discipleship: the fourth command
by Andy Moore
Find out more about Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) teaches that the Church is responsible to go into the entire world, to preach (preach or proclaim), to baptize, and to teach (disciple).
Much emphasis has been put on the first three directives. Unfortunately, biblical discipleship, the final command, is often neglected. New converts should not be abandoned as babes in Christ, susceptible to false teachings and cultural pitfalls. Rather, we must disciple each one by teaching him the things that have brought us to the point of Christian maturity we enjoy. We are to instruct him in the full counsel of God’s Word. After conversion and baptism, guidance must be given to new Christians so they can discover, develop, and desire to use their spiritual gifts.
The task is not complete until a disciple is made. Sérgio’s story is proof that biblical discipleship still works.
Sérgio, a young, single Brazilian, felt a strong desire to go to church, but—as he later admitted—he was hesitant because of the noise and confusion associated with most charismatic-like churches in Brazil. However, when Carlos, a co-worker and member of the Palm Garden FWB Church in Uberlândia, invited Sérgio to attend church, he came. He returned the next Sunday. And, after veteran missionary Tom Hughes’ message, Sérgio accepted Christ as Savior.
I helped Sérgio as he began his walk with Christ. Each week we met for a new convert’s study. During the 12 weeks that followed, I taught him the basics of the Christian life from the Word of God. Assurance of salvation, sanctification, separation, and Christian service were studied in depth. He absorbed each of these truths like a sponge.
Relationships are important, especially to Brazilians. And in Brazil, as in many cultures, new converts are often shunned by their families. The Church must embrace new Christians as part of the family of God.
My wife Andrea and I frequently welcomed Sérgio into our home, visited him at work, and spent time in his home. After the new converts course was completed, we occasionally went out to eat together. This time offered opportunity for fellowship and a chance to answer his constant questions about the Bible, clear up any doubts, and give encouragement.
I had the pleasure of watching Sérgio grow in the Lord and the privilege of baptizing him. His zeal for the Lord and thirst for truth were refreshing. Sérgio’s changed life and faithful witness at home soon led both his mother and sister to accept Christ as Savior. As he grew, he wanted to find a way to serve the Lord. Sérgio began assisting in the youth meeting—making the announcements, taking prayer requests, sharing his testimony, and eventually giving devotions. He took courses at our local Bible institute and blossomed.
Eventually, our ministry led us on furlough and then to the other side of the state of Minas Gerais, but Sérgio was remaining fruit in Uberlândia. He remains faithful and active in his local church. More recently, he was instrumental in forming a preaching point in a church member’s home. This outreach has already resulted in several conversions and baptisms. Sérgio is being used of God, has a heart for missions, and a desire to reach other parts of Brazil. He feels God has called him to the ministry, and he remains active as he seeks direction.
Much time, effort, and prayer were invested in discipling Sérgio and others like him. What an opportunity we have to reproduce the work of Christ in our lives through those we win and disciple. Discipled converts insure the purity and extension of the gospel on the mission field and elsewhere.
Our hopes are high for our brethren in Brazil who have been saved to serve Christ and each other, and who will continue to spread the gospel and teach Free Will Baptist doctrine in Brazil and beyond. The church must not neglect to “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Discipled converts are the key to leaving behind remaining fruit.
About the writer: Andy and Andrea Moore are currently on stateside assignment in South Carolina. For more information about the Moores and their ministry visit www.fwbgo.com/missionaries.