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The Discipline of Disciple-Making:
Personal Discipleship Lesson-1:
Teaching Them Why Our Life is
Only Fed by God’s Word
Have you ever been discipled? By that I mean, have you ever sat and learned about the basics of following Christ from someone, one-on-one, where you could pause them and ask questions?
Have you been Personally Discipled?
That personal, face-to-face discipleship model: is what Jesus Christ did in the Four Gospels when He called and trained His 12 disciples.
That personal, face-to-face discipleship model: is what we being done in the Book of Acts.
That personal, face-to-face discipleship model is: what prompts the letters to individuals and churches that are called the Epistles of the New Testament.
That personal, face-to-face discipleship model is: often rare in our fast paced, overwhelmed lives; but it is priceless when given and received.
I have to admit that no one ever came up to me and asked me if they could teach me the basics of the life of a believer. I went to Sunday School, Youth Group, and countless church services. All were good, all were filled with so much truth, but I never had that model of a Q&A, sit-down, face-to-face discipleship. I had only read about discipleship in books; and read about discipleship in missionary biographies.
So when I started in college, I decided to stop waiting and start getting discipled. I made a list of men that impressed me with their study skills, teaching manner, preaching style, public prayers, Scripture memory, and soul-winning or evangelism skills. Then systematically over an eight-year period I followed, wrote, called, and persisted with that list until I had sat with each one and asked them how to learn to do what they did. It was an amazing time.
Concurrently with all that personal training I began to practice what I was being taught, which was the:
Joy of Pouring Our Lives into Others
I began to ask a stream of young men if I could mentor, disciple, or train them in prayer, Scripture memory, evangelism, Bible Study, and how to walk in the Spirit with growing obedience in their lives. That was almost 40 years ago, and the process goes on.
There is nothing more rewarding that to obey Christ’s command and seeking to teach others what we have been taught. Once a person is saved, discipleship is Matthew 28:20 “teaching them” how to “observe all things” that Jesus left for them to be and to do as His followers. We are all left with a great commission, the one Jesus Christ left for all of His disciples.
I have been discipling individuals for the past 40 years, and learning all I can from everyone I meet who has ever discipled another believer. This is a life-long process. We can learn so much if we love doing something so much, that we want to learn it better and better. Today is either a call to get started, or a reminder of why we do what we are all called to do.
How do we start? After establishing that the person is saved, the very next truth for them to learn is the:
- Vital Connection Between Salvation & the Rest of Life
This connection was taught by Paul in Colossians 2:6. Note with them what Paul said:
Colossians 2:6 (NKJV) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
The same way God saved us is how we are to follow Christ through life. We hear the Gospel from God’s Word, we believe the truth and respond in faith, and God transforms us. That is the pathway of salvation, and the pathway of each day of our life as believers. Taking God at His Word and seeing Him at work in us. That is simple, clear, and easily explained in Scripture.
Paul went on to teach the saints at Colossi that there was even a correspondence to God’s Word and the fullness of the Spirit. In fact Paul uses the exact same language to Ephesus for being Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:18), as he does for being Word-filled (Colossians 3:16-17). Salvation and all the work of God within us by His Spirit are founded upon God’s Word. Those are the foundational truths that the Apostle Paul taught as he planted churches across the Roman World.
- Salvation is Completely tied to God’s Word
Turn to the Romans Road, one of the simplest explanations of salvation, and look at the final stop in Romans 10:13 (see also v. 5,8,11).
Romans 10:13-17 (NKJV) For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We are saved by hearing, and responding to the truth of the Word of God. The Gospel flows only from God’s Word, and no where else. Only by believing the Gospel contained in God’s Word the Bible can a person be saved.
The Jesus that a person believes on, determines their destiny. If you believe in the Jesus that comes from Joseph Smith then you become a Mormon, not a born-again follower of Christ. If you believe is the Jesus that comes from Judge Rutherford then you become a JW, not a born-again follower of Christ. If you believe is the Jesus that comes from Muhammad then you become a Muslim, not a born-again follower of Christ.
Only by believing the Gospel contained in God’s Word the Bible can a person be saved. That means:
- Salvation is God Implanting His Word Inside Us
Move onward to James 1:21, from what may be the earliest book of the New Testament written by James who was the Pastor of the First Church of Jerusalem. Here is how he explained salvation to his congregation while Paul was still being trained.
James 1:21 (NKJV) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Again we see that receiving God’s Word, believing God’s Word, and acting upon God’s Word are all tied to our salvation.
We were saved when we heard the truth of the Gospel contained in God’s Word the Scriptures, and responded by faith to God’s truth. Think about that in light of what Paul said in Col. 2:6. The same way we were saved is the way we live the rest of our lives.
We hear truth from God.
We believe that truth from God.
We respond to that truth from God
God transforms us.
That is how God has always operated. Before His Word was written down by Moses, God spoke, people heard, believed, responded, and were transformed. Now God’s Word is complete. We hold everything God wants us to know.
Just as in salvation we heard, believed, responded, and God transformed us by salvation: so each new day:
God Touches Our Life Through His Word
We spend time with God in His Word, as James says in this verse:
To hear His voice speaking truth into our life; and
To hold onto that truth from God by faith; and
To respond obediently to what God has said; and then
To see God transform us.
One of the greatest confirmations of our salvation is seeing this happen each day. That is exactly what we see the Apostles teaching as they planted and established churches in the First Century.
Now move onward to 1 Peter 1:22 to 2:3 and see how Peter describes this exact same process when he explains the relationship between salvation and our daily walk in Christ. Peter reminds us that both are tied to God’s Word.
- Salvation Starts a Life of Believing & Obeying God’s Word
Peter is near the end of his life, and after walking with Jesus, serving as an Apostle for over 30 years this is his summary of salvation for all the rest of the ages of Christ’s Church.
1 Peter 1:22-2:3 (NKJV) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 2:1-3 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Note how simply and clearly Peter also links God’s work of salvation in us, to His Word.
Salvation is regeneration by the Holy Spirit using God’s Word: (v. 22 purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit).
Salvation is the new birth of coming alive through the power of God’s Word (v. 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God).
Salvation is eternal because the Gospel in God’s Word is eternal: (v. 25 the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you).
Then Peter gives the essence of our new life in Christ.
- The Essence of a Believer’s Life is God’s Word
Born again believers are only fed with God’s Word: (v. 2a as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word).
Born again believers can only grow by God’s Word: (v. 2b that you may grow thereby).
Born again believers can taste God’s grace in God’s Word: (v. 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious).
So Paul, James & Peter all agree about the connection of God’s Word to salvation, and the vital role that God’s Word has to our continued new walk. The final link comes from the greatest authority of them all: our Jesus Christ. Please turn with me to Matthew 4:4.
Matthew 4:4 (NKJV) But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus actually quotes these words in Matthew 4:4 from Deuteronomy 8:3; and lays out the vital need for our spiritual lives to be fed as consistently as our physical bodies. In Deuteronomy 8 where Jesus quotes this verse from the context is about manna, the food God sent to feed Israel’s 603,000 families each day so they survived the 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai.
Jesus says God’s Word is necessary for spiritual life as vitally as bread was for their survival. So we could apply Mt. 4:4 by saying that:
- Jesus Said, “Eat God’s Word to Live”
Jesus compared God’s Word to food (“man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word of God”). Jesus said we are not really living if we only feed our physical bodies and not our spiritual dimension. Jesus said we need to eat every day; and our spiritual lives are to be as consistent a part of our daily plans as eating.
Jesus goes on to compare salvation to food. Those who eat of Him are saved. Look onward at John 6. Jesus said He was the bread of God (Jn. 6:35), those who ate Him live forever.
Jesus says salvation is eating and drinking Him by faith through receiving His Word.
John 6:35 (NKJV) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
Then He said that what we eat are His words. Look at this amazing passage.
John 6:63-68 (NKJV) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Now turn onward to John 8:31,37,43,51 (NKJV):
- 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [Three elements: believers are those who abide/remain in Christ’s words; believers know/experience the truth of Christ’s words; believers are set free through believing/acting upon the truth of Christ’s words.]
- 37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. [Three elements: Christ’s word remains in true believers; true believers desire to hear Christ’s words; true believers stand on the truth of Christ’s words within them.]
- 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” [Three elements: believers know Christ’s words are true; believers hear/respond to Christ’s words; believers are eternally saved by clinging to Christ as truth.]
That is why the early church taught that hearing & believing God’s Word leads us to salvation, and to partaking of Christ. As only physical food enters our body and nourishes it, to sustain our lives: so our souls are only fed by God’s Word entering into our minds.
How did we believe on Christ? Through His Word.
How did we receive Christ? Through His Word.
How do we obey Christ? Through His Word.
How do we follow Christ? Through His Word.
How do we please Christ? Through His Word.
How do we know Christ better and better? Through His Word.
- God’s Word Becomes the Most Vital Element of the Life of the Believer
That is the simple truth.
The place of God’s Word in your mind today dictates your spiritual health.
Everything is contained in God’s Word: our food and drink, our map for life, the light to guide us, the sword to protect us, the exercises to strengthen us, and the revelation of God’s character to grow us.
One of the most afflicted Old Testament saints was Jeremiah. He was called the weeping prophet for a purpose. Jeremiah’s testimony of how he made it through a lifetime of pain, sorrow, loneliness, and discouragement is our closing thought.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV) Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.
Teaching Them Why Our Life is Only Fed by God’s Word
- Connection Between Salvation & The Rest Of Life (Col. 2:6)
- Salvation is Completely Tied to God’s Word (Rom. 10:17)
- Salvation is God Implanting His Word Inside Us (James 1:21)
- Salvation Starts a Life of Believing & Obeying God’s Word (1 Peter 1:22-23)
- The Essence of a Believer’s Life is God’s Word (Mt.4:4)
- Jesus Said, “Eat God’s Word to Live” (John 6:63)
- God’s Word Becomes the Most Vital Element of the Life of the Believer (Jer. 15:16)
Let’s open our Bibles to Colossians 2 and verse 6 this morning. I’m hoping to transition from, we’ve been looking at the book of Acts and all the different Gospel presentations and we went through all 22 of them. That was actually initiated because we were in the Great Commission looking at making disciples. When Jesus said making disciples He was talking about the whole process, starting with their salvation. So, we were defining the salvation component in the book of Acts but now we’re transitioning into what most people call discipleship. That is the face-to-face meeting with someone else that is just another step further down the road than you. They coach, and mentor, and tutor, and encourage, and teach, and answer questions. That’s what we’re transitioning to.
Now, what I would love to do, my goal is to actually make it like we’re sitting at Panera or sitting at some coffee shop, Water Street or something. That there’s a Bible between us and that we’re discussing it because discipleship is not a lecture, it is a dialogue. It’s a communication of truth. Then, making sure that the person understands that truth and having them repeat that truth. Then, you go on to the next one and pausing to talk about how that actually takes place. How you actually don’t just hear it but apply it.
This morning is the most foundational of all the lessons, so it’s going to be more a lecture, less dialogue. Although, there are a couple of times I’m going to ask you all to say something. If you don’t know what to say, just say what everybody else says and you’ll get an A. I’m just going to show you what it’s like to go back and forth.
The first, most vital lesson of any discipleship process is teaching them why our life in Christ is only fed by God’s word. I’m going to look at that from every possible angle. Before you talk about the how, most people dive right into how to study the Bible. People don’t need to know more about how to study the Bible, because most people don’t study the Bible. They don’t want to know how to do something they don’t even do. What we really need, why, should we have as a part as regular as eating food, eating God’s word is what Jesus said. They should be on the very same level. In fact, the Psalmist says more necessary than my daily food. We should at least have it the same.
I have a question for you. Have you ever been personally discipled? Some of you in college, maybe through some campus ministry. Some of you had faithful youth pastors. Maybe some of you, the person that led you to the Lord actually sat down. By disciple, I’m talking about what Jesus Christ did. Jesus in Mark 3:14 ordained 12, that He should spend time with them. It actually says that, Mark 3:14. “He ordained 12, that they should be with Him.” Discipleship is face to face like Jesus with the 12. Going through life, explaining truth, listening to their questions, explaining, correcting, encouraging, coming alongside, and discipleship. Now, Jesus was training them how to launch the Church into the whole world. We don’t quite have to do that; all we have to do is get someone launched into the basics.
The basics are this morning and next time about the word of God. Why is that first? Because everything else comes from it. Nothing else is understood apart from the necessity of the scripture. He said, what about prayer? Prayer flows from the scripture. How do you know if you’re praying correctly? How do you know if you’re praying for the right thing? How do you know if your prayers and my prayers are heard? It comes from the word of God. How about the Holy Spirit defined by the word of God? How about knowing how to deal with problems? As the writer of Hebrews says the sins that so easily beset us, it’s from the word of God.
Whenever something is taught not connected to the word of God, it’s like a boat at a dock not tied down, it slips away before long. That’s what happens to a lot of people’s lives not anchored back to the word. That’s why this is most important. This is the why, but have you been personally discipled? I wasn’t.
I remember I grew up in a normal Christian home. Well, what used to be a normal Christian home. We went to church every time the doors were open; Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, if they had revival meetings, we went every night. I went to church before I was born, my mother went. In fact, they used to have a race, who could bring the baby from the hospital soonest, they had among the women. That’s before they had the internet and everybody scared to death of everything, but they used to just bring the kids right from the hospital, they’d come. Probably medically that’s not a wise idea, probably.
I never had anybody pull me aside. I had good Sunday school teachers; they were great. We went to Sunday school. They taught. I learned the books of the Bible. Everything else. I had a great youth director. Now, he did pull me aside but not to disciple. He used to tell me you’re naughty. Actually, that is true. I already knew that because in school I used to get paddled. See how old I am? I used to get paddled. I knew all the principals personally in their office, it was terrible. But no one ever sat down and said, do you know how to, do you know why you should read the Bible? Do you know how to read the Bible? Do you know how to memorize scripture? Do you know how to lead someone? So, by the time I was 19 years old, and I was already, for 10 years, knowing I was going into the ministry, I decided if nobody… if I was a porcupine and nobody wanted to get close enough to me to disciple me, I was going to find disciplers. So, I made a list at 19 of about eight or nine people. I thought most embodied what the Christian life should be. I shouldn’t even tell you who was on my list, one of them was Chuck Swindoll, one of them was John MacArthur, and a lot of other people like that. I pursued those men and I said, I would like you to train me in that area, would you? That’s how I met and got on staff with John MacArthur. He finally said, I might as well pay you, you’re spending so much time with me. I’ll just keep you here.
I said, I want to know how… to the different men… how you pray, how you memorize scripture, how you communicate God’s word so much. I would say, so you said this. They said no, that’s not what I said. See, it’s a dialogue. It’s saying, this is how it should be done. What I learned was that I had to concurrently with all that learning stuff, I had to practice. You don’t wait until you’re Jesus Christ Himself and can start the apostles club. You start with what you know.
You start because when you start with someone, and they say where’s that in the Bible? And you don’t know, you say I’ll get back with you. Discipleship is like when you teach a class. You always learn more than the people in the class. When you’re discipling, you always learn more than the disciplee. They say where does it say there’s a Trinity? All of a sudden you go; I know that but I’m not sure where it said that. Where does it say that we can’t lose our salvation? Where does it say that the Bible has no errors in it? We know all these things, but in discipleship we have to communicate them at a level and help someone else find it and get that truth deepened into their mind. Then you launched it because, if you want someone to grow let them disciple someone else. They’re going to have to dig and they’re going to have to do it.
So, that’s the idea of being personally discipled. If you’ve had the privilege, it’s a rare and priceless treasure. If you haven’t, then there’s nothing like pouring your life into someone else. That is any eternal investment. I watched people getting ready for marathons. They almost kill themselves. All they get is a little temporary weight loss and a little metal or something. I see people preparing for different parts of life, or building something, or collecting something, and they pour endless hours into that. In a hundred years will any of those things matter? Do you think in Heaven they’re going to have a record of who won the, the 5k in ’82? God does know all things, but will it matter in the scheme of things, no. Every person that we pour our life into is a part of what will never end. So, it’s a great choice.
Have you experienced the joy that comes when we pour our lives into others? This is basically what parenting is about. Parenting is like a nonstop discipleship. We have to learn that because it’s not a lecture, that’s a lot of parenting. No. It’s saying this, and this is why. Why did I say it? Because it says it here and this is why. Marriage is like that. Marriage is an ongoing discipleship. One of the nice things about discipleship, you never stop learning.
Last month I was in Colorado somewhere. I was at a conference, and I saw a man who was being profiled because he was one of the greatest church planters in France. I thought, how do you church plant a church in France? This guy was actually in Geneva, lived in France, and he’s planted altogether with the daughter churches, about 12. Some of them run four or five hundred. I said, wow. He said this is what I do… I should write this down and I got my paper, I was writing it down because I never want to stop learning. We can learn from everyone, and I never want to stop knowing how to more completely nurture and disciple others in Christ.
So, how do you do it? Colossians 2:6. We have to explain this is fundamental, the vital connection between salvation and the rest of life. Colossians 2:6. I had you turn there, look at it. I put it on the screen for you. Look at how Paul… now remember the people at Colossi never met Paul. Paul never went there. He says in chapter 2, I never seen your faces, I’ve never been. Paul wrote to them and said, I want you to know that the Christian life is a vital connection. The way as you therefore have received Christ, the way you got saved. Jesus the Lord, the one that saved you so often.
Now, let’s think about; how do we get saved? We heard the message of the truth of the Gospel. Someone shared the truth of God that’s contained in the word of God. We listened to that, and considered, and believed that it was true, like the Gospel message that all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. We hear that and we say that is true. Then we, in faith, respond. Salvation is when we, in faith, responded to what we heard, that we believed was true. We respond to, we cry out to the Lord. We call on the name of the Lord, we’re saved. Whatever method you’re born again by calling out to Him. Then, after that process of hearing, believing it’s true, responding to the Lord in faith, God changes us. What Paul is saying is this, it’s no different the way you got saved, hearing the truth of God from His word, believing the truth of God from His word, responding to the truth of God from His word, letting God transform you is the same way you live the rest of your life. That’s why the Bible is so vital.
The Lord doesn’t just want us to be a little infant, helpless, barely able to make it in life. If we see a baby that way our hearts go out to them; if you see a child that has a failure to thrive, they’re six years old, and they’re still looking like an infant, that they’re handicapped, that they’re significantly impaired, that there’s something wrong. Yet, many believers don’t make the connection that the same way that I just heard, believed, and responded to God, and He changed me is how we live the rest of our Christian life. God does both.
The process, look at what the verse says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” What the Lord says is, God saved us, and we follow Christ through life. We hear the Gospel from God’s word. We believe the truth. We respond in faith. God supernaturally transforms. Yes, that’s the pathway of salvation and that’s the pathway of everyday of our life.
So, when with someone I take them and I say, do you see the connection as you receive Christ, walk in Him? And by then they’re sitting there and usually it’s the most amazing moment. They’re sitting there and all of a sudden, I tell them they have to bring a paper Bible. Which it’s getting harder and harder. You almost have to look on Amazon to find one. You say, you bring it and whatever verse we talk about I want you to underline it and write something down. Then all of a sudden, they come to and they go, oh, they get their pen out. They go, what verse was that? I said why don’t you read it to me? They read it from their Bible. I said, what does that mean? And they say it says, as we receive… we walk. I said, yeah. Do you see the connection? See, that’s all. You go that’s wonderful.
Let’s go on. I take them back, usually this is when I talk about salvation. Backup with me to Romans chapter 10, because this is the Romans road. This is what I asked them. I said, how did you come to Christ? Because by the way, everything in discipleship does not work if they’re not saved. It’s like typing onto a computer that the battery is dead or that has no power cord. It does. You can type all day. You can just keyboard all you want, and nothing is happening if it’s not connected to the power source. Salvation is when we’re connected to God, and He doesn’t leave. He is the power source. He is there and He responds to His word, the code, the command. The way that God responds is through His word. That’s the software of our lives, it’s the word of God. The power of God brings to pass the programs that are in the word of God. It’s amazing what He does.
We start talking about salvation. I say, when did you get saved? Most people will tell you, I was at a meeting, or I heard the Gospel, or someone at work, and I resisted long time, or my parents, or I always thought it was a Christian but finally one day I was standing there, and I became convicted my sin, I cried out to Christ, and I’m saved. I say, that’s wonderful.
Now, let’s look at how completely salvation is tied to God’s word. So, I say, have you ever heard the Romans road? The Romans road is the simplest little way to lead someone to Christ. In Romans 3, all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. Christ died for the ungodly. This is the fourth step right there in verse 9, actually in chapter 10 verse 9. Confess with your mouth. Ask Jesus to save you. You know why many people never lead anyone in the Lord? They never look them in the eye and say, what would keep you from right now, right now, crying out to Christ, telling Him out loud, I’d love to hear it, tell Him you knew you are a sinner. They go, oh, I don’t know. They’re not ready to be saved, they don’t know they’re a sinner. See, that’s why you go over the Romans road. So, I say this is the fourth step, ask Jesus to save you. When did you do that? I’ll hear their testimony.
I say, look what it says, you confess and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead. How do you know Jesus rose from the dead? See, this is what they’re going to get hit with in school and college. How do you know Jesus rose from the dead? Do you know? How I know Jesus rose from the dead? Primarily because the Bible says so, and I believe God. I wasn’t there. Secondarily I know because He lives within my heart. Before I was saved, how did I believe in the truth of the resurrection? Because I read all these evidences that demand a verdict? No. Because I had to come down, those are vital, but what I had to come to is believing God. How do I know what to believe about God? Because there’s so many voices in the world. This is the word of God.
Keep reading through the plan of salvation. Verse 13, “whoever calls the name of the Lord shall be saved.” All of a sudden, they have to say, wait a minute, which Lord do I call on? And who are we talking about? Looked down at verse 17. This is so critical to get to with a person you’re discipling. You’ve already established that the way you get saved is the way you live the rest of the life. So, you’ve got to reestablish how they got saved. This first meeting is going over the plan of salvation. Many of them, I actually marked the whole Romans road, I’ve even led people to Christ who came to be discipled. Did you know people do that? People call the office. They say, I would like to meet. I want to understand more about living the Christian life. So, I say, let’s talk about the Christian life and we talk about as you receive you walk. Then we sit there, and I say, let’s go through the Romans road. Usually about one or two steps down the Romans road they’ll say, that’s never happened to me. It’s what can happen today. So, you can actually lead people to the Lord in discipleship. It’s wonderful when they come and say they want something. Some don’t even know what they want, we introduce them to Christ.
But once they know Christ, look what it says in verse 17. This is how we got saved. “So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Now on the screen, I put it up for you. You call the name of the Lord you’re saved, but how do you do that? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It’s very important to reaffirm in people’s minds that the only way that I know that I am forgiven, that I have salvation is not because I feel something or I did something, or someone just lavishly assured me not to worry that I have been born again, but because I have heard the word of God. He is the author of the Gospel. It’s in this book and it’s not apart from this book. It isn’t like you could find God anywhere out there. No, they all indirectly, the general revelation points to the inspired revelation. People are saved by hearing the word of God. They don’t have to hold a great big family Bible, but they need to hear God’s word, not nice stories. It’s wonderful to package the Gospel in a nice frame, but if you never get to the power of the Gospel, which is the word of God and the truth of what Christ did, recorded in the word of God, they can’t be saved.
So, I began to talk. We’re saved by hearing, responding to the truth of God’s word. The Gospel flows only from God’s word and from nowhere else. Only by believing the Gospel contained in God’s word the Bible, can a person be saved. I even explain that to them. I’ll say, if you believe in the Jesus that Joseph Smith taught about, you will only become a Mormon. You will not become a born again Christian, because that is an imperfect, defective, incorrect Jesus.
If you believe in the Jesus that Judge Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford, the founders of the Watchtower Society, the Jehovah Witnesses, if you believe in that Jesus you will only become a Jehovah’s witness. You will not become a Christian, a born again Christian, because their gospel and Joseph Smith’s gospel does not at all match the word of God.
If you believe in the Jesus that Mohammed taught about. Muhammad, by the way… Muhammad, Islam, all that… well, Mohammed went to Byzantine churches. That’s how he wrote and knew so much about what’s in the Koran. He was a part of Byzantine Christianity. He knew what was going on and he presented something different. So, if you believe in the Jesus of Muhammad, you will only become a Muslim. You will not become a born again Christian.
It totally, eternally, matters. Only by believing the Gospel contained in God’s word the Bible, can a person be saved. That’s because, and this is the third scripture I take them to, I take them to James. Now back up to James in your Bible. Look at James. This is probably the first book of the New Testament written. It was written while Paul was probably still in training back in Tarsus. This is from the forties, and this is right after the first decade of the Church. This is Jesus Christ’s own brother, earthly brother, pastoring, writing this book. Look what he says.
While Peter is preaching repent, repent, repent; look what James is saying in James 1:21. That salvation is when God implants His word inside of us. Now remember, Jesus talked about throwing the seed and some lands on the hard ground, the rocky, and the thistly, and some on the good. This is what happens when the good heart receives the word of God, it’s implanted. It’s James 1:21. I wrote it down for you. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness…” While James is pastoring in Jerusalem, Peter is preaching, repent, repent. James is saying the same thing, only look how he says it. “Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness.” This is repentance. Then he says, “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” That’s why we have to be very careful.
I was a youth evangelist. I was a youth pastor for many years, and I used to travel every week to a different city. We’d fly from Atlanta to Denver. We spoke in big churches and little churches. It was fun in the ’70s. We were trained. I’m a trained youth pastor. I can tell stories. I have certain stories I’ve used over the years that so far, after all these years, I can get everyone to tear up during the stories. Everyone. Being a youth pastor, I’ve seen every facial expression you can give that you don’t want to be there. Parents make them, and you can’t have your cell phone. If you don’t go, you know… and so they sit through it, every one of them. I can tell stories. Good speakers can move audiences, that does not save people. It’s only if the good soil of the heart has the implanted story? No. Emotional experience? No. Decision? No. What does it say? The implanted word. This is the word of God. This is the Gospel. The truth of the scriptures that when someone is saved God plants that in their heart and they are never the same. God actually plants His voice, His truth, His revelation of Himself within us and it saves our souls.
Basically, what James is saying is, we hear the truth from God. Someone shares. We believe the truth from God. We hear a message. Someone is telling us what God says. Then we believe it and so we respond to that truth from God. It’s by faith, it’s not by my effort. I just believe what God says and God transforms. That’s salvation. I sit as long as it takes. I say, have you heard the truth from God? They go, what truth should I hear? Go back to the Gospel. Christ died for our sins. According to the scripture He was buried, and He rose again, so that He can give us newness of life. Whoever calls on His name. So, you’ve heard it. Do you believe that? If they’re saved, you see this all of a sudden marvelous affirmation, yes. I don’t understand it all. I don’t comprehend it all, but I believe that. Then I say, have you responded?
I had someone say in my office, they were coming, actually they were wanting to celebrate some event. They said, I don’t know how but all roads lead to the Gospel. They were, for some, they wanted me to speak at some family event and I just said, hey, why don’t we just for fun all share testimonies. They did not think that was fun in my office. They came to ask me to speak at some party and we went through the Gospel. As we were sharing, the wife started weeping and the husband sat there. The longer we sat there, he kept looking at the floor. Finally, I said to him, you know this is true, don’t you? He said I do. He said, I have held every office in the church that we attend, everything but the pastor. I said, have you ever responded to the truth? Have you ever called on the Lord? He looked up from the floor at me and he said, no. You should have seen his wife; she is just radiant. She told me afterwards, that’s why I want you to speak at our party. I want you to talk to my husband, I knew you would do that, she said. He fell to his knees right back there in my office and for the first time in his life, the Gospel went the 18 inches from his head to him personally crying out and receiving Christ. Immediately God transformed him.
That’s how we get saved. What you do is you sit with a person, you say; the same way that God touched you, and transformed you, and saved you is how He wants to touch your life through His word every day. Who wouldn’t want that? Do you know how great salvation is? The burden of our sin rolls away. And all of our fear and all of our anxieties. The sins that so easily beset us are all loosened and sanctification can begin scraping those off of our life. We can become more and more Christlike and in his image. That’s the greatest day in our life. That day is renewed every day that we spend time allowing God to touch us through His word. We don’t need to know how to study the Bible anymore, we need to know why. The reason there’s so many believers that struggle and many of them, Barna and Gallop found out, many of them look like unsaved people.
When you query people, you can’t tell spiritually lost and saved people. Why? Because they just were delivered and they were dropped. They’re still on the floor of the nursery. They’re just laying there and no one is taking care of them. That’s what the early church didn’t do. They said, let me tell you what Christ did to me. Has He done that to you? This is what the Bible says as He receives you, received Him. As you received Him Paul said, it’s no different every day of your life. You receive. Your salvation begins, but we are working out our salvation Paul said, all through life. What does that mean? That we’re seeing God every day. People that don’t feel saved is because they aren’t letting God touch them. If God touches you every day, you’re quite aware of it. The God of the universe touches us?
At this point I talk to the person, especially if they’ve been saved awhile, I say when do you read the Bible? They just don’t have time. I signed up for this discipleship because I don’t have time. So, what do you do first in the morning? If they’re a businessman, they check Bloomberg, or the Wall Street, or MSNBC, or CNBC, the financial one. If they’re a socialite, they slept with their phone and they didn’t miss a thing all night. If they’re into bodybuilding, the first thing they do is their regimen. They’ve got their regimen and they’re going to eat right, and exercise, and run, and pedal, and everything else. Whatever consumes our passions is what we think about. Business or whatever. I said, where does God touching your life fit in? They say, I don’t have time for that. That’s when you have to back up and say let’s look.
We actually go to 1 Peter. So, you’re in James, that’s the next book. Now, this is what’s so amazing. Salvation starts a life of believing and obeying God’s word. If the life never started, we have to keep going back to make sure you know that there’s something there. There’s a whole generation of people that have lived their whole life, not like a believer. They say, when I was four years old or six or 12, I did that. I say, I believe you did that, but did God do this? Salvation. Look what Peter says.
Now remember, Peter is writing to a group of believers. Before we read these words, I look at the person. I say, who do you think 1 Peter 1:22 was written to? Almost all of them, they go, I don’t know. When you’re being discipled, most people aren’t embarrassed of not knowing, they go; I don’t know. I said, look back at chapter 1. It says in chapter 1, in 1 Peter 1, the first few verses, “To the pilgrims scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” In verse 3, this group is begotten again to a living hope. These are Christians. Then I say to them, here’s your first test. Who was 1 Peter 1:22 written to? Now you say it. This is your first test. Who were the verses we’re reading right now, written to? Christians. You got it right.
See, that’s what you have to do. You as a person have to show them that you can actually read something, understand it, and respond and know it. A lot of people are afraid. They think if you don’t go to school, you don’t have some set of letters, that you can’t really weigh in on the Bible. No. 1 John 2 says you don’t even need a teacher. The Holy Spirit will anoint us and teach us. God has designed that we grow best with someone coming alongside them.
Look at verse 22, I wrote it out for you. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth,” this is Peter describing a saved person. How did I get saved? When I heard the word, believed it was true, responded, God transformed me. What did He do? He purified my soul. Connected with that purification, the soul is, I want to obey God. I may not fully obey Him. I may not at times even obey Him, but down deep I as a part of the new birth have a longing to obey God. So, you have to discuss with a person, do you know your soul has been purified? Are you obeying the truth?
Then Peter goes on to say, it’s through the Spirit. It’s not me saying, I’m going to try today. It’s like, I’m trying to hold down all these things in my life and if I hold them tight enough they won’t spring out today. Like my bad temper and all my lusts, and everything else. My propensity to lie. Everything. I’m going to hold them down. It’s like a landmine! As long as you stand on it, it doesn’t blow up. That’s how a lot of people live their Christian life. They’re desperately trying to hold it down. Look what it says in verse 22. You “obey the truth through the Spirit.”
The power cord comes with salvation. You can buy something on eBay. It’s a beautiful thing. If you don’t read it carefully, you don’t get the power. You just got the thing. They sold it because they didn’t have the power cord. They purposely left that off the description. A lot of people are getting a salvation like on eBay that they don’t have the power cord. They aren’t connected to the Spirit. Doesn’t work. They’re just holding the landmine down all day long and sometimes it explodes. They go, I’ll try harder. What happens when God’s connected? We have “sincere love of the brethren.” We “love one another fervently with a pure heart.” Back to that pure again.
Verse 23, how does this happen? Because we’ve “been born again.” How do we get born again? Was it that touching story, or because I raised my hand or something? No, it’s not corruptible seed, it’s not something that I did that’s going to go away. It’s through the word of God, which lives and abides forever. Salvation is always connected to the word of God. That’s why, if someone is not sure they’re saved, I go through the plan of salvation. I don’t even know they ever heard the Gospel, the Bible. They had someone meet them on the street corner and talk to them and say, just pray with me and they did it. They want something, but they didn’t know who they were talking to, they don’t know what he did, and they don’t even know where to address that cry to, if they don’t know the Gospel, which is only in the word of God. It’s not slow. It’s not inert. It’s not out there, everybody’s just kind of dust. It’s the word of God. So, the word of God, which lives and abides forever.
Peter goes on to give this a surety. He says “because ‘All flesh’,” in verse 24 ” ‘is grass, and the glory of man as like the flower of grass.’ ” Everything withers and everything falls away. But verse 25, “the word of the Lord,” the Gospel, the Bible you hold, the scripture, the one that wants to touch you every day and change your life, He “endures forever.” And if you’re connected to Him, you will too. That’s where you go through assurance with them. If you’re connected to the eternal, infinite God; through His eternal word, you will never, “whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” Jesus said you have endless life. Make sure you’re connected though, to God. “This is the word which by the Gospel was preached to you.” Look at the tying together. The word, the Gospel. The way we get saved is hearing the word, which has the message of the Gospel. That word gets implanted in our hearts and God saves us, but it doesn’t end there.
This is when I look at them and say, now this is your second test. Therefore, look at verse 1 of chapter 2. “Laying aside all malice.” That’s the get even with hatred and malice that we see so much going on around us. “All deceit,” that’s the lying, deceiving people. “Hypocrisy,” acting like we’re something that we’re not. “Envy,” that’s that kind of smoldering, it’s not fair that you make more, have more, get more, or do more. And then “all evil speaking.” It’s probably one of the most common things, this garbage talk. Either being gossipy or just being defiling. When I read, I think in pictures. When I see evil speaking, I always think of the words we speak are like powder. Once you speak them you can’t get them back.
I think a powder because we had eight children. I used to volunteer, trying to help Bonnie I said, can I change him? Especially when you could tell they needed it. I said, I’ll do it for you honey, just to help you out. So, I’d get them on the, we used to use the washer and dryer as the changing area, big pad. I get them, and I’d hold them down, and get all my gear. I cleaned them all off, but my favorite part was the baby powder. I’d get them all ready and then I’d go, poof. A big cloud of white. I love baby powder. I’d get those diapers all on and I knew it was a good job. When they left, I’d pat them and little puffs of powder would come out. I knew I powdered them enough and they’d smell good for a long time and Bonnie would think I did a good job. Why I’m saying that is now you understand that powder. Did you know that evil speaking, words, we can never get them back. I could never collect all that powder, it’s impossible to. Floating it goes in the air conditioning and it gets under stuff. You’ll never get it all. That’s what words are like. That’s why the Bible says, make sure. “God is in Heaven and you on Earth, therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2. Evil speaking.
Now the question. Who is Peter talking to? Who is malicious, and deceitful, and hypocritical, and envious, and evil speaking? Who was this letter written to? That’s where you talk. When I come to that point I say, and you know what? Those are all things we struggle with, and you don’t just hold them down like the landmine. This is when you say it’s only the Spirit of God that can change you from being malicious, and deceitful, and hypocritical, and gossipy, and garbage talking. Usually, you get their attention right then. They look up and they go, how does He do that? I go, look at the next verse.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby…” If you and I don’t have a desire, if we are not growing then there’s a danger. Peter addresses it. Verse 3, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Peter’s saying, this works if you’re really saved. Have you really met the gracious God of the universe? Have you really heard about Him? Believed it was true and responded, and let Him transform you? Has that happened? Someone, from verse 2, made little saying. Sin will keep you from the Bible, but the Bible will keep you from sin. See, that’s what the growth is like when God touches me every day. When I meet with Him in His word, I have a strong deterrent because His Spirit living within me makes me hate being malicious, deceitful, hypocritical, envious, and an evil speaker. If I don’t hate those things, if I don’t hunger for it, maybe I’ve never tasted that He’s gracious.
So, what I do is… I just say, this is why they have their Bible. I say, look at verse 22, that purify your soul circle, that’s regeneration. When you get saved, you get regenerated. God purifies your soul. The DSM-5 only talks about how to externally control bad behavior, God purifies the soul. Doctors cannot touch the soul, God does. Regeneration is when God, through His Holy Spirit, using His word, purifies my soul.
I say, look at verse 23, you have a new birth. You came alive through the power of God’s word and that power never goes away. You should reconnect your cord every day. I discuss right then. I say, now what’s a good time for you to get in the word? Are you a morning person? Do you come alive at night? If you are one of those night people there’s nothing wrong with it. In God’s reckoning of time the day starts at night. It says the evening and the morning were the first day. God actually goes from sunset to sunset. That’s how He reckons. We go from sunrise to sunrise. God reckons from sunset to sunset. So, if you’re an evening person, awesome, great. You can start your day before you go to bed. It isn’t that you have to do what I do, you just have to connect to God. In the new birth, if you came alive, if you were born again, the same as you receive the Lord is the only way to walk through life.
Then I remind them, salvation is eternal because God’s word is eternal.
Then from chapter 2 I tell them, that makes the essence of your life, God’s word. Why? Because verse 2 says, you’re only fed… you and I as born again believers can only be fed by God’s word.
If we’re failing to thrive, there’s something wrong with our intake, because everybody that’s born again, that feeds on the word of God, God is touching their life and unleashed in their life. That’s how we grow.
Born again believers only grow by the word, that’s why we have to be in it. Do you want to be stunted forever? Emaciated? Unable to operate as a believer?
It’s the way we taste God’s grace. That’s how we know we’re saved. We taste every time there’s a flavor of the grace of God. I can be reading the worst parts of Leviticus and I can taste it there. I can be reading the hardest to understand parts of Ezekiel, I can taste. It’s a flavor. The Lord is great. Why should we have time in the word? Because it’s the only way we can grow. It’s the only way that we can taste the Lord is gracious. It’s the only way that we can have that assurance, that our life is endless. It’s the only way God can touch us every day. So, let me ask you, which is more important? Getting touched by Bloomberg, getting touched by social media, getting touched by exercise, or getting touched by God? Now here’s your quiz, which one’s more important? God.
Let’s all stand for a closing word of prayer. At the end of this service, there are always godly men and women, who are disciplers, that would love to pray with you. Last week we had someone come forward. Remember I did all 22 Gospel presentations. They came forward in the visitor line and they said I don’t think I have that. I looked across the gym and I saw someone I know. I said their name and they didn’t know what I was doing. They smiled and came right toward me. I said, this person needs to be led to the Lord and they almost fainted. The Bible says we’re supposed to be ready at any moment to give reason of the hope. You know what? They took a breath and valiantly went there and reaffirmed that person in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another person came and they looked at the person next to them and said, I don’t have that. They were led to the Lord right over there. Did you know that today, what I’ve been talking about for the last 47 minutes, can all happen in your life. This instant. If you’ll meet Christ. If you know Christ and it’s not happening, you can restart your walk with the Lord today.
Let’s bow for a word of prayer.
Father in Heaven, I pray that we’d understand why your word needs to be central. It’s not because we need to study it more, it’s because we need to taste you and be renewed by your Spirit transforming us. That is the only way that you do it, is through your word. I pray that all of us, that know the answer, that being touched by you is more important than anything else. That we wouldn’t just hear this, but that we’d be doers for your glory. In the name of Jesus we pray, and all God’s people said, Amen. God bless you as you go.