“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (HCSB)
Note from Kip…
Two activities that Jesus desires we actively engage in as part of our standard ‘modus operandi’ are; spreading the Gospel (witnessing) and building up each other in the Lord (discipleship).
A sad note is that for the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian, these two activities are perhaps that which they fear and ovoid most.
There is something emboldening about purposefully inserting ourselves to be Christ’s witness. You can feel it in Paul and Timothy’s Letter to the Philippians.
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6 (HCSB)
The spreading of the Gospel, Paul cites as ‘A good work’, and he compels the reader to continue in this good work to completion till the day of Christ Jesus. For me the word completion jumps off the page at me.
Here is what Strong’s has to say about this word:
to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete to take upon one’s self
i. to make an end for one’s self to leave off
ii. to appoint to, impose upon
So, this isn’t trivial at all. He’s saying that our witness isn’t to be only the result of our lifestyle. While our actions speak volumes of who we are, our purpose, and our mission; it doesn’t supplant the purposeful intent of committing to making it happen.
We need to take it upon ourselves and actively perfect our delivery of the Gospel through a proactive witness.
And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (HCSB)
Bringing someone to Christ through our witness can be an exhausting activity. It can be at times something that we tend to shy away from because of the circumstances around the particular encounter. Regardless, when you’ve been given the Devine appointment and are placed in front of someone and follow through as the Spirit leads the result is amazing; regardless of a positive decision on the part of that person or not.
We are doing what we are directed to do and never forget what Jesus told us:
“If you really love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments.”
John 14:15 (AMP)
But what distinguishes witness from discipleship is the effort involved. I’m not attempting to diminish the effort required to bolster the courage to step out in faith and present the Gospel of Christ. Nor am I minimizing the determination that is required to be persistent when God has laid a particular individual on your heart to focus on.
All that I’m pointing to is the shameful act of seeing those who need guidance, regardless if it was our efforts to bring them to Christ or another, but they need guidance and we don’t engage and invest our time and energy in them to assist them on their journey to a deeper walk with the Lord.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 (HCSB)
It isn’t enough to be that candle on a hill as important as that is. IF WE LOVE AS CHRIST LOVES, WE WILL LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
That loving each other means that we want for them what they lack, and will do all we can to invest in them all we have to help them attain it.
THAT IS DISCIPLESHIP! It isn’t easy. At times, it can be taxing and frustrating. But just as there is joy and exuberance in a lost soul giving their heart to Jesus, the building up of a brother or sister is equally profound in the body of Christ, because, it strengthens that component and encourages this brother or sister to step forward and be a witness themselves and disciple another; and another; and more after that.
Do you have any doubt in the words of Jesus when He told Peter ‘feed my sheep?:
He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”
“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.
John 21:17 (HCSB)
Two activities that Jesus calls each and every believer to. The first is fairly obvious; to be His witness. The second naturally follows this but is woefully neglected; discipleship, feeding His sheep!
The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalms 91:1 (HCSB)
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB)
But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.
1 Corinthians 15:10-11 (HCSB)
If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:11 (HCSB)
Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (HCSB)