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Evangelism and Discipleship

By Dr. Les Brickman.—

In Matthew 5-7, Jesus’ first sermon, He TAUGHT His disciples the principles of the kingdom of God, and what it means to truly be and act like His disciple – being Salt and Light; The place of the Law; the heart of God expressed through 6 antitheses; old and new righteousness as expressed in giving, prayer, and fasting; dependence upon God rather than wealth and anxiety; judging; doing unto others.

In Matthew 8-9, Jesus DEMONSTRATED for His disciples the power of the Kingdom of God over leprosy, paralysis, sickness, and demonization.

Having first been taught and then shown, most of us would have packed our bags, gone home, and said, “Now, having understood and having seen, I am a disciple of Jesus. To truly grow, I must now dive deeper into His teaching and observe more of what He does. This will involve deeper study and insight on my part!”

But what did Jesus do? In Matthew Chapter 10, He gathered His disciples, gave them authority to do what He had done, and after a bit more instruction, He sent them out to preach and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. He sent them out as sheep among wolves. Not my words, His words.

I would never have done that, NEEEVER!! They were not ready! They had heard Jesus teach and watched Him heal. Heard and watched! No record in Matthew that they had ever preached the gospel. I would have wanted them to at least “grow” more as disciples before being thrust out to evangelize.

Bottom line – this was Jesus’ method of growing His disciples: Teach them about the Kingdom, Demonstrate the power of the Kingdom as they watch, Release THEM to evangelize, proclaim the Kingdom, and demonstrate its reality. Their growth as disciples would take place in the context of their evangelism as they proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom.

We have it all wrong today! Discipleship growth does not happen in a classroom. Growth as a disciple is not to be equated with cognitive learning! Growth occurs in the situations of life. Growth happens even amid failure. The disciples had been successfully casting out demons (3rd tour of Galilee sent 2×2 – Mark 6; Mt. 9:35-11:1; Luke 9:1-6). Now they met one they couldn’t handle. “Why could we not cast it out?” (Mt. 17:19) I am so glad you asked that! You have to up your game. What you have done in the past is no longer sufficient. “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Mt. 17:21) Not a textbook case study, but a real-life situation. It is time to grow some more!

We are quite sure – evangelism benefits the lost! We have lost sight of the fact that evangelism also helps us as disciples. NT evangelism is a process Jesus also uses to grow and mature His disciples. If we do not evangelize, the lost will not only remain lost, but we will also remain immature disciples!

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