This is the message I preached at the White Unto Harvest Conference:
Texts to Consider:
• Mat 22:36-40 ESV - "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (37) And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment. (39) And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (40) On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
• Mat 16:24 ESV - Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
• Mat 28:18-20 ESV - And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
The Transformative Nature of Discipleship
1. First, there are many excellent ways to define discipleship. But for our purposes today, let’s keep it very simple: the process of discipleship makes us more like Christ.
2. I have a simple premise for our time together: as a family is discipled and becomes more like the Lord, that family begins to take on His character. They begin to love what He loves and hate what He hates. They begin to see through “Jesus” as opposed to “Please-Us” lenses.
3. As Christ becomes Lord and King of the Home, families begin to see themselves as citizens of an eternal Kingdom. A quick peek outside that home begins to devastate that family, since so many others will not inherit that same Kingdom.
4. As a family begins to love God with everything they have and love others as well, that love drives them to take up Christ’s cross (as every disciple must!)! The family begins to see as part of a multigenerational vision to not just preach the gospel to its progeny, but also to the populace. For we cannot declare we’ve been faithful if we haven’t tried to liberate men and women from the darkness.
5. The three Texts above are often (and rightly) applied to the individual and the church. However, I believe they hold no less value and weight for the family; and intentional discipleship, if done properly, cultivates the desire in each member to love God, love others, take up the cross, and make disciples.
Ten Ways Family Discipleship creates more love for the Lost
1. Immersion in the Scriptures as Families creates more love for the Lost!
- In our church, we’ve experienced not only the development of orderly homes, but also an explosion of evangelistic fervor!
- Amazingly, as we’ve worked to “get our house in order,” there has been an overflow of love and grace from our houses!
- It has been truly incredible to see the fruit of obedience. The children in our church, who in the past have been very apathetic concerning others, are giving out tracts like crazy!
- As we’ve simply read of God’s mercy, grace, redemption in Christ, coming judgment, and ultimate triumph over evil, it has changed us!
2. The Building of a Biblical Worldview creates love for the Lost!
- From the truth that Jesus is Lord to the truth that He’s coming back to judge both the living and the dead, thinking with a biblical worldview absolutely compels evangelism. Family discipleship builds this worldview!
- To just use one example, a family that’s being discipled develops a wonderful love for life. It wants to promote life, give life, and protect life. They love children and people in general. (It’s amazing that people who criticize family discipleship circles don’t understand this!)
- This desire manifests itself in several ways (large families, pro-life causes, etc.), not the least of which is evangelism.
- 2Ti 3:16-17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
- From a biblical worldview, all human life is eternal. Those souls will either spend eternity with God or apart from Him.
3. A Renewed desire to obey Scripture creates love for the Lost!
- Psa 19:7-9 ESV - The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; (8) the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; (9) the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
- Jas 1:22 ESV - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
- As families see the absolute perfection of the Word of God, they are revived. They become wise “unto salvation.” They not only rejoice, but their eyes open to spiritual realities and they are awakened. They become DOERS of the Word, refusing to walk in deception.
- I’m seeing a desire to actually KEEP the commandments of the Lord (Jn 14:15). I’m seeing families “going beyond the verbal ‘amen’,” and actually DO-ing.
- This is the nature of discipleship; it causes one to thirst for righteousness and obedience.
4. The Study of Doctrine and Catechism creates love for the Lost!
- Here is just one example. While studying catechism, my family has and is learning the 10 Commandments. We’ve spent considerable time in them and in the verses that mention them in the Gospels and Epistles.
- I’m not being hyperbolic when I say our understanding of evangelism, sin, and judgment has been totally transformed by understanding God’s Moral Law!!
- Catechism helped hammer home for our family that man must come to Christ because of sin. The terrible sin of the Fall, and man’s continual sin (that is demonstrated by our inability to keep the Moral Law), offends our holy God.
- We learned that it is the Law that prepares the heart for grace because it produces an understanding of what sin is (1 Jn 3:4). It makes sin exceedingly sinful (Ro 7:13), it stops the mouth and holds the whole world accountable to God (Ro 3:19), and it drives us to Christ! (Gal 3:24)!
- But unregenerate man will be judged by the Law and perish. This understanding of sin and salvation as a family has produced a love for lost people we didn’t have before.
5. The Prophetic role of a Father in discipleship cultivates love for the Lost!
- The more a father understands Deut 6: and Eph 6:4, the more his heart opens for other children and families.
- Deu 6:2 ESV that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
- Deu 6:6-7 ESV And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (7) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
- Eph 6:4 ESV Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- I’ve personally seen my own heart open wider and wider for other dads, families, and children as I’ve prayed and cried out for my own….
6. The Tender Instruction of a Godly Mother creates love for the Lost!
- Paul speaks of Timothy’s mother and grandmother’s faith as “sincere,” the same type of faith passed on to him. (2 Tim 1:5)
- We know mothers are caring and nurturing. Her God-given desire to help others transmits to the family a sense of benevolence and mercy…patience and determination.
- Her sense of the precious nature of life is critical in developing love for that same life, and a desire to preach that Christ is the only way to true and eternal life.
7. The Blessing of Family Prayer creates love for the Lost!
- As a family looks to God in prayer, the hearts of the family begins to turn outward…towards other family members, friends, widows, orphans, and the lost.
- Because the family itself is becoming less selfish and more Christ-like, the heart of the family to serve others increases exponentially over time!
- Romans 12:12 mentions a constancy in prayer in the context of loving one another, blessing one another, being hospitable, and serving the Lord with zeal. The family who learns these things prays that others will too.
- Indeed, they begin to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matt 9:38)
8. The Simple Faith of maturing Christian Children creates love for the Lost!
- Just this past Sunday, as we were preparing for my middle daughters’ birthday party, my 7-year old said, “Daddy, can we walk around our neighborhood and give out tracts and tell everybody about Halloween and the Gospel and Jesus so they won’t go to hell?”
- Wow. My somewhat shaky answer was, “Uh…ok…we’ll see.” Conviction. But it was a moment where the discipler was himself discipled, as my daughter helped keep the evangelistic fire for my neighbors burning.
- Mat 18:1-4 ESV At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (2) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them (3) and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- The innocent, simple, humble, obedient faith of children many times inspires parents to walk in that same obedience.
- One more example: that same 7-year old recently wrote a letter to the POTUS. In it she wrote the 10 Commandments (that she learned in catechism!) and the sentence, “Abortion, please stop.” May we all act in simple obedience to our King.
9. The Blessings of Hospitality creates love for the Lost!
- This is such a wonderful thing! As families reform, their homes open! This is so true!
- As homes open, families walk in the power of brotherly love and showing hospitality to strangers (Heb 13:1-2).
- In this context (and others), the Gospel can be shared and organic discipleship can occur!
10. Doing Ministry as a Family creates love for the Lost!
- Families involved in discipleship tend to want to do ministry together as well. Children and teens are taken on missions trips, serve with their parents, and serve the church.
- The whole family is exposed to the whole of Kingdom work.
- At our church, we encourage every family to get involved in community service 1-2 nights per month.
- Those shared experiences, and the discussions and prayers that result, keep the fire burning for evangelism.
- Jesus said He only does what He sees the Father doing (Jn 5:19). May our families understand this principle and may our children do what we do and “even greater things.” (Jn 14:12).
The Bottom Line Again:
• As families become better disciples of Jesus, they take on the mission of Jesus.
• As we become better Kingdom citizens, we more joyfully embrace Kingdom mandates. As we are daily baptized by the Word, we desire to daily preach that same Word!
• As our hearts turn towards Him (first half of the Great Commandment), He turns them toward others (2nd half of the Great Commandment.)
• Eternity becomes VERY REAL to a family being discipled. The Dominion Mandate becomes VERY real to the family being discipled. Both the command to take dominion and the reality of hell and judgment move a godly family to action.
• Then, this humble, God-fearing family begins to understand its role in discipling others. The environment is perfect for that work! And God Himself begins to use family in the role for which He ordained it; the discipling and releasing of fully trained youth, and along with the church, the transformation of communities, cities, and nations.
Let it be so Lord Jesus. Amen.