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...
Followers of the WayBy Dan Vis
September 20, 2021
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, used 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 09/20/23 - Coach|
|Great cross reference Becca. He is the way, and His followers are those who walk in that way... Nice!|
|Posted by Becca Mayorga on 09/05/23|
|Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father accept by Me. John 14:6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.. So followers of the way seems to be perfect in describing His followers.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/21/23 - Coach|
|I like how you tied this idea in with the fruit of the Spirit. Very cool post Angie! Your second paragraph about our need for a "serious connection" if we are to achieve this character, was also a good one!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/24/22 - Coach|
|Yes Gail , that's a good word for it--lifestyle. And I like your spin on Galatians 5:22-2322 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.. Certainly that was His character! Good post...|
|Posted by Gail Lutton on 10/24/22|
|I immediately thought of "the way" as lifestyle=conduct, behavior, customs, habits.... Jesus lifestyle were how He conducted, behaved Himself; it was His custom and habits from moment to moment in His life. I believe His lifestyle is described in Galatians 5:22-2322 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
I am grateful that He says that He began a good work in me and promises to continue it until the day that He comes (Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:), because He sure has a lot of work to continue!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/12/22 - Coach|
|Amen Robert. I'm sure God is looking for a people today who will live the Gospel as a witness unto all nations (Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.). Let's be that people!|
|Posted by Robert Gonzales on 10/12/22|
|The Christians back in the day LIVED the life of Christ . It was a heart knowledge.|
|Posted by Jo Laing on 10/04/22|
|Perhaps because they acted out their beliefs more than they spoke them. My weak area is in personal application of the word. I will commit to doing one project per day.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/25/22 - Coach|
|Several people have talked about love in the comments below Rebecca, which reminds me of II Corinthians 8:7Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.. There we see Paul clearly urging the four spokes: prayer (faith), witnessing (utterance), Bible study (knowledge), and obedience (diligence)--but also adds love, which really should permeate every aspect of our daily life.
In the context Paul is urging us to also add benevolence to the core picture of discipleship he had previously taught them. I can just imagine Paul actually teaching something like the wheel, and then referring to it like this, kind of offhand like? Very cool thought...
|Posted by Rebecca on 09/24/22|
|I think we are noticed because of our actions, as they speak louder than our words. Cultivating kindness, benevolence, humility SHOWS we walk our walk. Sometimes better than a sermon!
Praying for a heart like Jesus.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/24/22 - Coach|
|We will be talking more about time management later in the Revival School class Annalise! A few weeks off, but not long. :)
Love your points about living meaning loving--like Jesus. And how powerful that kind of life can be! John 13:34-3534 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another..
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/22 - Coach|
|Glad this information has been helpful Barbara! And that you are making efforts to keep all these areas strong and balanced. All the best!|
|Posted by Barbara E. LaRose on 09/23/22|
|I am very grateful for all the pointers you mentioned. And especially learning to be aware of how we spend our time. I’ve really thought about weak areas in my life and will work on those areas so I can full enjoy what God has in store for me in the future. Our lesson shows us to 1. A regular intake of God’s Word. 2. Prayer (an area I need to work on stronger) 3. Obedience- applying that word daily into my life. 4. Witnessing something I definitely need to work on. It’s easy to do family and friends but it is a challenge to witness to strangers. Claiming a Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.. 😊|
|Posted by Louise P on 09/23/22|
|How wonderful to be known more for sharing the example Jesus modelled than for sharing His doctrinal positions. That is my prayer!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/21/22 - Coach|
|Yes, reading the book of Acts (esp Acts 2) is quite convicting Tonya. I think if someone suggested some similar things in our churches today, a lot of people would NOT be happy!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/20/22 - Coach|
|It is a way of life Sam, very true. The Bible does predict an organized movement at the end of time, and His plan is to unite all His children into one fold (John 10:16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.), but just being part of that movement is not enough. We need a connection with Christ
I just completed a class on this exact topic here at FAST very recently. It was amazing how overwhelming the evidence is for this. But you are absolutely right that what really counts is how we live! Good post...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/20/22 - Coach|
|We actually have a whole course on exactly how to do that Emily, called Prayer Secrets. We'll be working through that as part of Revival School. Along with much more of course! Great comment!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/18/22 - Coach|
|Nice Sairusi! God is indeed always with us. And true disciples will also seek out and strive to connect with fellow believers. So we make ties in that way too. So cool!|
|Posted by Sairusi Madigi on 09/18/22|
|Disciples are never Alone - One of the most exciting things
about God’s presence is the joy it brings. “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are pleasures forever” (Psalms 16:11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore., NASB). I know that no matter what I am experiencing, no matter where I am, God is always with me, helping me to face life with confdence and hope.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/04/22 - Coach|
|Amen! Discipleship comes with a cost, but the rewards are worth it! Thanks for tying in that verse Doug!|
|Posted by Doug Schoch on 09/03/22 - Coach|
|Matthew 7:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. KJV Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Narrow is the way, but leads to life everlasting. And joys untold. Let us be found in that way.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/21 - Coach|
|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 - Coach|
|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 - Coach|
|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 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 on 05/20/19 - Coach|
|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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