A Healthy Church Member Is A Growing Disciple-Maker (Part2)

January 25, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos


We continue today to look at the 8thmark of a healthy church member, which is a growing disciple-maker.

  In our last study I showed you that growing spiritually is clearly a concept that is derived from Scripture. We’ve seen this in the words of Jesus and in the writings of the apostles Peter and Paul. Notrue disciple of Christ is content to remain a spiritual baby. Every true disciple desires to grow spiritually. The apostle Paul,whom we could consider to be our model, writes in Philippians 3:12-14:  
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    Another thing I showed you in our last study was that the Bible teaches that Christ calls His people to be disciple-makers.We looked at Matthew 28:18-20 as the basis for this truth.   Verse 19 contains the main verb of the passage, and this is the central command of the Lord Jesus: “make disciples.”The words “go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” only modify the main command to make disciples. They describe aspects of the process of making disciples.   It should be obvious that the command to make disciples is not just for the Eleven apostles. If that were so, then after the last apostle died, Christ’s Great Commission was also terminated. There would have been no Christian living today.   The command to make disciples is also not just for missionaries. Yes, there will always be Christians who will be called by God to serve specifically as missionaries going to nations outside of their own. But the command of our Lord here does not just apply to them. It applies to all of His disciples in all generations.   Now please observe that in the command of Jesus, He does not specify any particular group of people that should be discipled. He said, “make disciples of all nations.” Did you notice the word “all”?That includes every nation in the world.   Now let me clarify the word “nations” in Matthew 28:19.In the original that word does not mean “country” like the Philippines or China or Russia. The Greek word for “nation” is “ethnos,” where we get the English word “ethnic.” And so the word “nations” here refers to anethnic community or a group of people sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, custom, and tradition. And so it is possible to have many “nations” or ethic communities in a particular country or city. For example in Davao City you have ethnic communities who share the same customs and traditions like the Badjaos, Ilocanos, Batangeños, Lumads, Kalagans. This is what you mean in this passage as “nations.” And so when you go to as near as the Badjaos living in Matina Aplaya and begin to disciple those who become Christians in that area, you are already obeying Christ’s command. You do not have to go to Saudi Arabia to obey the Great Commission. But it is also true that when you disciple your own people, those belonging to your own neighborhood or community, or church, you are also obeying Christ’s command because Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” He did not say, “Go and make disciples of othernations.  

Now another point I want to make is this. And please listen very carefully because I really believe that this is very important.

  As I reflected on the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, I realized that His command is not just to make disciples. If it were so, thenjust imagine what would happen if the last disciple-maker dies and all of the disciples he or she produced do not know how to reproduce themselves? This is what will happen.It won’t take long for Christianity to die. When all of thenon-reproducing disciples die, Christianity dies with them.   I now believe that if we are going to make disciples, the disciples we produce must be baptized (which implies that they should repent of their sins, believe in Christ, submit to His lordship), be united and committed to a local church where they learn to live with, love and serve one another. To be a disciple means not only growing personally as a disciple but it also means growing as a disciple-maker. The Lord Jesus wants His disciples to multiply themselves. His great commission is that His disciples go and make disciples who produce other disciples.  

Today, in our study, I want us to look at another central passage that will show us that God’s grand vision for His church is this: Every member becoming a disciple-maker.Please turn your bibles to Ephesians 4:11-16.


The Context of Ephesians:

Paul wrote to Christians living in Ephesus, an important port city in the province of Asia Minor. (Asia Minor today is in modern Turkey).There was no controversy or specific problem that led to the writing of the letter. Because of the absence of the phrase “in Ephesus” in several ancient manuscripts, a number of scholars believethat this letter was really a circular letter sent by Paul to the churches of Asia and it is designed for general use. The letter contains general instruction in the truths of the great redemptive work of the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the unity of the church; and the proper conduct in the church, the home, and the world. Paul wrote this letter to make Christians more aware of their spiritual wealth and position in Christ and to motivate them to walk in a manner worthy of that glorious calling with which they have been called.   This letter can be divided in two equal parts: chapters 1-3 are doctrinal while 4-6 are practical. There are no imperatives in chapters 1—3, which focus only on the believers’ spiritual blessings. But chapters 4—6 include 35 directives that speak of the believer’s responsibility to conduct himself according to his spiritual wealth.   The two divisions are: the position of the Christian (chs. 1-3) and the practice of the Christian (chs. 4-6). The first division shows who we are in Christ andthe second shows what we are to do as Christians.   One of the things that you will observe in the practical section of this letter is this: The very first thing that Paul talks about is not how to raise your children correctly, how to relate to your husband or wife in a godly way, how to be a good worker in the office, or how to influence society for Christ. The very first practical thing Paul talks about is unity and spiritual maturity (4:1-16) in the church. That gives you an idea how important the church is in the mind of God.  

Here is a bird’s eye view of Ephesians 4:1-16:

  1. The Exhortation (4:1-3) - 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  2. The Basis of our spiritual Unity: The Triune God and His One Work of Salvation (4:4-6) - 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
  3. The Means to Unity and Spiritual maturity in the church (4:7-12) - 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
  4. The Goal (4:13-16) - 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
  Now I want to focus on vv. 11-16 to see God’s grand vision for His church: Every member becoming a disciple-maker.  

Let’s look at v. 11 – This shows us the different gifted people that Christ gave to the church after his resurrection and ascension.

  • First we have the They have seen the Lord and they are appointed directly by Jesus. They performed miracles to authenticate the fact that they are called. Jesus established the church through them and their teaching. Now the Apostles are not permanent and their role in the church is to be the foundation with Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. We read this in Ephesians 2:20.
  • Next we have the Along with the apostles, they are part of the foundation. Their role in the church is also temporary.
  • Next we have the Their primary function is to preach and defend the gospel. They are uniquely gifted to evangelize unbelievers, which is their special passion. They are given to stir up the church to evangelize.
  • Next we have the shepherds and teachers.In the footnote of the ESV, we read shepherd-teachers). What this could mean is that this is referring to just one group of gifted people. This is referring to shepherds, elders, overseers or pastors whose main job description is to teach..
  Now let’s focus attention on this last group, the shepherd-teachers (or pastor-teachers), becauseof their major role in the building up of the local church.   What is Christ’s grand plan for pastor-teachers?   Verse 12 tells us about that: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”   That tiny word, “to,” has a gigantic meaning. “To” here means “with the conscious purpose of, in order for, for the sake of, with a view to.” The word indicates the aim and ultimate function of the gifted men mentioned in verse 11. This is by definition mission statement. This is Christ’s grand mission statement for every pastor-teacher. Christ sovereignly gave local churches pastor-teachers in order “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” These nine words must be every church leader’s reason for existence.   The main job description of the pastor teacher is to help the “saints” (i.e., the members of the church), to discover their gifts, to identify their area of ministry, and to empower them to use their gifts. In Paul’s day people commonly used “equip” in the context of conditioning an athlete. What this means is that the job of the leaders of the church is not to play all of the positions on the team but to coach all of the players on the team, to strengthen their spiritual condition so they are able to do works of service. The leader’s calling is to equip God’s people so that every member is transformed into the image of Christ, and who is a disciple-maker who speaks and lives gospel truth in love that eventually brings unity and maturity to the body of Christ.   What is Christ’s grand plan for the people of God?   In many churches—and this does not exempt ours—members of the congregation seem to be regarded as second class citizens when it comes to the work of the ministry. For example, if a member of the church visits the sick in the hospital, or preaches in the funeral service and conducts a child or house dedication, that’s okay. But people still ask, where is the pastor? Even the members ask for the pastor. They are not content with just an ordinary member of the church doing the work of ministry to them.   Christ’s vision is different. Church leaders serve the people of God so that these members can do the work of ministry to the congregation and the community. Members of the church are not just to be recruited to guard your belongings inside your car, to arrange the chairs before and after service, to make coffee, to baby sit while parents attend the worship service, or to play the drums or the keyboard, or to do back-up in the music team.   The phrase “work of ministry” is much greater than all of that. It has the sense of divine calling and meaningful purpose. It contains the idea of “vocation” and “mission.” It involves love in action through sacrificial ministry modeled after Christ’s sacrifice. It excludes serving for wages but instead creative, purposeful, meaningful, sacrificial, personal ministry to one another in Christ’s name.   What exactly are pastors equipping people to do? Specifically how do members do the work of ministry?   Paul answers in Ephesians 4:15:“speaking the truth in love.”This is not just chitchatting around. This is not casual conversations. This is ongoing, intensive, intimate, purposeful, speaking for the intention of helping the person to become mature in Christ.   Here is one of the best descriptions that I have ever read regarding what is involved in speaking the truth in love. According to Robert Kellemen, speaking the truth in love is ….   Communicating gospel truth about grace-focused sanctification in word, thought and action through one-another relationships that have integrity, genuineness, authenticity, transparency, and reliability, done in love to promote the unity and maturity of the body of Christ for the ultimate purpose of displaying the glory of Christ’s grace.   What happens when leaders focus on equipping God’s people to the work of ministry through in this way?   Paul shows us in Ephesians 4:16. The New Living Translation says, “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”   This is God’s vision for the church. It is more than just your personal edification and growth. The pastor is not the only minister. He is not the only one who makes disciples. God want the every member of the church to do the work of ministry as he or she is equipped. The Lord desires to use every member of the church working together to help one another become more like Jesus. And what God uses is the word of truth, particularly the gospel, communicated in love by every member through word and by life.   You will see that “speaking the truth” is repeated again and again in the NT, and it is vital for spiritual growth. This is the work of ministry. This is what others call Vine work. the NT using different words, the idea is always there:  
  • Eph 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
  • Jn 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
  • Heb 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 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.
  • Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
  • Ro 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.
  • 2Ti 3:16-4:2 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
  • Col 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
  • 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.
  So there you have God’s grand vision for the church. He want the leaders of the church to equip the saints or the members of the church, and then the equipped members to do the work of ministry through speaking the truth in love to one another that will ultimately bring unity and maturity to the body of Christ for the glory of God.   This is the reason why we say that a healthy church member is a growing disciple-maker. If you are member of a local church and you are not equipped to speak the truth in love to one another then you are not doing what God wants you to do. You are not fulfilling God’s vision for the church. You are not contributing to the unity and spiritual maturity of the church for the glory of God.       Present an illustration of a healthy church.