The Profound Connection between Missionary Work and Discipleship
In today's blog post, we will delve into the profound connection between missionary work and discipleship. When we read 1 Thessalonians 2, we gain insights into the challenges faced by the Apostle Paul and his co-laborers in the Gospel, the importance of discipleship in strengthening the faith of believers, and the inevitable afflictions faced by those who choose to follow Jesus Christ.
The Importance of Discipleship:
Just as the peaching and teaching of the Word of God is central to Biblical Missions, so discipleship plays a central role not just in missions, but in the everyday life of all true believers. Paul sent Timothy to establish and exhort the Thessalonian believers, and in this we are reminded of our responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ to strengthen and encourage one another in the faith. Discipleship is not limited to a specific context but extends to every aspect of our lives, from our relationships with family and friends to our interaction with the global community of saints.
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, - 1 Thess. 3: 1-2
The Implication of Afflictions:
Afflictions are actually inevitable for those who choose to follow Jesus Christ. As Paul states, "we were destined for this" - a powerful reminder of the cost of discipleship. Afflictions may come in various forms, testing our faith and resolve. However, the Lord urges us not to be moved or discouraged wen we face trials and afflictions. Instead, we are called to stand firm, lock arms with fellow believers, and rely on God's grace to guide us through difficult times.
that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. - 1 Thess. 3: 3
The Interconnection between Missionary Work and Discipleship:
There is a profound connection between missionary work and discipleship. Missionaries are not meant to be "one-man operations." Just as no soldier goes into battle alone, missionaries rely on the support and partnership of co-laborers in the Gospel. All missionaries are disciples themselves (having been discipled and still now in the School of Christ learning). Making other disciples is critical in the work of Biblical missions. It’s not enough to just preach or proclaim the Gospel. As believers we are called to also make disciples and bring the transforming message of the Gospel to the nations; we are to apply ourselves to the discipling the nations. An often overlooked but incredibly important part of discipling others is to give them a sound theology of suffering. In this way, when they encounter difficulties, trials, and persecutions they know how to respond in faith.
For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. - 1 Thess. 3: 4
In this blog post, we have explored the profound connection between missionary work and discipleship. Many missions exist in the world today, but not all evangelize or disciple, unfortunately. We have recognized the importance of discipleship in strengthening the faith of believers, the implications of afflictions in the life of a disciple, and the interconnection between missionary work and discipleship. As followers of Jesus Christ, may we embrace the call to be disciples and continue the work of making disciples, trusting in God's grace to sustain us in times of challenge and rejoicing in God in the fruit of our labor as we witness lives transformed by the Gospel. May we show ourselves true disciples of Jesus Christ in our willingness to endure all things for the sake of the elect. To God alone the glory - SDG.
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. - 2 Timothy 2: 10
Written by Jesse Schreck | founder, director, and missionary church planter with Practical Missions Cohort
To hear more on this topic you can listen to ep. 297 of Missions Incorporated
Or you can watch this missionary highlight.