"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart..." Luke 10:27
Articles about Discipleship with Chronological teaching
Ministry Momentum Comes through Unveiling God's Glory
An article on Discipleship By Randy Smyth
Are we busy about finding momentum for ministry? Are we looking for it in the wrong places?
Here is what the apostle Paul said about his ministry to the Corinthian church. “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2 KJV
How could He say that? The god of this world hides the glory of the God of the Bible from people. He hides the light of the glorious gospel of Christ from shining on them. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV
When Moses met with God, his face shone so much with God’s glory that, even as it was fading, people could not look on his face. So, he covered his face with a veil to shield them from the brilliance. (2 Corinthians 3) “But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14 NLT
As glorious as the Old Testament was, it is not as brilliant as the glory of the new testament. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. The veil is taken away by the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit as believing people preach Christ; and as listeners respond in faith (believing God).
Those who know the God of the Bible, those who have believed Him, have the indwelling Holy Spirit rather than an external encounter. We have the privilege and responsibility to preach the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:5) as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 KJV
“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;” 2 Corinthians 4:13 KJV
Looking for momentum in ministry? Try teaching in such a way as to unveil God’s glory. Here are some resources to help you do that.
• Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ
• Building on Firm Foundations Vol 1-9
• The Establish Series
• The Establish Series videos online
• Access Truth – God’s Narrative: Creation to Christ video series
• Bible Foundations Radio – Jerry Smyth
• Chronological Bible Teaching
• Why Not Just Give The Gospel?
• His Story: The Rescue – Paul & Linda Mac
• God’s Narrative – Access Truth
• God’s Promise by Ken West
• Bible Framework by Charles Clough
• The King of Glory – 70 lessons book
•The King of Glory – 3 hour Movie
It's not about Jonah!
We love to tell the story of Jonah to children, but we usually tell it all wrong. And the message is primarily for grownups! The heart of the story is found in chapter 4, verse 2.
Jonah 4:2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
This whole story is about God’s love! And mercy! The people of Nineveh were wicked beyond belief. Their day of grace had come to an end. God puts up with sin for so long, then he says Enough! God was determined to bring judgement on them if they did not repent!
But in His great love and mercy, He wanted to give the people of Nineveh a chance to repent. Jonah knew this and so he ran from God, he got on the ship to Tarshish, heading away from Nineveh. But God was convinced that the people of Nineveh needed to hear about their sin and their need to repent from Jonah. Look at how determined God was to save them:
- God sent a storm, a really, really bad storm.
- God made the sailors wake Jonah up to tell his story.
- God made it so when the cast lots were cast, to see who was to blame, Jonah was the one chosen.
- Jonah had to explain how he was running from the Creator of heaven and earth.
- Jonah explained that he was sinning, and that because of his disobedience God’s wrath was being poured out on them all through the storm.
- Jonah prophesied that if they threw him overboard, God would stop the storm.
- God instantly calmed a huge storm, so the sailors believed in Him and offered sacrifices to God.
- God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and take him to the shores of Ninevah.
There are many more elements that we could look at, but the point is this: God is the focal point and the hero of this story, not Jonah.
Jonah did not lose his love for God, we can see that in the prayer he prayed from the belly of the whale. But as much as he loved God, he still hated his enemies in Nineveh. After he was vomited on the shore, God told him again to preach to the people of Nineveh. Sometimes life is like that, we are vomited into a city, job, school or family that we would not chose. But we have a choice in each situation, the same choice Jonah had. Will we serve God faithfully in that difficult place? He might use us mightly if we trust Him and obey.
Jonah 3:6-10 ESV “The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Jonah ended up saying, ” Lord, I knew you were like this! You are so loving, so gracious, so merciful!!”
Folks, let’s be sure to tell the story of God’s great love. Yes, God is the righteous and holy judge, and he must punish sin. But He is the one who made us, who loves us and wants us to repent of evil and accept his offer of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:9 NIV The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Keys in the Culture!
As we help people come to know and understand the God who made them, we should always be on the lookout for keys in their language or culture that will help them understand.
For example, as the Apostle Paul was trying the reach the people of Athens, he was disturbed by the many gods they had, their many idols. But then he noticed that they had a monument, an idol for “The Unknown God”, and he used that to reach out to them about the Creator God, the God they did not know, the God they really needed to know.
Acts 17:23-27 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Don Richardson, author of The Peace Child and Eternity in Their Hearts has posed the possiblity that there are redemptive anaologies in every culture. Perhaps God embedded these things in the languages and cultures when he scattered the people and confounded the languages of the world at the Tower of Babyl.
Another example: While working with the Da’an people in Borneo, we heard the phrase, “The body that takes the place of my body.” The context was an epidemic that had hit the village, so many people were sick and more than a dozen had died. The people were blaming the evil spirits of their ancestors for making people sick. So they made a raft and put items from every aspect of their life on it, including stick carvings of the people. As they put the carvings on the raft, they would say, “This is the body that takes the place of my body.” Then they floated the raft down the river and hoped that the evil spirits would follow it and leave them alone.
This phrase was very helpful as we presented Jesus Christ, “the body who takes the place of our body.” He died on the cross, as our substitute, taking our place, accepting the punishment for our sins. He bore our shame, so we could have relatiopnship with our Heavely Father. He cleansed us and washed away our sin with his blood. Then he showed his power over death, so we no longer need to fear death, we will live with him forever. Those who accept Jesus can say, “Jesus, you are the body that took the place of my body. You paid for my sin, so I would not face the wrath of God and pay the price for my sins. You rose from the grave so I can have new life. And when I die, I will forever in the place you have prepared for me.
Did you notive how we wove in various the themes of guilt, shame, sin and power in this short article?
If you have a similar redemptive anology, please share it with us.
How do we make disciples who will love God with all their heart?
So often we make this appeal, that “if a person does not accept Jesus Christ as his Savior, the one who died for his sins, that person will be separated from God for all eternity.” This is absolutely true, it is clearly taught by Jesus to Nicodemus. But perhaps there is another aspect of the gospel that is even more important.
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
But we need to be careful not to present a man centered gospel, just a “get out of jail free card”. The most precious truth we can share is that through the sacrifice of Christ God has made a way for us to be accepted into His family. He wants a relationship with us! He wants us to repent of our sins and turn to his ways, to love and trust him. In fact, this love God showed us through the cross is something we should reflect back to Him and also to others around us!
In a sense you could say the gospel is not about offering “fire insurance”, but “whole life insurance.” Our Heavenly Father wants people to accept Christ as their Savior so they can become a part of His great family, to learn His ways and the ways of His family and to engage in the family business. And when we walk in God’s ways, we have a peace in our hearts and a purpose for living that is worth more than anything the world can give us.
Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment and he gave a rather simple answer.
Mark 12:28-34 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
The wise teacher understood clearly, that Loving God is far more important than any religious activities! All activities should have love as their anchor, the motivation for the why and the way things are done.
So here it is, the greatest thing you can do to please God is to Love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. A disciple who loves his heavenly Father in this way will walk in obedience, he will repent of his sins and follow God’s ways. He will enjoy enjoy a life of God’s blessing, of God’s presence with Him and a reason to persevere in all of life’s storms. Trouble will still come, but the person who loves God with all their heart has a passion and a purpose that is eternal, it is much bigger than the problems we face in this sin cursed world.
So how do we make disciples who will love God with all their heart? One of the most effective ways is to take them through the Old Testament stories where God is revealing Himself in the context of human relationships. Too often we make man the focus of the stories, but God is the primary character in each chapter and verse. The stories are given to us so we will know what He is like, what pleases and displeases Him. We see His love and mercy, His justice and judgement. He is a God who always keeps His promises, so we can rely on Him.
I could provide many case studies for you from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, where people who have been taught this way become so passionate in their love and devotion to our heavenly father. My own testimony is that I grew up in a Christian home and knew all the stories and had memorized hundreds of verses, even books of the Bible. But when I went through the Chronological Bible Teaching using the Building on Firm Foundations curriculum, God our Heavenly Father came alive to me! The stories were told from a much different perspective, where God is the hero, not David, Jonah, Moses, etc.
There are so many great curriculum for teaching this way, please browse the AnchoredInternational for resources that will assist you in teaching your disciples in this way, so they will learn to love the Lord with all their heart, mind soul and strength. And to love their neighbor as themselves. That will impact every area of relationships their lives!
Strategic Advantages of the Discovery Bible Study
Traditioonally we are not very good at raising up teachers. It seems that very few people end up being Bible teachers, so how can we improve on this?
The Discovery Bible Study methods immediatley puts people into the role of facilitating a group study of the Word of God. The three most basic points are:
- Initiate. Get some people together to learn about God’s Word.
- Investigate. You read a passage of scripture together and ask some questions to help gain insight. Group discussion is encouraged, but limited to the scope of the scripture passage.
- Apply – What have you learned that you can apply to your life right now?
- Inform – Tell outside the group what you have learned. Report back to people inside the group how the truth you learned has made a difference.
Using the Discovery Bible Study model will help those who are gifted teachers to allow others to lead. You have to be willing to take a back seat, to allow others to learn and grow. You will have to bite your tongue and not provide all of the information you know. Your role will change, but you will see others develop and use God given abilities. You will see people develop their ability to lead others.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will alsobe qualified to teach others.
This is our goal, mulitiplication! We must always keep in mind that our tie with any individual is limited, so we should maximize our efforts to help them develop.
Here are the helpful guidelines for having a successful study time, avoiding rabbit trails and keeping God’s Word as the final authority in the discussion.
To begin the study, each person answers these questions:
- What are you thankful for?
- What is causing you stress?
- Who needs our help? How can this group help them?
Look Back (session 2+)
- Retell story from the previous meeting.
- What did you do differently because of this story?
- Who did you tell and what was the reaction?
Read & Re-tell
- One person reads the Bible passage out loud, and the rest follow along.
- Someone else retells the passage by memory, if possible. Others can fill in what is missing.
- Read the passage again.
- Discuss what this passage says about God, Jesus or his plan.
- Read the passage once more
- Discuss what this passage says about humans.
- According to this study, what am I doing well?
- What do I need to change?
- Who needs to hear this story?
- How can I tell them?
- Who can I invite to study the Bible?
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