My previous post concerned an acknowledgement that we as Christians are not making disciples (for the most part) and that there are a few common reasons why we aren’t. Some of these reasons include fear, lack of trust in Jesus, and the thought that the Great Commission is a special calling for some instead of a divine command for all. A fourth reason I gave is that we do not know what to say. With all of this in mind and with slight sensitivity toward our cowardice and awkwardness regarding discipleship, I believe there are three things we can do to combat fear, lack of trust, and in particularly the “discipler’s block” that we fear when we resolve to approach someone with the gospel. The first thing we can do is radically read the Word. Under this we should meticulously meditate on the Word.
Firstly, understand that reading and meditating are not the same. I believe that we should read and meditate. There is a place and purpose for reading and a place and purpose for meditating. These means of grace should not be abandoned and should become a daily discipline in the life of a disciple of Christ.
Next, it is vital to understand the biblical emphasis on our need to read and meditate on Scripture. Reading and meditating on the Word is abiding in Christ. Jesus is more than clear on the importance of this: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). In order for obedience to Christ to even be possible, we must be rooted to Christ and we must abide in him, the “True Vine” (John 15:1). We are proven to be disciples of Christ by our fruit which results from abiding in Christ (15:8). Therefore, we cannot even begin to think about making disciples if we are not abiding in Christ. If we are not reading and meditating on the Word of God, we can forget about making disciples. However, this ignorance of Bible reading and meditation does not excuse us. It only proves us to be foolish. It is eternally vital that we read and meditate on Scripture for it shows who we are rooted in and without it, we will not obey Christ. And an absence of obedience to Christ (producing fruit) may just be evidence that we are not rooted in Christ. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (15:2). The Father is the vinedresser (15:1) and he sanctifies his followers (prunes his branches) so that they may bear more fruit. Likewise, this great Vinedresser removes all branches that do not bear fruit. This is a grave warning to all who are in the local church and are doing “church things” or at one time “repeated after me”, but are not producing any spiritual fruit. No fruit indicates that you are not connected to the true vine. So it is imperative that we abide in Christ and so produce fruit in order to be continually pruned by our loving Vinedresser. So, how important is it that we read and meditate on the Word of God? Eternally important. Faith in Christ always results in good works. These works result from abiding in Christ. To abide in Christ is to read and meditate on the Word of God. Now, practically, how do we do this?
Okay, we know that we are commanded by Jesus to abide in him and that by abiding in him, we will produce fruit—real spiritual fruit including making disciples. But how do we read and meditate on the Word? Well, just read it! When I say this, I do not mean anything else. Just read it. Get on a reading plan and read! Read when you feel like and read when you don’t. I suggest reading in Matthew. You could also read in Romans. Work in a Psalm every day–just for the sake of joy. Here is an example of how you could read:
Day 1: Read Matthew 1, Romans 1, and Psalm 1.
Day 2: Read Matthew 2, Romans 2, and Psalm 2
You may think this is a lot of reading, but if you are to take Jesus seriously and be determined to make disciples on a daily basis, you must be rooted in gospel truth. You must stand on the firm foundation of God’s Word. You do not have to read this way. You could begin in Genesis and read chronologically. There are multiple reading plans that you could get on. Choosing a certain reading plan is not the issue. The issue is discipline. You must discipline yourself to read daily. Wake up early. Read a passage. Then move on. Read when you feel like it and read when you do not feel like it. Do not let your emotions or mood determine your commitment to abide in Christ. You are commanded to abide in Christ. Read his Word and he will fill your heart with joy. It is a joyful delight to commune with God. You will be blessed and much more prepared and ready to proclaim the gospel and disciple others. By knowing God more through reading his Word, you will be more eager to discuss the truth of his Word with others. In order to have “Bible slang”, you must read the language. But seriously, just read out of multiple books every day. You could read out of two Old Testament books and two New Testament books. The important thing is that you read. Submit to Christ and obey him by abiding in him by reading.
Not only should you read the Bible, but you should meditate on it. Study the Bible. How do you plan on teaching a new disciple to study the Bible if you do not know how to? Take time (like an hour) to sit and just think about the passage you have read. Maybe read the first 17 verses of Romans a couple of times and then read them verse by verse considering what they say about God and man. Look for commands. Look for truths pertaining to your life as a born-again believer. Consult a study Bible (the ESV Study Bible is the best) and write your own notes. Write any questions that you have. Underline, circle, and highlight. Think about the glory of God in the text you are studying. Meditation is a glorious means of grace that allows you to have communion with God and truly seek God in his Word. When you take time to meticulously meditate on passages in the Bible, you will be able to remember exactly where certain passages are located on the pages of your Bible. It will be an emotional experience. During meditation you should also memorize Scripture. Meditation and Scripture memorization are means of grace to battle temptation and will greatly aid in your confusion about what to say when you resolve to make disciples.
The more you meditate on the Word of God, the more confident you will be in knowing what to say to someone without Christ. It will be clear to you what they need because you have seen that without Christ we are guilty before God because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) and “no one is righteous” (Rom. 3:10). Sin must be punished and the punishment is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). After exposing their sin, you will be able to joyfully expound on the good news you have read and meditated on in Scripture. You will not be giving your own thoughts, but you will be exhorting them in the truth of the Lord. You will tell them that God, in his infinite love and steadfast mercy, sent his Son to live and die in the place of sinners. He became our curse and by his death, God punished him on account of our sin and because of his death, God can justify all who believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, for not by works of the law, but by grace through faith you are saved (Isaiah 53; John 3:16; Rom. 3:21-26; 5:8; Gal. 3:10-14; Eph. 2:5). Christ rose from the dead to defeat death and destruction—he defeated sin and Satan. Believe in his name and you will reign with him as an heir to the Kingdom.
Read daily. Meditate daily. The fear of not knowing what to say will subside the more you read and the more you meditate. God will be glorified and your joy will be full. Know God more and you will desire for others to know him. For the worship of Christ among the nations, read and meditate. For the sake of Christ’s name and fame among the nations, read and meditate. Because Christ has commanded you, read and meditate. Just read. Just meditate.
By His Grace — For His Glory — For Our Joy