Real Disciple-MakingBy Dan Vis
October 11, 2021
For this week's memo, I've pulled out a bit of my own personal story, of how I got started with memorization, and the impact it has had on my life. It's the perfect article given that we'll be opening enrollment in our Breakout Memory Challenge in a few days. Get ready!
Making disciples involves more than just doing evangelism. Real disciple-making is connecting people to the real disciple-maker: Jesus Christ. At least, that's how I've come to view it after nearly 30 years of full-time ministry.
Jesus made this point exactly in his parting instructions to the church: "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" by 1) "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and then 2) "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (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., NKJV). It is both calling people to follow Christ, and then helping them grow in their walk with Him, together, that makes up the Great Commission.
I became a Christian as a young college student, just a couple months into my twenties, after reading a copy of the Desire of Ages that I had stumbled on to in a used book store. Through a series of additional providential steps, the Lord soon brought me into his endtime church, and I was baptized. That was part one of the Great Commission.
Fortunately, I had some friends around able to help me with part two. A handful of guys from the university I attended, took me under their wing and began to teach me the basics of the Christian walk: how to pray, study the Bible, deal with temptation, manage my time, share my testimony, and more.
Perhaps most important--they taught me the one thing Jesus said we should teach every new believer: how to "observe" the things Christ commanded. By introducing me to the basic nuts and bolts of Bible memorization, they gave me a skill that completely transformed my life.
“In discovering the basic nuts and bolts of Bible memorization, I gained a skill that completely transformed my life.”
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You see, the word "observe" in the Great Commission comes from a Greek word meaning to guard or keep. It's used in Matthew 27:54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. to describe how the centurion was assigned to "watch" Jesus on the cross. And in Acts 16:23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:, it's used to describe how the jailor was charged with "keeping" Paul and Silas locked up in prison. And in Jude 1:6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day., it's used to describe how the fallen angels are being "reserved" in chains until their judgment.
Together, these verses suggest "observing" means to lock up God's Word so securely, it can never be taken from you. To me, that sounds like memorization!
Through memorization, I could fix my eyes on Jesus anywhere--by simply meditating on verses I knew. Through memorization I was able to lock up the Bible in my mind, and prevent it from slipping away. Through memorization, I was able to reserve the Scriptures, so they would be available for any trial I faced. Basically, memorizing connected me to the One who gave us the Word.
It wasn't easy, at first. I didn't have a great memory, and I had little exposure to the Bible growing up--so it was all brand new to me. But I was determined, and persevered in investing whatever time it took to get my verses learned each week. I learned to memorize word-perfect, the secret to long term retention, how to remember references, and more. Little by little, my store of verses began to grow.
At one point, something clicked. I had probably accumulated 50 or 60 verses, when I started noticing them popping up in sermons. Or I'd be studying a passage in my devotions, and some verse I had memorized would come to mind, shedding light on what I was reading. Or I'd be praying about something, and I'd suddenly think of a promise directly related to that request. And old temptations began losing their hold in my life, as I discovered how powerful quoting Scripture can be. When asked a question, it seemed I always happened to have just the verse I needed to explain my faith. It was as if Jesus were right there at my side, day by day.
In fact, the more it happened, the more exciting it got. At the time, I had a job that enabled me to memorize while at work--and I took advantage of it. Soon I had moved from 2-3 verses a week to 2-3 verses a day. Memorization was getting easier, and I couldn't seem to get enough. The Bible became "the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.).
And it soon began to open doors. Though young, and quite new to the church, I was soon asked to teach the lesson study in my church. And then to do prayer meeting. Soon I was preaching sermons.
Looking back now, I'm amazed at the doors God opened. With no formal training, I was soon invited to teach Bible at a local academy. Then a second academy. Then a small college. I went on to serve as an administrator in two evangelistic training centers. And ultimately, was asked to pastor a church in the Chicago suburbs--where I was ordained to the Gospel ministry. I've preached in hundreds of churches in more than a dozen countries. The last two decades have just been a blur of amazing adventures.
I'm fully convinced these doors opened, because years earlier, a handful of college friends took some interest in me, and taught me how to memorize Scripture. How to "observe" the teachings of the Bible.
These doors opened for me, because those friends were true disciple-makers, connecting me to the real disciple-maker. Jesus Christ. And following Him is never anything less than an amazing adventure!
CommentsHow important is it to combine evangelism with follow-up and training? How important is it to make sure our training connects people to Jesus, the real disciple-maker? How important is memorization in the life of a believer? Share a thought or two in the comments below...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/19/21|
|I think those are indeed the critical skills: internalizing Scripture, and then learning to apply it. The third thing I gleaned from them that was really foundational was multiplication. That's still the bedrock of our ministry: take it in, live it out, pass it on.
For a fun verse Valerie, take a look at Ezra 7:10For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/11/21|
|That's a powerful cross reference there in John 3:33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true., and yes this process is definitely an important aspect of the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:16-1716 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.). I also really like your emphasis on relationship Paul, both our personal relationship with God, and how well we are able to help others have that experience. Good post!|
|Posted by Paul Carson on 10/11/21|
|You nail it with the line from Jeremiah 15:16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. in that God's word is good (full of nutrients) for the soul.
Additionally John 3:33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. indicates to me that receiving God's word (His testimony, His covenant), is related to the sealing work of the Holy Spirit upon the believer.
It follows that our impact as disciple-makers is directly correlated to the relational connection that God has established for us - that of engaging with Him through His word.
We can only impart that which we have tasted, and testified to, as making a difference in our own lives.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/13/20|
|Petrona Spaulding , yes definitely! Not only will it help us stay on the right path, but also those we work with. Good post!
Lupita, actually they reached out to me. It's a good point worth mentioning, that new believers rarely know what they need. Which is why we should take the initiative in reaching out to them. :)
Jeannie, I've moved your question to a dedicated forum post as I think it is a super important topic and deserves some dedicated attention and discussion...
|Posted by Dicky on 08/13/20|
|Reading your testimony excites me, inducing a desire for similar experience. I guess, I have experienced partially some of what you shared. Praise the Lord for His goodness, and FAST mission ministry.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/10/19|
|That's wonderful Bert! We're thrilled to have you here. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. And thanks so much for sharing about us in your sermon!!! :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/10/19|
|Happy to share my experience Nan. God is good, and His Word is powerful! It's a blessing to share it. :)|
|Posted by Nan on 10/09/19|
|Thank you brother Vis for your powerful testimony. I was greatly blessed! It reminded me of Acts 4:13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.. Knowing and sharing the Word is the life of evangelism and Abba's opportunity to bless his children as He did with you!
May Abba continue to bless you as you do unto others as it has been done unto you!😊
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/09/19|
|Amen Carol. Anything we can do to help others get going strong in their walk with God is a blessing to the cause of Christ!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/08/19|
|That's a great testimony Carole! Hoping you'll be able to find a way to help get someone else started memorizing too. Exciting times. :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 03/02/19|
|Glad I could share something that was helpful Laurie. God truly is good, and there is power in the Word.
Reminds me of the old cliche about how we're just one beggar telling another beggar where there's some bread!
|Posted by Laurie Wissink on 03/01/19|
|I agree with David where he said, "I want to affirm you by boldly saying, "Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen(well-not literally with mine own eyes, Pastor) in me(you, Pastor), DO(emphasis supplied): and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.)" I studied Philippians 4:9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. just a few weeks ago and I thought of Pastor Dan too! Thank you brother (Dan) for sharing what God has shown you about discipleship with us!!!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/22/19|
|There's definitely power in the Word Leslie! Making some room to let that power start getting and working within us, that's the challenge isn't it?|
|Posted by Leslie Caza on 02/22/19|
|Powerful testimony to God's glory! This makes me think of Acts 4:13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/20/19|
|A wonderful testimony Floride! I'm sure the Lord has a special reward in mind for those friends who helped you and your husband... :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/01/18|
|Thank you Miriam for affirming these important points. And glad FAST could play some small part in shifting your thinking this direction a bit! Glad to have you a part of our community. :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/31/18|
|Welcome to FAST Miriam, and you are soon going to discover how amazing our brain is at memorizing when we just follow a few simple principles. And thank you for your years of service to the children of our church!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/28/18|
|Amen Debra Searle, agree completely! So glad you will be joining us for our upcoming Breakout Memory Challenge! :)|
|Posted by Debra Searle on 10/27/18|
|Bible memorisation is to me a strong faith encouragement. I fully believe there is power in God's Holy Word to grow stronger in my faith and overcoming sin by claiming His precious promises.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/18/18|
|Thanks for the affirmation Patricia! We do our best to provide valuable training for all our members, regardless. And God manages to take care of us. :)|
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