The Moment When Your Student Becomes a Member of the Kingdom of God

One of the most extraordinary events in all of Scripture is the exact moment after the ascension of Jesus Christ, when post-resurrection life sets in. Think about the people of the Old Testament – living and enduring with the mindset that rescue would come, and God would save us. This was the hope, dream, and story that was told from generation to generation: the Messiah will save us.

In the Gospels you can see that Jesus is among the people in flesh and blood teaching everyone that He is the long awaited Messiah. The mindset, for those who believe, is one of refreshing celebration that after all these years, and after all these generations, the prophecy is finally true. So what is the mindset after the resurrection and ascension? What is the heartbeat, the air that they breathe, the understanding of how to do daily life on the other side of the resurrection? 

What we do not see in the book of Acts is people going back to life as usual – in fact, it is clear that these apostles are taking very seriously the last words of Christ on earth: to go and make disciple of all nations. Whatever previous work, living, entertainment, or plans for the summer were on their minds, everything shifted, and everything was massively affected. Because in that moment, everything changed. When reading the book of Acts it is easy to get excited as we watch a people go straight into prayer, straight into action, and straight into watching the Gospel take off and change everything. As the Church begins, people are changed, cities are changed, and culture is forever changed.

This response begs the question: why is it so hard to see that same pulse in the Church today? How do we make sure that our teenagers “get it”? How can we preach and share the book of Acts with our students to help them see the excitement of being a part of this Gospel and kingdom work? I suggest four things:

1)    Encourage them to share their faith immediately. On one hand, we want our students to be taught Scripture, but at the same time we want them to be active in the Scripture and in their role of church history. In my opinion, as soon as students start sharing the faith that God has brought them with their friends, several amazing things happen. First, students are amazed and sometimes shocked to see God actually does use sinners and let them be a part of kingdom work.  This is especially true when they get a front row seat watching God save a friend, even by just a simple invitation to church. Secondly, students begin to put their faith on the line, as they have no choice but to trust in the power of Jesus and His Gospel when they step out in courage to share their faith. Lastly, students are able to join in the global work and see that every time they share their faith, they are standing in the trenches with thousand of other Christians that have gone before them and will come after them. Encourage your students to stop playing games, just pick someone out that they have influence with, and start sharing.

2)    Encourage them to embrace awkwardness. A new word has been dominating the will for the things of God in the younger generation and it is based on the word, “awkward.” Nobody wants to be awkward.  This is nothing new, only a new way of saying we all just want to blend in, and not stand out. It is easy to be casual and not cause a fuss in our culture.  However, in true kingdom thinking, there is no time to play in the middle between following Christ and trying to please the world. Besides, the world today will not let you do that anymore.  There is no playing in the middle – the world wants you to reveal the real you. So encourage your students as they read Acts to join in the community of the bold and courageous, knowing that we are not of this world, and awkwardness is a small price to pay for the amazing joy we have in Christ.

3)    Pray. A heartbeat and mindset that understands the urgency and excitement of joining Christ on mission in everyday life for His glory does not happen overnight, and there will be many points in life where we want to just take a break. The Apostles had the gospel mindset because of what they saw: Christ in all of His beauty. This also is why Isaiah was so eager to be sent out, even though his mission was almost impossible. Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up and had an automatic response of the heart. It is the heart that needs this vision daily, so encourage your students to spend time in prayer to seek such boldness and vision from the Father.

4)    Watch and be amazed. I am always trying to point my students to what God is currently doing in the world in and through His people. The lives of the Apostles in Acts are not just something that happened 2,000 years ago. There are Christians all over the world today laying their lives on the line for the kingdom. God is still working, moving, and glorifying Himself through the good news of Christ. Make sure you and your students are always up to date on the amazing news of global kingdom work. 

John is the Pastor at Jackson Way Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. John is a candidate for a Masters in Divinity at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. John has been serving in ministry for the last 13 years as a Student Pastor. John's heart is to preach and communicate the Gospel to the world by serving the church and making disciples. John's writings have been published on The Gospel Coalition website, and The Vision Room website.

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