First Principles 2015 – Let’s Make Disciples In Phoenix!

Marina, Monica, and Brittany all studied the First Principles with Arian Carpio (second from right) and then rejoice with her just after she was baptized into Christ! Welcome home sister!

Marina, Monica, and Brittany all studied the First Principles with Arian Carpio (second from right) and then rejoice with her just after she was baptized into Christ! Welcome home sister!

First Principles Prevent “Aging” & Enables “Maturity”

“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 5:12-14

The Revised Standard Version translation renders “the elementary truths” as the “the first principles.” (cf. Hebrews 5:12) This is where we get our name for our church’s study series, “which agrees with what [is taught] everywhere in every church.” (cf. 1 Cor 4:18)  The Soldout Movement family of churches uses this studies series to empower Christians to obey Jesus’ great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 – “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.” A disciple who is mature is able to teach these “First Principles” and in fact has been doing so through “constant use.” If we don’t give our hearts fully to mastering the “First Principles” we’ll find ourselves aged in the faith, yet not matured!

Dan Cooke shares his heart vulnerably during his restoration to the fellowship! We are grateful for his return and his heart to recommit to the First Principles as a Soldout Disciple!

Dan Cooke shares his heart vulnerably during his restoration to the fellowship! We are grateful for his return and his heart to recommit to the First Principles as a Soldout Disciple!

If we are going to live out the purpose we are giving in following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ we must have a biblical approach which covers the core convictions (“First Principles”) needed to be a disciple of Jesus.  We also must help someone “count the cost” with scriptural clarity. (cf. Luke 14:28-30)  When Jesus called his first followers, he made clear to them that their new purpose was going to be being fishers of men in Mark 1:17-18“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  If we are going to follow Jesus, then the impact of that decision is that we become just like our LORD and thus will fish for men as well!  Jesus said of himself, “For the son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) This makes sense because at the end of his ministry Jesus called them all to “go fish” – “to make disciples of all nations” and baptize them!  This new purpose did not start and stop with only the 11 faithful apostles!  This is because Jesus also commanded them in Matthew 28:20 they must “[teach] them to obey everything that I have commanded you!”  And what did Jesus just command them to do?  To go “make disciples of all nations” and to “baptize them” and teach them to “obey everything that [Jesus] commanded [them]!” This means everyone following Jesus will have his purpose, to fish for men aka “to make disciples of all nations!” It also means everyone who is a disciple is commanded to call all those who they make into a disciple of Jesus to also make others into disciples of Jesus – and so on!  This is Christ’s plan to reach the ends of the earth!

When I was growing up I had numerous religious experiences from numerous different denominations in the United States.  I had at least three “conversion” experiences, including a “baptism”, Pentecostalism, and answering a couple of alter calls.  Churchgoing was/is commonplace in Missouri and this is where I’d lived from the ages of 6yrs ~ 12yrs.  I was always taught the bible was true and that I need to respect the truth.  I also learned that regular prayer was important from my mother.  And yet with all these experiences, I was never taught that I was called by Jesus Christ to have a new purpose, to fish for men.  I always looked at the minister, the pastor, or the church staff as those who were to win souls for Christ.  It was my impression that a degree from Bible College or something similar was necessary to lead people to Christ.

Teacher of Disciples vs. Teaching Other’s First Principles to Become Disciples

The scriptures show us something very different.  On one hand, it is clear that not everyone is a teacher in the church – “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)  The scriptures clarify that there are different roles that God calls people to and some of them involve teaching the church (those who are already disciples and who should know the First Principles).  For example, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 says “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” Where the confusion is that these scriptures are speaking to us in the context those who teach disciples vs. those who are teaching others to become disciples.  One context deals with instructing those who are already members of God’s church, the other context deals with members of the church (“Christians/Disciples”) helping others become disciples.  You can see this played out in Acts 7-8, where the bible records the persecution inspired by the martyrdom of Stephen and spear-headed by Saul.  Acts 8:1 records, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”  If the typical church member being scattered by this persecution is expected to make disciples and not just the apostles – we should see these “rank-and-file Christians” preaching the word.  This is in fact recorded in Acts 8:4-5, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. “  Disciples preaching to those who were not disciples in order to make them into disciples of Jesus is further cemented by scriptures which teach this expectation is the mark of maturity!  “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!” (Hebrews 5:12)

What an amazing joy our sister Santa DeJesus while here in our ministry!  God called her into the ministry alongside Ritchie and Elizabeth McDonnell in the great Washington DC church!

What an amazing joy our sister Santa DeJesus while here in our ministry! God called her into the ministry alongside Ritchie and Elizabeth McDonnell in the great Washington DC church!

We shortchange our spiritual growth when we shunt the call of Jesus Christ to “[fish] for men” (Mark 1:16-18), “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20).  The implications of not bearing fruit are serious – Jesus teaches on this powerfully in John 15:1-8:

The Fruits of the Spirit vs. The Fruit of Faithful Disciples

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Some confuse this “fruit” with the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Simply put, we must understand that the Holy Spirit was not given yet when Jesus taught John 15, as the Holy Spirit is given to those who repent and get baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  (cf. also Acts 19:1-5)  The terminology of “fruits of the spirit” therefore naturally did not occur until after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension.  This is because the birth of the Kingdom of God and our ability to be bound to it was not taught or explained until Peter preached the first “gospel” sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2.  Peter’s gospel sermon revealed that we could be born again of water and the Holy Spirit via repentance and baptism (for the forgiveness of sins) in the name of Jesus Christ.  Romans 6:1-4 clearly teaches baptism is a participation spiritually – via our faith – in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.  Acts 2:38 teaches us that at this baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit living in us at this point which produces the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. (cf. Romans 8:9-11)  The Holy Spirit produces Holy Spirit fruit and a disciple produces other disciples as fruit – and bearing this fruit show us to be Jesus’ disciples!  Apple trees bear apples.  Pear trees bear pears.  Sheep bear fruit in birthing more sheep.  The Holy Spirit has its fruits and disciples have their fruit – being like Jesus and making more disciples (fruit)!  This underscores the importance that every disciple be fully equipped with the mastery of the First Principles!

First Principles Help Us Walk As Jesus Christ Did

1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

The Phoenix family welcomes our dear sister Gabrielle from our sister church in Santa Barbara!  We are thankful for great examples in God’s Kingdom of pure dating and are excited to see God work through Anthony & “Gabby’s” relationship!

The Phoenix family welcomes our dear sister Gabrielle from our sister church in Santa Barbara! We are thankful for great examples in God’s Kingdom of pure dating and are excited to see God work through Anthony & “Gabby’s” relationship!

Let’s give ourselves fully to this effort!  It is the goal of the first principles to solidify each disciple in their convictions about seeking God, the Word of God, the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ call to discipleship!  The First Principles unify us as a movement with one another!  It is astonishing and refreshing to sense the like-minded hearts, oneness of spirit, and purpose in our sister churches!  I’m encouraged greatly to see our brothers and sisters striving to be equipped to help others become disciples, and so to multiply!  Let’s continue to pray that God will make our ministry grow this year!

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 6:1-3

May we “bear much fruit” showing ourselves “to be [Jesus’] disciples” and to God be the Glory!

Download PDF – 20150614-JeremyCiaramella-Bulletin-WelcomeToFirstPrinciples

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1 Comment

  1. by Dan Cooke on July 15, 2015  2:44 pm Reply

    First principles has been a great renewal lesson, I think its good for disciples to go thru 1P at least once every few years. I believe it helps refresh thier convictions and renew the reasons they decided to become disciples in the first place.

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