Spiritual truth is never discerned by intellect, only by moral obedience. That thought has been on my mind and in my spirit for a long time, but more so since the Lord set my heart in Uganda. It has highlighted something that has been deep in my spirit in one way or another for the better part of my sixty years discovering Jesus.
I am certain that, if you are a believer – a member of the bride of Christ – that you would agree that “New Testament Christianity” produces a strong family likeness to Jesus. As I have spoken and written about for a long time … we are being conformed into the image (character) of Jesus (Rom 8:29). As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, what we often see as the goal of our life is not truly our goal. For God, the goal is the process of living this life centered on living the Life of Jesus that we have been given in the Holy Spirit; becoming abandoned to God. And that brings me to my concern for the bride.
A large percentage of the bride of Christ is focused on saving souls. But what is meant by a saved soul is most often determined by one’s doctrine; one’s doctrine of salvation and not by a personal relationship to Jesus. And as a result, they become devoted to a small phase of what Jesus came to do. But in the moment they forget that He didn’t just come to save souls. He came to bring “many sons into glory.” And we have lost our focus on that. We, as His bride, are the saved souls – but where has been the focus on making disciples?
Broadly speaking, the church has had little concern for the revelation of Jesus. The revelation that He is our Lord and Master as well as our Saviour. That revelation comes as a result of discipleship, and that is why God’s command to us is not about “saving souls,” it’s about “making disciples.” It’s sad that the message is so often focused on salvation at the expense of the heart of redemption… a personal relationship with Jesus.
It is so clear throughout the Bible that it is God who calls, who prepares hearts to receive His Spirit. As His bride we are called to deliver the Gospel to those prepared hearts. But too often the focus is on sharing the Gospel to the world and missing the open door the Spirit has prepared and opened for us. The Lord’s plan and process is to build His church – His bride – in preparation for His coming Kingdom, and that preparation is of the spirit.
That is why what is happening in Uganda has shined a bright light on the subject for me. I have never seen the Spirit of God move as He is in Africa. One year ago we began with 5 churches and today we have thirty-eight. Under the leading of the Holy Spirit we have passed out over 60,000 copies of the book of John and seen over 50,000 souls saved. That is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those He has prepared to receive the Gospel. But I ask myself the same question that Jesus is asking His bride … how will these new believers become “sons of glory?”
That is the challenge facing us. And it is the challenge facing the church in America. We have been commanded to “make disciples” and that means that it begins with us: we need to be discipled in order to disciple the pastors and to assist the pastors in discipling their leaders who will disciple the new believers to become leaders and continue the process.
It is all about Jesus’ bride preparing herself to stand before Him, dressed in white and becoming His wife. It is all about hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” The question is … have we been faithful over a little? Have we invested in the one door He has opened for us or did we miss it because we were focused elsewhere?
Redemption is without question the salvation of souls. It is the desire of God that none should be lost. But don’t forget that behind Jesus’ command to “make disciples” is All authority in heaven and on earth. And that is followed by Go therefore and teach. And that means investing yourself in the lives of others, teaching them that their Saviour is also their Lord and Master and that means a lifetime of developing a relationship with Him.
Matt 28:18-20 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ESV