Welcome to Engage 24 Boot Camp!
Engage 24 is a worldwide event designed for college students, yet applicable to everyone. On October 15, 2015, students will answer the call to engage their campuses and local environment for a full 24 hours with the gospel. Through prayer, intentional gospel sharing, and bold discipleship, these students plan to consecrate this day to embody God’s heart for the lost.
As you know, my husband and I are blessed directors of a local college ministry. To prepare for 10/15/15, I plan to share a few tips that have greatly helped my journey to understand my faith in Christ, and share it better with the world. First up: the Timeline of a Christian’s Journey.
A few years ago, a gentleman in Ohio gave me a picture that was revolutionary to how I understood my faith. It redefined how I saw evangelism and discipleship, and equipped me to do both better. I wish I could remember the source he mentioned for this concept (if any of my readers recognize it, please let me know!).
The following is my representation of the timeline of a person’s journey to becoming a mature, flourishing Christian.
The CROSS represents salvation. This is the moment the individual accepts Christ as his or her savior.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10
Every point before the “cross” represents a person’s life before Christ. The farthest point could symbolize the time before an individual had ever heard about God and His love for us. As a person hears the gospel, grows in curiosity, seeks answers by the leading of the Holy Spirit, he is stepping closer to that moment of salvation.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15
Of course, in our unbelief before Christ, we go back and forth in our desire to know more about God. Our willingness to seek Him and our attention to His call in our lives can be spotty at best. Some go through seasons where someone is constantly praying for and inviting the individual to learn about faith in Jesus. Other times are characterized by the lack of spiritual intervention by loved ones. Obviously, this is not a linear process. Remember, the timeline pictures is simply a tool, not a definition, to understand a Christian’s journey.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
For some of us, the moment of salvation came very soon after hearing about Jesus for the first time. Whether we were 7 or 27, that moment is still just as significant for each person. For many of us, we understand the full depth of salvation some time after we become Christians. That is just a part of the Holy Spirit walking with us to grow in our faith.
The points after the cross symbolize the sanctification process: becoming more like Jesus. At salvation, a person’s identity has changed:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The Holy Spirit now helps the individual’s lifestyle, thoughts, actions, hopes and dreams to change. That is sanctification:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
This sanctification is the “growing us up” into maturity:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14
As with any living organism, we reach maturity when we are able to “reproduce.” In other words, the ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit is not just to make us Christians, but to make us Disciple-makers, like Christ was.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Once a person is able to “feed himself” spiritually, and begin to feed others, he or she can continue running the race with perseverance till the day God calls us home:
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. Philippians 3:10-15
This “timeline” will be a helpful tool as we explore the difference between evangelism and discipleship, the importance of prayer, and what it truly means to be a Christian. Engage 24 is right around the corner. Prepare yourself with greater understanding of the above Scriptures, to impact your sphere of influence for Christ.