Becoming Jesus’ Disciple #7
"Sharing the Good News"
Last December thousands of young adult Christians gathered in Urbana,
Illinois. Many shared their faith stories including a college student named
Keith Greenberg from New Jersey. He grew up in a non-Christian religion,
following the traditions and practices of his family for generations. One day
Daniel, a classmate of his, talked to him about Jesus Christ and asked him to
consider becoming a Christian. Keith said he didn’t need or want Jesus and
that he was offended by Daniel’s approach. He was so offended that he didn’t
speak to Daniel for an entire year.
One night after a high school basketball game, Keith instigated a parking lot
fight that led to a serious injury of another student. Keith was in serious
trouble and scared. He was expelled from school in his senior year. He felt like
his life, future college education, family relationships and everything else
were crumbling around him. He didn’t know where to turn or what to do—so he
called Daniel. Through all his insistence that he was offended, somehow he knew
that his classmate cared and had something special to offer. That night they
went to a church service together and Keith Greenberg became a Christian.
When he told the story, he introduced his parents to the thousands of cheering
students in Urbana—his parents have also become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Talking about Jesus and recruiting others to believe has always been basic to
becoming Jesus’ disciple. One of Jesus’ first followers was a man named
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him,
"We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him
to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You
will be called Cephas"(which, when translated, is Peter).
Andrew recruited Peter who became one of the most famous early leaders of
Christianity. St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome and St. Peter,
Minnesota, are both named after him.
Because Christian faith can’t be inherited, Christianity is always one
generation away from extinction. There are Christians today because previous
generations shared their faith. There will be Christians in the future because
we share our faith. That’s the way Jesus planned to win the world—one at a
time with Christians telling non-Christians about Jesus.
Here’s what Jesus said to Christians of every generation:
"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very
end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
Disciples make disciples—that’s how it’s supposed to work.
The purpose of Wooddale Church comes straight out of this teaching of Jesus: "The
purpose of Wooddale Church is to honor God by making more disciples for Jesus
Here’s how we do it. First of all, we need to understand that every
Christian is a witness.
I. Every Christian is a witness
The very last words Jesus spoke on earth before he zoomed back to heaven are
recorded in Acts 1:8. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit
comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
These final words of Jesus need a little explanation.
¨ Jesus promised that when he returned to heaven,
the Holy Spirit would come from heaven to earth to live inside and empower every
Christian. The Holy Spirit is God—just as much God as God the Father and
God the Son. Jesus had his own body but the Spirit lives in our bodies. If you
have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Holy spirit lives inside of
you. God lives inside of you. He gives to you all the power you need to live the
Christian life the way Jesus wants you to live.
¨ Jesus declared that every Christian would be a
witness for him. We would become his agents to get out his message and help
others to become Christians—to believe, to be born again, to join-up in the
kingdom and cause of Jesus.
¨ Jesus expected us to do this everywhere—starting
out from home and moving in concentric circles around the world. For the first
Christians, home was in Jerusalem. The area around Jerusalem was called Judea.
The next province over was named Samaria and from there it was on to the rest of
the world. This was not to be done one stage at a time but simultaneously—Christians
were to witness wherever they went and they were to send out some Christians to
people and places where they would not have otherwise gone.
¨ Jesus’ plan has been amazingly successful.
Christians are almost everywhere in the world. The desire of Jesus to have
believers in every nation, ethnic group and language is near fulfillment—probably
in this generation. The church of Jesus Christ has never been larger, stronger
or faster-growing than it is today.
¨ Acts 1:8
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends
of the earth."
Let’s move the discussion from the first century to the twenty-first
century and from everybody to us as individual disciples of Jesus. To be a
disciple is to be a witness. Every Christian is a witness for Jesus.
¨ Perhaps some of us think: "Not me!
I’m really not into this witness business. I don’t feel comfortable talking
to people about religion and certainly not trying to persuade someone to
convert. So, don’t count me on the witness list."
¨ Jesus didn’t say, "You may be my
witnesses—if you want to." Jesus said, "You will be my
witnesses." Everyone who is a Christian is a witness. That’s who we
are. That’s what a Christian does. We may be good witnesses or bad witnesses.
We may be effective witnesses or ineffective witnesses, but we are witnesses.
¨ Sunday afternoon (March 4, 2001) Charleen and I
are flying to India. In order to go we need our passports and a tourist
visa. From the moment we enter the country it is obvious that we are Americans.
It’s not about whether I want to be an American in India or not, that’s who
I am. I can embarrass my country or I can enhance my country’s reputation but
I am an American either way.
¨ Everywhere we go we are Christians; we are
disciples of Jesus Christ. At home, at work, driving down the Interstate, in
America or overseas, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. We witness to what
a Christians believes and does. Those who are not Christians listen to our
language, observe our morals, check-out what we believe and how we behave. We
Remember what a witness does. In a courtroom, a boardroom, a classroom or
a living room—a witness tells what she or he has experienced. We give the
powerful testimony of transformed lives through Jesus Christ.
As witnesses we show and tell others about ourselves. We tell about how
we decided to believe in Jesus. We tell about the difference he has made in our
lives. We tell about our struggles and doubts. We tell about our miracles and
victories and answered prayers. We don’t have to be evangelists or theologians—just
witnesses who tell about our personal experience with Jesus Christ. You may not
know all the Bible verses or have answers to the toughest questions but you are
an authority on your own experience. Just tell what has happened to you—you
will be amazed at the transforming impact of your personal faith story.
Every Christian is a witness. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a
witness. Every day in every way that is appropriate, tell others about Jesus
Christ and the difference he has made in your life.
II. Keep the message clear
In your witness, try to keep the message clear. Watch out for people
realizing that there is something special in your life but never finding out
that what is special is Jesus.
I have a friend who was greatly overweight. Her health as well as her
appearance were increasingly impacted by all those extra pounds. I didn’t see
her for a year or two and then we ran into each other one day. She wasn’t
overweight at all. She looked very different. I said, "It’s great to see
you. You look great." We talked for a while. Then she said, "Do you
remember how big I was?" Well, yeah, I remembered but I really didn’t
know what to say so I didn’t ask.
But she was very pleased by the change and wanted to tell me what happened.
She had major surgery. Her employer’s insurance carrier wouldn’t pay for it
so she and her husband had paid the money themselves at significant sacrifice.
Her life was changed and she wanted me to know what had happened.
The same goes for the changes brought by faith in Jesus Christ. Others
can see them but don’t always ask. Unless we speak up, they’ll never know.
As Christians who have been transformed by Jesus, we want them hear. It’s
important for us to make the message clear.
Here is the clear simple message:
¨ God loves us and wants to make us into the
very best we can be.
¨ God sent his Son (Jesus) to earth. Jesus
showed us how to live. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin. Jesus rose
from the dead to guarantee a place for us in heaven.
¨ God offers us the gift of eternal life. He
invites us to accept this gift by believing what the Bible says about Jesus,
accepting Jesus as our Savior from sin and committing to follow Jesus as our
Leader for the rest of our lives.
As disciples, we tell others that we did this and it worked for us. We
encourage others to do the same.
The rest is up to them and to God. God persuades, not us. They decide for
themselves. Our privilege is to tell, to encourage, to give support. But, the
final transaction is between each individual and God. Some become Christians
right away. Some take years to decide.
It is one of the greatest joys to a disciple’s life to share the good news
of Jesus and to see someone become a Christian.
Keep the message clear.
III. Use the team approach
And . . . use a team approach. One of the greatest benefits of being a
Christian is that we are in this together. As Christians, we worship together,
we celebrate together, we pray together, we give together, we learn together, we
serve together, we suffer together and we evangelize together.
Some people are natural salespersons. I’m not. When I was growing up
there were school projects where we were supposed to sell things to neighbors,
family and friends. There were times when my mother was my only successful sale.
I was scared walking up to a stranger’s door. My opening line was probably,
"You don’t want to buy this, do you?"
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the product or that I didn’t want to
make a sale. It’s just that I don’t do well alone. I need the support,
encouragement and help of others.
It’s the same way with recruiting more disciples for Jesus. Most of us do
much better as part of a team.
¨ One Christian makes friends with a neighbor
who is not a believer.
¨ Another Christian meets that neighbor at a summer
¨ Another Christian prays for the non-Christian
neighbor and recruits her small
group at church to pray as well.
¨ Another Christian meets the neighbor at work and
invites him and his wife to a
¨ Another Christian at the Bible study invites the
couple to join a co-ed softball
¨ Another Christian on the team invites them to
¨ Another Christian at church takes them out for
dinner and talks about becoming a
¨ Another Christian from the same church helps them
out in a family crisis.
¨ After two years of friendships, prayers,
conversations, crises and victories---the
neighbors come to personal faith in Jesus Christ and join the team of disciples.
¨ It was a team approach—every Christian doing his
or her part to share the gospel,
live the witness and win the unbeliever to Jesus Christ.
This past week:
¨ A woman told me about putting up a poster in
her apartment building inviting people to the Wooddale Church Lenten series.
¨ A man told me about three people he had led to
faith in Christ and his prayers for seven more.
¨ A mother told me about bringing her neighbor
friends to church.
¨ A Wooddaler shared with me a letter to a family
member explaining the gospel.
¨ An e-mail from a mom who explained to her son’s
friend how to be sure of going to heaven when he dies.
¨ A prayer request for a family member recently
diagnosed with terminal cancer—
not so much for a cure but to come to personal saving faith in Jesus.
¨ Story after story. Day after day. All Christians
on the team—sharing the
transforming Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you’re part of the team. Don’t drop
the ball. Share your faith. Do it in ways that fit you and your style. But do
it. Be a witness for Jesus Christ.
For seven weeks we have talked and dreamed and prayed and committed to become
Jesus’ disciples. Today this series ends but discipleship goes on.
Here is the challenge:
¨ Affirm your
personal faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord
¨ Read the Bible regularly
¨ Pray daily
¨ Worship weekly with other Christians
¨ Serve others
¨ Give faithfully and generously
¨ Share the good new of Jesus Christ
Is it your heart’s desire to become a disciple of Jesus? Will you
strive to live out these seven commitments? I invite you to commit to God and
remember today’s date.
Congratulations—you are a disciple of Jesus Christ!
March 3-4, 2001 Wooddale Church
© Leith Anderson 2001