Celebrate Salvation in the Church
Our world is filled with books, programs, and study guides. How does The Joy of Christian Discipleship fit into the already packed life of our church leaders and congregations? Is it an add-on, essential, optional, or unnecessary?
The Mission of the Church
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness… clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” Matthew 6:33; 23:26
Jesus started his public ministry by calling an enlarging group of followers or “disciples” to himself. They were called disciples, because they became not just students or learners but committed followers who applied and lived out what they learned. Toward the end of their years of traveling together, observing, and learning from their master, Jesus asked his closest disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” to which Jesus responded with these famous words: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus gave Simon the nickname “Peter” (which means “rock” in Greek) when he recognized and confessed Jesus as the Son of God. The question begged here is simply this: What kind of church does Jesus want his disciples to build that gives credence to our confession of his Lordship? We find the answer in the Great Commission that Jesus announced to his disciples when he appeared to them after his resurrection and just prior to his ascension:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
The task of Christ’s church (the ekklesia or “called out ones”) is straightforward: proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ saving power and Kingdom lordship and make disciples of everyone among the nations who heeds the call.
How do we “make disciples”?
It’s true that the first steps in making a disciple start with confirming a person as a converted or “born again” believer in Jesus, the Messiah (Christ). This is accomplished through revelation of God’s love, conviction and confession of sin, repentance and commitment to following Jesus. This phase in the new believer’s life, called salvation, is confirmed through baptism in water and empowered by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Following the early steps of salvation comes a time of cleansing from dysfunctional attitudes, behaviors, and habits of “the old (pre-converted) man” and renewal in the truth and purity of Christ’s ways. These steps, referred to as sanctification, are accomplished by the Holy Spirit through meditation, prayer, further confession, repentance, and mutual upbuilding in the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
By being cleansed of doublemindedness, sinful behaviors, and hypocrisy, we become strong enough in our faith to learn how to not only enjoy it but share the Good News with others – in other words, how to be links in the ongoing chain of the Great Commission. This is what the first three study guides in The Joy of Christian Discipleship Series are all about, starting with conversion to Christ in Saved, then progressing to maturing in grace in Sanctified, and reaching out to share with others in Sent.
What’s the problem?
Many congregations run into difficulty with “making disciples” through lack of knowledge and simple tools to use in carrying out the Great Commission. The failures begin with incomplete salvation experiences, inadequate support for pursuing the righteousness of God through sanctification, and lack of enough foundational understanding about the the ekklesia (church) and its relationship to the Kingdom of God to be able to share about it. As a result, new believers are rare and many church-goers suffer and fall from the same moral afflictions that characterize their non-Christian counterparts.
A proposed solution
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous. Psalm 11
While the Psalmist laments the problem, the author of Hebrews suggests a time-honored approach that our Lord actually commissioned us to carry out: disciple believers who hunger for God’s truth by rebuilding the foundations!
Laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1-3
Start by making disciples in small groups with the members of your own church using our Celebrate Salvation material. For many this may be a “refresher course” in subjects they already understand, but you’ll be delighted by the individual and corporate growth your members will experience when they have the opportunity to share their faith personally and intimately with others! And as a special bonus, you’ll be ready as a congregation to welcome new believers into your midst during the revival that’s coming and make disciples of them, too.
What others are saying
I am enjoying this immensely. It was right on time given the state of the world. I’m grateful for Celebrate Salvation and would recommend this if you want to change and get a better understanding of yourself and how Christ can truly change your life.
This book was written in a way that is perfect for both the new believer and those who are in ministry – no matter your growth stage with Christ, it’s understandable. The structure of facilitator and not teacher, has given me the opportunity as a Missionary to be a student, participate as part of the class, and allowed me to be safely vulnerable and open in away I haven’t experienced. I have grown, been encouraged and able to examine my walk with Christ in away that’s positively helping me to self examine my walk for the purpose of growth and to help other people find the comfort, joy, and peace I found by giving my life to Christ. This book and class was an answer to my prayer of having a group that’s informal, fosters a judgment-free zone, learn and address and get deliverance from things that I may have buried. This book has been life changing for me and I highly recommend!!!
While you’re thinking and praying about it, consider checking out our handout Starting Groups in Your Church.