In the first chapter of Acts, we read the last words that Jesus spoke on the earth before he ascended into heaven. Jesus was preparing the disciples, he told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, which was the power that they would need to be the church.
The church cannot be the church without us recognizing and responding to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can hold meetings and run programs, but we cannot be the church without the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 1:8 we read, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit so that the church would have the power to do what Jesus called them to do. The Holy Spirit is given to the church to be the church and to proclaim the good news.
A healthy church is like a railroad track. The two tracks of the church are: Evangelism and Discipleship. These two tracks run parallel and continuously in order for the church to be what God has called it to be.
The first component of the church is Discipleship.
Discipleship is the walking out of the Christian life with a community of believers. It involves instruction and the study of God’s word, but more importantly, it involves a walking together in community, encouraging each other as we all pursue becoming more like Christ.
Andrew Davis in his book, “Revitalize”, uses the acronym K.F.C.A.
Knowledge: More than just head knowledge, the church matures as we study and feed on God’s word. Discipleship occurs as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us by the power of the Word of God applied to our lives. When Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4, he quoted scripture when he was tempted. How can we expect to stand against the attacks of the enemy unless we know the Word.
Faith: Having a strong sense and firm belief that the promises of God’s Word are true. An active reliance on Christ and trusting that God really does speak to us. Growing in faith pleases God as we read in Hebrews 11:6.
Character: Character is who we are when we are alone before God.Our life before making Jesus Lord must be different to our life today. Our decision making is no longer selfish, our language is different, we are more generous, and we care for the broken and the hurting. Our character is transformed as we become more like Christ.
Action: Mature Christians do what God tells them to do (see John 14:15). Mature followers of Jesus are on mission for Christ, daily walking out their salvation (see Ephesians 4:16).
Andrew Davis wrote, “I believe Scripture shows that biblical knowledge feeds faith, faith transforms character, and out of a transformed character, we walk in newness of life.”
Discipleship is not getting together once a week, studying a book written by a Christian author and drinking coffee. That is good, but true discipleship is activation, leading to a church on mission. True discipleship challenges and transforms us to be a people of action, doing what God has called us to do.
The second component of the church is evangelism. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
If the purpose of our Lord was to seek and save the Lost, why would we as his representatives, those who call him Lord, not have the same passion.
As Jesus instructed his disciples in Acts 1:8, we are also to go to our neighbors, our city, our nation and to the ends of the earth. As people empowered by the Holy Spirit, we have all we need to do the work God calls us to do (see Ephesians 1:3).
The church exists to bring glory to God, and the greatest example of the Glory of God is the salvation of sinners as they put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
The world around us is a mess and desperate for hope. Everyone we meet is an eternal soul, and they will either spend eternity in heaven, or in hell, eternally separated from God.
Frequently, you will hear that there are many different ways to get to heaven, however there is no other religion or system of faith that has a living savior. Jesus is the resurrected Lord and only He can save (See John 14:6).
We as a church must be focused on evangelism, sharing the good news of the Jesus Christ from our homes to the ends of the earth. It is such a blessing that we have so many people at Grace Point who understand this. This past summer we had individuals and teams that went to seven different nations, while at the same time we have outreaches to Ruskin Heights, Warford elementary and right here in our neighborhood.
Evangelism, like discipleship, is a primary component of the church, and like two railroad tracks they are tied together. The tie that holds these two components together is the Gospel message, God’s plan of salvation (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
This Gospel message is the most important message we have, and it holds the church together in discipleship and mission.
Just like railroad tracks, which are only useful if each track is perfectly parallel and that they continue together. If the one track veers off or is longer than the other, the railroad track is of no use. So, it is with the healthy church, discipleship and evangelism must run parallel and continuously, held together by the Good news of Jesus Christ.
The progress of the Gospel is the evangelism track
The progress in the Gospel is the discipleship track.
But you can only participate in either of these if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
As a follower of Jesus are you participating in both discipleship and evangelism?