If you truly love Jesus Christ and want to grow up and be a mature useful member of God’s kingdom you must make four foundational commitments. These are not in word only, but in wholehearted steps of obedience to God Almighty. They are natural steps of obedience that will transform any Christian to a “good and faithful servant” (phase 3 and 4) instead of a “wicked and lazy servant.”
If you look at our circles diagram you see five concentric circles illustrating our four steps to God’s standard of discipleship maturity.
All of us start as lost sinners and are found in the community or crowd, the outer two circles. In the Bible, Jesus gives the following story: “The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” [Mark 4:14-20].
As Christians share the Good News with people of the community, some are so close minded [blinded] that they are like a paved road, so hard that they will not even listen or think about the truth of Jesus Christ.
Others have an interest and say they want Christ, but if their friends mock them or trouble and conflict comes their way, they figure Jesus was not really worth it. They go to church for a short time, but quit. Many others [of the crowd] are very interested and may make a commitment to attend church on a regular basis, but their hearts are so enslaved and focused on making money, pleasing themselves and having fun that they don’t really obey Christ, just attend church. This is why we are challenging you, this is not true Christianity.
Only those that really listen, accept, and bear fruit are real. So here is your first commitment, give your life to Christ Jesus. Have you admitted that you are a sinful criminal before. Yes, have you been caught by God’s Word and you know that you have committed the crimes God accused you of.
You are a liar, you know you have lied at least once, right? There are so many crimes you have committed! You broke the Law! Read Exodus 20. Read through a number of New Testament books until your hard heart is crushed and so softened by conviction [convinced of your wrong doing] that you know you need God’s merciful forgiveness. Only then will you be forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice, because He died in you place. Only when you accept His provision of forgiveness can you make your first commitment.
You must become a born again Christian. Immediately, this changes your relationship from being God’s enemy, to being God’s adopted child. You are now a member of God’s family! Sometimes enemies sneak into churches, even understanding they are missing something. But they will not stay because they are not connected to the church through Jesus and the Holy Spirit that lives inside born again believers. They usually go and create their own church or organization.
Jesus tells his new believers, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” You magnify or glorify God when you clearly do what He commands in the New Testament. And believers must make the family connection!
1/ That is why you need to make your first commitment as a believer and leave the crowd and join the congregation. You must join solidly with a local church, the congregation of the Lord. You must become a responsible family member. You must help with the chores. Help with the children. Help with the responsibilities. You must learn to love your new spiritual family. You must join them because they do not know you yet. You must join them to fulfill God’s will.
2/ Your second commitment as a Christian is when you sincerely commit to grow spiritually. In our baseball diamond that means after you get to first base and start to become an active part of the congregation you start to focus on your maturity.
To really grow up we suggest a four-fold commitment to
1/ group Bible study for the purpose of completely understanding your responsibilities,
2/ group fellowship to practically learn to fulfill your responsibilities,
3/ group communion feasts to keep spiritually pure and healthy,
4/ and group prayer meetings to commune with God.
As a new baby family member you grow from copying and listening to your spiritual elders. As a mature member your example helps the younger develop their skills. And this discipleship training prepares you for the next steps in walking with your Lord Jesus.
3/ Your third foundational commitment is to serve and help others through motivated service to others [core lay minister]. See “Equipped To Serve: Spiritual Grace Gifts, One For Every Believer!” for details.
Jesus teaches in Mark 9:35, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” And Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
We all have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we were born again. We receive His gift as He enters us and through spiritual growth it begins to “light” and glow through us. We need to help each other discover this gift and serve others to glorify God.
See Romans 12 to learn of the seven grace gifts. When we speak of ministers we mean servants who serve God and people as God calls. This is a calling to all Christians to bear fruit, and is the true core of leadership. We are not leaders like the world defines authority, because God calls a leader, a “servant of all.” What is left for the core “servant-leader” church members to do?
4/ Finally as core lay ministers, we must commit to the mission Jesus gives all His followers. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 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.”
We must fulfill the Great Commission! As we go across the planet supporting each other, we obey the Great commands [Matthew 22] and the Great Commission [Matthew 28]. Your city must feel your presence as a local church (Christians united to obey God) with god-like influence and a vocal call to repent and follow Jesus Christ.
You are now responsible for what you have just learned. You must make the transition from thought to action.
Go and climb the peaks of commitment with all your “heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
Glorify the Lord and change your world!