Step Nine – Delegating to a Strong Team

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

 DELEGATING – Step 9

 Building a Strong Team

 Who do you have on your team?

2 Timothy 2:2 “‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’”

Paul reminds Timothy that he cannot do all the work of ministry on his own. He needs to build up disciples to delegate the work of disciple-making as this is a team effort. This is why Martin Luther teaches that all believers are “priests” who forgive sins, proclaim the truth of God’s Word, and share the love and grace of Jesus.

Disciples Making Disciples

Luther understood the importance of building an enthusiastic team to share God’s Word. He translated the Bible into the language of the people, involved people in singing hymns and prayer during worship, provided a Catechism for parents to use with their children on the basics of faith, and made theology a requirement of both public and college education.

The call to make disciples is the call of God’s church. We are to engage people with truth and help people gain a better understanding of who God is and what He has done for them. The work of discipleship begins in the home and continues in the church.

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Step Eight – Teaching the Truth

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

TEACHING – Step 8

 Which is more important: Instructing or Teaching?

 Teaching by Example

Titus 2:3 “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”

Making disciples involves more than a 10-step program in a blog post. In this verse Paul is telling Titus to teach the older women in the church because their example will be observed by others. Children learn by observing the behavior of siblings and parents. This is why examples and modeling are important.

Teaching God's Word

There is a difference between giving instructions and teaching. You do not need a degree in education to give instructions, make presentations or give directions. Teaching involves motivating, asking essential questions, nurturing passion for a subject, helping students to understand abstract concepts, providing applications, developing skills, creating decision-making activities, evaluating information, analyzing perspectives, discerning what is learned.

Teaching discipleship requires enthusiasm, personal experiences, and expressions of love. We teach discipleship by greeting others, inviting, praying, sharing personal stories, helping, serving, and in countless other ways. After all, God’s Word is designed for ALL creatures – and is not limited by culture, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, educational level, or anything else!

Martin Luther preached the following on Christmas Eve in 1522: “The first consideration in this lesson is, Paul teaches what should be the one theme of Titus and of every other preacher, namely, Christ. The people are to be taught who Christ is, why He came and what blessings His coming brought us. “The grace of God hath appeared,” the apostle says, meaning God’s grace is clearly manifest. How was it manifested? By the preaching of the apostles it was proclaimed worldwide. Previous to Christ’s resurrection, the grace of God was unrevealed. Christ dwelt only among the Jews and was not yet glorified. But after His ascension He gave to men the Holy Spirit. Concerning the Spirit, He testified (John 16:14) that the Spirit of truth, whom He should send, would glorify Him.

After His ascension He caused them to be proclaimed in public preaching throughout the world–to all men. Nor did He permit the revelation to be made as a mere proclamation of a fact, as a rumor or a report; it was appointed to bring forth fruit in us. It is a revelation and proclamation that teaches us to deny–to reject–ungodly things, all earthly lusts, all worldly desires, and thenceforward lead a sober, righteous and godly life….According to the text, this grace has appeared, is proclaimed, to all men. Christ commanded in Mark 16:15 that the Gospel be preached to all creatures throughout the whole world.”

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Step Seven – Engaging Others

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

ENGAGING – Step 7

 How do you define or describe an active disciple?

 How many people follow your news feed? 

John 1:45 “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”

 When Philip encountered Jesus and discovered who He was, he immediately wanted to share it with his friend, Nathanael. Our desire to make disciples should stem from obedience, but also love for others—if we believe Jesus is who He says He is, we cannot be complacent.

Jesus-Andrew-Philip-jesus

According to a survey by The Institute for American Church Growth, family and friends are the main link for bringing others to faith in Christ with about 60% of those asked, “What person was it that led you to come to faith in Christ?”, reporting that it was a family member or friend.

Jesus says to each one of us. “Come!” This is how we are called to faith. We share the happiest events in our lives – births, graduations, promotions, awards, weddings, vacations with family and friends – and faith in Jesus Christ should be the most important celebration in our life because it changes everything!

The essential answer to all our questions about life is in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. When we share this answer with others we are proclaiming, witnessing, and demonstrating engagement as an active disciple. We are modeling Philip by sharing the joy and excitement that comes with the peace and understanding about the perspective of life that is known through the gift of faith in Jesus. When we know who Jesus is and why He came into our civilization, the way we talk and live is changed.

witnessBeing an active disciple is sharing our lives with a friend and ice cream and coffee

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

 

Step Six – Sharing Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

SHARING – Step 6 

Why is it necessary for someone to “hear” God’s Word? 

Technology supports disciples!

Romans 10:14–15. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

Paul highlights the importance of making disciples by pointing out that we believe in Jesus because someone shared the gospel with us. Making disciples stems from our own faith—which we have because someone shared the gospel with us.

Hearing God's Word

However, in keeping with his reading of Paul, Luther and other first-generation reformers wondered how anyone can hear the gospel without someone to proclaim it (Romans 10:14). Paul’s answer is that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

Luther highlights the significance of the preacher’s responsibility and asserts that the priesthood of all believers enables every Christian to proclaim God’s Word and the promise of salvation. The priesthood of all believers means that all Christians have access to Scripture and to God through Jesus Christ. It does not mean that just anyone should assume the preaching office. The preacher should be someone who has both natural abilities and a divine calling.

For Luther, there is a joining of Word and sacrament along with the benefits of Christ through the Spirit. Christ, through the Spirit, enters one’s heart through a voice and each person who hears the sermon and accepts it takes the whole Christ into his or her heart.

This presence of God through preaching is “as great a miracle as here in the sacrament.” Therefore, the Word preached is sacramental in nature, and serves as the basis for the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. What the Holy Spirit achieves through the preaching of the Word is nothing less than the work of salvation. Our salvation begins not with any work of our own but by hearing the Word of life.

The 21st century offers a variety of technologies for hearing the Word of God through media, podcasts, email, blogs, newsletters, and publications. The importance of preaching and speaking God’s Word to family, friends, colleagues, students, strangers is also shared through greeting cards, prayer partners, art and music. Active disciples are enabled by the Holy Spirit to nurture what is heard and experienced into a faith that guarantees salvation.

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Some of the perspective of this post are taken from an article by Keith Stanglin, published by Pepperdine Digital Commons, 2004. https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1397&context=leaven

Step Five – Witnessing for Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

 WITNESSING – Step 5

 Why do we need witnesses?

 Disciples provide us with information that is real truth!

Acts 1:8 “‘But 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.’”

witness

A disciple is a witness who shares what he or she has learned and experienced about Jesus. A witness helps to determine the truth about an event. Disciples are witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that God’s Word as written in the Holy Bible is the truth. This fundamental fact defies reason which is why humans cannot understand or accept the resurrection, even with historical documentation. In fact, the people in Paul’s congregation in Corinth denied the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It can only be understood and accepted through faith. This is why Luther wrote

“But here you notice how Paul adduces Scripture as his strongest proof, for there is no other enduring way of preserving our doctrine and our faith than the physical or written Word, poured into letters and preached orally by him or others; for here we find it stated clearly; “Scripture! Scripture!”‘

The Lutheran Reformation is all about, the truth of God’s Word. Peter confessed his faith when Jesus asked him what he believed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul wrote, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Step Four – Following Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

FOLLOWING – Step 4

 Why did these fishermen respond to Jesus immediately and without hesitation?

 Are you Walking, Jogging, or Running?

Matthew 4:19-20  “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

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The church is people and God uses their gifts to accomplish things in our world, help others in challenging times, and share love in unexpected ways. This is why it is important for everyone who is a disciple and follower of Jesus to connect with people by speaking God’s Words of love, forgiveness, and acceptance. We speak, we model, we listen, and we share. When the Spirit brings one to faith, the response is similar to what happened in the Bible verse above – people change what they are doing without hesitation!

Martin Luther considered ordinary people with faith to be the priesthood of believers. This was a bold and provocative concept to teach because ordained priests required years of training. Martin Luther understood the meaning of disciples as ordinary people who are reading God’s Word, praying to God, and living their lives in obedience to Jesus Christ.

This is why disciples start by walking and talking, increase their pace by jogging and sharing, and running and winning the race for life for Jesus. Life is a marathon for love!

Comment: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Step Three – Called by Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

 CALLING – Step 3

 Why did Jesus call you to be one of His disciples?

 I am Spiritually Empowered!

John 15:16 “‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.’”

Jesus chose His disciples for a purpose which is why we need to be connected to Him as branches are part of the vine. Through reading God’s Word, prayer, repentance, worship, and receiving the Lord’s Supper we mature and bear fruit. We were called to faith and baptized for a reason – to be a 21st century disciple!

Martin Luther explained that there were two realms in the universe, the realm of the flesh and the realm of the spirit, the secular and the religious, the regnum mundi and the regnum Christi, the things of the world and the things of God. The realm of the flesh included not only physical nature but also the fields of philosophy, mathematics, law, history, and what we call the social sciences, indeed the whole man and the whole world ‘apart from Christ’.

Our knowledge of history and life is limited by facts, empirical examples, and important lessons. The social sciences are not able to educate me as a spiritually empowered person because this comes through the study of God’s Word, reading, talking with friends, listening to sermons and podcasts, prayer, personal experiences, and life-changing situations.

A new perspective might be to understand contemporary discipleship as God calling us to become entrepreneurs in doing His business – which satisfy needs instead of wants. Each of us has been given spiritual gifts to use for this purpose. When we hear that God calls or chooses us, we believe. Because we know Jesus Christ, we have the gift of love! It is intimate, personal, and precious!

Imagine a world where people desire a relationship with Jesus as much as they desire a handbag, shoes, concerts or sports!

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

 

Step Two – Loving Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

 LOVING – Step 2

 How is LOVE the mission statement of every Christian?

 What is your role in making a difference in the life of another person?

Ephesians 4:16   From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

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When you become a follower of Jesus, you become part of Christ’s body. The body of Christ depends on each member doing the work. We were each made for a particular purpose and as disciples we all play a role in connecting people with Jesus Christ.

We change the way people think and behave through love. Disciples change the way people think and behave by loving as Christ loved – sacrificing His life for us. Because we believe, are baptized, and have received God’s gift of grace in our life, we understand our family history as the brother or sister of Jesus Christ.

When we are part of the body of Christ, joined together by every ligament, blood vessel, and bone, we are able to walk in love. Our thinking is no longer limited to political correctness, accumulating consumer treasures, or understanding success by our title, educational level, or assets. Instead, we understand that all blessings come from God through Jesus Christ and that we are managers of the generous blessings given to us.

Martin Luther explains to us that every believer has a calling and vocation and is to live ‘in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called’. In Luther’s view the believer is a priest to the body – the church. This is a powerful explanation and statement about how a disciple or follower of Jesus Christ thinks and engages with others. We respond with passion and enthusiasm, commitment and trust. We walk in love when our vision is perfect!

Like faith, love is a gift given to us from God.

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

 

Step One – Believing in Jesus

The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022

The Digital Disciples Series

 BELIEVING – Step 1

 How does a 21st century disciple look?

 Getting ready for an extreme makeover!

Mark 16:15 “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”

making-disciples-making-a-difference-logo2

The following perspective is from a sermon Martin Luther preached on Ascension Day in 1523:

“Moreover, the sign of baptism is given us also to show that God Himself will help us, and that we should be certain of His grace, and that everyone be able to say: Hereunto did God give me a sign, that I should be assured of my salvation, which He has promised me in the Gospel. For He has given us the Word, that is, the written document; and beside the Word, baptism, that is the seal. So faith, which apprehends the Word, may be strengthened by the sign and seal.

But you see no work of man in this transaction; for baptism is not my work but God’s. He that baptized me stands in God’s stead and does not the work of a man, but rather it is God’s hand and work. God is the real worker. Therefore, I may and should say: God, my Lord, baptized me Himself, by the hand of a man.

Through faith I obtain so much that nothing is impossible to me. If it were necessary and conducive to the spreading of the Gospel, we could do easily the signs; but since it is not necessary, we do not do them. For Christ does not teach that Christians practice the spectacular, but He says they have the power and can do these things. And we have many such promises throughout the Scriptures; for example, in James 14:12, where Christ says: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”

What does it mean, then, to believe the resurrection of Christ, this thing which is so important, and concerning which the disciples were called unbelieving and faithless, and without which nothing else that they believed would help them?

To believe the resurrection of Christ, is nothing else than to believe that we have a Mediator before God. Who is Christ, who makes us holy and acceptable to God the Father. For man’s possessions, by birth and nature, are but sin and corruption, by which He brings down upon Himself the wrath of God. There is always enmity between God and the natural man and they cannot be friends and in harmony with one another.

For this cause, Christ became man and took upon Himself our sins and also the wrath of the Father, and drowned them both in Himself, thus reconciling us to God the Father. Without this faith, we are children of wrath, able to do no good work that is pleasing to God, nor can our prayers be acceptable before Him.”

This is how we should see the face of a disciple: A disciple is baptized, forgiven, loving, capable of doing good, faithful and obedient to God’s Word, holy, and feeling helpless and in need of God’s help. A disciple is loving, nurturing, studying, listening, praying, and sharing words of hope. Discipleship evolves from a proximity of presence within relationships. We have faith – it is God’s gift to us and impossible to understand because of the limits of human reasoning and cognitive learning.

 

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

Restoring Life to Jairus’ Daughter

Healing the Sick Woman and Restoring Life to Jairus’ Daughter

 Mark 5:21-43   21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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 The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max (1878)

Miracles presented a problem for artists because of the difficulty in capturing the main point of the event and the atmosphere surrounding the event. In this painting we do not see the desperation of the family and friends whose young daughter has died. Jesus is not the focal point of the painting and is lost in the darkness. Our attention is on the young girl dressed in white but still sleeping and lifeless. Miracles were a problem for people living in the Enlightenment because they denied the natural order of things. Thomas Jefferson edited the Bible and removed the stories of miracles from it. The message of the Bible in the 18th and 19th centuries was on morality rather than faith.

Is it important to see the figure of Christ or the miracle of the young girl coming to life? How would Jesus feel about his place in this painting? As you read the Bible verses and analyze the painting, what is the most important part of the story?

Luther: “These are the words of such a teacher. And He is worthy of being believed by the faithful. He must say: ‘To me, death is not death, but a sleep. In My sight, no one dies; but all are only sleeping.’ We must answer: ‘Amen, my Lord. I believe. Help me believe, my Christ. You do not lie.’ It is Your gift that I do not lie to myself, but believe firmly that I cannot die eternally; the fact that I die means that I shall sleep for a time. Only give me this faith. You are the one who says to these crowds and flute players: ‘Go away,’ so that they will go away and stop troubling and ridiculing this faith of mine. Unless You tell them to go away, I shall be unable to stand against them. Meanwhile, I shall believe that when I die I shall not die, but fall asleep; that when I am dead I am still living, because I live to You, whom I believe. And You are the one who makes alive, You who say concerning me: ‘He is not dead; rather, to me he is living and is sleeping for a time until I awaken him so that he may be alive to himself as well.’”

According to Robert Kolb in Luther and the Stories of God, Christ sees the world differently than we do. David had seen himself as a poor shepherd, and so had the world, but Christ viewed him as a king.  We see ourselves as sinners but Christ sees us as saints. Jesus speaks two words ‘Talitha koum’ and a dead girl gets up! (p. 80)

Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org