The Trellis and The Vine: Finally, my brothers…

13 04 2010

Here are some more highlights that stood out for me from the Trellis and the Vine.  You should read the book for yourself, especially if you are in Christian ministry. It has so much more than I have been able to mention in these two postings on the book…

 Two fundamentals to Christian ministry are PROCLAIMING  and PRAYING.  In this sense then every Christian is called to be a vine worker in Marshall and Payne ‘s terms.  They are to be servants of Jesus (Acts 4:29-31).

 “The call to discipleship is the same for all. … To be a disciple is to be a slave of Christ and to confess his name openly before others…

The call to discipleship is thus a call to confess our allegiance to Jesus in the face of a hostile world; to serve him and his mission whatever the cost. … To be a disciple is to be a disciple-maker.” (p. 42, 43)

 Concerning the confession of our allegiance to Jesus Christ, Marshall and Payne helpfully move us on beyond the bald confession of ‘I am a Christian’ to explain and fill out the kind of confession that will characterise the disciple whose “whole aim [is] to be the glory of God in the salvation of others.  They do so by suggesting we look for ways to be living “salty lives” before the world:

  • Pray for opportunities to make a bold proclamation of the gospel
  • Look out for chances to be giving appropriate answers to questions raised by our lifefstyle 
  • Live a life that always makes the teaching of the gospel attractive 
  • Take every chance to make God known by declaring his mercies before non-Christian friends 
  • Even when ‘persecuted’ or facing opposition gently give a defence for the hope we have in the gospel

 They conclude: “The New Testament envisages that all Christian disciples will be prayerful speakers of God’s word in a multitude of different ways and contexts.”

 Two major concerns for future ministry are TRAINING and GOSPEL GROWTH.   Christian ministry then is about God’s glory and God’s people.  The people of God are trained through personal relationship with another Christian(s) who impart sound doctrine from the Bible and exemplify it by a lifestyle that is soundly based on that teaching.  Gospel growth is when these principles are applied and lived in the lives of men and women so that they move from non-faith to faith, from new Christian to mature Christian, from spiritual babies to those who can prayerfully know, use and apply God’s Word meaningfully into the lives of those around them.

 “The heart of training is not to impart a skill, but sound doctrine. Paul uses the language of ‘training’ to refer to a lifelong process whereby Timothy and his congregation are taught by the Scripture to reject false religion, and to conform their hearts and their lives to sound doctrine. Good biblical training results in a godly life based on sound, health-giving teaching.” (p. 71)

 Imitation is a vital part of this training in the New Testament. This was basic to all of Paul’s ministry. (Phil 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 10:32-11:1; 1 Thess. 1:4-7)  “The life and ministry of the trainer is a model for the trainee – not of perfection but of godly desires in an earthen vessel.” (p.76)

The nature and goal of training can be usefully summarised in three Cs.

  • Conviction – their knowledge of God and understanding of the Bible
  • Character – the godly character and life that accords with sound doctrine
  • Competency – the ability to prayerfully speak God’s word to others in a variety of ways

Three further important issues in Gospel Growth:

  1. Gospel growth happens in the lives of people. “But if people are not growing in their knowledge of God’s will so that they walk ever more worthily of the Lord, seeking to please him in all things and bearing fruit in every good work, then there is no growth to speak of happening at all.” (p. 82)
  2. Gospel growth means a readiness to lose our best people. “A commitment to the growth of the gospel will mean that we train people towards maturity not for the benefit of our own churches or fellowships but for the benefit fo Christ’s kingdom.”
  3. Gospel growth need a radical change in our thinking about people. “We see people not as cogs in our wheel, or as resources for our projects, but as individuals each at their own stage of gospel growth.”
     

“Training is the engine of gospel growth. Under God, the way to get more gospel growth happening is to train more and more mature, godly Christians to be vine-workers – that is, to see more people equipped, resourced and encouraged to speak the word prayerfully to other people, whether in outreach, follow-up or Christian growth.” (p.90)


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