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Discipleship Matters – Blog & Podcast

August 17, 2018

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What does it mean to make disciples? How did Jesus do it? He invested time, He spoke the Word of God, He showed them, He brought needed correction, and He loved them unconditionally. For 3 years He was totally invested.

Let me ask this in a more pointed way… Are there people in your life that, if you stopped investing discipleship into their lives, who would miss it? There are a number of approaches to that, and many of them are good. I’ve realized over the course of years that having a “discipleship” class is not necessarily discipleship. It’s part of it, but it is not the whole. Discipleship is personal, it’s connective, and it continues outside the 4 walls of the church.

Today we are going to look at the story of such a man that, I believe, John recognized as a discipler. The man’s name was Gaius and John writes to him to affirm what he is doing and to give him some wise counsel. As we seek to be disciplers in the manner which Christ has called us to be, let us see what we can glean from John as he addresses Gaius.

3 John 1-4 The elder: To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and are in good health, just as your whole life is going well. For I was very glad when fellow believers came and testified to your fidelity to the truth—how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in truth.

Gaius was a man who…Lived spiritually– It’s apparent John had a close relationship with Gaius, as he addresses him three times in this passage as “Dear Friend”. John had a deep, heartfelt love for Gaius. He affirmed Gaius’ walk with the Lord. He mentioned that other believers came to him and testified to Gaius’ walk in the Lord. John had been praying for Gaius’ spiritual walk as well. Notice in verse 2 that John says, “I pray that you are prospering in every way AND are in good health”. He is praying for his friend’s spiritual well-being.

Gaius was a man who…Walked Truthfully– John said he was “very glad” to hear that Gaius was continuing to walk in and live the Truth. In fact, John said he had no greater joy than to see those he had influence over, those he had discipleship over, walking in Truth. John certainly would have had joy if Gaius were blessed with a happy family. John certainly would have had joy if Gaius had been successful in whatever career he was involved in. John certainly would have been happy to see Gaius happy in his life in general, but that’s not was brought John the greater joy. John’s greater joy was in the spiritual growth of Gaius, because he knew that not only fueled every aspect of Gaius’ life, but also enabled Gaius to influence others with Kingdom emphasis.

Gaius was also a man who…Ministered Generously– John commends Gaius’ hospitality to both the brethren/sistern, as well as the strangers who would come into their midst. In this day and time, when people were traveling through town, there wasn’t local hotels available. The hospitality would be up to individual people. There would be people who would be traveling through and would come to worship. People would take them into their homes and feed them, and meet their needs. Gaius was evidently one who took that seriously.

It’s clear from the Great Commission, as well as embracing the example of Jesus, that making disciples is where it’s at. A disciple is a follower of Christ. We have a responsibility, not only to be disciples, but to make them. We have seen throughout John’s letters that being a disciple is characterized by loving God and loving His people.

Here it is, where the rubber meets the road. If we want to be disciple-makers. If we want to be a disciple-making church, we must learn what Gaius shows us.

Gaius teaches us to…Pray for Spiritual Health– So many times we gather together in classes or study groups and we say “Do we have any prayer requests?”, and that is good. Many of the requests are for physical ailments and sicknesses, diseases, and there is nothing wrong with that. We should absolutely pray for the sick. God’s Word tells us to. But when you are praying for someone, how often do you pray for their spiritual health? I want to challenge you, as you develop your prayer list, as you pray through those people that God puts on your heart, that you pray for their spiritual well-being. One of the best ways you can invest in someone’s life is to pray that God would fill them with His Holy Spirit, that He would teach them the Truth, convict them of sin, protect them from evil and equip them for the trials they face in their lives. Ask God to give you wisdom as to how to pray for them effectively.

Gaius also teaches us to…Seek Kingdom Relationships–I believe that we should be building relationships intentionally. The intent of those relationships should ultimately lead to Godly or Kingdom influence, the kind of influence that makes disciples. How are people won to Christ? One person at a time, one invitation at a time and one investment at a time. When someone walks the aisle to profess Christ as their Savior, there are typically a number of people who have had influence in that. John said of Gaius, “I was very glad when fellow believers came and testified to your fidelity to the truth – how you are walking in the truth”. John invested in Gaius for the purpose of Kingdom growth.

Finally, Gaius teaches us to…Extend Gospel Hospitality– Verses 5-8 of 3 John speak to Gaius and his hospitality to both church members and strangers.

How did Gaius show hospitality? The text shows us that whenever guests came to minister there in the local congregation, that Gaius saw to it that they were taken care of. Some of that hospitality can be taken care of on the administrative side, through budgeting and planning, through making sure the facilities are in good shape, that classes are equipped with what they need. Hospitality has a number of forms.

Not only was Gaius a great example, but John was a great example by continuing to pour into Gaius. Just because someone has walked with Christ for a long time doesn’t mean they are through becoming a disciple. They still need people to invest in them and they need to invest in other people. Church, if we want the church to grow, and I trust that you join me in that desire, we have to not just invite people but invest in them. Pray for spiritual health. Seek Kingdom Relationships. Extend Gospel Hospitality. That’s called being the church. May the church be the church.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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