Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Ultimate Journey - 7 Practical Steps for Christians

Have you been sold on the "easy yoke" of the Christian life? Why did you say the sinner's prayer? Did you want all of your problems to ride away in the sunset on the promise of eternal life in heaven? If you did, you were lied to, duped by some over zealous evangelistic Christian that was trying as hard as possible to get as many converts as they could.



Have you ever noticed that those same people are not the disciplining type? No, they focus on numbers, big events, reaching the masses all in the name of the Great Commission! "Go!" They read those words and that is their charge. They are going about doing everything they can to bring lost into the church. Their focus is not on the baby Christians who need to be taught. Nah, someone else can waste their time changing the spiritual diapers.

They see the big world of fish swimming about and they intend to catch every one that they can scoop up in their wide and broad net. "Keep it simple stupid." Don't caution the lost that becoming a Christian is not the end of struggling in this world it is really only the beginning. No, that would not be an effective evangelistic message. I mean, lets get them to pray to receive Jesus, run them into a baptismal service and later they can figure it out themselves that Jesus didn't promise a 'rose garden' life.

The Deceiver loves these types of 'converts'. The fringe 'christians' who repeated some words in a moment of guilt, shame or excitement. He knows these people spoke the words with their mouth embracing the thought of a Savior, but the majority of them never even dreamed to go deeper into the heart to confess Jesus to be the Lord of their life. He know that no conversion took place! God doesn't save people who repeat prayers with their mouth. This is why so many people don't see a difference in their life from before they "prayed a salvation" prayer. Matter of fact, it proves more to them that being a Christian isn't real...they should know, they experienced it and it didn't change them.

If they may stay in a church long enough to hear a different kind of message, one that talks about trust, commitment and radical servant-hood they feel tricked or confused. "Hey, wait a minute. No one said anything about Lordship." "I was told Jesus was the answer to all of my problems, that I needed Jesus or else I was going to live in hell for eternity." "What's this about a daily relationship? I wasn't told I would have to change my routine...that I'd have to study the Bible, listen to older, wiser followers of Christ, to trust God with the details of my life."

Yes, the Deceiver delights to see the masses repeat a simple prayer, as they cling to their way of life, and go to Sunday morning church to feel spiritual. They love to sing the songs, hear the message, see their friends, go to fellowship meals...this all feels so good. It is nice to be accepted and to belong to something.

Oh, what easy prey these pretend shallow 'converts' make! It is not that they faked the prayer they made to accept Jesus in their heart. No, they really wanted Him to be in their heart. They wanted to be good, to do the right thing, and be accepted into heaven. But the easy believe-ism message forgot to talk about how true believers in Jesus, count the cost of what changes must be made in their life to daily carry His cross. Jesus clearly told a young rich man if he wanted to be His disciple he needed to "sell everything you have and give it to the poor...then come and follow me" (Mark 10:21).

So what is the Ultimate Journey ...

Every true believer comes to Christ first on the inward journey. They have been discipled enough to know what they are committing the rest of their life to (yes, even their eternal life to). Let's go back to the Great Commission...what does it say .... after all everyone is saying that is the cause of their evangelistic quest to bring as many converts into Christianity as possible. If it is the ultimate charge to the saints, what does it say?

  • Matthew 28:19-20
  • Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
How do pastors hungry for the lost souls so misread these famous verses? Let's us break it down...
  • Go therefore and
  • Make disciples of all Nations
  • Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
  • Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and
  • Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.
Dare I say that they are following their great commission of fame, pride and drive to be great in the kingdom of the greatest pastors! The great commission says nothing about saying sinner's prayers, holding extremely fun events to draw large crowds to get as big of a number of believers as possible, and baptizing anyone that wants to be dunked. It does say to "go". Going is an natural outflow of developing and growing in the inward journey.

"Make disciples" is much deeper than make converts. A disciple is one who has learned enough to count the cost of making a permanent commitment to God. A disciple knows completely what they are signing up for when they ask God to be their Lord and Savior. God is very clear throughout His Word. His call is a call of hardship that takes daily devotion to Him, deep desire to change/repent from wickedness and a longing to reach out to meet the needs of others through God's power.

"Baptism" is for the new disciple. It is an outward step of obedience, a joyous celebration of what has already taken place in one's heart. Baptism is not magical or mystical. It does not save or literally wash sins away, anymore then Jesus washing his disciples feet washed their souls clean. We are forgiven sinners, not perfect saints. Salvation does not make us perfect in a one-time swoop, but it does provide forgiveness for our sins we are ready to repent from and trust God to help us change. New disciples take baptism solemnly and joyfully understanding that they have died to self to live for Christ.

"Teach them to observe all things I have commanded you." It is not enough to lead people through a sinner prayer. Moreover, it is dangerous for these people's soul. God requires us to take on our disciples and to teach them all things He has commanded us. It would blow some people's mind to know that being a Christian means you must be taught how to follow commands. How we have played into the hands of the Devil by not sharing the whole salvation message!

Teaching others is part of our outward journey after we have been a student long enough to learn what God commands and then to inwardly be practicing obedience to Him out of devoted love knowing He let His only begotten Son to die in my place on the cross so that I could have a personal relationship with God, be freed from the penalty and bondage of sin, and so that I could live for eternity in heaven with God.

Here is a list of seven things that should be part of our journey with God as a Christian, in no certain order (note these are not all exclusive), just a good starting point:
  1. Daily reading and studying God's Word, the Bible (daily spiritual bread)
  2. Learning the practice of prayer (being still before God and communicating with Him)
  3. Gathering together with other believers in a Church (Fellowship/ Worship)
  4. Reading solid teachings from Christian books and articles (Lifelong learning)
  5. Memorizing Bible Verses (Powerful weapon against enemy/inward sanctification)
  6. Joining small groups for mentoring and Bible study (community/connectedness)
  7. Developing authentic Christian friendships (accountability, support, siblings in Christ)
If you begin with these seven steps, God will lead you beyond them into deeper ultimate journey of being a child of His! When you lead someone to faith in Jesus, take them through these steps to insure that this new believer gets securely grounded so that they can begin their ultimate journey with God. Remember if someone is willing to commit their life to a cause, they expect it to be a challenge. The inner man responds to hardship and needs to know practical ways to live out their new commitment.

How has the doctrine of "easy believe-ism" affected your life?

4 comments:

  1. What I find just as shameful is that too many don't teach the rest of the "commission" and thereby leave out the real benefits of being a disciple, even accusing those who do of being a cult or heretical or at least misinformed. But the bible clearly states: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark 16:15-18

    You're are right though, too many want to catch the fish, but don't want to hang around to clean them.

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  2. Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself. I was given a pamphlet about discipleship after I was baptized. It didn't help much. But God allowed me 3 years in the wildnerness to learn about how stinky my diapers were/are and brought divine relationships to help me change them. I think I've matured to big girl panties, but I'm still having a few accidents. Thank you for sharing this writing.

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  3. Hi Lindy
    I read this post the other day, and it resonated on so many levels.
    In my time I've seen so many preachers asking people to come forward and become Christians, and then afterwards heard them talking about how many converts they've been getting after each service, and even setting weekly goals to increase that number.
    But as time went by, how many of those converts kept coming and kept walking with the Lord? Sadly, not many.
    The verse which sprang to mind as I read your article was the exact one you quoted, Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus did not ask us to make conversions, He asked us to make disciples, and teach them, just as you pointed out.
    Over the years, my wife and I have spent a lot of time with Japanese young people who come to Australia to study. If interested in the Bible, it typically takes them two years to reach the place of accepting Christ as their Lord. We spend those years teaching and discipling them, with no pressure to make a quick decision they will not adhere to later.
    Great post, God bless :)

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  4. isn't it also true that the body of Christ is varied and some people are called and equipped to catch the fish and others are called to clean the fish and "change the diapers." john the baptist taught to crowds, jesus taught to crowds. neither were able to disciple EVERY person they ever shared the Good News to. i do agree that evangelizing simply for positive conversion statistics is immoral and un-biblical. however. i don't know if calling into question the intentions of every mass-meeting evangelist is the answer. my pastor was saved when his friend (now his wife) invited him to a Billy Graham meeting. i know countless other deeply committed Christians with similar stories. the body of Christ is massive and colorful, the toe may not understand what the kidney does, but he shouldn't call its purpose into question.

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