To make disciples, we first need to be disciples. Following Jesus from afar doesn’t cut it. We need to be up close and personal.
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
Our job as Christians is to evangelize the world. What does that mean? It means that we are to spread the account of Jesus Christ and His message with those we come into contact. You might say, “That’s impossible! Even Billy Graham didn’t share with everyone he came into contact.” Correct. So, we must have an incomplete view of what it means to share Christ. Jesus said for us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Paul called us the fragrance and aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
We get our marching orders from Jesus on the Mount of Olives just before He ascended to heaven, “All authority has been given to me, so go, and as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I promise to be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. Paul puts it like this, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.
How did Jesus call His own disciples? Let’s look:
- Peter and Andrew, James and John- “Come, follow Me and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19.
- Philip-“Follow Me.” John 1:43.
- Matthew-“Follow Me.” Matthew 9:9.
- The rest were appointed out of the ones who were following Him as a group-“He appointed twelve that they might be with Him…” Mark 3:14.
In each case, Jesus called them to walk with Him, to learn from Him, and to be like Him. This process is True Discipleship. Wherever did we get the idea that evangelism was having people pray a prayer? How did the process get boiled down to just one act? Where’s the commitment? Where’s the footwork?
Let’s go back further to Moses. Here’s what the LORD said to him, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:12. How about Abraham? “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1. What about Noah? Genesis 6:9-14 says that Noah was a righteous man who walked faithfully with God. It was out of one of these conversations that God told him to build the ark. Again, it was part of discipleship.
There is the office of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11-12). Evangelism is the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ; it is a call to repentance and change; it is a call to follow Christ. There are people who are called to be evangelists. Take Peter, for instance:
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:36-38
Peter had the occasion (the festival of Pentecost–all male Israelites were required to attend), the sign (tongues of fire and individual languages), the motivation (Jesus had told him to spread the Gospel), and the opportunity (all were gathered in the temple grounds for the sacrifice). These are the things we are to look for when sharing the Gospel:
- The occasion– “as you go…”
- The sign– There will be something that triggers the opportunity.
- The motivation– We listen to the Spirit and He prompts us and empowers us.
- The opportunity– We wait for the Spirit to present the right time and circumstances, the right people and the right frame of mind.
If we walk with the LORD everyday, all day, if we immerse ourselves in His Scriptures and plead with the Holy Spirit to open our minds to Him, if we converse with our brothers and sisters in Christ about the things of God, then we will find that we, too, are evangelists, and that we, too, are disciple-makers. As we walk in step with Christ, He will lead us and will present these opportunities to us. We don’t have to “conjure them up.” In fact, forcing the issue creates issues (Acts 19:13-16, the seven sons of Sceva). When the time is right and the people are ready, He will let us know.
What happens after evangelism? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s lesson on Discipleship: the True calling of Christ’s followers.
Abba, You are so faithful to keep Your word. Thank You that You don’t expect us to do anything that You do not first call us and then empower us to do. We can trust You in this matter of evangelism and also in discipleship. May You train us up in true righteousness and holiness so that we can show others The Way. Amen.