We all go through different stages as we grow in our faith. The first stage we go through is “curious.” In this stage we are starting to ask questions about God and wonder if He can really change our lives. People in this stage need to be encouraged to ask questions, but they also need to be encouraged to accept the answers, even if it’s not what they want to hear. They need to be encouraged to move from this stage to becoming believers.
The second stage is “believers.” At this point, they have decided to follow Christ. Believers need encouragement to spend time in the Word, to memorize Scripture and to be involved in a Bible- believing church. Many people spend the majority of their Christian life in this stage, but they really need to be encouraged to become disciples.
*Who were the Disciples?They were the men that Jesus poured more of Himself into. They were the ones that knew Him the best. They were the ones that Jesus taught and shared the most with. Most of us would think that we all need to be disciples, and that is true, but, more than that, we need to be disciple- makers.
*What would have happened if the Disciples stayed disciples?If the Disciples would have remained disciples, Christianity would have died out with them. Instead, they became disciple- makers. Just as Jesus had poured Himself into them, they poured themselves into others, equipping them to become disciple- makers. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:19- Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:17- Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
Luke 5:9-11- For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
Even Paul became a disciple- maker when he taught Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:2- To Timothy, a true son in the faith
*What does this mean for us?It means that we need to be Disciples of Christ, learning from Him, but then we need to be disciple- makers, going out to make disciples of others. The Great Commission tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.
Matthew 28:19-20- Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Just because we make a commitment to follow Christ does not mean that our spiritual journey is complete. All Christians should be seeking to know God better. Paul prayed for believers everywhere to “keep growing in your knowledge and understanding (Phil 1:9) and desired that Christ would “be more and more at home in your hearts” (Eph 3:17).
Philippians 1:9- And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment
Ephesians 3:17-19- that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Psalm 105:4- Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!
At the beginning of each year, I write down my goals for the year. This year, my spiritual goal was to follow Ezra’s threefold purpose. Ezra 7:10 tells us what that is: to study the law, to obey it and to teach it. I want to study God’s Word, more specifically, the teachings of Christ, so that I can obey what God has told us to do. And then, as I am applying those teachings to my life (obeying the law), I want to teach others. As I obey the Word, I hope to become more like Christ in all that I do.
Ezra 7:10- For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17- All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that we should be an example to the believers in speech (do you gossip? do talk down about people?) in conduct (do you try to live in such a way that no one can say anything bad about you?) in love, in faith and in purity. Everything that we do shows the world what Christians are like. If we aren't showing them Jesus, then who are we showing them?
1 Timothy 4:12-13: Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation and teaching.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be digging into Matthew. This book contains a considerable amount of teaching on what it means to be a disciple of Christ.