Growing in the New Life
Growing the New life – Discipleship – the Nourishment for New life
(Much credit to be given to Dallas Willard in his fine book, "The Great Omission")
Intro – "Flip that House"
Our lives can seem an awful lot like a flipped house:
Remodeled house – same old guts, painted over, pretty
The New life doesn’t seem like its taken effect
House is remodeled, but has the same insides
Innards are corrupt and dying
We want the new life, feel like we have the new life, but the old life dwells, lingers, ruins, sends us astray, causes pain, frustration, anguish, hurt, sin, hatred, lust, worry, unholy fear, and most of all discouragement.
We feel like a young child given a spectacular and elaborate toy, and no one has assembled it for us. We want to use it, but it is worthless and unusable. We are left wondering when we get to enjoy the gift, and how to put it together.
The Cost of Discipleship – Cheap Grace and easy Christianity – failure to count the cost
Christianity that fails to bear a cross and give its life to God hardly follows the model of Christ. 1937 Cost of Discipleship – easy Christianity has resurfaced
The Cost of NonDiscipleship – Failure to adhere to, follow, obey, and understand Jesus as a Teacher of life, ignoring the Yoke of Christ
Bumper sticker said “Don’t follow me, I’m lost”
We all can relate to the bumper sticker – get lost all the time
When it comes to following Christ, we often sense “that we could never stand in our world as a salty, light-giving example, showing people the Way of Life Jesus revealed to us.
NonDiscipleship caused by incomplete gospel message – more to believing Jesus is forgiver of sins and you get to go to heaven
“The(re is a) widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need him as Savior and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to him as Lord as long as we want to (is heresy)…salvation apart from obedience is unknown in sacred scripture! - Tozer
Basically, getting married and never being faithful to your spouse is hardly being married. Tozer is saying a Christian who doesn’t follow Christ and isn’t faithful to him is hardly what Christ and God intended.
Willard believes: “This heresy has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a vampire Christian.
Vampire Christians say to Jesus - “I’d like a little of your blood please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.”…
“If you preach a gospel that has only to do with the forgiveness of sins, you will be as we are today: stuck in a position where you have faith over here and obedience and abundance over there, and no way to get from here to there because the necessary bridge is discipleship.”
You will have the gift of new life, with no way to assemble it.
People who just hear about the forgiveness and are never taught about the way of life Jesus teaches, miss out on the abundant life of Christ.
Discipleship is a life of learning from Jesus Christ how to live in the Kingdom of God now, as he himself did” Willard – The Great Omission
There is more to the message of Jesus and the gospel than just the forgiveness of sins. Jesus taught us to live the kingdom life today, and he modeled it in his life, how he interacted with sinners and what he taught. Many of his parables begin…”The kingdom of God is like…”
There are many who are content with being Vampire Christians, satisfied with just the blood of Christ. But I want more of Christ, and I pray that you do as well. I want to learn the ways of Christ, and I pray you do as well. So we are going to spend the next few minutes looking at some scriptures and thinking about some important things on how we can grow in Christ, grow this new life and become better followers of Christ, and enjoy life in Him.
How can we grow in the New Life?
1) Accepting the role of discipleship in our life:
a. Believing Jesus has something to offer as for wisdom in living this life, and living for the kingdom in this day and age – Jesus as Lord of our life
b. Willing to learn from Jesus
2) Wanting more than just Jesus’ blood – no longer being a vampire Christian, but a disciple of Christ – one who follows him in every way, every day
What does discipleship look like?
1) More then Sunday
a. We can’t expect to live the new life, if we only encourage it and nourish it for an hour on Sunday.
b. Bringing someone along with you in the journey, sharing more than Sunday – wouldn’t be here today if an Elder at my home church didn’t take me along his side and get serious about my growth in the Lord, taught me about sharing my faith, growing in faith
c. Hebrews 5-6 – stresses growth and maturing in Christ, As does Ephesians
2) Luke 6:43-49 – Adhering to Jesus and his ways: Change our life:
a. Good Tree/Bad Tree
i. Striving to be the good tree
b. Knows that the only one who can change the tree is Christ
c. Willard: “If we tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself:”
i. Learning Jesus
d. Wise and foolish builder
i. Listen to what Jesus said and follow his teaching
ii. Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say
iii. WE call upon him for forgiveness but fail to follow his teaching
3) Practicing biblical disciplines – renewing the heart and mind
a. – Luke 6:45 – Having a hymn on our heart, scripture…
b. If God’s love is always on our heart and minds, its what we will speak
c. Fasting – learning to rest upon the strength of the Lord
d. Meditation, Prayer, focus on Christ
4) Practicing Colossians 3 – be aware of the verbs and what its telling us to do
a. Set hearts and minds on Christ
b. Realize life is Christ
c. Puts to Death old ways
d. Put on New self
i. Being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator
5) A Practicing disciple Understands Romans 6
a. It’s not so much about our justification, it’s the life we now live in Christ Jesus, just as he was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
b. Considering and counting yourself alive to God in Jesus
c. Not letting sin reign in your life – not obeying sinful desires
d. Not offering any part of yourself to sin
e. Offering yourself to God as instrument of righteousness
i. Being used by God
f. Who wants to be instrument of evil? Righteousness?
g. Vs 17 is powerful, allegiance – “but thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
The New Life is following Jesus and we nourish and grow the new life through becoming disciples of Christ.
When we ask the question what does it mean to follow Jesus?
We think of so many things that it means to follow Jesus: Go to Church, give offering, take communion every week, but following Jesus is simply learning from him how to live life in the kingdom of God.
Romans 6:17 offers incredible insight into what it means to follow Christ – obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance
This is discipleship – the new life grows when the new life is obedient to the pattern of teaching we now claim allegiance to.
Knowing and obeying the teachings of Christ feeds and nurtures the new life.
No longer should we be content to just be Vampire Christians – who are sanctified and justified by the blood – No longer can we fail to disciple people – and not lead them to an understanding of who Jesus is and his teachings
The new life is obedience to Christ –
How will we obey Christ if we know not what he teaches?
How will we obey if we fail to trust he knows what is best for our lives?
How will others know the new life if they fail to see it lived out within our lives?
Matthew 13: Parable of the Sower, planting seeds. There is much to it, as with any parable, but I see within it today, a message about discipleship. The people heard the message of the kingdom but because they have no root, they wither and die. Verse 21 is important. Discipleship rings through the message, the difference between hearing the message of new life, forgiveness of sins and living for the kingdom of God now, and enjoying it, and living in it is a soil that is prepared for the message and can let that message grow in it.
If we prepare not ourselves and others, if we fail to disciple, we allow for the deceitfulness of the world, with all of its worries, and deception of wealth, choke us and kill us. There is the connection with Hebrews 5 and 6, if we just let the word be milk, and never grow to eating solid food, we fail to mature and grow. Ephesians refers to people who are not strong who are tossed back and forth by every wind of teaching.
What this means is:
On a leadership level, the importance of discipleship…mentorship – caring for the flock and reaching out to them and encouraging their faith.
On an individual level: We need to all take time in the act of listening to God. We need God to change the tree, we need to put ourselves in the way of the pruning shears. We need God to shear off the evil and change us to a good tree that bears the fruit of the goodness of God. As Willard says, “If we tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself.” What he means is if we care for our soul, renew our minds, and set our hearts on the things of Christ and God, out of the overflow of our heart, the mouth will speak. Our words will be the fruit of goodness, as will our deeds.
Most of all, it is believing that Jesus has the power to change your life, and that he knows what is best for you life.
I can tell you that you should try and read your scriptures every day. I can tell you that it is important to spend time in prayer. I can tell you that the Bible is far more important to have on your heart, and know in you mind more so that your favorite sitcom, or your favorite sports team. I ask you to challenge your ideas on grace and its significance for your life. I can tell you that Jesus has the power to change your life and you should commit time to him every day, but if you fail to believe in and trust that Jesus knows what is good for you life, it won’t do any good.
So I ask you this morning to believe this one simple truth: Jesus Christ knows what is best for you life. It’s simple: you won’t ever be his disciple, if you don’t believe he is worth following and has something to teach you.
I no longer want to be a Vampire Christian, I want more than just his blood, I want Christ in me, I want the overflow of my heart to be the love of Christ and his teachings. I want people to see the new life in me, to live for God today, the life of his kingdom. And living the kingdom life now all begins within every one of us, trusting Jesus, not just as our Savior, but as our Lord, as our King, as our Teacher. It believes Jesus as the one who we live for, he who teaches us how to live.
Any growth in the new life will come in being Jesus’ disciple, come learn his ways today.
It is common for the people of God to wrestle with trusting in Him and his ways. It had come time for the Israelites to come into the land that God had prepared for them. He was with them, he called them out of Egypt, delivered them from slavery, and they were set and ready to enter into the land God set aside for them. They sent out spies, to see the journey that was ahead of them. Looking over the terrain they realized that battles would have to be fought, and the mountains to climb. No matter how much Moses said God was with them and the journey would be traveled with God on their side, they failed to Trust God to lead them into their New Land.
There are so many of us, so many Christians today who have been delivered from the captivity of sin, but fail to trust in God to lead them to New Life. And for that we miss out on many wonderful blessings from God and I wonder how many are stuck in a spiritual desert, meandering and wondering what the new life is supposed to be like. The Israelites wanted out of the captivity of the Egyptians. Many want out of the captivity of sin. God offered a way out for the Israelites and a way out for us. Deliverance has come, will we trust in God, will we trust he knows what is best for our life, will we cry out Lord, Lord and do what he says? Will we tend to our hearts and our minds? I cannot stress enough, the importance of following, and trusting Jesus. He leads us to the way of life, out of the desert and into the abundant life he plans for us. It begins with trust. Do you believe Jesus knows the best for your life?