Whether it is a cricket match between England and Australia or two teams playing in the Super Bowl- we like to pick a side. Who are you cheering for? The same is true in many other aspects of life. Disciple-making urgency or transformational discipleship? Which is more important? Put more simply- what matters most? Getting people saved or transformed?
Both-And Not Either-Or
Many Kingdom priorities are not either/or issues. Instead, they are very much both/and. Jesus is both God and man. We must both love God and also love our neighbor. Our human tendency, however, is to put ourselves into one camp or the other on theological issues.
The Urgency to reach the lost versus transforming disciples in Disciple Making Movements (DMMs), is a both/and issue. We can not emphasize one and forget the other.
Apart from a relationship with Jesus and accepting Him as Savior, unreached people are on a path toward a literal hell.
Discipleship that changes lives and brings the Kingdom of God to earth is a critical part of the gospel message.
We don’t get people saved just to give them a “get out of hell” card and then think our work is done. They are not saved “from” something alone. They are also saved “to” something- a new life with Jesus here on earth!
We have to fully embrace both of these things to see Disciple Making Movements that lead to the transformation of individuals, communities, people groups, and nations.
How I Accepted Christ- Is Hell A Real Place?
My own personal testimony connects with both of these important theological truths.
I was born in a missionary family and grew up in Africa. My mom and dad taught me from childhood about Jesus. I learned about God’s story from the time I was a baby.
When I was about four years old, I remember asking my mother a question. Is hell a real place? My mom stopped whatever she was doing and took time to talk to me.
“Yes, it is. But, you don’t have to be afraid of hell. Put your trust in Jesus, ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. You can know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die,” she explained to me. After a bit fuller description of the gospel message, she asked me, “Do you want to invite Jesus into your life to be your Savior?”
I wasn’t sure. Off I went to play. I kept thinking though. After some time I returned with the same question for my mom. “Is hell a real place?”
This happened a time or two until finally I knelt beside my mother’s bed and prayed to invite Jesus to be Lord of my life. Though I was very young, I still remember the sense of joy that entered my little heart. I knew I was saved! My sins were forgiven and Jesus was now my best friend!
From that point so many years ago, I’ve been sure that if something happened to me and I died, I would spend eternity in heaven with Him. The critical journey of discipleship, however, has been lifelong.
Lake of Fire And The New Earth
In Revelation 20:15 and 21:1 both hell and the new heaven and earth are mentioned together. That is interesting. Remember, chapter breaks and verses were added later.
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Rev. 20:15-21:1 NIV
We can not deny or in any way soften (in our own minds – or our message) the scriptural reality of hell as a literal place. It is a sobering reality. Unreached people around us must hear and accept the gospel or they will go to an eternal place of suffering after death. They will be forever separated from God. We can not allow ourselves the luxury of taking this biblical truth too lightly.
The urgency this important belief creates in our personal behavior and within the movement we start, is critical to its growth.
Disciples must be taught the reality of lostness. It will move them to take action to share the good news of eternal life with their friends, families, and neighbors.
We can not stop there though.
Share A Complete Gospel
Don’t make rescue from hell the only thing you share in your gospel presentation! Our expression of the good news must also include topics like; repentance, forgiveness, freedom from shame, reconciliation with God and man, new life in Christ, transformation, and entry into the Kingdom of God.
Once people have believed, we help them understand more about their lifelong journey of growing deeper and deeper in a love relationship with God.
The little sprout of faith will eventually bring strong, lasting fruit if its roots go deep into the soil of Kingdom transformation.
Do you tend to be in one camp or the other?
What steps could you take this week to bring a BOTH/AND approach in your evangelism and disciple-making?
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