Please note that I am continuing to walk through the mission/vision of Southside Baptist church as presented in May/June of 2015.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” King Solomon gave us that bit of wisdom in Proverbs 29:18. If you remember from the last three weeks, we dug deeply into that verse and came away with exactly what the King was saying to us: “Where there is no understanding of God’s divine revelation, the people go unrestrained.” In other words, when we don’t grasp in our minds and in our hearts the plan that God has for us as individuals, families, and churches, we do whatever it is that we want to do regardless of what God’s desire for our lives might be. And that is why we have been going through this re-visioning process for almost a year now and why your church council took all of that information and put it together and came away with what we are calling a statement of vision for Southside Baptist Church. Let me show that to you once more. We believe that:
Southside Baptist Church is a group of born again believers who are committed to:
Seeking God through worship.
Sharing Grace through evangelism and missions.
Shaping Lives through discipleship.
Serving Together through fellowship and ministry.
First, worship must be our priority because it is through worship that we learn God’s Word. It is through worship that we are motivated to serve Him and each other. It is through worship that we grow closer in fellowship. When worship is not a priority to us, when we are no longer concerned about entering into the presence of Holy God, we find ourselves drifting spiritually, morally, ethically, and physically. That’s why it is imperative that we allow nothing to keep us from seeking God through worship.
Understand, our Scripture this morning, Matthew 28:19-20, is used over and over again to teach that sharing grace through evangelism is our #1 priority, but I’m going to step out on a limb here this morning and go against everything you have probably ever heard about the church and tell you that evangelism is NOT our #1 priority. Jesus never instructed His people to go out and make converts; He said, “Go and make disciples!” Look at Mt. 28:19-20 (read). When asked about what is the greatest commandment, He said it is to Love God with all your hearts – that sounds a lot like worship to me. Then He said to love your neighbor. Loving your neighbor will make you want to share God’s grace through evangelism. But it will also give you a heart to Shape lives through discipleship. Understand, evangelism has to take place before discipleship because you cannot disciple an unbeliever, but our ultimate goal as Christians is to make disciples, not converts.
That may come across to you as a little bit confusing this morning, so let me help you out a little bit. I believe in evangelism. Jesus said that it is by our fruit that we are known, and the only way that we bear fruit is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and reach people for the kingdom of God. But this kind of reproduction is not meant to end at the moment of conversion. Jesus said, Go make disciples. That means we are called to shape people’s lives.
The only way that we can do that is if we first become true disciples. What exactly does that mean?
A true disciple of Jesus Christ is a disciple of Christ who makes disciples for Christ. True Christ-followers create true Christ-followers. Jesus expressed it this way, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Then in John 15:5 and 8, He says, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” It is obvious that Jesus’ intention for His disciples was for them to make more disciples. No doubt that is why in each of the gospels, as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, there is recorded a version of the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14–18; Luke 24:44–49; John 20:19–23; Acts 1:4–8).
The apostle Paul was obviously convinced of this truth when he instructed his young protégé, Timothy: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This is the perfect illustration of what Jesus was talking about – disciples making disciples who make disciples.
WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
Now, you have heard this before, so I will make it quick. The word “disciple” is a powerful picture of God’s intentions for His people. The word comes from the Greek mathetes, a learner. The root of the word, math, indicates “thought accompanied by endeavor” (Vines, p. 171) leaving us to understand that a disciple does more than sit under the teaching of his master. He listens, obeys, and passes down to the next generation of learners that which he has learned. True disciples hear Jesus’ words and obey them.
(To be continued)