Evangelism and Discipleship: Jonah and Paul juxtaposed.

Evangelism and Discipleship

Introduction

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship forces his reader to face the fact that the only reason and method for living is living for “Christ alone above all else.”[1] This is the recurring theme of evangelism and discipleship; Christ, God, is all in all and all is owed to Him. Jonah is used by God to evangelize the Ninevites and he is a picture of the personal loss when discipleship does not follow evangelism. Paul was called to reach the gentiles for Christ; yet, Paul carries out his call not just by evangelizing and leaving but also by teaching and training. Paul and Jonah are two characters that demonstrate both evangelism and discipleship in the different testaments. Every Christian has a call not only to share the Gospel but also to be in the process of being discipled and discipling others.

Principles of Evangelism in the Old Testament and New Testament

Jonah is the perfect place to start with when talking about evangelism in the old testament. Evangelism starts with God’s call: “word of the Lord came to Jonah”[2] The call to evangelism is consistent in both testaments, the great commission[3] and Paul’s call[4] attest to God calling his people to evangelism. The only difference between the call to evangelism in the old and new testament is that in the old, the call was more to individuals with the people of God and in the new testament it is more universal to all the people of God. After the call there is the going to do evangelism. Jonah shows the inescapable nature of the call of God to this task and so does Paul. Jonah got the fish and Paul got knocked of his mount and blinded. After the call and the going is the message. Between Jonah and Paul, the real propitiation had come. The means that Jonah’s message was slightly different than Paul’s. Jonah said repent[5], Paul said repent and believe.[6] There are three principles to evangelism as outlined in the lives of Jonah and Paul, the call, the going, and the message.

Principles of Discipleship in the Old Testament and New Testament

The necessity of discipleship is clear in the life of Jonah because his life can be juxtaposed with that of the life of Paul. After the Ninevites repented, Jonah was disconsolate; yet, when the Corinthians repented Paul rejoiced in them.[7] Jonah and Paul are the perfect mirrors of each other in this case. Both Jew’s, both called to evangelize Gentiles, yet one is happy with the success and the other is not. Discipleship is the difference. Jonah left without getting to know the people, he was the one person they knew and had the influence to teach them the ways of God’s people and he abandoned them.[8] Paul, on the other hand, did not stop at the proclamation, Paul stayed and taught them what they needed to know. Paul taught a young man right out the window.[9] So, by being about discipleship Paul rejoiced and Jonah missed out. Principles of discipleship is probably best summed up in Deuteronomy 11:19, God’s call on his people is that as they go, as they stay, in all the ways that they live they teach about him and learn about him in community.

Evangelism and Discipleship in Your Supervised Ministry Placement

Throughout the text from scripture, and pointedly in places like Genesis 3:15, God has shown his desire for reconciliation[10] between Him and His people. McRaney points out that the stakes in evangelism are eternal.[11] Discipleship is always connected to evangelism. Bonhoeffer put it like this, “Happy are they that know that discipleship is just a life that springs from Grace and that Grace simply means discipleship.”[12] The purpose of the minister is not to invent new ideas. The minister is to carry out the call of evangelism and the task of discipleship by learning as Timothy did from Paul and then passing it on. The supervised ministry placement is just that. It is a younger learning from an older in order that the mission will be carried on.

Conclusion

Paul and Jonah were called by God to go and give the message of repentance. They are just a small example of the people God has called. In their lives it is clear that evangelism and discipleship are not separate tasks, they may not happen at the same time but one is a continuation on from the other. God’s calls, people go and preach the message that brings people into a discipleship relationship with God and each other.

 

 


[1]. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 2015).

[2]. Jonah 1:1, ESV.

[3]. Matthew 28:20, ESV.

[4]. Acts 9:15, ESV.

[5]. Jonah 3:4, ESV.

[6]. Acts 16:29–30, ESV.

[7]. 2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV.

[8]. Jonah 4:5, ESV.

[9]. Acts 20:9, ESV.

[10]. Will McRaney, The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Jesus in a Changing Culture (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2003). 16.

[11]. Will McRaney, The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Jesus in a Changing Culture (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2003). 15.

[12]. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 2015).

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. London: SCM Press, 2015.

McRaney, Will. The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Jesus in a Changing Culture. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2003.

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