Sermon by Andrew Smellie while visiting the DC Church from the Johannesburg International Christian Church. (Transcript)

Good Morning Family!  Sawubona and greetings from the saints in Johannesburg, South Africa!  Sawubona is a Zulu tribe greeting, which literally means, “I see you, you are important to me and I value you.”  It’s a way to make the other person visible and to accept them as they are with their virtues, nuances, and flaws.  And the same could be said for how God sees us today!  You are important to Him, He values you and accepts that you are united with Him!  In response to Sawubona, people usually say “Shiboka,” which means “I exist for you.”  Of course as disciples we understand that we exist to glorify the Lord as we build His kingdom, Amen!  Please turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 1.  I am so honored to speak to you today as we prepare to celebrate the start of a new decade – 2020 – the Year of Vision!!  I’m excited to have our Winter Workshops begin this Friday! Don’t miss it!

In 2019 God used our mission team from Lagos and also also members from Chicago and San Francisco to plant the fourth official church in Africa, Johannesburg, SA!  Our Inaugural Service on September 8th had 162 in attendance, with two baptisms and two restorations from the ICOC!  We are getting used to the South African culture and verbiage, as over 11 different tribes exist there.  One of the most unusual things I have had to get used to is to remember that they call traffic lights “robots.”  When I take a Bolt I have to remind myself to tell the driver to turn right at the next robot, otherwise he won’t know what I am talking about…the world is an interesting place!  By the grace of God I just baptized a Bolt driver last week named Levi!  I’ll tell you all about his remarkable story and conversion next week!  Please also pray for our African Missions Conference in Johannesburg from June 26-28th!!  Americans don’t need a visa to enter South Africa, so you are all welcome to stay for three months before you have to leave!

2019 also inspired us to see the first graduating ICCM class on the African continent as 14 Lagos disciples were awarded their Bachelors of Ministry degrees at the 3rd African Missions Conference in June of this year!  At that time I also handed over the leadership of the Lagos Church to our dear friends and newly reinstated Evangelist and WML, Bolaji and Chinyere Akinfenwa!  Bolaji is currently pursuing his ICCM Masters degree so he can officially begin the second ICCM class in Lagos by next year!  Please keep praying for the Lagos Church.  They are doing great.  By the grace of God, the Lagos Church has grown from just 11 on our mission team back in 2016 to 155 disciples by the time the Joburg Mission Team was sent out!  On behalf of over 1100 disciples of the AFRICANUS World Sector, I want to THANK YOU for all you love and financial support to build God’s kingdom on the Motherland!

Patrique and I are so grateful for all of you.  Thank you to DJ & Donna for hosting us in their beautiful home!  We particularly want to hold up Ken & Cheryl for all their love and hospitality.  Many of us know about the perks of staying at Hotel Chin (the oxtail and rice are restaurant quality), but their friendship and support are even greater.  They are truly best friends and pillars in the kingdom of God.

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”

1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (NIV)

This scripture also talks about the power of the gospel, the Holy Spirit and the deep conviction that we must have as disciples.  Deep conviction does not come unless you are first convicted about what is right.  That is why we have our workshops at the beginning of the year – it is to deepen our convictions so we can be ready for all the year holds in store for us!  Do you have deep convictions about Bible study, prayer, confession, and evangelism?  How about purity??  How about discipling??  Turn with me to Matthew 28.  The title of our lesson today is simply, Discipling: Training that Transforms!

If you had the world’s most important message and you want to get it to the most people, how do you do it? Would you broadcast it on TV?  Would you spend money on highway banners?  Would you post it on the Internet?  Jesus had that conviction and that concern.  However, he often spoke to large crowds for the purpose of training his apostles and other future evangelists (the 72) rather than attempt to convert the crowds.  He wasn’t naïve enough to think that teaching in those large groups was going to really do the job of radically changing their lives.  But he did have a plan.  Today we are going to examine Jesus’ plan to teach and instruct his disciples and apply those spiritual principles to our lives.

‘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 (NIV)


The literal translation in the Greek in this passage states, “Going, then, disciple (teach/instruct) all nations, baptizing them”.  What is Jesus’ dream?  That his disciples would teach and instruct the world to obey the Lord!  World evangelism is teaching and instructing others to the truth of God’s word for their lives!  SHARE – Goodhope – “never seen love like this…”  This isn’t about sharing some relative philosophy about different ways to God.  It’s about proclaiming the truth (flat earth vs. truth).  (John 14:6, John 18:37-38).  The truth is not relative.  It’s fact.  And the only way to know the truth is by obeying the Word of God.  Believing it is not enough.  (John 8:31-32)  If you claim to be a disciple of Christ, a Christian, then we must share Jesus’ dream.   But how can such a dream of a massive scope be accomplished?  It’s very simple:  One disciple making and teaching another disciple to obey the Word of God, who then goes to help others to do the same.  Disciples make disciples.  Disciples baptize disciples, and disciples teach other disciples to obey.  Jesus saves the lost, but as his disciples, we are called to make disciples!  The main message of this passage is that God wants every Christian to have someone in their lives, teaching them to OBEY ALL of Jesus’ commands.  If you claim to be a disciple of Christ, a Christian, do you have someone in your life who is mentoring or “discipling” you?  Remember, the purpose of a disciple is to become like Christ in heart and lifestyle (John 14:12, Romans 8:29, 1 John 2:3-6).  So the purpose of discipling is to help someone to become like Jesus (Galatians 4:19).  True disciples of Jesus are always striving to help others from the world to become followers of Christ and to help mature each other within the church. Turn with me to Ezekiel 33. The difference between preaching and teaching is the expectation of obedience. A person who is teaching is just relaying information. A preacher expects those who are listening to obey. Let’s examine the opposite in Ezekiel 33.

‘“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.’

Ezekiel 33:30-32 (NIV)

Does this (scripture) describe you?  We listen but we don’t apply.  We come, we listen, and we leave.  The Word of God has no impact on our lives because we do not combine it with faith (Hebrews 4:2).  The problem is that our sinful hearts don’t want to obey.  We are greedy for unjust gain that does not want to conform to the will of God.  As a result, we can be tempted to wear a religious mask and participate in faking church.  Discipling is accountability, and accountability helps us to obey with the right heart.  Turn to Jeremiah 17.  Life can harden our hearts and get us self-focused and self-deceived.  Do you see the need for discipling in your life?


Some of you may be thinking, “Why do I need somebody to teach me to obey?  I can figure out my own way!  Isn’t the Bible enough?”

‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

The truth is that God disciples us in many different ways.  He is constantly discipling us through His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), through His sovereignty (Acts 17:24-28), through situations and sufferings (Hebrews 12:4-13), through the scriptures (Psalm 19:7-11), and also through spiritual people (Proverbs 13:20, 11:30).   All top athletes have personal coaches, as top students have tutors.  If an attitude of pride and independence doesn’t even make sense to the world, how much more so for Christians! To think that we can be excellent spiritually without advisors exposes our spiritual arrogance.  (Proverbs 12:15).  These are just a few Scriptures that expose the futility of trying to build our righteousness alone.  There is no such thing as a “loner” Christian. “People discipling people” is older than the Bible itself.  Moses discipled Joshua (Exodus 24:13).  Elijah trained up Elisha to be God’s prophet (1 Kings 19:19-21).  Nathan was sent by God to disciple David after David’s grievous sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1).  What has always been God’s plan concerning discipling is still God’s plan in the New Covenant (Romans 15:14). God will always uses spiritual people to help His people mature in Christ! Please turn with me to 2 Samuel 12.  Let’s take a look at a classic example of discipling in action. 

‘The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord .” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.’

2 Samuel 12:1-13 (NIV)

Here is a classic example of the purpose and BENEFITS of having someone help us with our spiritual lives. David is not dealing with his sin properly and it takes Nathan’s words to get him honest and broken about what he has done.  Thankfully, David had the humility of heart to repent and is forgiven of his sin!  Turn to Hebrews 3.  Did Nathan have to confront David on his sin? Yes! Why?


Sadly, another false doctrine that I’ve heard is that once you become a “mature” Christian, you’ve “arrived”.  You supposedly no longer need accountability in your life.  That’s scary.  At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul writes to protégé Timothy, the leader of the church at Ephesus, “continue in what you learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it…”  Timothy was an experienced Evangelist at this time, yet Paul continued to disciple him.  Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful about all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”   We can’t disciple ourselves!  The Bible commands us to have other people in our lives.  Many times we cannot detect our own sin (Psalm 36:2) and often we have no idea where we are really at spiritually (Revelations 3:17).

‘See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’

Hebrews 3:12-13 (NIV)

‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

We need daily encouragement and some healthy accountability to change and become like Christ.  We are to “see to it” that we have others in our lives.  We see here that discipling is not to be passive.  We’re supposed to be doing something.

‘Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.’

1 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV)

‘And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.’

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)

There are numerous “one-another” passages which make it clear that we are to be deeply and daily involved in each other’s lives. Well, how do we go about this?  I can’t certainly personally walk with every person in this region and handle their challenges daily.  What is Jesus’ plan to accomplish this? Turn to Mark 6.  We need partners in the Spiritual Battle.  We need to walk with others.

‘He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.’

Mark 6:6-7 (NIV)

Jesus sent out his 12 disciples two by two!  Maybe this was just something special for the 12.  Was this an actual ministry dynamic or something he just did on a whim? Turn to Luke 10.  I believe you know the answer.  Let’s read in verse 1.

‘After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.’

Luke 10:1 (NIV)

Jesus did the same with his 72 disciples that he was training for the ministry!  He knew that every disciple needs another disciple to help him learn by walking with him.  If you examine Jesus’ ministry, the basics of his plan were simple.  First, he called men to follow him (Mark 1:14-18).  Second, he kept men with him in order to train them and later send them out to share his message (Mark 3:14; 9:30).  Third, the training process included practical assignments, so they could learn and retain what they practiced. Finally, Jesus gave his life for what he taught.  Until we have something worth dying for, we have nothing worth living for.


After Jesus resurrected from the grave, he spent 40 days preparing his trained men for the coming of the kingdom and the task of spreading it all over the world.  Then he ascended back to heaven leaving those few ordinary men with the extraordinary task of being, (not just teaching) Jesus to the world.  That is why Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  Jesus’ method was to pour his life into men, and once they were fully trained, they would be like him (Luke 6:40).  Having been discipled, they were able to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus taught them!  It’s a simple plan with a high price tag – a tremendous personal investment in training individuals – but it worked.  The same relates today.  No other plan has ever worked, can ever work, will every work.  We either do it His way, or we fail miserably.  The impact of discipling is seen powerfully through the Apostle Paul and Timothy.  Their discipling relationship began when Timothy was a young disciple living in Lystra in Acts 16:1.  Paul took him with him and Silas on the remainder of the second missionary tour for training and later sent him to lead the very prominent church in Ephesus.  Let’s take a look at what Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2.

‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’

2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

Paul had disciple Timothy, and Timothy was to disciple other reliable men, who would be able to teach others.  Converting someone is never the ultimate goal of a disciple.  The goal is to convert and train them to convert and train others, so that the chain will continue.  In the case of Timothy, we have four spiritual generations implied by the above passage:  Paul, Timothy, reliable men and others.  This chain of discipling is the intent of God in carrying out his mission on earth. Turn to Colossians 1.

‘He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.’

Colossians 1:28 (NIV)

Joburg Brothers in Christ!

The goal of discipling is to present every Christian PERFECT in Christ.  That is the VISION for every disciple!  We should be developing Christ-like attitudes and actions towards all aspects of life:  Our relationships; our career; helping the poor and underprivileged; our finances; evangelism etc.  We will need many hours of training (Mark 9:30) like the Apostles, to become full-grown in the Lord.  Is God’s plan your plan?  If not, you’re not being a disciple, and you’re not involved in Jesus’ dream to evangelize the world.  That is the vision of God, and that needs to be our vision! Allow me to close with a quote:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.  I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.  When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.  I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.  Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.  My family and I could have made an impact on our town.  Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world. 

Author Unknown

Through discipling, 12 unschooled and ordinary men changed the world forever.  What could 60 schooled and extraordinary disciples do?  Dr. William James, a 19th century psychologist and philosopher once stated, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.”  It’s my prayer that we will make use of our lives to see Jesus’ dream continue until He comes.  Thank you.