DISCIPLING NEW CONVERTS
By: C. L. Dees
I. What is the Purpose of the Church
III. Understanding the Great Commission
A. Conversion is the Beginning
B. Steps to Discipleship
D. Integrating into the Church Body
IV. Coming to Maturity
V. Ways of Helping to Disciple People at Christian World Center
Discipling–THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH
Matthew 28:19-20 (Amplified) “Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you…”
I. What is the Purpose of the Church?
A. The church is the organism to carry out what the religious world knows as the great commission–
B. There are three aspects of the Word of God:
1. The Spoken Word–Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-2 (Creation)
2. The Written Word–Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (Education)
3. The Living Word–John 1:14 (Evangelism & Justification)
C. The Word of God is preached by the church for the purpose of evangelizing the world.
D. The Word of God is the will of God for man in the Grace dispensation; when this Word is obeyed when preached to the lost world through faith in Jesus Christ, mankind will have a new relationship with God. “AND THIS IS THE WORD WHICH BY THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED UNTO YOU” (I Peter 1:25).
E. The word “church” comes from a greek word “ekklesia,” which means “to call out,” is used of any assembly and in itself implies no more than a gathering of people who have been “called-out” (Matthew 16:18-19).
F. The Church is composed of all nations, regardless of nationality. The church had its beginning in Acts 2:1-4, which describes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all believers who had gathered in the upper room. The period between this happening and the return of Christ is known as the Grace period,
or church age. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).
G. The church is the residence or habitation of God through the Spirit, (Ephesians 2:21-22). It is through this organism, the church, that God has chosen to manifest His unlimited wisdom in redeeming all mankind who will believe the Gospel. The purpose of the church is to evangelize the whole world as it was so stated in the Great Commission–“GO YE THEREFORE AND TEACH ALL NATIONS…”
A. Definition: a pupil, follower, or adherent of any teacher or school of religion, learning; an early follower of Jesus especially one of the twelve apostles.
B. Definition: Teaching, instruction, to educate, to develop by instruction and exercise.
C. Mathetes, literally, a learner (from Manthano, to learn, from a root math), indicating thought accompanied by endeavor), in contrast to didaskalos, a teacher; hence it denotes one who follows one’s
teaching, as the disciples of John, Matthew 9;14; the disciples of Christ (Matthew 4:19). We are really talking about Christian Education. This just simply means to adopt the principles and teachings of Christ and imitate them in your daily life. Jesus spent about three and one-half years of His ministry teaching and training those who were to succeed Him ministerially, while at the same time He was evangelizing all Israel. He trusted these twelve men that he had trained to such a degree, that He called them to a certain geographic location and dismissed Himself from the planet physically. He believed they could do the job they had been called to do. The believing Church is God’s evangelistic arm. Who would like to
D. How is this great job to he done? Through Bible concepts! In Hebrews 4:12 we are instructed as to how powerful the Word of God is when preached to mankind when they believe. From the preached Word of God will come the everlasting Kingdom that Daniel previewed in Daniel 2:44-45. This is the new Kingdom that will envelop all other kingdoms and become the Kingdom of our God and His Christ (Matthew 16:18). Our military order is: “GO YE THEREFORE AND TEACH ALL NATIONS…”
E. As a Pastor we must TEACH and TRAIN believers who will become our church leaders in the coming generation.
III. Understanding The Great Commission.
A. It is more than “GO”–“BAPTIZE”–“TEACH.” It is the Lord’s will for us to “go make disciples” (Matthew 28:19; I Peter 2:9; John 17:18; Acts 1:8).
B. The Lord calls His people to give of themselves in a ministry of servitude to the lost. The life of Christ is the pattern of all His followers. “The son of man came to serve” (Mark 10:45).
C. As long as we feel reserved in some area of our life, this is indicative of the lack of submission. This is a form of rebellion. As long as this exists, this thwarts God’s purpose in us. This keeps us from being the servant we need to be. If there is anything beneath our serving, we need to quickly eliminate this posture and become “all things to all men.” We have been purchased; we don’t belong to ourselves, but we belong to Jesus and His will (I Corinthians 6:20).
When the people of God have a “sense of mission” the Lord’s blessing rests upon this kind of effort. Why? We are fulfilling the will of God according to the scripture. “The willing and obedient shall eat of the good of the land.”
D. Conversion is the beginning.
Conversion is the first effort in making a disciple. It is not enough to specialize in numbers. There must be a training program introduced whereby all believers can develop into Christian discipleship taking
their rightful place in the Body of Christ. None of us were redeemed for naught, but we are to let our “light so shine.” There must be training and discipline for each new convert or they will become spiritual cripples. It is God’s will for us to develop into Christian giants.
E. Steps to Discipleship.
1. Winning the lost.
Win with love and understanding. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t try to explain all the things they will need to do initially. Shy away from the “shall nots.” You do not clean fish before they are caught. The cleaning and developing process will come after conversion. Be patient, loving, and tender with the “new-born babes,” it doesn’t take much of an imbalance to disturb them. We are
always to work carefully and cautiously. “Be as Wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” We are to tell them the things they need to do in believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. This keeps their attitude positive. The Gospel is positive, it is not condemning. It is what we need to do to right ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. The things that Christ has outlined are the things we are capable of doing. Jesus believes we can do them, why can’t we? If Jesus believes we can do the things we need to do to be right with Him, why can’t we believe?
There is no part of the Gospel that is negative; it reflects victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. This new life, born of incorruptible seed, calls for a different frame of reference.
Coming to Christ is submission to His will, repenting of our sins, baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). This way of life provides us with a new drum-beat
and rhythm for life.
This can happen anywhere. It could happen in a “Search For Truth” home Bible study, a prophetic meeting (where you have two or three nights in a home on basic prophecy), prayer meeting, Ladies Auxiliary meetings, youth service, etc. Individual training begins when we begin to believe on Jesus. The moment our lives encounter Christ, at this moment we are to totally submit ourselves to the will of God.
3. Integrating into the Church Body.
The first thing that any new believer is to feel, is that they are loved. This gives them the security that they need for Christian development. If they have been won through personal visitation, this will make them to know they are loved before they came to know the Lord. This served as one of the greatest vehicles in Christian development of any employed measure. Love provides the greatest input for learning. Training is education and discipline. If we take the time to train them they will know that we love them. The training of anyone gives great security and balance. They feel our keen interest in them and their welfare.
What we can’t afford to let the new convert do, is to allow the history of his life in its unconverted state, to be a measuring reed for his spiritual development. The history of his life could be an enemy to his spiritual progress. The past can be an obstacle to progress in that he was not successful as a sinner (which they were not supposed to be). The enemy will try and take this thought and discourage him in being anything for the Lord Jesus. History in this instance has built a barricade that will stifle progress. We must transfer to them the positive attitude of the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me–I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me, (that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency)” (Phil. 4:13, Amplified).
4. The first thing that needs to happen is to establish a class for new converts, taught for training, orientation and spiritual development, by a qualified individual.
5. I know of no way to eliminate error other than through Bible education. “Ye shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you free. “The teaching of TRUTH exposes error. The Lord will take His
TRUTH and free this planet of any error.
6. Every mature believer should submit to teaching or helping to train another under him/her. Some take longer to train than others. Each has their respective maturation, rhythm and development. For this
we must always allow freedom.
7. Any Pastor that is progressive is to be commended regardless of his outreach methods. It could be through the following: mass evangelism, bus ministry, Sunday School, contests, or any kind of special drives. However, one of the most effective ways to build a church is, we win them and they win others. What if in the coming year each one in any local assembly won one, this would double their size. This is called the exponential curve in algebra; we double ourselves.
1. They should become immediately involved in an outreach program such as bus ministry, or any other equivalent involvement, since they are a new convert. Their responsibilities should not be too heavy, as they are “babes in Christ.”
2. After a lapse of time when they have come to be adjusted to spiritual things, and in the meantime eliminating things from their lives that would hinder them in living for God, they will want to become involved in other measures of responsibility. They may become interested in choir, Sunday School, youth work, nursing homes, hospital visitation, personal evangelism or any outreach entity which they feel the Holy Spirit leading them into.
It is an excellent measure for new converts to go through a training program in the home such as “Search For Truth.”
IV. Coming To Maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16).
A. Each individual believer must realize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When this is once accepted we are to die to self; this will bring us to maturity. Christian maturity is a gradual process. It is not something that happens over night; it is a continual process. Paul, the Apostle, said; “I DIE DAILY.”
B. Our daily prayer should be “O Lord, help me to so surrender to you that whatever you would choose to inspire me to do, I shall be most happy to submit.” After all, we are a mobile unit filled with the Holy
Spirit, so, wherever and whenever He would so choose to witness to a lost soul we should be most cooperative.
Obedience to Pastoral authority is a very important role in the life of any Christian. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Note the Amplified: “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them–continually recognizing their authority over you; for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account (of their trust). (Do your part to) let them do this with gladness, and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you (either).” Our submission to authority always helps diminish the influence of pride upon our lives. If pride is allowed to run unchecked in our lives, we will not come to the spiritual
maturity that the Holy Spirit intended. When we rely on pride to give us leadership, we can well know the things of the flesh will be in the forefront of our lives, and there will be a registered presence of disobedience in us. All sin is authored in pride!
1. Christian discipleship is supported by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The abiding life described to us in John 15 is the Lord’s way of giving our lives the proper objective in order to be
committed to His will always.
2. Christian discipleship begins in and through our being obedient to God’s Word. It is something that comes to us from the Lord, by having a submitted will to His Word. When this takes place in our lives we have the exposition of Christian character–this means character originating from the Lord. There can be no Christ-likeness without Christ. We just furnish the vessel through which He works. We must commit ourselves to prayer and the study of God’s Word. Therefore, we are to involve the new convert in
systematic prayer sessions, as prayer is an essential element in the development of Christian maturity.
3. Christian discipleship can be reflected in many aspects. One of the most primary ways is winning the lost to Christ. We have a tremendous promise from the Lord in soul-winning, if we will let God’s will be
predominate in our lives. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalms 126:6).
4. Christian discipleship demands us to be fully surrendered in doing the will of the Lord. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye represent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world…” (Romans 12:1-2). There are three things mentioned to us.
(a) Your body as a living sacrifice–operative energized, living and surrendered to God’s will.
(1) Hagiasmos translated “holiness,” I Thessalonians; Hebrews 12:14, is always rendered “sanctification.” It signifies (a) separation to God, I Corinthians 1:30; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2, (b) The resultant state, the conduct befitting those so separated, I Thessalonians 4:3,4,7, and the four other places mentioned above.
(2) Hagiosune denotes the manifestation of the quality of holiness in personal conduct; (a) used in Romans 1:4, of the absolute holiness of Christ in the days of His flesh, which distinguished Him from all mere human beings; (b) Believers are to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” II Corinthians 7:1 i.e., bringing holiness to its predestined end, whereby (c) they may be found “unblameable in holiness” in the
Parousia of Christ, I Thessalonians 3:13. (Vine, Page 225)
(c) “…acceptable unto God,…” (which is your reasonable service). Being acceptable unto God carries this meaning: a compliance with the scripture; when we do this we become acceptable unto the Lord. This is why the scripture spells out our relationship to God where character is concerned. (I Corinthians 9:25-27; I Corinthians 9:19-27; James 1:26-27; Ephesians 5:1-20–read in Amplified edition, also Ephesians 4:15-32).
5. The above commands given to us through scripture are things that we are capable of doing through the aid of the Holy Spirit. He would have never commanded us to comply with the above had not we have been able to so do. These are all within the reach of our every day living. This is a scriptural compliment to us, because it describes our potential in the Lord that we are able to fulfill. When these measures are carried out in our lives we are duplicating the behavior of Christ. We become walking examples in this world.
V. Ways Of Helping To Disciple People At Christian World Center.
A. Pastor enlists select groups to which he gives leadership seminars to train them to be over which he sees necessary.
B. There is training offered to those who wish to teach “Search For Truth” and/or other home Bible courses.
C. There is a special class taught in the “Young Married Department” for those who have been married five years or less.
D. There are seminars taught annually to all of those who wish to teach Sunday School.
E. New converts develop an “international” compassion as they help in fulfilling basic needs of food and clothing for the Cambodian ministry.
F. There are those who work in nursing home services, these we have done for years, and they have been done very successfully.
G. There are those who may qualify to do service in the Texas Department of Correction. (We have had a number come to the Lord through this effort.)
H. There are youth services through which our single young people may be trained for discipleship.
I. There are those who work in the Ladies Auxiliary work, (Ruth’s of Irvington), visitation, etc.
J. Those who feel ministerially called for a pulpit ministry, are trained in our outreach congregations.
K. There are those who work and/or teach in the Irvington Christian Academy–this training is very professional.
L. There are those who work in the Pre-School phase. These are some of the ways that discipleship is brought to proper fruition.
M. Bus Ministry affords great opportunity of service.
N. “Heart of Houston” (an outreach newspaper) and other publicity and promotion methods provide participation in specialized fields (art, writing, and drama).
VI. Summary (Ephesians 4:11-16)
A. The ministerial administrative offices given to the Church are to educate, train and develop the whole body of Christ into a harmonious organism of spiritual influence, to win the world to Jesus Christ through the Gospel. Shall we note:
1. “For the perfecting of the saints”
2. “For the work of the ministry”
3. “For the edifying of the body of Christ”
4. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith”
5. “And of the knowledge of the Son of God”
6. “Unto a perfect (mature) man”
7. “Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
B. This is why:
1. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro”
2. “And carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men”
3. “Cunning craftiness”
4. “By which they lie in wait to deceive”
5. “But speaking the TRUTH in LOVE”
6. “May grow UP INTO HIM in all things”
7. “Who is the head, even Christ”
8. “From whom the whole body fitly joined together compacted by that which every joint supplieth”
9. “According to the effectual working in the measure of every part”
10. “Maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love”
C. The church (body of Christ on earth) is destined for victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the prophesied “STONE” that hit the feet of the image in Daniel 2:44-45. Further he is the “ROCK” on
which the Church is built, Matthew 16:18-19. He, Christ, is the head of the Church. He is the everlasting King coming through the lineage of David (Luke 1:30-33). His kingdom shall fill the whole earth. The Church is God’s new governmental system made available to all believers. The commission said, “Go Ye Therefore And Teach All Nations.”
(The above material was published by the Home Missions Department.)
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