Disciple Making in the Local Church


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Introduction

            In 2015 Barna found that nine out of every ten Christians recognized that discipleship is important.[1] However, 52% of church leaders believed that the most effective method of discipleship is to be done individually.[2] The same study showed that when asking the congregation concerning how they prefer to be disciplined, the clear majority, 37%, preferred to be disciplined on their own.[3]

            These statistics are not only alarming but they are also showing the true condition and attitudes of the church towards discipleship and a diabolical trend to redefine, secularize and come up with new ideas of discipleship that are a far cry from the biblical mandate. The church is being exchanged for a social club and the church gathers for a service with no fellowship. Bible centered preaching and teaching is being exchanged for motivational style speaking: from focusing on Jesus to focusing on us, from the orthodoxy found in the teachings of the original apostles to whatever the next new thing and feel-good message is. The church is going after members in place of disciples; from teaching all that Jesus commands and how to abide in them to a couple of mid-week classes known as the “disciple classes” to explain the church’s basic beliefs.

            This paper is not advocating for the elimination of the institutionalized or mainstream church that meets in a building every Sunday. However, this paper will prove the impossibility of making disciples in that setting alone.

How Disciples are Made in the Context of the Local Church and a Christian Community.

            If this “thing” we call church does not find its way in our lives and in our homes, it will continue to embrace a great omission of discipleship and go without honoring the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. The lack of discipleship is an open door to the development of carnal Christians.[4] We are encouraged to set our minds on the things above (Spiritual Christians) not on the things of the earth (Carnal Christians).[5]

            Carnal and/or immature Christians placed in a position of authority in the church are a cancer the eats away any possibility of mature fruit to develop in our local churches. The first sign of such immaturity is the relying of extra biblical standards of authority: that is, placing our trust on a mere man, a tradition, an experience that can’t be confirmed in Scripture, relying on other documents, or even relying on Bible foot notes.[6]

            The church will never be able to effectively make disciples from a pulpit speaking to hundreds of people once or twice a week. When speaking of relational environments, Putman states that Jesus defined the methodology of discipleship by his own example. Jesus did not just stand in front of people teaching, he shared his life with twelve men. “He walked alongside people, having conversations with them through the normal course of each day, holding people accountable, and demonstrating spiritual truth to them directly.”[7]

            There are three irreplaceable elements in the process of discipleship according to Putman; it should be 1) Bible centered, 2) intentionally directing people to the goal of spiritual maturity and 3) a place where people can honestly talk about their lives and work out what it means to follow Jesus.[8] These elements can only flow in small groups. Furthermore, Putman give us well-defined key components in the making of disciples. 1) The importance of the Word of God as our guide and ruler of what is truth. 2) The importance of the Spirit of God as the only power that can produce change, and 3) the importance of the people of God, as discipleship cannot be done without relationship.[9] This is in total contrast to the statistics presented earlier where it seems that the church of today, leaders and the congregation, feels that discipleship can be done without each other.

The Role and Importance of the Local Church, Pastor, Saints, and Spiritual Gifts in God’s Plan for Being and Making Disciples

             A constant theme that is found through this class is the need for the local church to be proactive and intentional when it comes to discipleship. Discipleship is not going to just happen. Programs, curriculums and biblical fellowship must be aggressively incorporated. The Senior Pastor can’t accomplish this task alone, however, he is the leader and must be the one leading, allowing and creating an environment where discipleship may flourish. The saints must understand that going to church and sitting while observing a weekly service is not what the Lord intended. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. This thing we call the church is well defined in its purpose, its vision and its modus operandi.

What Should Be the Church’s Focus?

            The church rests in one revelation, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (KJV) The focus in Christ!

What Should Be Our Vision?

            Our vision is found in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16). There is no other vision given to the church. Our vision is 1) to evangelize to the world, 2) to teach all that Jesus commands and 3) to teach how to abide in all that Jesus commands. Jesus gave us a summary of the whole law by telling us to love God above all things and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.[10] As we read through the red letters we see how this summary looks like. The Church MUST focus it’s teaching on these things. As it refers to the part that speaks about how to abide in these commands the church must come together as a family and be able to share each other’s lives for a practical application.

What is the Church’s Modus Operandi?

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42 KJV). There is no other formula; there is no other way. A church must 1) remain faithfully in the teachings of the apostles. The doctrine of the apostles is not a new Way; it flows directly out of the commands of Jesus. Jesus said it this way, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 (KJV) Our freedom depends on remaining in God’s Word (LOGOS). Jesus also said, as he quoted the Old Testament, “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (KJV). The word here is Rhema, the revelation of the Logos. Our lives depend on this. We can’t take His Word (Logo/Rhema) lightly. 2) A church MUST have true fellowship, not just a Sunday Service. True fellowship involves the breaking of bread together. If we do not eat in each other’s homes, we are playing church; it is not real! We are not called to have services, we are called to have fellowship. 3) A Church MUST pray! Did Jesus not state that his house must be called a house of prayer?[11]

            Ultimately, every church must have a way to assess the people’s spiritual gifts and utilize those gifts for the edification of the body. It is indeed one body, with many parts; each one playing a vital role.[12] It is important to promote a healthy body.[13]

Conclusion

            Discipleship is the main responsibility of the church, it is the vision. Discipleship must be intentional and relational. There is no room for “Rambo Christians” in discipleship. The lack of discipleship is opening doors for many carnal Christians. We must change drastically and bring this thing we call church into our homes and small groups. The Word of God must be the center, the Holy Spirit essential and unity indispensable as the perfect ingredients for growth.

            Many of the leaders are simply wrong in promoting isolated discipleship. It is a lazy and irresponsible approach. We are not called to come up with a new focus, vision and/or modus operandi for the church. The answers are already very clearly established in Scripture. We did not advocate for the elimination of the institutionalized church, as we know it. Nevertheless, we did propose a radical change in our approach; the reality that if we do not bring the discipleship process into small groups, and better yet, into our own homes, and if we do not engage in true and meaningful fellowship, we will continue to see the amount of immature and untrained Christians growing in our local congregations. Disciple-making is our job; lets do it!

[1]           Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 44

[2] Ibid., 49

[3] Ibid., 44

[4]           Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B&H Academic), 38

[5] Colossians 3:1-3

[6]           Greg Gibson, “Eight Signs of Immature, Carnal Christians

How to Mature from Following Men to Following Christ”, Battered Sheep, Accessed July 31, 2016, http://www.batteredsheep.com/carnal.html

[7]           Jim Putman & Bobbie Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 134

[8] Ibid., 135

[9] Ibid., 138-142

[10] Luke 10:27

[11] Matthew 21:13

[12]         Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, 189-191

[13]Ibid., 191

This Thing We Call the Church


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I am more and more convinced that we should not be looking for anything new. Our attempts to do so were and continue to be devastating. I am more and more convinced that we have gotten spiritually lazy and intellectually prideful and that we must go back to what the original apostles thought. In that we will find the orthodoxy of the church; in that we will find the right believe and function of the church.

What Should Be the Church Focus?

         The church rest in one revelation, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (KJV) The focus is Christ! Paul said it this way, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” First Corinthians 1:18-24 (KJV) We must love one another[1] and lift up our Lord Jesus Christ[2] as keys to evangelism.

What Should Be Our Vision?

When the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 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. Matthew 28:16-20 (KJV)

         Our vision is found in the Great Commission. There is no other vision given to the church. Our vision is 1) to evangelize the world, 2) to teach all that Jesus command and 3) to teach how to abide in all that Jesus commands. Jesus gave us a summary of the whole law by telling us to love God above all things and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.[3] As we read through the red letters in the Bible we see how this summary looks like. The Church MUST focus it’s teaching on these things. As it refers to the part that speaks about how to abide in these commands, the church must come together as a family  to share each other’s lives for a practical application.

What is the Church Modus Operandi?

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 (KJV)

         There is no other formula; there is no other way. A church must 1) remain faithfully in the teachings of the apostles. After teaching the commands of Jesus, the focus should be on the doctrine of the apostles. The doctrine of the apostles is not a new way; it flows directly out of the commands of Jesus. Jesus said it this way, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 (KJV) Our freedom depends on remaining in God’s Word (LOGOS). Jesus also said, as he quoted the Old Testament, “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (KJV). The word here is Rhema, the revelation of the Logos. Our lives depend on this. We can’t take His Word (Logo/Rhema) lightly. 2) A church MUST have true fellowship, not just a Sunday Service. True fellowship involves the breaking of bread together. As I said many times, if we do not eat in each other’s homes, we are playing church; it is not real! We are not called to have services, that is a man’s invention, we are called to have fellowship. 3) A Church MUST pray! Did Jesus not state that his house must be called a house of prayer?[4]

         Beloved, this is the church; this is the church’s focus, the vision and the modus operandi.

[1] John 13:35

[2] John 12:32

[3] Luke 10:27

[4] Matthew 21:13

Spheres and Stages of Discipleship


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Introduction

“The percentage of Americans calling themselves “Christian” has fallen since  1990 from 86 percent to 76 percent. Twenty- five percent of those aged eighteen    and older have “no religious affiliation”; this number has doubled since those in this group were children. 
Only four percent of eighteen- to twenty- five-year-olds listed “becoming more spiritual” as their most important goal in life. 
Mark Silk,    professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, puts it bluntly: “The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there    are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal.”[1]

            America, we have a problem! Our problem is the lack of discipleship. This paper will demonstrate that individualism; lack of commitment to discipleship in both, the members and the leaders and a liberal approach to the Scriptures are some of the main obstacles to discipleship. This paper will also demonstrate biblical and practical solutions to this problem by taking a closer look at the Five Stages and Four Spheres of Discipleship.

The Challenges of Discipleship in Todays Church

            With the rise of Neo-Evangelicalism[2] we now face an epidemic of private interpretations of Scripture in this country.[3] This is a major obstacle in the process of discipleship as one of the requirements of discipleship is to remain in God’s Word.[4]

            Another challenge of discipleship in America is individualism. According to Barna 52% of church leaders feel the most effective method of discipleship is for people do it on their own.[5] The same study showed that nine out of every ten Christians recognize that discipleship is important. However, when asked how do they prefer to be disciples, 16% answered one-on-one, 21% prefer mix of groups with one-on-one, 25% prefer a group, however, the clear majority, 37% prefer to be disciple on their own.[6]

            Putman & Harrington make it very clear that “…it is our job to take these people and help them move from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity.”[7] The emphasis here is that we must have in place a systematic and biblical plan to accomplish this task. However, Putman & Harrington also made it clear that “In reality, the responsibility for spiritual growth never rest on the disciple maker alone.”[8] There is a part that rest in the disciple maker, the disciple and God.[9]

The Five Stages of Discipleship

            Putman and Harrington give two very important tools in recognizing the spiritual level of people; 1) By their fruit[10] and 2) by their conversation.[11] He also made clear that maturity has nothing to do with the amount of time or involvement in the local church or responsibilities in the secular world or age.[12]

            Level 1 Spiritually Dead (Ephesian 2:1-5.) They are not born again; no expectations on this level; they are spiritually dead and in need of love and prayer. Level 2 Infant (First Peter 2:2-3) Spiritual infants have a significant lack of knowledge on the things that Jesus taught. They are in need of somebody who cares and feeds them the Word.

            Level 3 Child (1 John 2:12) Even as these children are growing, much of their spiritual life is focus on themselves. They need teaching on who they are in Christ and the importance of fellowship with other believers. Level 4 Young Adult (First John 2:13-14) Young adults are described as making a shift from focusing on themselves to focusing on Christ and others. They are beginning to understand serving-hood. They need a place where they can learn how to serve; they need a mentor or coach to help them respond to the expectations of the people they are serving.

            Level 5 Parent (Second Timothy 2:1-2) These are folks who are strong in grace and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. They have a solid understanding of God’s Word and its application. They need assistance in delegating responsibility; peer accountability, continue training and, they need permission to develop people to maturity.[13]

The Four Spheres of Discipleship

            The word Sphere is defined as “An area of influence or activity.”[14] Putman and Harrington gave us these four spheres of discipleship out of the book of Ephesians.[15] We are not called to leave God out in neither one of these spheres; Putman and Harrington are very eloquent in establishing a clear theme that explains that we do not, in any aspect of our lives, neglect Jesus as our authority (Head), deny Jesus the power to transform us through his Commands (Heart) and dare to walk away from our God-given responsibility of joining Jesus an a Kingdom mission (Hands).[16]

            This model is the “what” in the midst of the “how”. It outlines how a disciple grows in four main spheres of life. Sphere 1: The Centrality of our Relationship with God. This is the most important, the core and the foundation of all our relationships. The first two chapters of Ephesians give us the Biblical foundation for this sphere. As we deal with the Head, is proper to ask, is this person has an active relationship with God? Heart: Are there visible changes happening in this person’s life? Is there any visible fruit? And Hands, Are they following Jesus and putting to practice what they are learning?

            Sphere 2: Relationship with God’s People, the Church. (Ephesians 4) Head, does the person I am teaching know what the Bible says about the importance of the church? Heart: Are they growing in their love for others in the church? Hands: Are they using their gifts to minister to others in need?[17]

            On the next sphere there is a shift that takes places. We now move from our relationship with God and our inner circle with the church, to our homes. Regarding Sphere 3: Relationship at Home, using Ephesians 5 and 6 as our biblical foundation, Putman and Harrington warned us; this sphere is vitally important because it is possible for people to grasp the concepts of the gospel in church, but fail to apply them in the home.”[18] This sphere is all about applications at home, how to be a dad, a mom, a wife, a husband and children as they relate to each other. [19]

            Finally, Sphere 4: Relationship with the world. (Ephesian 6) Here the emphasis is in our behaviors in our workplace and in the world in general. The world is, for sure, watching every move we make. There is already an expectation of morality and righteousness places on us by the world. “Paul makes it clear that when we are in the world, we represent Christ.”[20]

            It is important not to ignore that this is not an easy process; it is not a cakewalk. This process will indeed be challenge by Satan; there will be spiritual welfare involve.[21]

Conclusion

            The crucial importance of obedience can be seen through the history of the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 could be summarized by concluding that if we obey God we will be bless, but if we disobey him we will be curse.[22]

            As I look around at the condition of the church I must hold on to God’s Word. The Great Commission encourages us to 1) Go and reach out to all people, 2) teach Jesus’s commands and 3) teach the people how to follow them. There is one Scripture that summarizes everything for me; Jesus said, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” John 8:31 (KJV). I am to remain in His Word, not in my opinion, denominational ideas or personalities. If I remain in His Word, then I will know about my requirement to deny myself, to carry my cross, to to learn what Jesus commands, to teach others and follow HIM with no compromises.

            Through this paper, the problem was presented statistically. We saw the contradictions concerning discipleship; church leaders and members recognizing the need for it, however both groups assessment is that discipleship can be done individually. We took a closer look at the Five Stages and Four Spheres of Discipleship as biblical tools to spiritually assess our people and to help them into the next level. Finally, I took a sincere look at my own condition. The paper left me with a great deal of conviction, an overwhelming sense of the enormous territory that needs to be covered personally, in my own family and in my local church. Nevertheless, a great deal of hope and inspiration to start the journey of true discipleship.

 

Bibliography

Barna Group. The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators. Colorado Springs: The Navigators. 2015

Bonhoffer Dietrich. Discipleship. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 2003

Evans, Frederick W. Jr.. Neo-Evangelicalism and its Impact on Missions. Middle East Resources. http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/impact_missions.cfm

Fairchild, Mary. Obedience to God, What Does the Bible Say About Obedience. http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/Obedience-To-God.htm

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphere

Putman, Jim & Harrington, Bobbie. Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2013

Sciacca, Fran. The Spiritual Landscape Has Change. NavPress. 2015

Swonger, Paul. Private Interpretation. Apostolic Apologetics. https://sites.google.com/site/apostolicapologetics/sacred-scripture/private-interpretation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]           Fran Sciacca, “The Spiritual Landscape Has Change”, NavPress, 2015

[2]           Frederick W. Evans, Jr., Neo-Evangelicalism and its Impact on Missions, Middle East Resources, http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/impact_missions.cfm

[3] Paul Swonger, Private Interpretation, Apostolic Apologetics, https://sites.google.com/site/apostolicapologetics/sacred-scripture/private-interpretation

[4] John 8:31

[5]           Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015) 49

[6] Ibid., 44

[7]           Jim Putman & Bobbie Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 55

[8] Ibid., 59

[9] Ibid., 59

[10] Matthew 7:16

[11] Luke 6:45

[12] Hebrews 5:12-14

[13]         Jim Putman & Bobbie Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples, 55-71

[14] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphere

[15]         Jim Putman & Bobbie Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples, 85

[16] Ibid., 78

[17] Ibid., 84-87

[18]         Jim Putman & Bobbie Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps to Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Male Disciples, 87

[19] Ibid., 87-88

[20] Ibid., 88-89

[21] Ibid., 90-91

[22]         Mary Fairchild, Obedience to God, What Does the Bible Say About Obedience, http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/Obedience-To-God.htm

The Need to Preach and Teach


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Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Colossians 1:28 (KJV)

            The Bible encourages the church in Colossians 1:28 to preach by warning every man and to also teach in all wisdom. The word preach is the Greek word kataggéllō; meaning, “To tell, declare. To declare plainly, openly, or aloud.”[1] The word teach is the Greek word, didáskō; meaning, “To teach, instruct by word of mouth.”[2]

            The focus of our preaching should be to warn man of what not to do and why. The focus of our teaching is wisdom. The word wisdom is the Greek word sophías, meaning “Skill, tact, expertise in any art. Skill in the affairs of life, practical wisdom, wise management as shown in forming the best plans and selecting the best means, including the idea of sound judgment and good sense.[3]

            Preaching and teaching main purpose is, “…that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28 (KJV) The word perfect here is the Greek word, téleios; meaning, “…Complete, full, wanting in nothing.[4] In other words, the ultimate goal, as it relates to God’s people, is to grow up and archive the highest level of spiritual maturity possible.

            We, as preachers and teachers are not motivational speakers; we are called to preach and teach the Word. In today’s church many are moving more towards a liberal approach to God’s Word. They are preaching and teaching a soft Gospel and coming up with NEW ideas. I am emphasizing NEW ideas, because they have no biblical base.

            I believe in revelation (Rhema) that is when the in Word (Logos) comes alive in us. Is not that we came up with something NEW; it was always in the Bible, but we did not have the revelation of it yet. When the revelation hit we usually ask ourselves, how could I miss that for all of those years?

            I am growing increasingly inpatient with a sector in the church that consider words such as Orthodoxy, Dogma, Sound Doctrine, Hermeneutic and Exegesis, almost to the level of profanity. Orthodoxy gives us the correct norm; Dogma gives us an unchangeable belief system; Sound Doctrine is the correct teaching for our way of life given to us through the original Apostles; Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting Scripture through Exegesis, which study the intended meaning of the Scripture or text. All of these tools lead to good theology, which is the study of God and His ways.

            Another thing to take into consideration is that the Bible was not written in English, its original language is Hebrew and Greek, so part of a good practice to understand Scripture is to go back to the original language. The Word of God is inerrant, but translations, including the King James, are not, which force us to STUDY.

            There is a lot of stuff out there, some of it is true, some of it is not and the most dangerous one is, that some is true mix with lies. It is imperative that we don’t let these preachers and teachers get away with lies on the pulpit. Some are making mistakes, we all do, but some are pushing demonic agendas; they need to be call out. The church needs to stop focusing on what the dead are doing; they can’t help it; they are spiritually dead; what do you expect from a dead body other than the fact that they stink? But we must be on guard to what is taking place in our local churches and home churches. If they can’t show you a chapter and a verse, challenge and reject those things; don’t let false teaching and preaching lead you astray from the truth.

[1]           Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid.

Taking a Closer Look at The Great Commission


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I have always seen the Great Commission as an evangelistic commission and even as it is evangelistic, that is just a part of it. Lets take a closer look at Matthew 28:19-20,

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

         These were Jesus’ last words before he ascended to heaven; they are of extreme importance. A few things are established here that we must pay attention to:

  1. Jesus reminds us that He is in charge: All authority was given to Him. It is important to understand that no matter how bad or hopeless a situation may look like. It does not matter how unpopular Jesus becomes on this earth; He is in charge! (Verse 18).
  2. We have a mandate to go and do some specific things: We have a mandate to teach all of the nations: The word nation here is the word éthnos; meaning, “A multitude, people, race, belonging and living together.[1] It is where we get the English word ethnic. This is the reason why racism should never exist in the church. Any racist group that claims to be a Christian is operating directly against the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be reaching out to everybody! The focus of the Great Commission is to TEACH and not just teach anything, the Great Commission is very specific in what we are suppose to be teaching.
  • Teach ALL of what Jesus commanded (Verse 19). We know that all of the law hangs on two commandments, to love God above all things and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.[2] However, Jesus is not leaving us on the air when it comes down to his commandments. He is showing us, very clearly, through the gospels, what this two commandments look like as we walk them out in our own lives.
  • Teach the disciples how to observe all that Jesus commanded. (Verse 20) It is not only about teaching what this commandments are, but to also teach how to apply them in our dally walk. This is not only about head knowledge; application is a must!
  1. Nothing can be left out; we must go through the gospels, take a look at the red letters and go over every single command given by Jesus. Yes, we have a long way to go! And… Yes, we have a lot of work to do!

         These can be a wonderful personal study where you, individually, can go through the Gospels and write down all that Jesus commanded us to do. However, there are a few brothers and sisters out there that have put a list together. Here I give you few links I have personally found: http://www.trusting-in-jesus.com/Commandments-of-Jesus.html, http://iblp.org/questions/what-are-commands-christ, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Commandments_of_Christ. Also, John Piper has a book entitle, What Jesus Demands From the World.

         I am convinced that is there is something that is going to absolutely transform the church and get us back on track is a detailed, passionate and anointed teaching about what the Great Commission really means. Jesus said in John 8:31, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”

         See, the problem is that 1) We don’t know what Jesus is commanding, we know he told us to love God above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves, but we don’t have any clue what that looks like specifically. 2) Teaching is not about head knowledge only; teaching goes beyond head knowledge and into actually teaching folks how to apply these things. That requires more than a weekly class; it actually requires that we hang out together and look at each other’s lives.

         In all we must understand that a church will never prosper spiritually if is not TEACHING. We can talk about vision, mission, giving, how to be bless, what we are going to do; we can wait for the next new thing, the next off the wall revelation, the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, etc. but here Jesus is telling us what we need to be teaching specifically. Now, this does not mean that we don’t teach the Old Testament or anything else in the Bible. We are called to teach the whole counsel of God[3], but we must start at what Jesus is directly commanding. The totality of the Great Commission is the start. The Great Commission involves both, evangelism and teaching.

         I don’t know about you, but I am excited about this teaching and the application of this teaching in my life, the life of my children and the local church that I am a part of. Lets GO!!!!

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Matthew 22:37-40

[3] Acts 20:27

A Message for my People: For the Afro-American, For the Latino and for the Natives


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The shooting of Philando Castile

I have no doubt that in the United States of America we still have a racial issue. It is sickening to hear white folk telling us to get over it. It is sickening to hear white folk talking about as if they face the same things we face today. As a Christian Conservative Black Latino man I am not one to use racism as an excuse to be lazy, depend on the government and spread hate. Nevertheless, I am not going to stick my head in the sand and ignore this mess that is going on.

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Al Sharpton

         We as minorities, especially Afro-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans must fight, but we must fight differently. The way the civil right gods of today are fighting is unproductive. They promote, 1) Unforgiveness 2) special treatment and dependency for our people, 3) lack of accountability for our own doings and 4) an agitation that feeds on the anger and ignorance of the people.

         So how do we fight? Is integration the answer? I am afraid this is where things started going south. Unity is never good or productive unless is under the banner of God’s Word and love. White folks needed to get their act together with God, especially as many of them misused the Bible to spread hate. Blacks, on the other hand needed to continue to press on to God and His righteousness. Integration without the Word as our compass of truth caused many of us to go astray and adopt many of the Anglos ungodly ways. Many of our people did not have the right to vote, they did not have political freedom, but make no mistake about it, they had the truth of God and in that they were indeed complete. They were persecuted as the original Christians were persecuted; but in their spirit it was the white man who was a slave; many of our people were free in God.

         We, as God’s people, are not called to integrate with the world; we are called to be holy.

         So what was the answer? If it was not integration, what was it? Was the right to vote the answer? It was good thing, but nowhere near what was needed. So, was more government programs, more welfare and more free stuff the answer? What about the war on poverty? Where have that war taken us?

         The Civil Right Movement was a good thing, but in a way, it distracted us from what was really important, the condition of our souls.

         It is time for us to stop being charity cases for white people. We can get a job, we can supervise a job and we can also own the company. Why do we continue to expect others to do what we are call to do ourselves with the help of our God?

         If we continue to depend on others we will never be free. If we continue to hate we will never experience the abundant joy that our Lord has for us. If we place our hope in anything or anybody outside of God we will be highly disappointed ALL the TIME.

         There is a promise for all of us minorities; a very exciting one that is on the works as we speak. The glory of God will be manifested in us. There is hope for Haiti; there is hope for Latin America and for our Native brothers and sisters.

         My Bible tells me that the last shall be first.[1] Redemption is coming, our Redeemer lives, but is not coming out of the political system, it is not coming out of the new generation of parasites who capitalize on keeping the racist agenda alive, it is not coming out of Hollywood and one more empty speech, is not coming out of Liberalism, Conservatism, Republican, Democrat or who the next president will be. That has been part of our sin, to place our hope in anything else other than God.

         We need help, no doubt about it, but the effective help is coming from above;[2] He will make things right. What are some practical things we need to be doing right now? 1) We must love God above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves.[3] 2) We must forgive; that is not a recommendation that is a biblical mandate.[4] 3) We must get a job and make our own living and stop waiting on the government.[5] 4) We must believe that God is a God of Compassion and a God of justice.[6] 5) You must believe He will never forsake you.[7] 6) I know that we have no heroes in Hollywood, that we have suffer great atrocities through history, we have been called awful names and humiliations, nevertheless as I said before, We will be first, we will be in charge.[8]

         My heart is heavy for all the death this nation has witnessed during the last week. The death of two black men were recorded for the whole world to see and five police officers were shot and killed as they were protecting folks that were protesting against them. I find that white folks, not all, but the great majority I see in social media, are outrage at the death of the police officers. On the other hand, the same can be said about minorities and how they feel concerning the vicious death of two black men. We are indeed a nation divided; opening the doors wide for our next civil war.

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Texas Shooting were 5 Police Officers were killed and several Injured

         I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the empty words of presidential candidates and politicians, the gun control argument, the never-ending war on poverty, the capitalizing on tragedy to move forward agendas, the new civil right leaders, blood suckers and parasites, the pastors hungry for fame, money and power who stand side by side with them hoping for a photo opportunity or a TV appearance or better yet, an n opportunity to make a statement; I am even tired of our president who claiming to be a Christian has become the welfare president, one sided in almost all major issues in this country.

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   Al Sharpton and Pastor Jamal H. Bryant Bryant

         I don’t have a sensational message for you; but a Biblical one that can and will change our condition. I look up to the mountains and not down to the emptiness. I offer you these solutions; these six things we should be focus on. In that, our victory is guaranteed.

Recommended Biblical Reading:

[1] Matthew 20:16

[2] Psalm 121:1

[3] Mark 12:30-31

[4] Matthew 6:14

[5] 2 Thessalonians 3:10

[6] Isaiah 30:18

[7] Deuteronomy 31:8

[8] Matthew 20:16

The Doctrine of Speaking in Tongues


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The issue of speaking in tongues is one of many dividers in the church. One wing of the church not only ignores this gift, but also passionately rejects its existence. The other wing places the baptism of the Holy Ghost in such high regard, that without it you could be consider a “Little Christian.” They divide the Body between the have and the have not.

         But what is the truth concerning this issues? The truth is that speaking in tongues is indeed a gift and is one of two initial evidences of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6 (KJV)

         The baptism of the Holy Ghost is available; is real… it is biblical. The initial evidence of such gift involves our call to edify each other (Prophecy) and our call to evangelize (Tongues). I will explain what this means as this article develops.

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         In the baptism of the Holy Ghost we see a clear definition of our purpose as Christians. It involves loving others; it involves compassion for the lost and the power of God. But we must address this issue biblically and passionately. We must reject this charismatic way of teaching this doctrine. The Pentecostals are wrong and Rodney Howard Browne is wrong and many like him are wrong. On the other hand, if you are a part of the more conservative wing of the church, you are also wrong for ignoring and even rejecting the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I respect John MacArthur, but on this issue you are also wrong.

         Now, I know these are very strong words, but let me take some time to explain what the Bible, not me, has to say about this.

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Speaking in Tongues as a Gift

         It is important to establish that when it comes down to the gifts of the Spirit, the Bible is clear that God does not want us to be ignorant.[1] In other words, this is something he wants us to know about.

         From First Corinthians 12 to 14 Paul is speaking about gifts and love; but he is actually rebuking the Corinthian Church for the abuse and the lack of understanding of this gift of speaking in tongues. People were going crazy, speaking in tongues everywhere, some even cursing God[2] (In tongues). The situation was out of control.

         Speaking in tongues is indeed a gift according to First Corinthians 12:10, “… to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:[3]

The Meaning of Tongues

         Now, this is where folks need to put their pride and selfish agendas to the side and actually look at what the Scripture is saying. How many of you know that the Bible was not written in English? The word tongues here is the word, glṓssa; essentially meaning, “speech or language.”[4] It is where we get the word Glossary, meaning, “a collection of textual glosses or of specialized terms with their meanings.”[5]
Almost every time you see the word tongues in the New Testament, you will see the Greek Word “Glossa”. We are talking about terms that make sense; they will not make any sense for somebody that does not understand that language; that is why Paul discourages speaking in tongues in our gatherings; it is a waste of time.

         I speak two languages, English and Spanish. I grew up speaking Spanish and learned English in school (Very little) and when I move to Florida (I am still learning). But if tomorrow I start speaking French, German, Russian or Chinese, beloved, that is the manifestation of a spiritual gift, a very impressive gift by the way.

         In First Corinthians 14 Paul is blasting this church with their ignorance and misuse of the gift of tongues. In verses 18 to 20 he states, “

I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. (NKJV)

         Again, the word that Paul is using here is the Greek Word “Glossa”.

Tongues a Sign to Unbelievers

In the law it is written:

“With men of other tongues and other lips

I will speak to this people;

And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,”

says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. First Corinthians 14:21-22 (NKJV)

         Now, when you see tongues as a language, then it is easy to understand why tongues are a sign for unbelievers, not a sign for the church. We can say then that speaking in tongues (A real language) is not only for self-edification,[6] but it is also an evangelistic tool.

         Imagine you going up to a Chinese person and tell him or her about Jesus in his or her own language? Imagine having a co worker from Russia and then out of nowhere during lunch time, after that Russian is aware that you don’t speak his or her language, you go on and tell him or her their need to repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? WOW! Now that is spectacular, that is indeed a sign from heaven.

       But this is not what we are doing in our charismatic churches. We are telling everybody to speak in the spirit (Tongues) in a congregational setting amongst the saints; something that is totally unbiblical. Now, if the pastor speaks in tongues while preaching; the Lord may do that because there is somebody in the congregation that speaks that language and God is desperate trying to save that person. Again, that is a powerful sign for an unbeliever.

The Power of Languages

         Let me take you back to Genesis 11 and the story of the Tower of Babel. All false religions have their roots in Babel, which is Babylon. Up to that point everyone spoke one language. God confused the languages as the direct consequence of their sins.

         In Acts, at the start of the church, God again uses languages; this time, everybody was able to understand each other, even as they were speaking different languages. Supernaturally, everybody that received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost became beyond bilingual, they became polyglot (They spoke and understood multiple languages as their own).

         The start of the church was a sign of God bringing his people in unity. Believe me when I tell you; Satan will fight against the unity of the Body of Christ until his last hour. But we will come together, not in some kind of ecumenical neoevangelistic way where unity is more important than what is taught. There will be unity in the Body of Christ under the banner of God’s Word and of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

[1] First Corinthians 12:1

[2] First Corinthians 12:3

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Co 12:10.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/glossary

 

[6] First Corinthians 14:4

“In Difficult Times!” By Carlos Bosque


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These are the words of a man who lost his dear wife just a few weeks ago. In my life, the marriage of Carlos and his dear wife Natasha was one of the greatest expressions of love, harmony and mutual respect I have ever witness. Carlos wrote these words as a Facebook post and I asked him permission to publish his words here. If you are going through difficult times or if you know somebody who is going through it; please encourage him or her with these words from a dear brother. This is how Christians suffer!

In Difficult Times

In difficult times, tragedy, and just not understanding Gods leadership the enemy comes to steal our joy and thankfulness by trying to cause us to be offended toward God.

He would first try to tell us that God is not good, that God doesn’t want the best for us or that God’s leadership over our lives is not perfect. If I know anything about God is that His his love is perfect and His wisdom is infallible.

If that lie doesn’t work he would tell us that God has given us what we deserve. That is another lie in that the grace, mercy and favor on our lives is unmerited. That’s why one of Gods names is the Lord our righteousness, it’s imputed righteousness through the blood of Jesus. We could never do anything to deserve it…God made a way we’re there was no way.

My confession when I don’t understand is “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever”. Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our confessions Heb 3:1.

Jesus told John the Baptist disciples that he was the greatest man that ever lived; “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matthew 11:6

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Heaven is Not Guaranty “A Word for Fathers”


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The idea that all we, as fathers, have to do, is pray for our children, and that is as far as our responsibility goes when faced with rebelliousness in our own home, can’t be further from the truth. The idea that our kids have some kind of free ticket to heaven just because we are Christians and, just because we pray, is even a more dangerous lie. These man-made liberal ideologies are destroying a whole generation of young people.

         Prayer, without a doubt, is the greatest gift we can give our children. However, people forget that prayer is more than just talking to God. In addition, prayer is to listen to HIM and to do what He says to do. This “Time Out” new generation of parents is contributing to the destruction of lives, homes, societies and nations.

         If we are Evangelicals, then we are supposed to be Bible believing and Bible honoring folks. My Bible tells me in Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” I am afraid we have a lot of parents hating their kids not even knowing they are doing so.

         This kind of unbiblical mentality is part of the reason I am increasingly growing weary of this Charismatic Pentecostal movement that preaches and teaches a Gospel without responsibility. A Gospel without pain, where everybody is supposed to be healthy, rich and happy all the time. A Gospel without any uncomfortable emotion and a Gospel where any effort of anything is criticize. No need to study the Word, no need for seminary, no need for rehearsal, no need for preparation of any kind and… no need to discipline our kids or do anything else, but “just pray.”

         Proverbs 1:8-9 tells us, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.” Another word for instruction is chastisement and warning. So then not only that we are called, as fathers, to discipline our kids, we are also called to give them instructions (Chastisement and warning).

         My Bible also tells me in Proverbs 10:1, “The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.” Beloved, our children’s spiritual condition will and should affect us as parents, did Jesus weep or was he emotionally detached from the suffering of family and friends after the death of Lazarus? Even knowing that he was going to resurrect Lazarus, He still identify emotionally with the people.[1] Have we lost that in the Charismatic world?

         As it refers to us as fathers, the issue in general is not that we are super involved; it is in fact, that many of us, even in the church, are nowhere to be found. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of  every three — live in biological father-absent homes.  Nine in ten American parents agree this is a “crisis.” Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the social issues facing         America today. But the hope lies in the fact that children with   involved fathers do better across every measure of   child well-being     than their peers in father-absent homes.”[2]

         What about this guaranty ticket to heaven? Unbiblical. In The Old Testament we find examples of Godly men; men of great character, whose children did not follow after them; Prophet Samuel and King Josiah just to mention two. You may say, “well Angel, that is Old Testament stuff.” The New Testament encourages each one of us to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”[3] Fear and trembling! Have you notice the lack of respect and reverence in our own church services lately?

         Stop watering down the Gospel! The reality is that if our children do not repent of their sin, if they don’t surrender to Christ, they will go to hell. Who is going to start preaching that again? Just as in the Old Testament children rebelled against their Godly parents and ultimately against God, it is still happening today; there is nothing new under the sun.[4] This water down of the Gospel is another accommodation of sin.

         If a child lives in my home and he or she wants to rebel against my home’s basic rules, there will be prayers for sure, but there will also be discipline and there will be some activated rods if need be. Is it that not what the Bible says?

         I am not against adults’ sons and daughters living with their parents as long as they are single and paying rent. However, if they insist in rebelling against their parents’ rules; it is perfectly ok for parents to tell them that it is time for them to find their own place.

         Heaven is not guaranty and God has no grandchildren; you are either a child of God or you are not. People rebel against God all the time and guess what? They do rebelled against parents also.

         So are we to lose hope? Absolutely not, but we better stop our little private interpretations of Scripture, our little cheerleading prophecies and dig deep into the Word  of God. We better deal with the reality of heaven and also, truly deal with the reality of hell. We better do what we have to do as fathers and make sure the blood of our kids are not in our hands. We better make sure we give them something to remember other than this heaven guaranty foolish theology!

 

[1] John 11:35

[2] National Fatherhood Initiative, http://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistics

 

[3] Philippians 2:12

[4] Ecclesiastes 1:9