You can’t fix something without knowing the problem. You can’t treat a sickness if you don’t know the cause. You can’t solve your financial woes if you don’t know where your money is going.
Yet Christians are hoping and praying for change in their personal lives and in society without dealing with the real problem. Most don’t even know what the problem is. So, what’s the bottom line? Why aren’t we and this world being transformed by the Gospel, as the Lord would have it be?
It’s because God’s Word is THE seed that He uses to release His life into our lives and world, and the vast majority of Christians are not planting God’s Word in their hearts and protecting it. I dealt with this problem in last month’s magazine and have covered it extensively in my new book, released October 1, called Effortless Change.
Here’s the solution: The church must obey Jesus’ command to make disciples and not just converts.
Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19, Amplified Bible
Notice that Jesus didn’t tell us to just make converts; He told us to make disciples. That is a huge difference. Jesus said a disciple is a person who continues in His Word until he or she is free.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
This isn’t what Christianity as a whole has been doing. The emphasis has been on getting people to pray a prayer so they won’t go to hell. That’s been the goal of nearly all “Christian evangelism.”
So, what’s wrong with that? Don’t we want people to be born again so they won’t spend eternity in hell? Of course we do. But that’s not what the Lord told us to do. He told us to make disciples, and making disciples is the most effective way to evangelise.
Most Christians disconnect right there. They think evangelism is the first step and then discipleship follows. That’s why we see mass evangelistic crusades. If there is follow up, it is usually an afterthought that is watered down at best. The real goal has been to get people born again.
But that wasn’t Jesus’ method. Jesus reached out to sinners, not just saints (Mark 2:17). He taught them of God’s love and demonstrated it through the miracles He performed. He taught sinners how the kingdom of God worked, without giving an “altar call.”
Jesus had a rich young ruler come to Him and display a passion that would have granted him acceptance into nearly any church today. Yet Jesus said he couldn’t receive eternal life without total commitment (Mark 10:17-27). The young ruler went away sad.
There was a multitude that believed on Jesus in Jerusalem, but Jesus wouldn’t commit Himself to them, because they weren’t ready (John 2:23-25). Others believed on Him, but He told them they wouldn’t be free unless they continued in His Word (John 8:31-32).
This offended those who believed on Jesus (John 8:33), just as it offends many “Christians” today to say that simply acknowledging Jesus isn’t enough. The Jews who believed on Jesus said they had always been free and were never in bondage to anyone. This is laughable when you consider that the whole Jewish nation was being dominated by the Romans at that time and that each individual was being personally oppressed by sin and the devil (John 8:34). Yet they maintained their “freedom,” just as many religious people do today, despite their obvious bondage to sin and the world.
Jesus went on to reveal to these “believers” (John 8:31) that they were relying on their nationality and human effort instead of trusting Him. Jesus then proceeded to say things that offended them even more (John 8:34-43). This culminated in Jesus telling them in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil.”
What a statement! We need to remember that this was spoken to those who believed on Him (John 8:31). How would this go over today? I don’t believe Jesus would last as long now as He did then. Our religious culture would have crucified Him much sooner than three years.
Most “Christians” are so politically correct, trying not to offend, that they avoid any conflict with society’s standards. They want people to just pray a prayer and receive Jesus as their Saviour, and then they hope these converts continue on with the Lord. But to them, those are separate issues.
I remember ministering in India in the early 1980s. I had heard the reports of thousands accepting the Lord at huge gatherings, and I was excited to see that happen with me. I admit that I didn’t have huge crowds of hundreds of thousands, but I ministered to crowds approaching 1,000. I should have seen hundreds accept the Lord. But that wasn’t my experience, and it really bothered me.
On my plane ride home, a well-known minister sat next to me. He had been in India for a month and had hundreds of thousands “accept the Lord.” I was very curious as to how he did this, so I started asking questions without telling him why I was asking. One of my questions was, “Did you tell them Jesus was the only way, truth, and life (John 14:6)? Did you have them commit themselves to Jesus as the only true God?”
I asked this because I had actually taken a picture of an idol with three deities – one was Hare Krishna, one was Buddha, and right there in the middle was a statue of Jesus. You see, the Indians believe in 350 million gods. They will easily accept Jesus as another god just to cover all the bases. But that’s not true salvation.
This minister responded, “Oh, no, I didn’t do that. The Lord gave me great wisdom and told me just to introduce them to Him and then He would straighten all of that out later.” He was out to make converts, not disciples. That’s wrong.
It’s true that Philip ministered to the Ethiopian eunuch, and then the Spirit of the Lord caught him away without an opportunity for Philip to disciple the man (Acts 8:27-39). That does happen, but that was the exception and not the rule. Today it is reversed. All the emphasis is on getting people saved, and then they may or may not be discipled. But if we were to put the emphasis on discipleship, evangelism would be a necessary part of that process.
A friend of mine put this into practice. He knocked on doors, and instead of asking people if they were saved, he asked if they needed any help from the Lord in any area of their lives. People would mention their marriage problems or sicknesses or financial problems, and he would just start teaching them the solution to their problems from the Word of God.
Inevitably, they would come to a place where they couldn’t comply with the Bible’s instructions. That’s because the Christian life isn’t just hard to live; it’s impossible to live in one’s own strength.
For instance, as my friend instructed this one man about loving his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), the man said he couldn’t do it. My friend confirmed that was true if he only did it in his own power, but my friend showed him how he could be born again, and then that supernatural love of Jesus would be in him. You can’t give what you don’t have, so this man needed to receive God’s love for him before he could give that love to his wife. This led to his salvation and totally transformed life.
The forgiveness of sins is an indispensable part of discipleship. However, it’s not the only goal, and it is not the end. Without intending to do so, the church’s method of evangelism has hindered the discipleship of converts. The forgiveness of sins and escaping hell have been the goal of “evangelism.” Once people obtain that goal, they lose their motivation to go any further. They got what they wanted. This shows in the low percentage of people who, after professing Christianity, continue to pursue the Lord.
If discipleship was the goal, then people would have to be born again to be true disciples, but they wouldn’t stop there. They would continue in God’s Word until they were free and able to set others free too. They would become powerful witnesses for the Lord, something that is too often missing in those who claim Christianity.
Think of this: If one man made 1,000 converts per year, then after thirty-five years, there would be 35,000 converts. Even though that would be exceptional, that wouldn’t even impact one large city. If the same man was to disciple one person every six months, who in turn would do the same, that one person would begin a process of multiplication that would produce over one billion disciples in just fifteen years. I know that sounds impossible, but do the maths – it’s a fact. Evangelism through discipleship is much more productive than evangelism alone.
This has been on my heart for over forty years. The Lord instructed me from the beginning of my ministry to teach, not just preach or evangelise. That’s why I teach topically in series. It’s the reason I founded Charis Bible College and its extension schools and developed the correspondence courses and online instruction. This is the command the Lord gave not only to me but to all of us: “
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” 2 Timothy 2:2I recently saw an interview with an ex-Muslim terrorist. He came to America to practice “cultural jihad,” but was converted to Christianity. What he revealed about the war being waged was scary. It made me pray, “Lord, what can I do about this?” The Lord spoke to me, “You are already doing something about this. The greatest defence against a lie is the truth. And you are sharing My truth with people all over the world. The Gospel is the greatest weapon in this war.”
This lit a new fire in me for discipleship. I firmly believe this is what the Lord has raised this ministry up to do. We are to take a lead in making disciples, and our most effective way of doing that is through Charis Bible College.
The Lord spoke to me last year that we needed to plan for growth. Then He miraculously provided property that will allow us to build a first-rate campus large enough to accommodate thousands. There, we will train disciples to go into all the world. I believe we will have thousands in our Colorado facility and thousands more being discipled through our other avenues.
This is what I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to. I’m going to put a new emphasis on discipleship, and I’ll organize all the truths the Lord has taught me into topics and formats that will facilitate discipleship evangelism. I ask you to join me.
I have a brand-new teaching on this that will make these points much more strongly than I’ve been able to in this letter. In addition, I have a package of tested and proven discipleship tools called The Discipleship Evangelism Package that I am making available to you at a special price. I encourage you to get these and let these truths enlighten you and motivate you to become a true disciple who can disciple others.
We have hundreds of thousands of people going through these discipleship materials all over the world, and they are experiencing miraculous results. These resources will work for you too. The discipleship guides will enable you to start making disciples right away. Please go to our website: www.awme.net, call our Helpline on +44(0)1922 473300, or complete the enclosed form.
Thanks in advance for your positive response. Together we are making a big difference.
We Love You,
Andrew & Jamie