee’s reaction thundering at this situation watching his boys walk away from all he had built up for them.
  6. Who was Zebedee’s wife? He name was apparently Salome (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40) and even was Mary’s sister (John 19:25). So, James and John were cousins of Jesus.
  7. Why does Jesus call two pairs of brothers? Jesus was beginning a relational movement; the brothers knew other family and others in the business. The expansion of the early church was through household evangelism (Matthew 10:11-14, Acts 2:46, 5:42, 10:2, 11:14, 16:15, 31, 33-34, 18:8, 20:20, Romans 16:5, 10-11, 1 Corinthians 1:16, 16:15, Philippians 4:22, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2).
  8. What motivated them to answer the call of Jesus? They were tired of stinky fish. They watched Jesus model evangelism and they were convinced that they wanted to invest their lives for destinies rather than dollars.
  9. What do we learn about the leadership style of Jesus?
    1. Jesus was a relationship builder.
    2. Jesus cast a vision for seeing souls saved.
    3. Jesus took initiative to approach lost people.
    4. Jesus made the “ask” and engaged people in spiritual conversations.
    5. Jesus promised to shoulder the responsibility, “I will” make you fishers of men.
  10. What was required of these disciples other than a willingness to follow?
  11. What did you leave behind in order to follow Christ?
  12. Where are you spiritually?
    1. Preparing the nets?
    2. Leaving the boat?
    3. Following hard after Jesus?
    4. Feeling left behind?

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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Writing Your Testimony

Command six in this WIN or Infant stage is on evangelism (click here for the overview chart). Here is a list of what we have covered up to this point…

  1. Invitation – Come and See (John 1:35-51)
  2. Salvation – Repent and Believe (Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:17, Luke 4:14b-15)
  3. Fear is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:4-12)
  4. Greed is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:13-21)
  5. Baptism is that First Step of Obedience (Matthew 28:19-20)
  6. Evangelism Comes from the Joy of Our New Found Faith (John 4:3-42)

If you intend to be effective in evangelism, you need to be clear on your personal testimony. Your testimony is the story of how you began your spiritual journey with Jesus. This is good old fashioned way to open the door for a presentation of the gospel.

Preparation is helpful because you want to express yourself well enough so the other person can understand. Choose the right words, the flow of your story, knowing how to begin, and how to wrap it up. Throughout the early church, God’s people have stood up in rivers, baptisteries, pools, and even hot tubs sharing their testimony of how Christ saved them.

Let’s look at John 4:29-30, 39-42, John 9:10-11, 25 and Revelation 12:11

Testimony of the Samaritan Woman (John 4:29-30): This woman trusted Jesus to be the Messiah and invited the men of the city to “come and see” for themselves; to consider Jesus’ words and works. Many trusted Jesus because of her testimony.

Testimony of the Man Born Blind (John 9:10-11, 25): The man did not have all the answers (John 9:12, 15, 17, 25, 35-36) and neither will we have all the answers to a skeptic’s questions, but one thing is undeniable, your life has been changed. They can deny your doctrine and question your beliefs or theology, but they can’t take away from you what Jesus has done in your life.

Testimony is a Weapon to Overcome Satanic Attack (Revelation 12:11): Not only is your testimony a tool to sharing Jesus with others, but it is a powerful weapon for spiritual warfare. When Satan (the adversary) accuses you of some sin you have already confessed (1 John 1:9), puts you on a guilt trip (Revelation 12:10), and places doubts in your mind concerning your salvation, you can revisit your testimony to be reminded that Christ has forgiven all of your sins (Colossians 1:13, 1 John 2:12).

Let’s look at Acts 26:1-29

Read the passage and focus on what Paul’s life was like before meeting Christ, his salvation experience (how he came to Christ), and his transformed life after coming to Christ.

  1. Before – Personal failure (Acts 26:2-11, 9:1-2, 22:3-5, 19-20)
  2. How – The Damascus Road experience (Acts 26:12-18, 9:3-18, 22:6-11)
  3. After – the benefits or fruit of salvation (Acts 26:19-29, 9:19b-22, 22:12-16)

Paul’s testimony was so clear that when King Agrippa heard it, he said, “in a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).

Chronological Format: in the order it happened. You might use this if you came to Christ later in life and have some information to share prior to conversion.

Historical Overview / Flashback Format: you give an interesting and rapid overview of your life up to the present time. The overview takes the place of the “before” in your testimony. Then flash back to the spiritual dimension, going to the event bringing you faith in Christ. You might use this format if you came to Christ early in life and cannot remember much of your “sinful and lost life” prior to coming to Christ.

Let’s look at Galatians 1:13-14, 1 Timothy 1:13a, 15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Paul’s Before Christ: Identify key words that describe Paul’s life and failures before coming to Christ.
Your Before Christ: Write it out! Look to God for help. Seek wisdom and insight on what to include. This requires authenticity. Name your past sins (without details, Ephesians 5:12) but don’t glory in your shame (Philippians 3:19). Don’t reminisce over pre-conversion achievements. Paul counted all that as loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:8). This part is not your hall of fame, but your hall of shame, your failures. Our past failures will keep us humble (1 Timothy 1:15).

Let’s look at Galatians 1:15 and 1 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul’s Moment of Salvation: Identify key words in these verses that describe Paul’s salvation.
Your Moment of Salvation: Describe the circumstance around your coming to Christ: where you were, what life was like, how God spoke to you, how did you become aware of your sin and guilt, what you actually did to trust Christ?

Let’s look at Galatians 1:15-24 and 1 Timothy 1:12

Paul’s After: Identify key words that describe the change in Paul since his conversion.
Your After: What are the changes in your life now that you have come to Christ? Freedom, how to cope with anger to tear up problem and not people, your desires, purpose, meaning in life, benefits of having eternal life?

Testimony Tips:

  1. Design it for a non-Christian who doesn’t know the religious clichés, jargon, and theological terminology.
  2. Design it to share one on one or in a small group, casual, not formal. It should sound conversational.
  3. Design it to be a door opener rather than a convincing tool. Use “I” and “ME” rather than “YOU.” Share, don’t preach. While it has happened to you, perhaps they will want to explore Jesus further.
  4. Design it to be winsome, not offensive. Let the message of the cross be the only offensive thing in your testimony (1 Corinthians 1:23).
  5. Design it without too much reminiscing.
  6. Design it in a general way so that more people can identify with your story. Don’t use specific churches and denominations. Avoid using dates and ages. If you were saved at a very early age, say something like, “when I was growing up…”
  7. Design it to include some humor or human interest. When a person laughs it reduces tension.
  8. Design it to speak about Christ, not the church. Emphasize more faith than feelings. Be simple and direct as you describe what you did or what you prayed or what you said.
  9. Design it to be human and honest as you talk. Don’t promise that all their problems will end if they become a Christian. That is not true. The problems don’t go away but now they have the Great Problem Solver in their life.
  10. Design it to be warm and genuine. A smile breaks down more barriers than a hammer of cold, hard facts. Let your enthusiasm flow freely. It is hard to convince someone of the joy in Christ when our faces are like a prison warden. Be positive and encouraging and courteous. No one is arm-wrestled into the kingdom. Insults and put-downs turn people off.

A Graphic on Your Story:

Patterns-07-YourStory

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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The Command of Baptism

We are now up to the fifth command in this initial infant stage, or Win Level. So far we have…

  1. Come and see – John 1:39
  2. Repent and Believe – Mark 1:14-15
  3. Fear as a barrier to faith / Do not Fear – Luke 12:5-7
  4. Greed as a barrier to faith / Covetousness – Luke 12:15

This lesson focuses on the topic of water baptism, which is the first step of obedience for a new believer. Jesus baptized new converts and instructs us to do the same.

Historical Background: The gospel of John is the only one to bear witness to Jesus’ early Judean ministry, which lasted about nine months. The synoptics don’t reveal this time period which took place between Matthew 4:11 and Matthew 4:12 (Mark 1:13-14, Luke 4:13-14). Jesus came to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13, about April) and stayed until about four months before the harvest (John 4:35). During this time he cleansed the temple (John 2:13-22), performed miracles (John 2:23, 3:2), and baptized disciples (John 3:23). We have very few details about what he actually said and did.

For a short time his ministry overlapped with John the Baptist; imagine the countryside with people and two great preachers, both preaching about repentance and the kingdom of God. They both had disciples, large crowds followed them, and both baptized. In John 3:22, the reference to Jesus baptizing may indicate that he oversaw baptisms done by his disciples (John 4:2).

During this time the influence of Jesus was rising and that of John was declining, just has John desired (John 3:30). John’s disciples may have seen this competition as a setback and the reason for the discussion in John 3:22-36.

Baptizing is commanded in the gospels: Matthew 28:19, and other references are throughout the gospels: Matthew 3:6, 11, 13-14, 16, 18:18, Mark 1:4-5, 8-9, 7:4, 16:16, Luke 3:7, 12, 16, 21, 7:29-30, 11:38, John 1:25-26, 28, 31, 33, 3:22-23, 26, 4:1-2, 10:40.

We find baptism in Acts 1:5, 2:38, 41, 8:12-13, 16, 36, 38, 9:18, 10:47-48, 11:16, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:3-5, 22:16.

Baptism is even found in the letters: 1 Corinthians 1:13-17, 1 Peter 3:21.

Let’s look at John 3:22-24

1. Identify the two things Jesus was doing while he was in the Judean countryside (John 3:22). Spending time with the disciples and baptizing converts.

2. Why did Jesus chose to baptize in Aenon near Salim (John 3:23)? He baptized there because there was much water there. The Bible indicates that the amount of water needed was “much water.” John did a lot of baptizing in the Jordan, too (Mark 1:5), although the exact location is not known, but is likely in the region of Samaria. Aenon is transliterated Hebrew meaning “springs” which also indicates a lot of water was needed.

3. Which mode of baptism does John seem to support (John 3:23)? Immersion, very similar to what we find in Acts 8:38-39, where they “went down into” and “came up out of” the water. This clearly teaches immersion.

The Didache supports immersion, too. “And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.” From the Didache, chapter 7, written about AD 100, one of the earliest known writings on baptism.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 and Romans 6:3-4

1. What does the word “baptism” mean? Charles Ryrie puts it this way:

Theologically, baptism may be defined as an act of association or identification with someone, some group, some message, or some event. Baptism into the Greek mystery religions associated the initiates with that religion. Jewish proselyte baptism associated the proselyte with Judaism. John the Baptist’s baptism associated His followers with His message of righteousness (he had no group for them to join). (Incidentally, John was apparently the first person ever to baptize other people—usually baptisms were self-administered.)

  • For James and John to be baptized with Christ’s baptism meant to be associated with His suffering (Mark 10:38–39).
  • To be baptized with the Spirit associates one with the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) and with the new life in Christ (Rom. 6:1–10).
  • To be baptized into Moses involved identification with his leadership in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt (1 Corinthians 10:2).
  • Baptized for the dead means to be identified with the Christian group and take the place of a believer who had died (1 Corinthians 15:29).
  • Christian baptism means identification with the message of the Gospel, the person of the Savior, and the group of believers.

Some of the baptisms listed do not involve water. Also observe how impoverished we would be without a proper understanding of the meaning and ramifications of baptism.

The word baptizo really means, “to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge,” or, “to dip in or under water.” The definition of baptism will determine the mode of baptism (immersion, pouring, sprinkling). The Church of England practiced sprinkling before the Bible was translated into English in 1611. Rather than translate the word, they transliterated the word, so they would not contradict the doctrine of baptism, which held to sprinkling.

Patterns-06-Baptism2. According to John 4:2, Jesus did not personally baptize, but his disciples did the baptizing on his behalf. What would be a reason Jesus would not baptize people personally?

  • To put a difference between John’s baptism and his baptism: John baptized all himself, as a servant, which Christ was a master.
  • To apply more time to preaching, which was a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 1:17).
  • To put honor upon his disciples, empowering and employing to them to do this work, training them for future service.

If Jesus baptized people, people would tend to value themselves more than others, which Paul had to deal with in 1 Corinthians 1:13-14.

Jesus would reserve himself the honor of baptizing with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

Let’s look at Acts 8:36-38 and Acts 10:47-48

1. What does Jesus command the discipler to make sure that a new converts are baptized (Matthew 28:19)? Baptism is the first step of obedience for a new believer. To go public with your faith is a sign of being genuine. Remember that the imperative verb here is “make disciples.” The three participles (go, baptize, teach) help the main verb.

We are to GO and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15) and then baptize the convert. If they refuse to be baptized, we can doubt their conversion. If they are unwilling to take this first step of obedience, we can be sure that the rest of the commands of Jesus will be debated. We don’t just TEACH, we teach them to OBSERVE all that Jesus commanded.

2. How did the early church obey this Great Commission (Acts 1:5, 2:28, 41, 8:12-13, 16, 36, 38, 9:18, 10:47-48, 11:16, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:3-5, 22:16)?

  • Peter commanded that new converts be baptized (Acts 10:43-44, 47-48).
  • Paul baptized as a part of the disciplemaking process (Acts 14:21, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:5, 1 Corinthians 1:14, 16).

3. Who is qualified to be baptized (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 35, 38, 10:44, 47, 16:14-15, 18:8)? Only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are candidates for baptism (Acts 8:36-37, 10:44, 47, Romans 8:9, 16).

Let’s look at Acts 2:37-41

1. What should precede baptism (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 35, 38, 10:44, 47, 16:14-15, 18:8)? Candidates must place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.

  • They gladly received the word (Acts 2:41)
  • They believed Philip as he preached (Acts 8:12)
  • Philip preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35, 38)
  • Peter preached and these men received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44, 47).
  • Lydia opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14-15)
  • Crispus believed on the Lord (Acts 18:8)

2. When should new believers be baptized (Acts 2:41, 8:36, 16:30-33, 22:12-16)?

  • That same day (Acts 2:41)
  • At once (Acts 8:36)
  • That same hour (Acts 16:30-33) and immediately
  • Three days after being saved (Acts 9:9, 18, 22:12-16)

3. Is baptism a sacrament or an ordinance? It is an ordinance coming from the word, ordain.
Jesus ordained only two ordinances for believers: Communion and Baptism. An ordinance needed two things: sign and significance.

Those who refer to baptism as a “rite or sacrament” believe that baptism is a means of salvation. The word would literal mean, a “way of obtaining grace” or obtaining salvation. The Bible is clear that righteous deeds do not save.

  • We are saved by grace through faith, not works (like baptism would be a work, Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • It is not by works of righteousness that we have done (Titus 3:5).
  • The thief on the cross was not baptized yet had a place in paradise (Luke 23:39).

4. What about Mark 16:16? A closer examination of this verse reveals that FAITH is the issue, not baptism. Notice it does NOT say that if you do not believe “and are not baptized” you will be condemned. The only thing that condemns a person is refusal to place their faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.

If you’re riding a bus to NYC, you simply sit down and reach your destination. What happens when you get on the same bus but don’t sit down? Will you still get to your destination? If you place your faith in Jesus and are not baptized, you will still get to your destination. If you choose not to get on the bus, you won’t reach your destination. If you choose not to trust Jesus for your salvation, you won’t get to heaven.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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