Category Archives: Discipleship

Discrimination, Religious Liberty, and the Gospel

By Michael Wren

Much has been made over the past few days about Arizona bill 1062, which Governor Jan Brewer vetoed.  That the bill was vetoed was not surprising.  By the time the bill reached the governor’s desk both political parties and numerous major businesses within the state were urging it.  The governor argued, in part, that the bill was worded very broadly and could have led to some unintended consequences.  For the moment neither her reasoning nor her decision to veto the bill concern me.  I am much more concerned about the conversation that has erupted around the bill.

As anyone who has paid attention to the news is aware, many conservatives were urging for the passage of the bill through the legislature in order to defend religious liberty—so that those who disagree with same sex marriage as a matter of religious principle would not be forced to violate their conscience by participating in such a ceremony.  This is an enormously important issue.  Baptists have been at the forefront of religious liberty since the beginning of the Baptist movement in England in the early 1600s.  Early Baptists in the United States were crucial in championing the inclusion of a Bill of Rights in the U. S. Constitution.  Religious liberty is essential to a free society and has been a cornerstone of the American experiment.  And as of now, both sides on this issue are striving to maintain the inviolability of religious liberty.

hot doughnuts

Three of my favorite words

Many are perplexed and, honestly, troubled, that conservative Christians would claim that the right to choose not to do business with a gay couple is a matter of religious liberty.  I would argue that, based on the teachings of Scripture, Christians ought not refuse to do business with gay couples in every situation.  In most business ventures, the owner can transact business with his or her customers without any knowledge or approval of the customer’s lifestyle.  If I owned a doughnut shop (which oddly enough would be kind of awesome), I could not in good conscience refuse to sell doughnuts to gay people.  They are created in the image of God, and by God’s common grace they have the opportunity to eat the blessed manna that we call doughnuts just like everyone else.  God does not, in his word, declare that gay people cannot buy, sell, and make a living in this world.  To refuse them service is to make a distinction that God does not make.

But making a cake for their wedding I would consider a different matter, since God explicitly declared that marriage is between a man and a woman.  Doing business in this situation would require participating in a falsehood, and to do so would be unethical.  Thus the freedom to refuse to be a vendor for a gay wedding becomes an issue of religious liberty.

But is this an act of discrimination?  A friend of mine, in a blog posted Thursday, complained that Scripture should not be used as a cover for discrimination.  She pointed out that Christians used Scripture to defend slavery, support Jim Crow laws, and assert that the AIDS virus was a curse sent by God to destroy homosexuals.  I cannot agree more that Scripture ought to be interpreted properly, and I concur that the examples she cited are important to consider as we wrestle with this moral revolution happening before our eyes.  In each case she cited, the parties involved relied on erroneous interpretations to support their claims.  We should consider them for a moment.

In the case of slavery, antebellum Southerners mistook the description of slavery as a reality in the worlds of the Old and New Testament for the assertion that slavery was a God-ordained institution.  Just because God recognized the existence of slavery and revealed laws for the proper management of the institution does not mean that God approved of the institution.  It is a subtle distinction, to be sure, but an important one.  The teachings of the New Testament make clear that slavery is an institution that exists because of the presence of sin in the world.  Just because it exists doesn’t mean it’s good.  And one thing Southerners should not have missed (which reveals the depth of their blindness on this issue)—slavery was never race-based in Scripture.  Antebellum Southerners, for all of their savvy in interpreting Scripture (I focused my doctoral research on this), simply abused Scripture on this point.

Jim Crow sign

Signs like this were typical in the Jim Crow era.

Jim Crow laws were likewise supported by faulty interpretation of Scripture. The main theological pillar for segregation was the belief that blacks were an inferior race.  This, of course, was built off of the famous “curse of Ham” in Genesis 9.  But their interpretation was nothing more than wishful thinking on their part.  The curse Noah leveled against his son that had violated him was actually targeted at Ham’s son, Canaan.  The writer of Genesis includes that curse to prepare us for what will come in the books of Joshua and Judges—when the Canaanites were either destroyed or enslaved by the 12 tribes of Israel.  It had nothing to do with race at all, and certainly nothing to do with the black race.  Again, Scripture was used tragically to support segregation.  Thankfully, segregation, like slavery, has now been discredited in our culture.

Finally we should consider the claim that the AIDS virus was a judgment by God upon homosexuals—another good example of faulty interpretation of Scripture.  This claim breaks down logically as well.  If the AIDS virus was intended by God for this purpose, why has God allowed it to run rampant in Africa?  That consideration alone should cause one to reevaluate that claim.  But turning our attention to Scripture, we must be careful how we interpret God’s activity in this world.  Prophets in the Old Testament could interpret specific events as God’s judgment because of a particular sin.  Daniel did this before Belshazzar.  The nameless prophet did this before Jereboam (1 Kings 13), and there are plenty of other examples.  All of these examples had one thing in common—God specifically spoke to the prophet about that exact situation.  We do not have that revelation.  Does God work through a hurricane?  Yes.  Does God work through the spread of a disease?  Yes.  What exactly is God doing in these specific situations?  We cannot say with certainty.  We must remain humble before him.  That’s all we can say.

So, then, what do we conclude about our current ethical dilemma?  If we make a distinction (which is all discrimination is, by the way—making distinctions), it must be a distinction that God has revealed we ought to make.  If we go beyond those bounds, we treat people in a way that is contrary to God’s will.  Should Christians do business with gay people?  In general, to deny gay people business in most situations would be to deny them something that they have as much right to as anyone else.  It suggests that a gay person is less of a person than straight people are.  What about the case of being a vendor at a gay wedding?  If God has spoken clearly about marriage, then we have a different story.

The legislation in Arizona may well have been worded too broadly.  I don’t know.  Defending religious liberty is definitely a complicated matter, and standing up against illegitimate forms of discrimination is certainly important.  But denying service to gay people in order to avoid participation in a gay wedding does not seem to be an illegitimate form of discrimination, based on the Bible’s definition of marriage.  The world is changing quickly.  Christians must stand boldly for the truth of God’s word and shine the light of the gospel with love.  This is a tall order in any generation.  But it seems especially challenging in our day.

Marriage Definitions Revisited

The cast of “Sister Wives” on TLC

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the coming of our Messiah into the world, God in human flesh, to bring peace between God and man and salvation to the world.  But while the Messiah’s birth reveals God’s intention of peace toward all who call upon His name, the world around us still exists in the dark of chaos.  So we cannot allow our vigilance to wane as we exchange presents and sing “Silent Night,” as a recent court decision in Utah makes clear.  Christian commentators have warned for several years that a redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex unions would eventually topple polygamy laws all over the nation.  Late last week that began to happen.

Reality TV star Kody Brown, who is featured in the show “Sister Wives” along with his four wives and seventeen children, took the state of Utah to court over the law that he could not cohabit with more than one woman.  Utah, you may know, outlawed polygamy in the 19th century in order to attain statehood.  However, because polygamy was still practiced by many conservative Mormons, the state also passed a law prohibiting a man who was already married from cohabiting with other women.  Judge Clark Waddoups of the U. S. District Court in Utah ruled late Friday that this part of Utah’s polygamy law is unconstitutional.  Individuals are still allowed only one marriage license, but Waddoups ruled that the law prohibiting cohabitation violated Utah citizens’ First Amendment rights.  Brown is free to return to Utah with his four wives and 17 children.  The ruling built off of a 2003 Supreme Court decision (Lawrence v. Texas), and follows in the wake of numerous court rulings during the intervening years that have redefined our understanding of the Bill of Rights.  In short, Waddoups’ ruling is consistent with what Federal courts and the Supreme Court have ruled over the past ten years and is not likely to be overturned.  The redefinition of marriage is here to stay—and sooner than many thought.  For a full explanation of the case and its implications, check out Albert Mohler’s blog.

This case, won by a reality TV star, should serve as another reality check for churches.  Battles over marriage are already happening in the Indiana State Legislature.  And we are literally one court ruling away from legalized same-sex marriage and legalized polygamy.  None of this, of course changes the Bible’s teaching about marriage or the need for churches to give clear testimony about it.  However, as marriage laws change around our churches, we will inevitably be put in the position in which we are asked to conduct or hold a wedding ceremony that is contrary to biblical teaching.  The day will come when gay couples will approach a church and ask to use its sanctuary, or a family will ask to conduct a ceremony for an additional wife.  Such ceremonies will become common in the culture at large.  If our churches want to stand clearly for the biblical definition of marriage, they will have to have clear policy statements passed by the congregation.  Your marriage policy should point to your governing doctrinal statement (for most of us, The Baptist Faith and Message) and stipulate that marriages are to be between only one man and one woman.  If our convictions about marriage are challenged in court, we need to be able to demonstrate that our practices are consistent with clearly articulated religious beliefs.  I want to encourage your churches not to procrastinate on this issue.

Saving Christian Marriage

WREN-MICHAEL-39

Pastor, New Life Baptist Church, Greencastle

By Michael Wren

At last night’s association meeting, I spoke briefly about how the church ought to respond to the challenge ahead of us in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision.  As everyone knows, last week’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act allows the Federal government to recognize same sex couples who have been married in states where such a union is legal.  The decision itself is a great loss to social conservatives, and particularly to evangelical Christians.  But the rationale behind the decision is even more damaging.  According to Justice Kennedy, the Defense of Marriage Act violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing the equal protection of the law to every citizen, because congress illegitimately concluded that same-sex marriage is immoral.  With this ruling in place, it seems to be only a matter of time before all states are forced to recognize same sex marriage.  And with same sex marriage legal, polygamy would logically seem to follow close behind.

If you read blogs on a regular basis, you will know that there is no shortage of reflection upon how the church ought to respond in the days ahead.  While there is no need to say what has already been said by numerous people, I do want to expand my comments from last night and offer a few specific recommendations:

  1. Churches should not panic.  The church has never needed the state to define Christian marriage, and thus the church does not need the state to rescue it.  Our calling from God is still the same, and the gospel has not changed.  Jesus is still risen.
  2. Churches must continue to demonstrate a passion for lost souls.  Simply because the world considers homosexuality to be a legitimate lifestyle does not change the reality that the Bible declares it be to a sinful choice and that sin (in whatever form) destroys souls.  The church can expect to confront more broken families than it has ever seen before, and it must confront them with both truth and grace.  We cannot cease to care, to pray, and to share.
  3. Churches must evaluate their marriage policy.  This will be imperative for a couple of reasons.  First, with homosexuality (and eventually polygamy) legalized, churches will need a clear paper trail to substantiate their reasons for refusing people who request to be married.  The day might come when churches are penalized for discriminating against such people, and when that day comes we will have to count the cost.  Either way, though, we need to state clearly whom we will marry and under what circumstances.  Second, we must admit that churches have not done a good job of promoting and strengthening Christian marriages.  Even without the sweeping victories of the homosexual movement, the institution of marriage seems to be on life support in this country.  Divorce and cohabitation are common (both in our communities and in our churches) and have been treated with nothing more than an awkward silence.  While we must be persistent about speaking the truth into difficult situations (and doing so in love), we must also do a much better job on the front end.  In far too many cases, churches allow virtual strangers to use their facility as long as they pay a nominal fee and meet with a representative of the church.  Marriage, like everything else, ought to come under the discipline and watch care of the church.  Marriage is, in fact, an extremely important component of people’s spiritual lives.  Churches ought to craft policies that help ensure that “Christian marriage” is, in fact, Christian—and that the couple understands the importance of commitment to the church.

We are entering an era in which the church has the opportunity to stand out from the world dramatically—or face the reality that it has lost its gospel witness entirely.  The church of the first few centuries was dramatically successful at demonstrating the power of Christ to the corrupt Greco-Roman society around it.  They endured much persecution and ridicule, and they tended to take holiness very seriously, but they also earned a lot of credibility and won a great many converts.  The issue at stake is really not that of saving Christian marriage, but rather of saving the credibility of our gospel witness.  If we are willing to count the cost, we will experience an outpouring of God’s power.

Teach Us To Pray

Wade Potts,  Associate Pastor of Youth and Outreach, New Life Baptist Church, Greencastle

Wade Potts, Associate Pastor of Youth and Outreach, New Life Baptist Church, Greencastle

By Wade Potts

In my last blog entry I said that the primary method of discipleship is teaching.  This is the way John the Baptist, Jesus, and even Paul discipled new Christians.  Teaching does not necessarily mean that we fill individuals with facts and doctrines but it also means that we disciple new believers and other Christians practically by showing them how to live out the faith.

I recently read an article by Ray Deck III entitled 3 Creative Ideas for Family Prayer.  In this article he gives some examples for parents to teach their children to pray.  However, and I think he would agree with this, these ideas could be used when discipling all believers.  David Platt says this same thing in the Follow Me Bible Study.  He encourages us to teach people through example how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to evangelize, and so on.  Just about all new believers are uncomfortable about praying in public; yet, when we only tell them how to pray, these fears typically remain.  When we show someone how we pray this can calm their fears because they can see what prayer looks like.  It gives them a model to compare their personal prayers to.  It is one thing to give instructions to individuals on how to pray, to provide principles for praying well, or even to take someone through the Survival Kit for New Christians and flesh out what it has to say about prayer.  However, there is something very personal and very effective when one believer shows another believer how to pray.  I understand that none of us pray perfectly, but neither did John the Baptist, and yet he taught his disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1).

In fact, Luke 11:1 gives us a beautiful picture of this type of discipleship.  Jesus was praying in front of his disciples and this prompted the disciples to ask of him a very important request, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples” (HCSB).  Not only did Jesus disciple through teaching but we see that John the Baptist did as well. If you consider the Lord’s Prayer itself, it provides the perfect model for the Christian’s prayer.

  • We begin with the statement of God as our Father. Believers have been adopted into a new family – the family of God with God as our Father and Christ as our brother.
  • Jesus then teaches believers they must transition from addressing God as Father into declaring praise or reverence of His name. God’s name perfectly reflects His character – which is holy.
  • Then believers are taught to pray for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.  We must be constantly about the business of praying for God’s church to grow so that our outreach is fueled by prayer.
  • We are taught to pray for the completion of God’s will.  Believers struggle with knowing God’s will for their lives, so Christ teaches us to pray for that will to be done.
  • Christ teaches believers to express their dependence on God by praying that He will be gracious enough to meet their daily needs.
  • Christ then instructs believers to ask for forgiveness.  However, there is a catch.  When we ask God for forgiveness we must do so only after we have forgiven those who have “wronged” us.
  • Finally, we are instructed to pray for deliverance from temptation.  For believers to win the war against sin they must first win the battle of temptation.  This begins with prayer.

Jesus’ model prayer contains all of the elements a new believer ought to include in his or her prayer life.  So I encourage you to go beyond giving simple instructions for prayer by showing those whom you disciple how to pray, and Jesus’ prayer makes the perfect model.

I’m in a Hurry and God Isn’t

By Larry Snyder

Larry Snyder Pastor of Victory Baptist Church, Clinton

Larry Snyder
Pastor of Victory Baptist Church, Clinton

Is patience difficult for you?  The story is told about a man in Los Angeles, California who was arrested for negligent discharge of a weapon after shooting his toilet bowl five times with a .38 caliber handgun.  He claims that he just got upset.  He couldn’t take it any longer.  His daughter had flushed a hairbrush down the toilet earlier in the day and clogged the pipes.  So he shot the offending toilet.  I have no word on the toilet’s condition, but the man’s patience was long gone.

Someone has said,

“Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can.
Found seldom in a woman,
Never in a man.”

I recently read a statistic that says that in the average lifetime, a person will spend 2 years calling people who aren’t home, 3 years in meetings and 5 years waiting in line.  Five years waiting in lines!  No one likes to wait.  I don’t like missing a green light or an elevator.  Waiting for even one minute can be agonizing!

But even worse is waiting on God!  Have you ever had to do that?  It seems like I am always in a hurry . . . but God seldom is.

As James, the half-brother of our Lord, moves into a conclusion to this marvelous book named after him, remember he is writing to Christians who had been exiled by the Roman emperor Claudius, and they have been unable to return home.  He begins his letter to these believers telling them in James 1:3, “…the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

In the verses in James 5:7-11, he returns to this theme of endurance.  Actually, in these 5 verses, James tells his readers 4 times to be patient until His return.  The word James uses for patience and endurance in the original Greek implies for Christians “to stay put and stand fast when you would really like to run.”

James gives us 3 examples of patient endurance.  He begins with an example of the farmer in verses 7 thru 9.  If you are an impatient person you should not desire to be a farmer.  I have met several farmers but I have never met one without patience.  They must be patient.  They must endure pain and toil preparing the soil to sow the seed.  They must sow the seed, and after the soil is prepared and the seed sown, they must be patient with the season.  Why does the farmer willingly wait so long?  Verse 7 tells us it is because the fruit is “precious”.  You see, the farmer has his eyes on the end result.

Next James gives the illustration of the prophets in Verse 10.  These early believers who James is writing to would have been familiar with this example of Old Testament prophets.  When we read how these faithful servants suffered, it offers us encouragement.  Beloved, we can be encouraged because we can know that God is in control.  These prophets encourage us by showing that they were in the will of God, yet they suffered.  They were proclaiming their message in “the name of the Lord.”  Pain and suffering are sometimes due to your faithfulness to God.  Perhaps that is the reason for your trial.  As someone once said “the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”

The third example that James gives us of patience and endurance in this passage of Scripture is Job.  James mentions him in verses 11 and 12.  Job is the classic example of a man that patiently endured suffering and was blessed by God for his persevering faith.  James reminds the believer that there are blessings for those who persevere.  But there often must be a trail of suffering to persevere through.  Job lost all he had except a nagging wife and friends who did not understand or support him.  He did not understand what the causes of his suffering were.  He did not know what was going on behind the scenes with God and Satan, yet Job endured.

James wants to encourage us to be patient in times of suffering.  He says:

  1. Like the farmer, keep working; keep waiting for that spiritual harvest.
  2. Like the prophet, keep witnessing; keep seeking opportunities to share the truth of God.
  3. Like Job keep trusting.

And we will have a clear vision of the Lord and come to know Him better for having been in the furnace of affliction.

Reimagining Happiness

 

                                             By Michael Wren
coca_cola_aaahCoca Cola launched this advertising campaign several years ago—“Coca Cola Happiness.”  Now I like Coke just as much as the next guy.  Actually, I probably like Coke more than the next guy.  When I was very young, my great aunt would keep 8 oz. Coca Cola bottles in the refrigerator and would let me have one every time I came over.  I’ve been a Coca Cola fan ever since, and will confess that drinking one makes me happy.  The ad campaign definitely resonates with me.  Still, the idea that any experience in this world could equate with happiness raises a larger question.  Where do we find satisfaction in life?  People’s approach to answering that question has changed many times over the centuries.

Augustine, the great theologian and bishop of the North African city of Hippo in the fifth century said it well: “God is the only source to be found of any good things, but especially of those which make a man good and those which will make him happy.”  Because God is good and is the giver of all good things, lasting happiness must be found in Him.  And when a person loves God, his love for God satisfies him.  As David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4).  Augustine said it this way, “Whatever he loves will be there, and he will not desire anything that is not there.  Everything that is there will be good, and the most high God will be the most high good.”  True happiness is found in God because the happiness that He gives is eternal.

But Augustine himself recognized how peculiar this view of happiness is.  As he explained, “the philosophers themselves have all constructed their own happy lives as each has thought best,” (The Trinity 13.10).   And they are still doing it.  During the Enlightenment, philosophers took God out of the equation and measured what is good based on what accomplishes the most good here in this world.  Many people who are active in our culture trying to bring change are evaluating happiness by this measure.  If we can improve people’s lives here and now, they think, we have produced happiness.

Far more people, though, measure happiness based on an experience—the Coca Cola Happiness idea.  Theologian Miroslav Volf of Yale argues that in the late twentieth century people increasingly lost sight of any reference to a higher power in defining what constitutes “the good life,” and they equally ceased to concern themselves with what is good for humanity in general (as had been the case for centuries).  In its place was a preoccupation with the experience of happiness.  In other words, people around us have changed.  In general, people once had some conception that in order to achieve happiness in life one had to have a relationship with the eternal God of the universe.  That is, generally, no longer the case.  People once thought that in order to achieve happiness in life, one had to seek the well being of others in the community.  That, also, is all too often not true anymore.  What we have left is a culture that seeks fulfillment through whatever activities are designed to produce it in the short term.  This is why every sector of the entertainment industry is booming right now.  Entertainment has become our savior.

But Augustine was right all along.  Not only was he right, but he was merely echoing the teaching of Jesus.  Jesus stated that if a man wanted to gain his life, he must lose it for the sake of the gospel.  Happiness is grounded in God, and the good news of Jesus is that it can be ours for eternity if we will lay aside our idols now and follow Him.  This is the gospel, and when people come in contact with the church, they need to hear it.  My concern is that we as the church are not doing enough to encourage people in our culture to redefine their conception of happiness.  In a world in which they want bigger cars, better jobs, and prettier girls, we sometimes draw them into the church by appealing to their desires: “Be a part of our community and you will experience more fulfillment.  Our church is bigger, cooler, kinder, and more innovative.”  If we appeal to their cravings and their senses, they will join us until something more immediately satisfying comes along.  And we have not made a disciple of Christ, because Jesus calls us to take up our cross (not a very satisfying experience in the short term) and follow Him.

What we must do is teach them to hope.  Again, hear the great Augustine, “But a man who is happy in hope is not happy yet.  He is waiting in patience for the happiness which he does not yet possess.”  But that happiness is eternal.  Let us remove ourselves out of the trap of trying to appeal to the senses of people whose value system is completely backward.  If all they value is a temporary experience of satisfaction, they will not find following Jesus fulfilling.  Jesus’ followers were only happy in hope as long as they remained in this world.  In fact, all twelve Apostles died a martyr’s death.  But they have been in the presence of God ever since.  Let us teach people to love God and let happiness come later.  As for the Coke, I’m still going to enjoy it, I’m just not going to live for it.

Biblical Discipleship

Wade Potts,
Associate Pastor of Youth and Outreach,
New Life Baptist Church,
Greencastle

By Wade Potts

Like many Christians I remember the day of my conversion well.  Unlike most Christians I was led to Christ in High School by one of my teachers.  It was August 24, 1999.  I went to a Christian high school and it was after Bible class that I approached my teacher about conversion.  I was saved that day but it was much later when I actually began to be discipled.  I spent years cultivating terrible theology and living a purposeless existence.  It was not until I went off for my final two years of college that I began to be discipled.

What made the difference in my life was that I was actually being taught the Scriptures.  After my conversion in 1999 I was not taught the Bible, so I did not understand how I was supposed to live.  I was taught easy believism and that my works do not matter.  This only set me up for a lawless lifestyle.  I was not taught the Bible because during my senior in high school when I was led to Christ, the entire Bible curriculum was consumed with a study of the book Revelation.  We were more focused on newspaper headlines than God’s word.  After I graduated I was not plugged in to a local church and it would be years until I would actually begin to realize the importance of biblical church membership.  Thankfully, God led me to a situation in which I would be discipled biblically.

It seems many in the church ignore what the Bible actually says about discipleship and have forged new definitions of what discipleship should be.  Many in the church want to downplay the importance of the Bible in discipleship and focus strictly on relationship building.  Relationships are absolutely crucial for the health of the church but relationships are not the sum of discipleship.  If the relationship is not structured around learning God’s Word then it is not discipleship.

In both the Old and the New Testament, discipleship simply means a continual learner.  The Hebrew word disciple appears only one time in the Old Testament in Isaiah 8:16.  The prophet says, “Bind up the testimony.  Seal up the instruction among my disciples.”  The context of this passage comes when Isaiah is warning the people about the coming invasion of the Assyrian army.  In this particular section of the warning, Isaiah is discussing the believing remnant.  The people of this remnant are called disciples.  They make up the remnant because they obeyed the word of God and they obeyed the word of God because they were discipled – or taught the word of God.

In the New Testament, the word disciple is mainly found in the gospels and typically relates to the twelve disciples.  However, there are two things interesting to note as it relates to discipleship and the gospels.  The first is the nature of the gospels themselves.  Two of them, Matthew and John, were written by those who were among the twelve.  The tradition that was handed down to Matthew, which likely came from the disciples themselves, preserved the teaching of Christ and information regarding his person and work.  John himself wrote, possibly from memory or possibly from another tradition altogether, a highly theological work dealing with the person and work of Christ.  These men did not leave us funny anecdotes or information about what made Jesus smile or what his favorite color was.  No, they left us his instruction.  They gave us information that would make us disciples.

Secondly, Jesus’ final words to us are “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  The word in the Greek, like the Hebrew, means a continual learner.  D.A. Carson says it like this, “Disciples are those who hear, understand, and obey Jesus’ teaching.”  When Jesus says go and make disciples he is saying go and make a people that want to study the Bible, learn the Bible, and most importantly obey the Bible.  This is how we are a light to the nations.  This is how we can multiply as a church.  Lifestyle evangelism seems to be a popular form of witnessing, but if your lifestyle is more in conformity to the world than the Word, then your lifestyle is not evangelizing.

A practical way churches can begin to return to biblical discipleship is through Sunday School classes.  I read recently a little book titled, Transformational Sunday School but David Francis.  He makes an interesting point that Sunday Schools began as a missionary enterprise.  He encourages us to begin to view each Sunday School class as a different people group and to begin to structure our Sunday School classes in order to disciple each particular people group in a way that is contextualized for each group.  Sunday School ought to be an effective tool for making disciples.  Whatever the method, though, I encourage you to make biblical disciples!