Fresh – Disciple Making

Fresh Disciple Making

Matthew 28:16-20

Covenant Sunday

Sunday 26th January 2020

Simple fresh disciple making process.

1 All authority is given to me – Jesus not us. The Crown series. State and church authority and then God’s authority.

In his risen form we need to understand that when he spoke it was with great authority in His risen form.

2. Go into all the world – the world is my parish John Wesley

Make disciples – you have nothing to do but to save souls – 12 rules of a helper.

  1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed a moment. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time; neither spend any more time at any place than is strictly necessary.
  2. Be serious. Let your motto be, “Holiness to the Lord.” Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.
  3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women; particularly, with young women.
  4. Take no step toward marriage, without first consulting with your brethren.
  5. Believe evil of no one; unless you see it done, take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction on every- thing. You know the Judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.
  6. Speak evil of no one; else your word especially would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast, till you come to the person concerned.
  7. Tell every one what you think wrong in him, and that plainly, as soon as may be; else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.
  8. Do not affect the gentleman. You have no more to do with this character than with that of a dancing-master. A Preacher of the gospel is the servant of all.
  9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin: Not of fetching wood (if time permit) or drawing water; not of cleaning your own shoes, or your neighbour’s.
  10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And in general, do not mend our Rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience’ sake.
  11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And remember! A Methodist Preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline! Therefore you will need all the sense you have, and to have all your wits about you!
  12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel. As such, it is your part to employ your time in the manner which we direct; partly, in preaching and visiting from house to house; partly, in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful that you should do that part of the work which we advise, at those times and places which we judge most for his glory.

3. Baptise – Father Son and Holy Spirit – remember that Wesley and the early Methodist movement was involved in a world where people’s lives needed to be turned around.

 What happens when someone is baptized? The question is important not only because baptism is the ritual that marks entrance into the Christian Church, but also because different strands of the larger Christian tradition have come to different conclusions with regard to the meaning of baptism. Is it primarily a sign of faith? Is it an instrument of God’s grace to us? Should it be given to adult believers only? Or are the children of believers proper candidates for baptism? Well, we won’t answer all these questions today, but since a couple of recent posts (here and here) have dealt with John Wesley’s “Treatise on Baptism,” I thought I’d keep the topic going and share Wesley’s account of the benefits of baptism. One question you may want to ask along the way is this: Who, for Wesley, is the primary actor in baptism? God? Or the baptized? 

3.1. Guilt Cleared

 For Wesley, baptism clears the guilt of original sin, a doctrine Wesley believed wholeheartedly and which asserts that every person comes into the world in a state of brokenness and guilt. No one starts off in a right relationship with God. Baptism deals with that handicap and paves the way for further workings of grace. Wesley points to scripture, the baptismal liturgy, and the ancient fathers to make his case.

 3.2. New Covenant Status

 Baptism brings us into covenant with God. Whether infant or adult, baptism marks a person’s

entrance into the new covenant. It is God’s everlasting commitment, Wesley says, “to be their God, as he promised to Abraham, in the evangelical covenant which he made with him and all his spiritual offspring” (II.2.). Wesley here sees baptism as analogous to circumcision in that it is a covenant sign, but also surpassing circumcision as the sign of the realized new covenant.

 3.3. Church Entrance

Baptism also marks a person’s entrance into the Church. For Wesley, the sacrament incorporates a person into the body of Christ, who is the head of the Church. He points here to Galatians 3:27, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” This is one of the key ways that Wesley understands baptism as a means of grace. Grace is nothing more or less than Jesus. To be baptized is to be connected to the Church, which is to be connected to Christ, which is to be worked on by his grace as we participate in its privileges and the promises Christ has made to it. 

3.4. Made a Child of God

Now this one will make evangelical types squirm a little (or a lot!). I should know. It does me, at least a little. But Wesley believed that “By baptism, we who were ‘by nature children of wrath’ are made children of God” (II.4). Wesley was apparently quite comfortable using the language of baptism alongside the language of regeneration: “By water then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again” (II.2). He was comfortable with this because he found it in the Bible. Check out Titus 3:5, to which Wesley appeals along with John 3:5. He was, after all, homo unius libri. Now if you believe that salvation, once given, cannot be lost, this is going to feel a lot like some sort of legalistic works righteousness, where you do something to gain God’s favour. Remember, though, that Wesley didn’t have a “once saved, always saved” theology. Grace must always be responded to with faith; otherwise salvation can be lost. Note the conditional statement he makes later in the treatise, “Baptism doth now save us, if we live answerable thereto; if we repent, believe, and obey the gospel” (II.4., emphasis added). To put it differently, the means of grace are only effective for salvation when received through faith in Christ. So, his theology of baptismal regeneration does not mean that a person will necessarily be fully and finally saved. It simply means that God is working in them by grace to renew them in a substantial way that must be received by faith, lest they fall away and lose this benefit of their baptism. 

3.5. Heirs of the Kingdom

If baptism makes us children of God, then it also makes us heirs of the kingdom of God. Wesley turns to Romans 8:17 to make this point: “if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But again, don’t make the mistake of thinking Wesley believed that inheritance could not be forfeited. 

In summary

Well, there you go. Baptism according Wesley. Grounded in scripture. Shaped by worship. Striving to hold fast the ancient faith.

taught by early Methodism and the Christian church from its earliest history:

(1) “… baptism is by water and the Spirit” (John 3:5, Acts 2:38).

(2) “God bestows upon baptized persons the presence of the Holy Spirit, marks them with an identifying seal as God’s own, and implants in their hearts the first instalment of their inheritance as sons and daughters of God” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

(3) “Since the Apostolic Age, baptism by water and baptism of the Holy Spirit have been connected” (Acts 19:1-7).

(4) “The use of water in baptism also symbolizes cleansing from sin, death to the old life, and rising to begin new life in Christ.”112

Conclusion

Early Methodist views of water and Spirit baptism are supported by historical evidence that reaches back to the earliest history of the Christian Church. Water baptism historically considered is an outward and visible sign of Spirit baptism. The two were connected and considered to be initiatory events in the conversion of believers.

4. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. 

There is a powerful statement here which demands that we continue to be learners in the faith and to understand the basics of what we believe. I am sure that there are many who have no real understanding of what they believe and because of this a shallow faith occurs. Bible in One Year and the notes of Nicky and Pippa Gumbel are outstanding.

5. I am with you.

These last words are the most assuring of all. Don’t try and do this alone – I have left my Spirit with you to guide you and to guard your heart and so to be filled with the Holy Spirit is essential for our Christian walk.

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