This booklet is the fourth in a series on basic discipleship principles for men.
The first booklet in this series focused on becoming a new creation by grace, through trusting in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. We then learned that coming to faith in Christ is only the beginning of our journey with him. God also wants to become more like Christ in our thoughts, words, and deeds. The third booklet reminded us that because we are new creatures in Christ and are increasingly becoming like him, we will joyfully and obediently follow him as our Lord.
In this booklet, we will look at what it means to bear witness for Christ in every sphere of life. If Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth, then we, as his ambassadors, will follow him wherever he leads us. We will want to represent him in the varied areas of our lives. In so doing, we will make an impact for him in our homes, workplaces, churches, neighborhoods, cities, and even our wider culture and world.
This resource can be used for your personal devotional time with God. I hope, however, that you will also use it to disciple other men. It will also be helpful to use in your small group.
It is my prayer God will use this booklet to equip and encourage you to faithfully represent our gracious Lord and extend his Kingdom into every sphere of your life.
You can order it or learn more about it by clicking here, which will take you to Lulu.com.
Character Then Influence
In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, John Stott reminds his readers that if Matthew 5:3-12 (the Beatitudes) is about a Christian’s character, then Matthew 5:13-16 is about a Christian’s influence in this world. I have always loved the words of Matthew 5:13-16, which describe Christian influence as salt and light. These words of Jesus point us toward the right balance of inward piety and outward action.
It’s important to note, Jesus doesn’t tell us to go out and be salt and light. He declares we already are salt and light. As men who have experienced new birth, we are now new creatures in Christ whose character is increasingly reflected in the Beatitudes. To paraphrase the Apostle Peter, we are holy so we should go and be holy. We are to “go be who we already are,” Jesus and Peter teach us.
I love this text because it strikes an important connection and balance between inward piety and outward action. The inward and private pursuit of the devotional life, of spiritual introspection and reflection is vital, but if it never moves one forward to “live” the life of Christ in the world then it can become an empty and useless form of asceticism. A person can become quickly self-absorbed in their own stuff if their piety never leaves the prayer closet or Bible study. I hasten to add that, in my opinion, this is not the greatest threat to the church today. Would that more people spent greater time in the prayer closet and Bible study. That leads me to the other side of the coin.
As important as outward action (good works) is, if godly character is not undergirding and directing it, then it can become nothing more than the cause de jour. And that can morph into a self-centered, legalistic way for a man to build himself up, and become a judgmental, finger-wagging Pharisee. Not only that, without the knowledge of Christ and the godly character that comes from that relationship, such action can quickly lead to burnout and disillusionment because, to paraphrase Jesus in John 15, the branch was attempting to do all the work without being connected to the vine. Thus, the branch lacked sustenance, power, and direction.
The Role of the Church
To live as salt and light means disciples of Jesus Christ must exercise the godly influence of the Kingdom of God in the midst of the decay and darkness of the Kingdom of this world. A ministry of discipleship should include educating, equipping, and encouraging followers of Jesus Christ to take up his call to extend his Kingdom into every sphere of their lives as salt and light.
It's a both/and proposition: local churches should teach disciples how to build up their own faith and character so they can faithfully live as salt and light. So too should they equip and encourage their members to live out that faithfulness at home with their families, among friends, in the schools, at work, church, in their neighborhoods, communities, city or town, or even in the broader culture or world. A discipleship ministry should focus on both inward piety and outward action. This is how the church can faithfully minister as salt and light in today’s world.
* What are two ways you are growing in inward piety toward God and in the character of Christ?
* What are some ways your inward spiritual growth is showing up as salt and light in the various spheres of your life?
* What are three specific ways you can be more intentional about being a “Kingdom influence” where God has placed you? Share those ideas with a friend and pray together.
Grace and Truth,
Featuring R.C. Sproul
Produced by Ligonier Ministries
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Featuring Ken Boa
Check out more at KenBoa.org
A great piece by T.M. Moore on a multifaceted understanding of the biblical vision of justice.
from The Fellowship of Ailbe
Biblical justice has five harmonious facets, and they're all good.
The Law is Good (4)
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16.18-20
God’s harmony on earth
The harmony of God, which is an aspect of His goodness, consists in the effective, cooperative, and fruitful working together of the three Persons of the Trinity, each according to His unique office, and all together in a spiritual symphony of unity, order, creativity, holiness, and love. There is no discord or dissonance in the divine Godhead, only a perfect and harmonious song of love.
The Law of God encodes the harmony of God like a musical score encodes the mind of its composer. As a musical composition plays out, we delight in the many and varied harmonies combining and blending musical lines, instruments, rhythms, and motifs into one transcendent experience of goodness.
When the harmony of the Godhead plays out through the Law of God, it takes the form of justice. All the Law of God is just (“righteous,” Rom. 7.12), and it provides justice for all members of a community and all aspects of that community’s life. Justice is the harmonious good will of God coming to expression in relationships, roles, and responsibilities. A society is just when harmony exists as God intends, and the community in which justice flourishes abounds in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Lord.
No wonder justice has such a high priority in the mind of God. The harmony of justice encoded in God’s Law can be seen in the five facets of justice outlined in the Law.
Click here to read the article.
Check out this great video lesson from Tony Evans on what it means to be a "Kingdom man." This video is based on Dr. Evans' book by the same title. You can click here to order it or learn more about it.
by T.M. Moore
from The Fellowship of Ailbe
Seeking the Kingdom of God must be the highest priority for every believer in Jesus Christ. If it’s not yours, it’s because you do not understand the Kingdom, or you do not believe it is as important, as glorious, or as powerful and transforming as the Scriptures teach.
The Kingdom of God is Jesus Christ, breaking into human experience by His Word and Spirit, through His Church. It is a spiritual domain, which King Jesus is advancing by His Word and Spirit, in and through the people of God, by and for the glory of God. Where the Kingdom of God is increasing, the goodness of the Lord – His righteousness, peace, and joy – is evident in a wide variety of ways.
The progress of the Kingdom has been more or less visible in different places and times, depending on the extent to which God’s people are faithful in their calling to seek it. In our day, in our country, among the followers of Jesus Christ, the presence of the Kingdom is increasingly marginalized, as churches proclaim a weak and truncated gospel of “near Christianity” rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles.
Click here to read more.
Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Philippians 2:9-11 - Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Compartmentalized Living Won't Do
I remember when I first started using the phrase, “faith for every sphere of life.” It began as I started studying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It just made sense that if Jesus Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, then he is Lord of everything. And if he is the Lord of all there is, then I must submit to him in every sphere of my life, or else I should stop calling him Lord. Jesus said as much in Luke 6:46,
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? (NRSV)
This notion is in marked contrast to the way many people think and live, including myself in the early days of my faith. I, like plenty of other folks, had long been an adherent of a compartmentalized faith. Men, you know the drill: the Christian faith is fine for Sunday mornings, but it has nothing to do with the rest of your life. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that’s where I was.
Personal, Not Private
Instead, the Christian faith should be understood as a comprehensive view of life. The secular world around us, however, still prefers the church to remain silent about anything not having to do with personal prayers and worship on Sunday mornings. Faith, they say, is private. Sure, you can practice it at home, or even with other Christians on Sunday mornings, but don’t you dare bring it into the public square. Jesus, however, doesn't give us that option. The Christian faith certainly ought to be personal, but it should never be private. To paraphrase the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, "there is not a square inch in all the universe about which the Lord Jesus Christ does not declare his own.”
As a United Methodist, I have rejoiced that John Wesley took just such a view of the Christian faith. He called it Scriptural Holiness and said it was his purpose in life to spread such Scriptural Holiness over the land. For Wesley, holiness was inward but also outward. It was personal and it was social. There was no picking and choosing. Faith must permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life – prayer, personal devotions, worship, marriage, parenting, work, economics, politics, education, the arts, personal morality, relationships, civic duty, and serving the community, just to name a few spheres of life.
This Includes Your Life
I encourage you to prayerfully ask yourself what it would mean for you to understand there is not even the smallest corner of your life about which Jesus Christ, as Lord, is unconcerned. How would acknowledging and submitting to that truth change your life? How would it bless your relationship with your family and friends? What consequences would it have for you in your workplace? Can you imagine the possibilities? Brothers, Christ is calling you to follow him in every sphere of your lives. Do you hear his voice? Will you follow him?
· Look again at those questions in the last paragraph. They are not rhetorical. They are questions Christ requires we ask ourselves, as well as answer. More than that, we must live out those answers before a world in desperate need of godly men.
· Write down as many “spheres” of your life as you can think of. Which of those spheres are you submitting to the Lord? Which ones are you keeping from him? Why?
· How would submitting to Christ’s lordship in those spheres of life change the way you are living your life in those areas? Be as specific as possible.
· Write your answers to each of those questions down in a journal or on an index card. Then pray over them, asking God to lead you to greater faithfulness. Meet with some accountability partners and discuss the questions and your answers and then pray about how each of you can help one another in this pursuit.
Lord of heaven and earth, remind me this day that there is not a square inch in all the universe about which you are unconcerned. While I rejoice that I have seen changes in my life through the gracious work of your Spirit, please show me those areas I am attempting to keep from you. Convict me of my sin and rebellion in those areas and turn my hard heart to flesh and joyful obedience. Please let my life faithfully bear witness to you as I serve as your ambassador to other men who are struggling with handing you the reigns in their lives. Together, may we extend your glorious Kingdom into every sphere of life here on earth, as it already is in heaven. In the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords I pray. Amen.
The Fellowship of Ailbe
Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
C.S. Lewis Institute
The Gospel Coalition
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Every Square Inch Ministries
Gene Edward Veith
Center for Cultural Leadership
Church and Culture