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Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God – MAKE DISCIPLES!!

Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God”

As of June 2015, I (Pastor Michael Miano) have begun leading a discipleship program that I have developed through years of learning from other discipleship programs. We are calling this “Immersed Discipleship”.

The name says it all. I am endeavoring to disciple others the way I myself was discipled- by being immersed into the knowledge of God. Keeping in mind the concept of ‘milk & meat’, I seek to bring together those who want to be discipled and show them with the ‘things of God’ -whether it be deep doctrinal stuff, life application, or challenging ourselves in regards to outreach and evangelism- the goal is to help those coming into the faith to be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8)”.

There is really no limit or boundary in regards to what we discuss at ‘Immersed Discipleship’. For example, last week in one of our classes, some of our discussion was based around the historical controversy of the Donatists. Here is an interesting article on those details for your studying pleasure:

http://gregsvoboda.com/2013/01/the-donatist-controversy-the-most-important-heresy-youve-never-heard-of/

Surely, as persecution of Christians continues, we can find some relevancy for ourselves in that historic conversation.

All of those details noted, a point that I made at our recent class was that 2,000 years after Christ first instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel, we find ourselves sitting in a local church class room endeavoring to be His disciples. I regularly have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and see people become interested in what Jesus offers.

*Keep on the ‘lookout’ for an upcoming video I will release, “The Fulfilled Gospel in 6 Minutes” on YouTube in days to come.

After we heed the Gospel (namely the truth of Matthew 7:24-29), we then should be seeking to “walk worthy of 2 Peter 1:8.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to share with you a couple of ways I believe discipleship should be worked out in your life. God willing, I will provide you with a basic knowledge of how you can apply 2 Peter 1 to your life.

Missiologist and Theologian, David Bosch noted “For the disciple of Jesus, the stage of discipleship is not the first step toward a promising career. It is itself the fulfillment of his or her destiny”.

As a disciple your priority should be to gather with other saints to exhort and encourage each other to be accountable in personal discipleship, as well be the ‘healing of the nations’ as a community. At the Blue Point Bible Church (which I pastor) we have the following ‘mission statement’:

The purpose of this church shall be to make disciples, that is to produce mature believers, by carrying out God’s objectives for His Church in the world, evangelizing the lost and edifying the people of God”.

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

The “collective church community” should further serve to build you up as a member of the Body, essentially the ‘purpose’ and ‘unity’ of the faith as preached by the Apostle Paul brings us in this direction. If 2 Peter chapter 1 is not an exhortation enough (which we will be dealing with as we conclude this blog), then let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:1-0. Go ahead and read the text.

Reading through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, not only do you get a glimpse of the Apostle Paul’s concerns, you also see that God’s strength is shown in our weaknesses. The goal of gathering “collectively” is for us to not only see, but come to realize it is not about us- it’s about Him. The “collective church community” should seek to exhort and encourage the believer through the knowledge of God, bringing about a “strength” that only comes from God, and could never be exemplified through man. Again remember, it’s all about His glory! That should be your INDIVIDUAL focus.

The work of the “collective church community” and the “individual” is to seek out, understand, and live in proper doctrine. Reading through the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy shows this very clearly. Go ahead and read through 1 Timothy chapters 2-4. Bad doctrine, or a messed up understanding of the things of God is compared to “dirty water” in Scripture. Who wants to drink “dirty water”? Worst yet, how does one feel after drinking “dirty water”?

In matters of discipleship we have noted that not only are ‘eschatological doctrines’ among many other areas in need of “study to show ourselves approved”, sadly even the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (or what we might refer to as the ‘practical applications’ of our faith are distorted as well. Some have referred to this as “The Crisis of the Sermon on the Mount”. A great article on that topic can be found here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1995/july17/5t8038.html

As we contemplate the ‘true knowledge of God’, what should become clear beyond anything else is that without Christ, we will never “walk worthy” of the things of God. God offering covenant to us without Jesus is essentially “bad news”. We cannot and will not walk worthy- thus demonstrating the need for Jesus Christ. In these regards I enjoy this quote by Leo Tolstoy:

The test of observance of Christ’s teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain to an ideal perfection. To the degree which we draw near, this perfection cannot be seen, all we see is the extent of our deviation”.

If you can come to that conclusion each and every time you study the doctrines of God, your DOCTRINAL understanding is in a healthy place.

That brings us to the final point, some may argue the most important- How to apply these things to my life? I have come to refer to this type of questioning as “diligent discipleship”.

I am fond of reading and learning from others, even to the extent that I recently accused myself of “following man”. However, praise-fully, I was rebuked by the Word. As the Apostle Paul himself admonishes the saints to be followers of him in 1 Corinthians 4:16 as well as in 11:1. Timothy was told in the letters to him to be mindful of who he received the faith from, and live like them.

Surely that brings together- collective, individual, doctrinal, and application discipleship. It must be done in community, it must be done diligently, and ultimately for the glory of God.

In our Wednesday Bible Study (just another way we walk worthy of our purpose at B.P.B.C.), we have been reviewing a series done by a man named Ray Vander Laan, and he details much of what I detailed in this blog- yet he refers to our lives in discipleship as “a well watered garden”. Author Vera Nazarian has noted, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte. “. I pray this blog has further exhorted you to become a ‘mater of the garden’ as it pertains to your discipleship.

In keeping with that line of thinking, here is a list of things to do in the Garden. Let’s start calling it our “Gardening List” (cf. 2 Peter 1)

  1. applying all diligence” – do this with a concentrated and constant effort
  2. in your faith supply moral excellence” – remembering that “faith” cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1), the excellent morals we live by can be seen (read Philippians 2:1-11)
  3. add knowledge” – awareness, facts, information, and skill about the “things of God”
  4. add self-control” – ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands
  5. add perseverance” – be steadfast in what your doing despite possible trying circumstances
  6. add godliness” – Desire to bring glory to God
  7. add brotherly kindness” – do good to others, especially those of the household of faith
  8. love- love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as well as love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you: for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:8-11)”.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you (2 Peter 1:12)”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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Called to Ministry (Part Three)

“Where the call is manifest, the promise is assured”

“Nothing can be more explicit than her solemn question to us- ‘Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office?’…the answer that is made to this ought to be well considered…”

            I remember when I had first become a Christian (while in a prison) and seen first hand the hypocrisy in “Christian leadership”. I was dismayed. The man that led me to Christ consoled me by explaining that true ordination for ministry comes from God not man. Sadly, many today who are “leaders” in the “institutional church” are simply called by denominations to stabilize things, not lead the mission of Christ, the Truth of Christ forward. As was said:

“The national Church groans and bleeds from the crown of its head to the sole of its feet from the daily intrusion of unworthy men into the ministry from this source”.

            So how to we discern a “call to ministry”?

“…A DEEP IMPRESSION OF THE WORTH OF SOULS…THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO SPEND AND BE SPENT FOR HIM…DIRECTING THE CONSCIENCE TO A SOBER, SEARCHING, SELF-INQUIRY; TO A DAILY STUDY OF THE WORD; TO FERVENT PRAYER….”

“- a special kindling within- in character, if not intensity, like “the burning fire shut up” in the prophet’s bosom, and overcoming his determination to go back from the service of his God”.

“One of the most certain marks of the Divine call is, where it is the purpose of a man’s heart to live, to labor, and to possess nothing, but for Jesus Christ and His Church”.

“But if you do not feel in yourselves a desire of being employed as the ambassadors of God- judge ye yourselves, whether ye are called into the Lord’s vineyard. God implants a love in the heart for the service to which He calls; and better would it have been for you to have felt, that it was not the ministry for which you were intended, than that you should possess a want of inclination for the performance of its duties”.

“We are laborers, not loiterers, in the Lord’s vineyard”.

“No man, indeed ought to think of this profession, unless he feels within himself a love for religion, with a zeal for it, and an internal true piety, which is chiefly kept up by secret prayer and reading the Scriptures”.

            I have seen many young men and women stand up with the desire to “do ministry”, yet when I question their motives and reasoning, namely a desire to “demolish strongholds and bring all thoughts captive to Christ”, they are found wanting. Many today are lacking what I call a “zeal empowered by knowledge”, and have failed to “count the cost” and would much rather follow the “social club” outline than seriously endeavor to follow Christ.

“Let the novitiate be found in the DAILY HABIT OF PRAYER, in the conscientious IMPROVEMENT OF HIS NATURAL GIFTS, in a diligent INCREASE OF HIS INTELLECTUAL AS WELL AS SPIRITUAL STORES- and he will find the promise made good- “Whatsoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly”.

            I thought this sermon by John Leland of England concerning a call to ministry:

God has been graciously pleased to give me some talents, which seem capable of being improved to the edification of the Church. He hath disposed and inclined my heart to a willingness to take upon me the sacred ministry, and that not from the worldly, carnal ends and views, but from a sincere intention and desire of employing the talents he has given me in promoting the salvation of souls, and serving the interests of truth, piety, and righteousness in the world…Upon seriously weighing all of these things, I cannot but think, I have a clear call to the work of the ministry; and I verily believe, that, if I rejected it, I should sin against God, grieve many of His people, counteract the designs of Divine providence toward me, and alienate the talents he has given me to other purposes, than those for which they seem to have been intended”

“The pastoral dignity is really the condition of a servant. It obliges a man to devote himself entirely to Jesus Christ, and His Church. Both the minister and the ministry are only for the Church. He who in this state does not apply himself entirely to the service of the Church, will be treated as a thief, and a sacrilegious person”.

MISSIONALITY

“As men of God, we should have it at heart and in hand, spreading a spiritual savor over the common walks of society, and stamping us with the mark of confessors of Christ in the midst of a world, who hold Him still in the same contempt, as when eighteen centuries since they nailed Him to a cross. There must be some defect if we do not bring an atmosphere with us, which is more or less instantaneously felt”.

“The character of our profession with the world must not be merely negative. It must be MARKED by a wise, tender, but unflinching, exhibition of THE BROAD LINE OF DEMARCATION, which, under the most favorable circumstances of mutual accomadation, still separates the world and the Church from real communion with each other”.

  So…an issue that seems to be facing many Christians today is clarity on what exactly is THE BROAD LINE OF DEMARCATION that sets us apart from the world? Is it a touch not, taste not attitude concerning our interaction with the world, such as the religious leaders of the first century? Is it an odd quirkiness about us as we spout Bible verses, sing songs, and preach incessantly? What is it? I believe the line is the authority, the forthright truth and answers we have in Jesus Christ, through the gospel. A wisdom not of this world, a peace not of this world, dare I say, a love not of this world demonstrated by us individually and corporately as the ‘kingdom of God’. A liberating freedom from the slavery to ANYTHING- whether it be drug use or television, or comfort zones to what we ‘think’ we rightfully deserve. We demolish those strongholds opting for “life to the full” in Christ found by seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness for the glory of God alone! Can I get an AMEN?

“We should endeavor to make our religion agreeable: but not to make ourselves agreeable by leading our company to forget religion. We should ‘everyone of us, please his neighbor for his good’, but not so ‘please men’, as to fail in the character of ‘servants of Christ’. We should be made in a fitting sense and measure, “all things to all men, that we may by all means save some,”, but we shall lose ourselves not save others, if we are quite different persons in the pulpit and out of it”.  Cf. Galatians 1:10

LIVE IT OUT AUTHENTICALL

“I am to speak boldly, “not as a man-pleaser, but as the servant of God”- and therefore I endeavor to master all these fears, and to act implicitly as my conscience suggests, without respecter of persons”.

            Be challenged my brethren.

   By His grace,

         Michael Miano

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