Friday, February 4, 2011

Importance of Discipling

The Lord Jesus Christ started His church during His earthly ministry upon this earth. Upon His ascension, the disciples gathered with the church at Jerusalem and waited for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did come that day of Pentecost and the "Baptism with the Holy Ghost" was administered as promised by our Lord, our God, and John the Baptist (Acts 1:4-5; Matt. 3:11). It is important to note that the Holy Spirit NEVER baptized anyone. As prophesied, the Lord did the baptizing with the Holy Ghost not many days hence from Acts 1. The baptism with the Holy Ghost took place at Pentecost. There has never been nor ever will be a 'Second Blessing' or a 'Baptism of/with the Holy Ghost' for the child of God today. We receive the Holy Ghost upon our repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! There was one baptism and many receivings as folks believe!
Having received the Holy Ghost, the apostles and the church there at Jerusalem began their commission (Acts 1:8).
The Gospel was preached, men were baptized, and the discipling of others pursued. Praise God for the discipling of others. If the church there at Jerusalem fulfilled the Commission like the modern day church, there probably would have been salvation, and maybe baptism, but a thorough discipling of the believer left undone. We must teach converts to 'observe all things.'
The apostles did this. It would be advantageous for the believer to study the lives of those whom the apostles and early church discipled. They are of great importance to our church's history. These men seemed to have been forgotten in our time; but it was these men who learned the faith and held the truth and passed it on to generations to come.
We should stop and thank our Lord for men of the faith, most of which laid down their lives for Truth. Men such who history records "from the writers of this century, who will be allowed to have been the earliest next to the apostles, as Barnabas, Hermes, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp, and yet not one of these speaks of baptism administered to infants." (History of Baptist pg. 21).
These were men such as Clement (c. A.D. 100) who was pastor of the church at Rome. He is mentioned in Philippians 4:3 and was discipled by Paul, Peter, and John. Men such as Polycarp (69-156 A.D.) who was discipled by the apostle John himself. He would be pastor at the church at Smyrna. He taught against baptismal regeneration and for the independence of churches. He would disciple Irenaeus.
Men like Ignatius (37-117 A.D.) who also was a disciple of John who pastored at Antioch. He said of baptism "it ought to be accompanied with faith, love, and patience after preaching." He would write 15 epistles of the faith.
Men like Papias (c. 120 A.D.) who was also discipled and probably was the pastor at Hierapolis. Men like Hermes, Justin Martyr, Montanus, and Novatus. These men living in the mid-2nd century stood for truth. Churches were called "Montanists and Novatians" for nearly 6 centuries...stood for Truth and would be known today as Baptists. Irenaeus (130-200 A.D.) would be discipled by Polycarp and then go on to plant and pastor churches in France standing for Truth. The Gospel was being preached, converts were being baptized, and men were being discipled who in turn were planting and pastoring churches across the world. Like a drop of fresh oil spreading and penetrating the surface upon which it was administered, so the Lord's churches began to penetrate and spread across this world. This work is ours today!