Believer, Born Again, or Disciple?

Our churches and external ministries seem to be greatly confused. They spend so much time and money seeking to convert, people. Trying their utmost to get people saved and born again. Unfortunately, nowhere in the New Testament are we directed to get people “Born Again.” It just isn’t there. Oh, before you throw the first stone, look at the Scriptures.

However, Jesus did give very direct instructions to His disciples:

Wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20)

That’s right! He taught us “to make disciples.” That is vastly different than seeking people to “sign on the dotted line.” Yes, the first step is obviously to be born again (Or more precisely, to become a “new creation.” One translation renders that as a “new Creation that never existed before,” which is a work of the Holy Spirit). But discipleship is a process, and it will take a great deal of time commitment and patience.

Notice what Jesus’ command in Mark’s Gospel:

“Wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned'” (Mark 16:15-16).

So, we are to preach the gospel. Then those who believe are instructed to be baptized. And I don’t know if you notice this or not, but in both of those instructions above, water baptism is mentioned. That is significant. Water baptism begins our process of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and has been forgotten in many churches today. For some, it is simply an insignificant, unimportant tradition. Not so! Baptism is an act of obedience! In fact, it is your first act of obedience and signifies that you have died to your sins, and are raised again to a new life.

But unlike “John’s Baptism,” which was a baptism of “repentance,” the baptism for believers serves as a public proclamation o fan inner transformation. You are not repenting of anything; that is what brought about your re-birth. The baptism I am speaking of is when you are proclaiming to anyone witnessing the Baptism, you are a new creation, and have sworn allegiance to Yahweh, and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

When I came to the Lord back in 1979, I asked our Pastor why he didn’t speak more about baptism, and when I think back to the time, his response puzzles me. You have to understand that this church was a “Full Gospel,” First Assembly of God, and the pastor believed that the Lord would lead a person to ask for it. And in a sense, I suppose he was correct, because the Lord will lead a person to baptism,  But as Paul taught, they cannot know, unless someone teaches them. They must be taught the importance of water baptism. Baptism is a bridge between the new birth and discipleship — it is one of your first steps of observing the commands of Jesus.

After the baptism, Jesus commanded those of us who already believe, to make disciples. He never told us to get people born again. We are to proclaim the Good News, and when people respond, the Holy Spirit will take care of their “rebirth.” But that is where our role takes responsibility again. We are to baptize those who believe and then; we are to make them disciples.

See, it is not enough to acknowledge the teachings of Jesus. It is not even enough to believe that He died for your sins. Jesus confronted His followers with the most important question they would ever face: “Who do you think I am?” He had spent all kinds of time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time came for them to either believe or deny His teachings. When He asks you, your response will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Sinners are saved and called by the preaching of the gospel (I Corinthians 1:21). But the proof of their belief is that they observe and obey the commandments of Jesus (Mathew 28:19).

We have focused too much on getting a confession of faith out of sinners. It seems that our only objective is to chalk up another new birth. That’s is not enough. We are required to do much more. I don’t know if it happens much anymore, but a few years ago traveling Evangelists would go from church to church for “Revival Meetings,” or “Camp Meetings.” People would invite their unsaved friends and family to go and hear the great Evangelist.

But what happens? The may have hundreds of people come forward and accept the claims of Jesus, but what happens next? I’ll tell you. A few weeks later you can never find them again. They are never taught or “mentored,” to become disciples.

See, it is not enough to acknowledge the teachings of Jesus. It is not even enough to believe that He died for your sins. Jesus confronted His followers with the most important question they would ever face: “Who do you think I am?” He had spent all kinds of time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time came for them to either believe or deny His teachings. When He asks you, your response will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Sinners are saved and called by the preaching of the gospel (I Corinthians 1:21). But the proof of their belief is that they observe and obey the commandments of Jesus (Mathew 28:19).

This past weekend I had the delight of spending time with a dear friend and I was sharing how passionate I had become on the issue of discipling. He shared how he has spent the past year or so with a new believer, teaching and “mentoring,” him. But since he works nights, he is rarely able to come to church each week. But that has not hindered him in any way.

Today, he reads his Bible, prays in tongues, heals the sick, casts out devils, and bears witness of the gospel every chance he gets. He does all of those marvelous things, despite his inability to attend church on a regular basis. That is not important because he had become a disciple. But then my friend explained that once he got filled with the Holy Spirit his learning capacity began to skyrocket as the Spirit truly became His teacher.

That is why I always encourage believers to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit as soon as possible. In my case, I began to speak on tongues the moment I surrendered to the Lord! That shouldn’t surprise anyone. That is the way it happened in the Book of Acts. In fact, speaking in tongues was proof that Salvation belonged to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Remember this is another doctrine of Christ called baptisms (Hebrew 6:1-2). It might help you to understand that the Bible speaks of seven Baptisms. Most of you only thought of one, the type John performed. But that isn’t so. “And these signs shall follow those who believe … in My Name they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17).

Too many new believers are taught to turn to the church system instead of being personally discipled by the one who shared the Gospel with them. Which brings me to a very important issue: My friends, if you lead them to the Lord, you are responsible for them. If you invite them to a church service and they receive Christ, you are responsible for them. Jesus commanded you to make a disciple out of them.

The Ephesians 4:11 equipping ministry gifts in no way excuses us from our personal responsibility of making disciples. Creating disciples is the work of every church member. There has to be a greater responsibility shift in the process of discipleship from the ministry gifts to the believer. And until that transfer happens, we will have more converts than disciples, more fans than followers, more false converts than true, more sincere young “Timothy’s” without any “Paul’s.”

Nickolas

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)

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