It’s one thing to say make disciples, it is another to make disciples.
What do we do?
Where do we start?
We are looking at the book of 1 Thessalonians in order to learn from the apostle Paul.
And the first thing we see is that if you are going to be a disciplemaker you need to share the gospel.
Before there ever was a church in Thessalonica, or even the letter 1 Thessalonians, there was Paul in Thessalonica talking to people about Jesus and what Jesus did.
We find the story in Acts 17.
After Paul had been released from prison in a place called Philippi, he and several of his friends came to Thessalonica, and when they got to Thessalonica, Luke tells us Paul went to the synagogue as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.”
One of the ways we disciple is we get involved with people who are already Christians. But we can’t forget the importance of going after people who are not Christians with the gospel. The discipleship process often begins with sharing the gospel with someone and seeing God work in their lives and change them and when he saves them, they obviously have so much to learn about what it means to live for Christ, and it’s part of your responsibility not just to leave them there, but to get involved in their life and help them understand now that they are Christian how to actually follow Christ.
This is why Jesus said,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
The assumption there is that our responsibility to someone doesn’t end exactly when we share the gospel with them and they become a Christian. Instead, then it really begins. We need to take the next step and help them understand all that Jesus said and how to obey it.
For some of us this can be intimidating.
I am not the apostle Paul!
But if you asked Paul what was the key to his success, it wasn’t the apostle Paul, it was the Holy Spirit and the gospel and we have those still. The gospel is the power of God for salvation, and if we are going to become a disciple-making church, one of the first places we should start, is with sharing it.
If you don’t know how, then you should find someone who does and ask him if he will help you. I am sure there are people at your church who would love to take you along with them and help you learn how to talk to others about Jesus.
But the reality is I have found one of the best ways to grow in your desire and ability to share the gospel with others is just to simply to share the gospel with others.
There’s something about telling others about Jesus.
While there are times when you share the gospel with others and not much seems to be happening, there are other times like what happens here with Paul where it is evident God is doing something way beyond what you could do with the message you are sharing.
This is part of what Paul is rejoicing in at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians actually.
You can see how he begins,
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
Paul’s reflecting back and it’s like he is saying, ‘Wow! God totally changed you. We saw it in your life! And you know, we knew something was happening even as we were sharing with you because the gospel wasn’t coming just with logic and ideas and words, but we could see the power of God at work and the Holy Spirit at work in you and God granted us an unusual certainty about how the gospel was impacting you as we shared it with you.’
This is such good news.
If all there was to sharing the gospel was us talking, it would get pretty discouraging after a while. But God is at work in this world and in people’s lives and He is at work saving them, and so if you want to really participate in the great work God’s doing, you should make a priority out of relying on the Holy Spirit like Paul and telling others about Jesus.
That’s where discipleship normally begins. But that’s not where it stops. In posts to come, we’ll continue to look at Paul’s life and learn what next.