Thursday, September 16, 2010


I like Aussie John. I CERTAINLY like what he says in the comment sections of my posts here on vtmbottomline blog. I've never met him but he's part of the reason I love blogging. We are truly Internet friends and brothers in Christ.

As an example of WHY I like his comments, here is what he recently said on my last post. "Paul, for far too long, we Baptists and other evangelicals, have maintained, rather arrogantly, that we have the right to seek to convert whomever we decide needs converting, and by whatever means. Jesus NEVER commanded that we make converts. Any good salesman can do that. I know that only too well from my experience as a young "pastor". If we would read His command properly and seek to be a follower of Christ who makes disciples, who, [those disciples] in turn, become disciple, that's another story."

Making disciples really is what it's all about as Aussie J. points out. Historically, Southern Baptists have called it "Evangelism." But, unfortunately, we've made the mistake of thinking of evangelism as something separate and apart from disciple-making. It isn't. So for the sake of being understood in what I want to say, I will use the the two phrases "disciple making " and "evangelism" interchangeably in the up coming posts on the subject of "biblical evangelism." It will take several posts and a ton of words to say all I want to say on the subject. But you are welcome to join me on this journey if you desire.

I'll begin by asking this question. What is evangelism/disciple-making really as far as the scripture is concerned? Whatever it is.. it will ultimately bring about what Paul the Apostle describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 where he refers to the Thessalonians, whom he had personally evangelized, as his "hope, or joy or crown of His [Christs] coming." So that passage, if it shows anything, shows that true evangelism will result in personal conversions, new congregations, and a continued walk of new believers with Christ. That certainly indicates evangelism is more than quoting the Roman road to someone or handing out a tract neither of which, by the way, is bad in and of itself. Only when such is viewed as evangelism fully defined.

So to answer the question of what constitutes evangelism/discipleship-making will require looking at several things. The first is the basis of evangelism/disciple-making so far as the scriptures are concerned. What do we base our message on that results in true biblical evangelism? Is it our telling people how badly they need deliverance? Is it addressing the emptiness of their life? Is it telling people God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life? Do we begin with man even? Or is there a much stronger foundation to be laid for the gospel to impact human life?

I believe that the fundamental and absolutely necessary beginning point is that Jesus Christ has DONE something. According to Matthew 20:17-28 Jesus has suffered, died, and was raised from the dead as an accomplished fact. That fact is interpreted as to it's purpose in verse 28 where it is declared to be a "ransom for many." This makes very clear to me that the message we deliver is NOT one of something POTENTIALLY happening that we could call getting "saved" but something that has ACTUALLY happened that we announce as a "finished work" of the One who came to save. The gospel is about HIM.

So my personal testimony may have a place, but it isn't the foundation of the gospel. Everyone needing to be saved is certainly a reality, but it isn't the foundation of our gospel message. Even to talk of "sharing" the gospel must be thought of as speaking of what has been done in the Person and Finished Work of Christ. It all begins there.

All the rest we of our message is an explanation of the.. why He did deal with sin and it's consequence..who it is doing this..the uniqueness of the birth, life, and death of Christ.. what was done in this..redemption and it's consequences personally. But the gospel [Good news] is not about man and his condition, society and it's failure, sin and it's consequences, FIRST. It begins with God..just as Genesis began with Him.. and His Revelation of Himself in Christ. It all begins here. To do otherwise is to introduce a man-centered gospel instead of a God-centered gospel and you wind up with a false gospel.

Next I'll look at the COMMISSION for evangelism/disciple-making and what that means for us


Aussie John said...


Thank you for the ill deserved commendation.

Long ago, it became very plain to me that many, even a majority, of those naming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, even those with amazing testimonies, have equally amazing intellectual grasp of the Gospel and the technicalities of their theological systems, even their systematic theologies of persuasion.

Intellectual assent to all of this IS NOT what causes one to become a child of the living God, a member of God's family, a follower of Christ!

Often that intellectual assent to the above is followed by intellectual assent to matters pertaining to believer's baptism, and the person is duly dunked.

After all of this, we, mostly DO NOT have disciples of Christ!

We DO have people filled with an intellectual understanding of the information and technicalities of our particular brand of Christianity.

Making disciples require much more expediture, not only of time, but of the very life of the one making disciples. A true disciplemaker walks alongside the one he/she is discipling, and will spend many,many hours,demonstrating what the 50 or so "one anothers" of Scripture mean in daily life, speaking Scriptures to, praying with the disciple.

Such a disciple maker will demonstrate that our great God deserves much more than the pittance we traditionally call "worship". He is entitled to a whole of life which is the ONLY reasonable worship of a true disciple of Christ.

The amazing amount of information we have accumulated MUST be accompanied by demonstration in the life of the discipler.

The disciple Must not see a religious fountain of pious knowledge, but a loving, servant, willing to spend his life for the sake of the disciple and his Master.

And the Holy Spirit will do the rest, convicting sin and convincing need.

The result, more often than not is another disciple maker.

I have not met many genuinely instant Christians (many who thought they were because of the knowledge they'd accumulated), but I have met quite a few whose lives were changed as the Holy Spirit worked through the life of a loving, committed discipler.

The Gospel IS NOT just information placed into a human repository as an insurance against hell, it is a living relationship with a living Savior, who dwells by, the Holy Spirit's power, in genuine followers of Christ, who DEMONSTRATE that relationship with individuals who are in their Jerusalem, even their Judea and possibly Samaria.

Sorry I got carried away, Paul.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

No apology necessary, but my thanks is.