Titus 2:14 reminds us that Jesus gave Himself as the payment to redeem a people from the marketplace of sin, and to purify these people for Himself. This new society has been redeemed by Jesus, for Jesus and through Jesus’ sacrifice, so He is the fulfillment of God’s promises to be our God, and we a people for His own possession.
Because this relationship has been initiated by God and made possible by Jesus, it stands to reason the purpose for this new community will be consistent with God’s revealed purpose in Scripture. Verse 12 says the grace of God is training us to renounce all that is contrary to the purposes of God in our lives and to live in anticipation of the future restoration of all things, brought about by Jesus’ return.
This truth is what discipleship is all about: learning to live in light of the good news that redeemed us, until we think, act, speak and live like Jesus (Romans 8:29). And this is why evangelism must seen as a part of our continual discipleship rather than a one time event that precedes discipleship.
At best, we run the risk of communicating that repentance is needed to enter the Kingdom, but better spiritual formation methods are needed once inside. At worst, we may be communicating that it is possible to come to Jesus for salvation without having any intention of being His disciples.
Here are 3 ways this truth shapes evangelism and discipleship at Soma:
1) Repentance is not an initial decision to come to Jesus, it is a lifestyle.
In order to follow Jesus in a way where I become like Him, I need to confront areas of unbelief in my life every single day. In order for an unbeliever to come to Jesus, they also must allow the same gospel to confront areas of unbelief in their life. In this way, mature believers realize they never move past their need for the Gospel, and unbelievers realize they cannot move forward in a relationship with God without the Gospel.
2) When discipleship becomes the focus of our life in Christ, evangelism becomes normative.
Rather than looking to create evangelistic conversations, the people of God realize that every conversation is an opportunity to remember how Jesus is the fulfillment of everything that we all want from life. When a friend is sharing about their desire for a higher paying job, we know that Jesus is the only true security. When a young lady is sharing about her relationship struggles, we know that no boyfriend can make her any more complete than she is in Christ. When a parent is grieving the loss of a child, we know that God also lost a son, and in so doing, has redeemed suffering.
When the gospel becomes our curriculum for discipleship, these conversations with non Christians happen all the time, because we have been preaching the same gospel to ourselves and other Christians every day. The only difference is one has never believed this truth, and another needs to be reminded.
3) Our public gatherings become a weekly celebration of this truth.
When the church gathers, we publicly acknowledge our worship of, belief in and need for Jesus. The same gospel that initially saved us is now continually maturing us, and will forever be our only righteousness before the Lord. Because the truth that saves also sanctifies, every unbeliever at a public gathering of the church will know the need to repent of an initial and ongoing desire to usurp God’s throne with our own, every nominal Christian will have a bigger picture of who God is and what He has done, and every disciple already in love with Jesus will have an opportunity to worship the God who is making them holy and blameless before Him.
Mike Brown helps lead one of the Los Angeles churches called Soma Burbank. They are part of the Soma Family of Churches.
To learn more about Soma in Los Angeles, check out their website.