Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ
To be sure, there are a lot of “spiritual” people and things out there today. Take a look around your Christian bookstore and you’ll see a wide range of products all claiming to be spiritual. As Christ followers, we have to be on our guard against false doctrine. It’s out duty to be mindful of what we’re bring taught about the gospel.
Paul warned the Colossians of such things, drawing attention to those that teach a deceitful philosophy and keep our attentions on worldly ideas rather than the things of Christ. There are more than a few wolves posing as sheep, just waiting to catch us in their snares. Some even believe that they’re correct in their doctrine. They don’t necessarily have nefarious motives, they’re just wrong. False doctrines can seem harmless, even wise. They can feel right to man, but in the end, they lead us away from the one true God.
We shouldn’t fear these deceptions, rather we should seek godly wisdom. Discernment acquired through the Holy Spirit keeps us on the right path. Such false teaching will be obvious to us if we walk in truth. We won’t have to sniff out false teaching if we’re truly familiar with Truth. For those who belong to Him know His voice (John 10:4). We won’t be inclined to follow another if we know the One who is Truth personally.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
What do we do with the Word once we’ve received it? We’ve put aside our sinful nature (Ephesians 4:22) and we’ve opened ourselves to receive from God. But now what? Church on Sundays? Maybe a church function now and then? Bible reading? What?
There’s no question that as disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we’re to read the Scriptures, studying them and learning all we can. We’re absolutely called to attend Sunday worship services with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), taking part in corporate worship, listening to a sermon, and sharing life with others. Quiet study and prayer done in solitude are vital to the life of a Christian as well.
But James takes things a bit further. Being doers of the Word is to live out our beliefs. Jesus taught us to “love one another” and we must do this, not just think about it. He called us to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This too requires action.
For more examples look no further than a few verses later in James’ writing. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). This, of course, does not limit us to only looking after orphans and widows. James makes his point that true faith leads to action. Action beyond our church campus, out in our communities, amongst our neighbors. True religion puts hands and feet to work, doing God’s will.
James 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
If we are vessels belonging to God then we must be empty, ready for Him to fill us. That means abstaining from filling our lives up with the junk this world offers. The apostle Paul teaches that even some things that are permissible are not good for us or helpful to our growth (1 Corinthians 6:12) because for every moment we focus on self a moment passes that we are not focused on Christ. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have fun. There’s a time for it, but it’s not all the time.
What this does mean is that nothing should be placed in importance before Christ. Nothing should be such a priority that it keeps us from Him. As wrong as it may sound, even our families should not be considered as important as Jesus. As James says, we must put aside other things, especially those that are sinful, and receive what God is giving us. His gifts feed our souls and lead to His glory. In order to receive all that God has in store for us, we must be open to Him. That requires making Him first, placing Him above all else.
Place God first and receive the Word that He has revealed.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Where should I go on mission? Your first mission field is at home. If you’re a parent, then your primary assignment on mission is to reach your family and make them disciples. This is an ongoing task that never ends and your job is never done. If you don’t have family at home, you still have a mission right around you. Can you think of some neighbors you could help out and show the love of Christ?
All around you are opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Faith begins with hearing, so tell everyone you can. Tell the cashier at the checkout line, tell the taxi driver. Tell your teacher or your partner. Share the story of what God’s done in your life and let it be known that you are His.
Tell His story through words and through actions by the way you live your life. Share with those who will hear and always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you because of Christ Jesus. Tell people the Gospel, but do it with gentleness and respect, never with arrogance or judgement. Love God enough to tell everyone about Him.
Romans 10:14-15 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
How can we reach the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It happens through sacrifice. In order to reach them we’ve got to give of ourselves. We’ve got to be willing to do without so that they can hear the Good News.
We may be required to give financially so that resources and supplies can be purchased or travel can be accommodated. We may need to give of our time to help mobilize a team or to go out on a mission trip. We may need to give up our own comfort so that others can be reached. All of this can extend around the world or be true of our own home town. Giving for the sake of others knowing Christ might be allowing someone else to have your seat in church so that they can hear the message. It might mean sitting through an uncomfortable sermon that others need to hear. It might mean interacting with “sinners” and stepping out of our comfort zone to love them for the sake of Christ. Giving sometimes hurts, but it’s for a good cause.
Giving may be this or it might be that, but there’s one thing it’s not: optional. All believers are called to reach others for Christ and the kingdom of God grows through us. But if we won’t give, they won’t be reached and we hinder the Holy Spirit’s work. Let’s choose to give so that they might hear.
Romans 10:15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
What if I can’t go on a mission to spread the Gospel? Am I being disobedient to God? Realistically speaking, not everyone is capable of mobilizing for the kingdom of God. Not everyone can walk away from their life situation to visit another location to preach the Good News. But, everyone can do something to send someone.
Some have been gifted with financial ability and can help fund a missions trip or even a local mission project. Some have less means but have great faith, faith greater than many others, and those people can pray and believe for great things to be accomplished. Some may not have money but have connections. To get into some nations it takes a great miracle to pull things off. Connections may be what makes it happen.
Whatever it is that God has given you, you have something that will help make His name famous in all the world. Whether it’s your skills, you money, your friends in the right places, or your prayers, you need to take an inventory of how you can make things happen. If you can’t go, you can send. So send for the glory of God, that others may hear His Good News and believe.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The whole world? Then the end will come? It’s God’s desire that everyone would turn to Him and be saved. He doesn’t want anyone on this earth to perish and to be without Him for eternity while they suffer in hell. But He leaves the choice to us. But before anyone can receive or reject the Gospel, they have to hear it.
There are still people on this planet who have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. They don’t know that there is a way to God through the forgiveness of their sins. They don’t know there’s atonement, propitiation, imputation, or any of that other theological stuff. They’re in the dark spiritually. And we have to reach them.
We’re given the Great Commission because God’s calling if for us to reach out to the entire world. We have to tell every man, woman and child, every language group and tribe, about the message of Jesus the Messiah. They have to know and we have to reach them.
Pray. Pray that the people groups we’ve never encountered will be found and that missionaries will be sent into the population. Pray that languages will be translated quickly and that Bibles will be printed for the message to be taught. Pray that supplies will be plentiful and that the workers will be many. Pray for them and pray that we reach them. For the glory of God.
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus didn’t call us to make converts, He called us to make disciples. This means the work doesn’t end when a person puts their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. The next step for us is to teach them all that He taught. They must know His ways.
What is teaching? Not all of us are cut out to tutor someone on the Bible, so surely we’re off the hook; right? Not quite. Teaching someone what they need to know about following Christ begins with modeling it. Making a disciples begins with living like one. We teach through our lives, and then we teach what’s on paper. They both happen.
We don’t have to be theological geniuses to mentor someone. There are steps to understanding the Bible, and we only need to get the new believer started on learning basic biblical truths, motivated by love for Jesus, and heading in the right direction of obedience. Then, after they show that they are committed to growing, we let them branch out on their own, little by little, feeding themselves. We can only teach what we know, so we have to be constantly learning too.
Matthew 28:19 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,
Why baptism? What’s so important about water after conversion? Jesus told His followers to go into all the nations to make disciples and then to baptize them. Why do you think this was so prioritized?
When we’re saved, we belief on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. The Holy Spirit comes to reside inside us, and we’re made into a new creation. But no one can see the Holy Spirit in us until we start bearing spiritual fruit. For some of us, that isn’t right away. It may not be obvious that we’ve become a Christian. But baptism solves that problem.
Among the many, many reasons for baptism is the idea that this is a public proclamation of our faith in Jesus. It’s been said that this is like putting on a wedding ring. We’d still be married without a ring, but we make it known by wearing the ring. Likewise, we’d be Christians without the baptism, but the act shows the world that we aren’t ashamed of our new life and it preaches a message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Baptism is the first step of obedience for a believer. When making disciples, getting them to take the first step of obedience opens the door to many more acts of obeying. There’s just something about that first decision to follow Jesus’ example that makes it all the more likely that they’ll continue in their walk of faith with great strength.