It has been a while since I have written anything new on this blog. As a pastor, we are in one of the busiest times of the year. I have been busy preparing and teaching lessons as well as doing video recaps of lessons so I have not had the chance to write as much as I would have liked. I am back on track now. In our church, we walked through the entire Bible in 2016 and it was an amazing journey. Every attendee from bed babies to senior adults learned about the fact that the Bible is all about Jesus Christ, from Genesis to Revelation. We spent a great deal of time focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
- The treasure of the kingdom of God
- Jesus feeds the 5,000
- Fear vs. Faith
- Lord, Teach us to pray
- The Sermon on the Mount
- Jairus learns to have faith
- Great in the kingdom of heaven
- Jesus saves Zaccheus
- Christ’s Crucifixion
- The Ascension of Jesus Christ
- Jesus sends the Promised Helper
Jesus trained the disciples for a little over 3 years, gave them the power of the Holy Spirit, and then sent them out to preach the message of the Gospel to make disciples. They took this calling very seriously. Almost 10 years after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Saul, a persecutor of the Church, has an encounter with Jesus Christ and his life is transformed. Saul is born again. To demonstrate this change, Saul changes his name to Paul. He is known today as the Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
I. Paul the disciple-maker
Paul was trained by Jesus Christ, just like the original disciples/apostles. Paul was chosen by Jesus Christ to be the 12 apostle, the one who replaced Judas. Paul was discipled by Jesus Christ directly. Then, Christ sent Paul out to make disciples, preaching the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul took this calling very seriously, just like the original disciples. Paul took three major missionary journeys so that he could make disciples. He would look for Jews living in Asia Minor and Europe. When he found his fellow Jews, he would teach them to study and understand the Scriptures. Many did not believe but some did. When they believed, he would use their homes as a home-base to continue teaching the new believers while reaching out to the Gentiles of the city where he stayed. Again, many of the Gentiles did not believe but, some of them did. Jesus like in the Great Commission given to the disciples by Jesus, Paul taught the new believers to observe the teachings of Jesus Christ. At one point, Paul used a school and turned it into a disciple making factory. These groups of disciples were the beginnings of church plants that spread all over Asia Minor and Southern Europe.
II. Paul the church planter
No one really knows exactly how many churches Paul planted. Many of the churches that he planted ended up planting other churches. One example is the church in Ephesus. That church plant by Paul planted the other 6 churches that the Apostle John wrote to in the book of Revelation. I want to take a look at one of the churches planted by Paul. The story is told to us in Acts 16. Paul is on a trip, led by the Holy Spirit. He is working with a team of other believers led by the Holy Spirit. They have been called to Macedonia by God to make disciples. On the way, they meet Timothy and invite him to join them. They end up on the outskirts of Philippi meeting with a small group of Jews praying by the river. Paul, moved by the Holy Spirit, teaches the Scriptures and Lydia understands the message, believes in Jesus Christ, and is saved. She takes Paul to her home and he shares the message of the Gospel with all present. The entire household believes in Jesus Christ and is saved. Paul and his team uses Lydia’s house as a home-base. On a daily basis, Paul and his team travel to the market and preach the Gospel. A little slave girl with an evil spirit of divination follows Paul and the team around telling everyone that they are preaching the message of the Most High God. Paul gets tired of being hounded by this evil spirit and he casts it out with the power of Jesus Christ. The slave girl’s masters are upset because she was a fortune-teller and made a large profit. That profit potential was gone. They are not excited about a person being set free from the eternal damning grip of an evil spirit. All they saw was their $$$. These men are upset with Paul and have him and some of his team members beaten and thrown in jail. Paul and his team preached the Gospel when they have freedom. They make disciples when they have freedom. What are they going to do while in prison? While in prison, they pray, sing hymns, and praise God, sharing the message of the Gospel with all the other prisoners, including the head jailer who is in charge of watching them. About midnight, there is a large earthquake and the cell doors are opened up and the prisoners’ chains fall off. The head jailer thinks that the prisoners escaped so he is about to commit suicide. Paul stops him and the man wants to know what he needs to do to be saved. The jailer believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved. The jailer then takes Paul and his team to his own home and Paul preaches to all. The entire household believes in Jesus and is saved. Now we have Lydia and her household along with the head jailer and his household. They have all become disciples of Jesus Christ and the first church in Europe is formed. The ask Paul and his team to stay with them for a while and they do. Paul teaches them the Word of God, equipping them to observe the Lord’s command and grow in their faith. While on another of his missionary journeys, Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to communicate with this new church. He writes a letter to them. That letter is known as the book of Philippians in the New Testament.
III. Paul the writer
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, Paul was called to make more disciples, not just to evangelize. Part of the disciple making process was evangelism. The other part was equipping the new believers to grow in Christ, serve one another, and reach out to the people around them and make more disciples. This involves time and communication. Paul spent much time in the new churches, sometimes one year, other times one year and a half. But, God constantly called Paul to new territory. Even while traveling to make disciples and plant new churches, Paul continued to communicate with the churches he had already helped establish. He would hear of a need, pray to the Lord for guidance, and then write to meet that need. This is exactly what Jesus told His original disciples to do, to preach the Gospel to all creation and then to teach the new disciples who believe in the Gospel how to study and apply the Word of God. Paul is a great example in this. He did it face to face and he did it through correspondence. Because of this dedication, 13 or 14 of the 27 New Testament books come from Paul. As disciples of Christ today, we also benefit from these writings because the problems of the early church are the same problems that we have today. Human nature has not changed a bit in the past 2,000 years.
My dear friend, are you being discipled by a disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you seeking to make new disciples every single day? Are you preaching the Gospel to anyone who will listen? Are you teaching new believers to study and apply the Word of God? Do you communicate well with your disciples? Do you see obstacles as a hindrance to the Gospel or as more opportunities? What gets you out of bed every morning? Is it to go to work and make money or, is it to go about the process of making disciples? May the Lord help us learn to follow the Lord, to surrender to His leadership the way that the Apostle Paul did!!!