Followers of the WayBy Dan Vis
September 20, 2021
This month we're refreshing a number of posts to review the core basics of our ministry here at FAST. And this week's memo definitely hits on those basics. It's from something I wrote up over 20 years ago--and I haven't really changed my thinking on it a bit...
Though the early believers were occasionally referred to as Christians--they are more often referred to as followers of "the way". See Acts 9:1-21 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem., Acts 16:17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation., Acts 18:25-2625 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly., Acts 19:9,23But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. . . . And the same time there arose no small stir about that way., Acts 22:4And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women., Acts 24:14,22But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: . . . And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.. The early church was known less for sharing the doctrinal positions of Jesus, and more for sharing the example He modeled. Christianity wasn't just a creed, but a way of life.
“The early church was known less for sharing the doctrinal positions of Jesus, and more for sharing the example He modeled.”
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Our mission today should be the same: not just teaching truth, but also training men and women to live how Jesus commanded. See Matthew 28:19-2019 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.. That life transformation is at the core of discipleship.
The Essentials of DiscipleshipWhat does that life look like? The paragraphs below review some of the essential principles we emphasize at FAST. As you read through each section, evaluate your own life. Are there weak spots? Areas where you are inconsistent, or struggling? If there are, look for ways to build up those areas. Determine you too will become a skilled follower of the way!
The foundation of a believer's life is a strong Morning Watch. We must know how to get fresh, personal instruction from the Master every morning, through meditation and the application of God’s Word to our life. This requires the ability to identify biblical principles and then to turn them into practical projects.
It has been said principles get sharper on the tip of a pencil--and that even the dullest pencil has a sharper memory than you or me. This suggests there is benefit in taking some time to write down what God teaches you each morning. We recommend the daily habit of writing out a brief paraphrase or summary of the passage you read, recording any principles you discover, and then jotting down the projects you are impressed to carry out.
It is also important that you check back periodically to make sure you have not left any projects undone. See Joshua 11:15As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.. Learning to get regular instructions, and then being faithful in carrying them out--is at the heart of what it really means to follow Christ.
Another important key, is establishing an effective prayer life. Every believer must learn how to wrestle with God in prayer, over specific requests, claiming specific promises of the Word, day by day. Without prayer, there will be no power in our life to advance the cause of Christ.
A prayer journal, uses consistently, can help. We recommend getting a special loose leaf notebook--or setting aside a section of your Morning Watch notebook specifically for prayer. Write out each request on a separate sheet of paper. Focus on praying over requests inspired by some verse of Scripture--and jot down those verses with the request. Finally, leave space on each sheet to record when you pray, impressions that come to your mind while praying, and indications God is moving in answer your request. This keeps your prayer journal alive and vibrant.
Pray faithfully over your journal, and in time you will begin to acquire a collection of answered requests. Keep these somewhere as a testament to God's goodness. Quiet trophies of persevering prayer.
It is also vital to get a good handle on our time. We should have a clear sense of purpose, clear priorities, and a schedule that allows us to invest time in our walk with God. We also need some system to track all the tasks of our life--and overcome the distraction and pressures that come from the multitude of things we need to do.
A good time management system essentially boils down to a master list of all the tasks you will need to complete over the coming days, and a regular do-list of tasks to complete each day. It can be a simple 3x5 card or something more like a small weekly planner. Just make sure you use it daily. And preferably, make updating it an integral part of your morning devotions. Keep your short list with you through the day, and refer to it frequently--and it will help you stay on track as you mark off each item on the list.
There are many additional tools for effective time management, but the real key is aiming for a life of focus. Keep striving for greater efficiency. Read books. Experiment. Do what it takes--to get your time under control for Christ! Harnessing our time is the only way to live a life fully consecrated to God.
Personal Evangelism Skills
While personal evangelism includes a broad range of skills--there are some basic skills every disciple should cultivate. And if we are faithful to equip ourselves with these skills--we can be sure God will be faithful to bring people into our life.
First, every believer should be able to share their personal testimony, concisely, and potently. To do this, it helps to first write it out, and then practice it with a friend until you can share it spontaneously. Second, you should know how to present the Gospel clearly to an unbeliever. Having a solid gospel presentation fixed in our mind and ready to go, not only equips us to lead another person to Christ, but also helps us grow in our own assurance of salvation.
Another important skill is being able to give simple Bible studies to those who want to know more about our faith. Every "servant of the Lord" should be "apt to teach" (II Timothy 2:24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,), "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh" (I Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:). All around us, there are men and women looking wistfully to heaven, longing for someone to answer their questions. Learning to do this effectively, opens the door for one amazing adventure after another.
“All around us, there are men and women looking wistfully to heaven, longing for someone to answer their questions.”
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Perhaps more important than the specific skills listed above, is a mindset of evangelism. If you do not have at least a few non-Christians in your regular circle of contacts, that you are praying for by name, ask God to give you a greater burden for souls. And then ask for ideas on how you can expand your circle of contacts.
ConclusionWhile this list is not exhaustive, these skills, combined with a life of systematic Scripture memorization, are at the foundation of what it means to be a follower of the way.
The Bible is full of counsel covering every aspect of how we should live our life. And all of it is important! But these skills are what enable us to discover and implement all the rest of God's revealed will. The counsel of God is full and complete. We just need the tools to access it!
Don't you long to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? A true follower of the way...
CommentsWhy do you think Christians were first identified more by a "way" of life, than a set of beliefs? What does this suggest about what we should emphasize in our interactions with people? How does your life measure up against the skills of discipleship suggested here? What can you do to strengthen any weak areas?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/21|
|That's really awesome Valerie! So glad this was helpful. It's basically the disciple's wheel in Basic Training, but while simple--it definitely gives focus to our walk with God.
As for sharing the Gospel, I might point you back to last week's memo on the Power of the Gospel, if you happened to miss it. It talks about how the Gospel that saves us in our own personal temptations is also the Gospel that gives us victory in our own lives.
And while we tend to think of the process in that order--justification first, and then sanctification after--I have a hunch the New Testament often did the reverse. That is, they would say, here are the nuts and bolts of how Christ can give you victory over sin. Then, when they tested the Gospel and proved it true, the witness could convincingly share how that same Gospel could save their souls for eternity. So different!
I've never heard anyone really advocate this approach (or even the practical aspect of the Gospel, really), but the idea was sparked many years ago, when I read a statement saying basically the reason the Gospel spread like wildfire in the New Testament, was that it was presented as a power over sin. I've never been able to find that exact quote again, but think it was in Acts of the Apostles. Would love to find it again.
Just now found this one while looking for it: "As the apostles preached to them, they rejoiced in the message that promised freedom from the thralldom of sin" (AA, 207). Not what I remember exactly, but suggests something similar. Something to think about, at least!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/20/21|
|Agreed Eric! I tend to be a very forward focused person, so I especially need times to slow down a bit and review how the Lord has led in the past. Thanks for your post! :)|
|Posted by Eric Dunn on 09/20/21|
|Thanks Dan, I think it's really important to review keep coming back to the basics. We get so overwhelmed so easily. Qing good idea about revisiting the power in prayer series! Philippians 4:6-76 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 08/29/20|
|Georgia that's such a beautiful prayer at the bottom of your post.
great point also about praying for people in our active social circles. i found the stages of intercessory prayer SUPER helpful - see lesson 6 in the "Power in Prayer" study guide.
I agree, Marieanne and Georgia, people want us to SHOW them not TELL them. Especially in this age of Google - any amount of information can be readily accessed. A transformed life, WITNESSED by someone over a PERIOD of time (I think of the blind man in John 9 that everyone knew for many decades), is powerful. Many people of many faith backgrounds can profess to believe in the same good values of love and compassion. But the ones who make a deep impression on others are the people who are CONSISTENT in their way of life. Our interactions with people will automatically reveal what we believe - "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
What we should emphasize in our interactions with people is 'love' - "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
How we grow that love is by practising the disciplines in this article - it's a good summary of the BT course, Dan :)
|Posted by Georgia Kenny on 08/10/20|
|I think people recognised in the first disciples, after receiving the Holy Spirit, a totally different reason for living than they were used to seeing - especially when you consider how they “had all things in common” and were “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 2:44-4544 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. and Acts 4:32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.). Imagine that in our materialistic society today! They lived what Jesus taught (especially in the Sermon on the Mount).
I needed this reminder - it’s so easy to focus on trying to “get” people to believe what I believe, rather than boldly living what I believe myself, and leaving the results in God’s hands. I really think that when I do that, then people will start to ASK, rather than me trying to tell them. “Don’t tell them, SHOW them”.
Even though I’ve been consistent in Morning Watch for several years now, it’s still a habit I’m working on to make my reading PRACTICAL.
I pray for a number of unbelievers but they’re not people I’m regularly in contact with. It would be nice to have some non-Christians I am praying for daily, that I actually see regularly too.
Lord, help me lose sight of self and keep You fully in view. Help me simplify my life so I don’t waste time. Please make my life such that it is an unconscious influence for good to those around me.
|Posted by Clara Koen on 05/22/19|
|What I need more than anything else is to be a “loving and loveable Christian” That is accomplished only when I am walking in the Way
Please Lord change my head knowledge into heart knowledge, amen
|Posted by Konni Plue on 05/21/19|
|Dan. Do you recommend taking Basic Training and Truth Corps? Thank you.|
|Posted by Lynn Badger on 05/20/19|
|I'm so excited to take this course. I've gotten my husband to agree to do it along with me. We are followers of the Way and want to be teachers of the Way.|
|Posted by Marion Coppock on 05/20/19|
|Excellent article, it is valuable right now for a board meeting we are going to have in our church. Thank-you Dan.|
|Posted by Marieanne Vis on 05/20/19|
|A way of life is different than a set of beliefs. Anyone can tell you something but it's the actions behind the words that make a difference. People are not impressed by what you say, but by the way you live your life. The kind words expressed, the little deeds of kindness shown, the actions behind the words say much. I've heard somewhere that I'd rather see a sermon in shoes than hear a sermon, something to that effect. Can't remember exactly how it goes. People aren't concerned about what we say, but how we live our lives. Living the life is much more effective and will leave an impression on others. Jesus is our great example of living the life we ought to model.I believe this is what Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. tell us. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." By God's grace I seek to pattern my life after my Saviour's example.|
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