A Healthy Church Member Is A Growing Disciple-Maker (Part3)

February 1, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos

We continue today to look at the 8th mark of a healthy church member, which is a growing disciple-maker.   In our last study we looked at Ephesian 4:11-16 and we learned about God’s grand vision for His church which is every member becoming a disciple-maker.   From this passage we learned that God’s will for the leaders of the church, particularly the pastor-teachers, is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”   Unfortunately, the typical picture of the pastor in Evangelical churches is a professional clergyman who is the main spiritual caregiver.In this way of thinking members view the pastor as a trained professionalwho is paid to do everything for them. The pastor is expected to fulfill certain responsibilities such as:   (The ideas below more or less come from The Trellis and the Vine, pp. 96-98.)  
  • To organize the Sunday Worship Gathering and make sure that the congregation is gathered for prayer, praise, and preaching
  • To preach on Sundays and to administer the monthly Lord’s Supper
  • To conduct various occasional services such as baptisms, dedications, weddings, and Necrological services
  • To personally counsel members of the congregation, especially in times of crisis
What are the disadvantages of this model?  
  • The pastor does all the work of ministry
  • Members can become spoiled on being cared for by the pastor so that if it is not the pastor who renders the service, this is seen as inadequate.
  • In this model it becomes very easy for the congregation to think of church almost entirely in terms of ‘what I get out of it,’ and so it is so easy for them to slip into criticizing and complaining when things aren’t to their liking.
  • Ministry to the congregation will be limited to the gifts and abilities of the pastor: how effectively he preaches, and how many people he can personally know and counsel.
  • Also, the majority of members are not ministered to because the focus is on the unhealthy person in crisis. People learn that if they want the pastor’s attention, they had better have a problem.
  • As the church grows, there is no way for one pastor to minister to the entire congregation and so the pastor experiences burnout.
  Going back to Ephesians 4:11-12, we learn that Christ’s grand plan for pastor-teachers is to equip the saints. I repeat, the job of the pastor is not to play all of the positions on the team but to train God’s people so that they fulfill their calling of doing the “work of ministry.”     From Ephesians 4 we also learned about God’s grand vision for the saints or for the members of the church; it is to do the work of ministry.   Church leaders equip the people of God so that these members can do the work of ministry to the congregation and the community. The phrase “work of ministry” brings to mind a picture that is radically different from the habits of ordinary normal Christians such as going to church every Sunday where we sing a few songs, try to concentrate on the prayers and hear a sermon. Then we chat to people afterwards, and then go home for a normal week of work or study or whatever it is that we do, in time to come again next week. We might read our Bible and pray during the week. We may even attend a small group. People may attend small groups and get to know each other, feel a sense of togetherness and community, develop warm friendships and as a result feel more bound to attend regularly in the church but it should be obvious that Paul meant something more than all these when he said “work of ministry.”   What did Paul mean by the phrase “work of ministry”? In Ephesians 4:15 Paul explains it by using another phrase:“speaking the truth in love.”And so the phrases “work of ministry” and “speaking the truth in love” are parallel. They refer to the same thing.   “Speaking the truth in love” or “work of ministry” isprayerfully and lovingly communicating gospel truth through ongoing and intimate one-another relationships, to promote the unity and maturity of the body of Christ for the glory of God.     Speaking the truth in love involves the following:
  • 1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
  • Eph 5:18-19 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…
  • Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, …
  • 1Co 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
  • Heb 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
  • Tit 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,
  • Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • 1Pe 3:15 - but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
      What do all these mean in practice? Here are some ways in which any Christian might “speak the truth in love” to someone else in the name of Christ: (The ideas below more or less come from The Trellis and The Vine, pp. 54-55)
  • Noel rides a taxi from the airport and begins a conversation with the driver. Noel tactfully turned their conversation to spiritual matters and and the driver begins to ask questions about Christianity. Noel shares his testimony and responds to his questions with respect and wisdom. He invites him to listen to the Shepherd’s Call radio programto learn more. Noel continues to pray for the driver that other opportunities to hear the gospel may arise and be saved.
  • Joey is asked by his workmate Ben what he did on the weekend, and he replies that he heard an excellent sermon in church that helped him understand for the first time what was really wrong in the world. When Ben asked him to elaborate, Joey explains why sin and God’s judgment explain the problems in our world. Joey continues to pray for Ben that these sorts of opportunities would continue and that Ben’s heart would be softened to respond to the message.
  • Franco is having real problems in high school, and as Abe talks to him in their small group, he reassures him that God is stronger and more faithful than any friend and prays with him.
  • Billy is chatting to Jun after church, and shares with him how encouraged he was by a particular verse in the bible that day.
  • Michael meets one to one every week with a new attendee in the church. They use The Gospel that Saves manual to work through the elements of the gospel.
  • Marisol is concerned about her brotherRudy, who has been missing church quite a lot. Marisol talks him and shares with him from 1st Corinthians and offers encouragement. The next day, Rudy confesses his disappointment with the church and its leaders and admits that he is doubting God already. She also offers to pray for him and meet with him again to discuss his struggles and counsel with him until he is restored to God and the church.
  • Juvie goes to a Bible study group for troubled young women each week. She makes sure that she has read and thought about the passage before she goes, and prays that God would help her to say true and encouraging things to the group.
  • Nanay Ely is quite elderly and finds it hard to get out, but she phones her friend Delia every week to talk to her about the passage she has read that morning and prayer with her over the phone.
  • Malou has been praying for her friend Nimfa for months, and finally invites her to an evangelistic evening that her church is running. On the way home in the car, Malou talks to Nimfa about the message, and does her best to answer Nimfa’s questions.
  • Dennis rearranges his work schedule so that he can take Wednesday morning off to teach a Bible class in a public high school. He and his wife end up doing this for many years, and have an enormous impact on the lives of kids and teachers in that school.
  Again, those are some practical examples of “speaking the truth in love.” If you change the names and the details and you will find real examples of Christians bringing the truth of God to other people. It can happen at home, at work, at church, in small groups, in a coffee shop, in the basketball court—anywhere. This is the Great Commission in action. This is the work of ministry. The aim of Christian ministry is not to build attendance on Sunday, get more people into small groups, and add to the membership roll. The end goal is to make disciples who make other disciples, to the glory of God. We want to see people converted from being dead in their transgressions to being alive in Christ; and, once converted, to be followed up and established as mature disciples of Jesus; and, as they become established, to be trained in knowledge, godliness and skills so that they will in turn make disciples of others. This is Christ’s grand vision for the church: every member becoming disciple-making disciples.   Now I want us to explore this end goal more systematically.   What does a maturing disciple look like? Romans 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.   Many of us know that the book of Romans contains Paul’s most systematic presentation of the gospel. Paul has finished writing his doctrinal essay in chapters 1-8, andmadesome applications in 9:1-15;13. In some points of his letter, his admonitions were in strong words, especially in chap. 14:1-4,10. This may suggest that Paul was implying that the Romans believers were very much lacking in love, knowledge, and ability to minister to one another. And so Paul begins this section of personal messages (or some would call the Epilogue) with complements or the Roman believers.   He begins by saying, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers.”What he means is this, “As far as I personally am concerned, “I am persuaded that you personally are Christians of solid maturity.” The phrase“am satisfied” is perfect tense. It has this sense, "I have been completely persuaded with the result that I have arrived at a settled conviction." Wuest’s translation: But I have reached a settled conviction, my brethren, even I myself, concerning you,   Paul compliments the Roman Christians in three areas.  
  1. First, he says they are “full of goodness.” This basically refers to a morally upright character, a general goodness of the heart that loves righteousness and opposes all that is evil.
  That the Romans were full of goodness is hyperbole, an exaggerated language that should not be taken literally. It means that they had a “plentiful supply” of goodness and not just an occasional episode of it. This means that the Roman believers hadspiritually maturity and moral virtue. The believers in Rome hated evil and loved righteousness, attitudes their lives clearly displayed. This is indeed a high compliment. This was opposite of the believers in Corinth as reflected in 1 Corinthians.  
  1. Paul next praises the church at Rome for being “filled with all knowledge.” Also, Paul is not saying they had knowledge of every possible topic. Paul is saying that they were doctrinally sound. John Gill writes that this does not mean being filled with
  “…every sort of knowledge, with the knowledge of all languages, or of all the arts and sciences, of all things, natural and political; but with all spiritual knowledge relatingto God, his nature and perfections, his mind and will; to Christ and the work of redemption by him; to the Spirit and the operations of his grace; to the Gospel and the doctrines of it; to their duty to God, fellow creatures, and fellow Christians; in short, with all knowledge necessary to salvation, though as yet not perfect, and which will not be in this world, but in another.”   Someone said, “The very depth of the essay on salvation which is the heart of this letter shows Paul's confidence in the mature level of their understanding; this is no doctrinal primer!”   Paul's commendation of the Romans' goodness and knowledge together is a rebuke to those Christians who deliberately deemphasize doctrine and focus entirely on loving interpersonal relationships as the essence of Christianity. Character and knowledge should always be together.  
  1. Paul’s third commendation of the Romans is that they are “able to instruct one another.” The word “instruct”is from the Greek word “noutheteō,”which literally means “to put something into someone's mind.”It denotes the ability to influence the mind and disposition by instruction, exhortation, warning, correction, and rebuke—and all of these have to do with moral training. Paul is basically saying that the Roman Christians do not need for him to admonish them, for they are fully capable of admonishing, encouraging and giving practical, real-life wisdom and counsel to one another, using God’s Word.
  All of the things that Paul says about the Roman believers can be summarized by three Cs.  
  • Character—the godly character and life that accords with the gospel and sound doctrine.
  • Conviction—knowledge of God, understanding of the Bible and the gospel in particular.
  • Competency—the ability to prayerfully speak God word to others in a variety of ways.
  This means that a disciple who knows how to disciple others is steadily growing and balanced in three areas of the Christian life: – Head - Christian conviction – Heart - Christlike character – Hands - Competence in ministry   In practical terms, what does a growing disciple-making disciple look like? (Some of the ideas below are taken from the Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) Apprentice Curriculum)  
  1. HEAD (Christian Conviction)
  • Has a high view of God’s Word.
  • Demonstrates discipline in daily Bible reading and meditation.
  • He knows how to listen, read, interpret, and apply God’s Word.
    1. THINKING BIBLICALLY (2Ti 3:16-17; 2Co 10:3-5)
  • Has a sound understanding of the gospel.
  • Has the ability to see God, themselves, and everything else they encounter in life from a biblical point of view.
  • In situations where there is no direct “thus sayeth the Lord,” he knows how to use principles, perspectives and themes of Scripture so that he lives wisely and pleases God.
  • Has the ability to discern whether a teaching is true or false.
  1. HEART (Christian Character)
  2. heart for God. (Ps 27:4; Ps 84:1-4)
  • Pursues God without a need to be coerced or manipulated.
  • Decisive and intentional in deepening his relationship with Christ.
  • Worships and enjoys God.
  • Demonstrates total reliance upon the Holy Spirit by maintaining regular prayer both in personal devotions and corporate church life.
  • Strives to do everything for God’s glory.
  • Committed to doing God’s revealed will regardless of consequences.
  1. HOLY LIVING (Ro 12:1-2; 9-21; 1Jn 2:15-16; 1Th 4:11-12; Eph 4:22-24)
  • Demonstrates a commitment to personal integrity, especially in the areas of faithfulness, truthfulness, purity and self-control.
  • Upholds a high standard of morality and maintains Christ-honoring relationships in personal, public, business, and family life
  • Abstains from habits and activities which are harmful to the body, binding to the will, damaging to Christian witness, and not glorifying to God.
  • Renounces the world, denies himself, and consecrates his life to God.
  1. Endurance in trials and suffering (Jas 1:2-4)
  • Able to meet trials of various kinds and not give up but keeps on going on in hope.
  • Able to forgive and love enemies.
  1. love for the church (Jn 13:34-35; Heb 10:24-25)
  • Believes that the church is central in Christ’s mission on earth and so the local church has a central part in a person’s life.
  • Committed to express Christlike love toward other Christians in the church
  • Faithfully attends and participates in church gatherings
  • Seeks the welfare, peace and unity of the church.
  • Prays for and with the church
  • Edifies others
  • Warns and admonishes others
  • Pursues reconciliation
  • Bears with others
  • Accountable and teachable
  • Submits to the standard of New Testament church discipline
  • Respects and submits to church leaders
  • Rejoices at the baptism of new believers and prepares for the Lord’s table
  • Supports the work of the ministry
  1. HAND (Competence in Ministry)
  2. Serving in the church
  • Uses spiritual gifts and talents to serve others (1Pe 4:10, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God 's varied grace.)
  • Can build friendships with non-Christians
  • Can explain the gospel of God’s grace
  • Can boldly urge people to respond to Christ
  • Can answer questions and objections
  • Can follow up new Christians
  • Can explain the meaning of specific passages within their immediate context and the whole message of Scripture
  • Can counsel Biblically to produce heart change
  • Can help individuals make progress in the Christian life by applying the Bible to their lives
    In closing, one of the important marks of healthy church member is a growing disciple who can make other disciples. By God’s grace, we want to see Christlike disciples who are sound in their knowledge of God’s Word and His world, strong in character and compassion, and skillful in ministry and mission by speaking gospel truth in love.