Biblical discipleship does not begin until AFTER one has already been born again (John 15: 5). This is where religion often places the cart before the horse, promoting the concept that salvation follows religious activity. It is discipleship that follows salvation.
Discipleship is initially for the spiritual edification and forward progress of the individual believer, but with the long-term objective of evangelizing unbelievers and mutually edifying fellow believers, usually in small groups or in a one-on-one setting.
Proclaiming the Gospel Message to unbelievers and sharing principles of Bible Doctrine is a major part of the DAILY work that God gave each born again believer to do, be it at home, work, school, or play. Each and every day is a day in which the advancing disciple either evangelizes or edified others, or sets the stage for future opportunities by preparing himself to do so.
Before we can most effectively do all the work that God has given us to do, there is a lot of preparation and steadfastness required. Both require personal discipline.
Just like a runner in a torch relay race, we can not pass onto others something that we have not first taken possession of for ourselves.
Advanced doctrines take time to learn, but from day one, every born again believer understands the unadulterated Gospel Message and has been given the responsibility to share it with others.
Concerning more advanced doctrines, disciples must not only obtain accurate knowledge, but be one who has learned to walk the walk as well as one who talks the talk.
As an example, the words of a parent who lectures his or her children on the evils of smoking and drinking with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other will likely fall on deaf ears. At best, poor examples can only be used by God to show others the path that He does not want us to tread in order to avoid a similar outcome.
Walking the walk involves a life long process of becoming more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ in thought, word, and deed (Romans 8: 29).
God places His ambassadors (2Cor. 5: 20) in every area and walk of life. God is just as concerned for the salvation and or edification of the homeless souls gathered around a barrel fire under a bridge, as He is for the souls gathered around a conference table on Wall Street, and vice versa.
Wherever a Church Age believer finds himself 24 – 7, be it at home, work, school, or play, the DIVINE purpose for he or she being there is to be an ambassador of Christ (2Cor. 5: 20).
In addition to the universal work of evangelism and edification, there is the daily work associated with the individual (1Cor. 12: 7) spiritual gift and accompanying work that God has selected for each individual believer.
This work goes beyond one’s own edification, as this work is primarily for the benefit of OTHER people (1Cor. 12: 7). By serving them, you’re serving God.
Among these INDIVIDUAL gifts are the gift of helps (logistical service), the gift of giving, the gift of encouraging others, the gift of construction, the gift of showing mercy, gift of spiritual discernment, the gift of teaching, the gift of healing. In fact, there is a gift for every need.
The devil is determined to see to it that as much of the work that God has in mind for the Church as a whole, and the work that God is mind for each individual believer will not be identified or finished.
Sad to say, but in many areas of the Christian Community at large, the Great Commission has become the Great Omission.
Many “Christians” do not even know what the individual spiritual gifts of 1Cor. 12 are, let alone which one God has selected for them.
Once one discovers what his or her spiritual gift and accompanying ministry (area or type of service) is, there will be no doubt in his or her mind. It will fit like a tailor-made glove.
The devil’s attacks the universal and individual plan of God primarily by way of distraction. These distractions can come from a variety of sources.
Among these sources, there is the devil (1Pet. 5: 8), the fallen, independent, hostile nature within us (Romans 7: 23), demons (1Tim. 4: 1), religious, as opposed to spiritual men (Matt. 15: 9), and people in general (1Cor. 15: 33).
The distraction usually begins by presenting the intended target something that he or she will likely desire (Gen. 3: 6), be it something good or bad. Once the target decides that this is what he or she wants, it can become really easy to justify or excuse whatever it takes to obtain or to retain the objective. Whatever it takes usually involves turning a blind eye and a deaf ear towards potential consequences of pursuing the wrong desires, or pursuing the right desires in a wrong way.
When the offer comes from the dark side, its ultimate objective is the destruction of the intended target, or the destruction of the target’s post salvation spiritual life.
Even what could and should have been a blessing (e.g.., family, career, prosperity) can be a distraction should it become an idol. Anything that is given priority over God and or the things of God in the life of a believer is an idol.
In closing, keep in mind that the work God gave His Church (and each member of it) to do is focused on the spiritual issues of life here on Earth and their impact on Eternity. The distractions are usually presented in a way that disputes the Word of God (Gen. 3: 4), and or “improving” (Gen. 3: 6/Luke 4: 6) one’s lot in life here on Earth with little (if any) concern for eternity (Mark 8: 37).
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