Faithlife Sermons

Definition of a Disciple

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SLIDE 1 Welcome & pray
Last week we saw in Philippians 3:10-4:1 Paul’s goal, that he would know Jesus. We saw his awareness, that he had grown in Christ, but not yet arrived. We saw his motivation; that he was taken hold of by Jesus. We saw his method; forgetting what was behind and striving forward towards what was ahead. And finally we saw his vision for the church; that we would live up to whatever level of knowledge God had revealed to us while pursuing more knowledge.
This week we are going to shift our attention to the words of Jesus in Matthew and ask, what knowledge should we begin pursuing and how do we start to apply and live up to and out of that knowledge, so if you’d like feel free to turn to Matthew 28 . But as you turn there, lets play a game.... I’m going to show a few pictures and I simply want to know what I’m showing. SLIDE 2
What is this part of the car called?
‌ Hood = Bonnet
How about something simple, SLIDE 3 what is this food product, simple category....
‌ Cookie = Biscuit
Ok.... so you may have been right all along… what we call the hood of a car, the British call the bonnet; what we call a cookie they call a biscuit… imagine their confusion when we Americans order biscuits and gravy… can you imagine that; a British person is likely envisioning a mound of cookies covered in some brown gravy… Nothing like a delicious buttery biscuit under some country gravy right! But there are a ton of other areas where we can get our wires crossed with our friends across the pond. We’re both speaking English right - but we’re using different words, different definitions. But here are a few of my favorites examples. SLIDE 4
French Fries = Chips
Chips = Crisps
Yard, especially the back yard = Garden
Dessert = Pudding
Sweater = Jumper
Gasoline = Petrol
Flashlight = Torch
Where we can have a lot of fun though, is when we start to put some of these together! For example, while the front hood of a car is a bonnet; the trunk of the car is the boot. Cleats meanwhile, athletic shoes right, also called boots. And like in some parts of America - getting fired can be called getting the boot… so if you work for an athletic shoe store helping load people’s purchases into their cars… and you get fired... SLIDE 5
“You got the boot from putting boots in the boot”
You can see how this could get confusing right! To avoid confusion, having common definitions matters. I was in a training once on discipleship by a church that literally wrote a book on it. And the facilitator and the co-facilitator asked us to all write our definition of a disciple. I don’t remember how many of us were there, so we’ll just say 10 for easy math. And guess how many definitions we ended up with… (pause) You’d think that right, but no, 9.... the facilitator and co-facilitator had the same definition… they cheated… But they used that as an opportunity to launch us into the discussion of discipleship from a Biblical perspective. And at the end of that training, they could have asked that question again and had one definition shared by all of us, as we had all adopted theirs, or used it with only slight modifications.
But before we spend three weeks looking at this term let me spend three minutes explaining why it is so important. So again feel free to turn to Matthew if you want to follow along, but I’ll also have the passages here on the screen, we’ll be in chapter 28, the final chapter of Matthew. And for context this is after Jesus died, rose again, and had been seen by thousands of witnesses, calling his disciples together one last time before returning to Heaven. SLIDE 6
Matthew 28:16-20 16 The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. SLIDE 7 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The final words Matthew records of Jesus before He ascended, returning to heaven, were this command. SLIDE 8 This command given with ALL authority to go and make disciples - which apparently involves baptizing them, teaching them to obey everything, and remembering that Christ, God, the Spirit is with us. So this is a command by Jesus, to make disciples.
So what is a disciple? How would the disciples themselves have defined the term? These eleven men standing in Galilee, looking up the sky wondering where Jesus went and when he’d be back. How would they have defined their mission? Better yet, when Jesus called them, when he recruited His first disciples, what did He call them to? Well, we can actually see just that if we turn to Matthew 4:18-22. SLIDE 9
18 As he (Jesus) was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. SLIDE 10 19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
This is an amazing passage we see Jesus recruiting His first four disciples; Peter and Andrew first, then James and John second. And three of these 4, Peter, James, and John seemed to be the most inner-circle of Jesus. I also love how this reads, like we see James and John are fishing with their dad and when Jesus calls to them and they just bail - diving overboard… well.... Luke gives us more details than Matthew and we learn they do come to shore firsts, but still - they then immediately left EVERYTHING and followed Jesus!
But lets focus today on verse 19
“Follow me,”he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.”
This is the call. This is the moment Jesus gained the first four of the twelve men who would be his disciples. This was the call that inspired them to separate themselves from the rest, leaving jobs, family, and tradition behind. This was the call that got them to put down their fishing nets and become world changers!
So what was Jesus calling them to? We see this call has three parts. SLIDE 11 First we see a command ‘Follow Me’ then a promises ‘I will make you’ and finally a role ‘Fishers of people.’ Lets go part by part and break down these three parts one at a time.
First the command. SLIDE 12 To follow Jesus. This is the first step into becoming a disciple. We cannot be a disciple if we do not follow Jesus. In the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we see a lot of people who seem to be interested in following Jesus; until they learn more about it, what that actually means.
In Luke 9 we see Jesus extend this call to follow Him from the disciples to the masses. SLIDE 13 (only 23 and 24 are on the slide)
23 Then he (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 27 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
People liked the idea of following Jesus when it meant seeing water turned into wine, watching the sick and lame healed, the dead raised to life, nature controlled and calmed, demons defeated, thousands fed (pause) but when Jesus starts saying ‘deny yourself’… ‘take up your cross’… ‘lose your life’… the gold looses its glimmer - but that’s the call Jesus is offering.
Later in Luke 9 Jesus calls another to follow him, SLIDE 14 but the man says, ‘let me first bury my father’ and Jesus says no, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ another he calls says, ‘first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house’ and Jesus responds, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
The call to follow Jesus isn’t a call to follow only when it is convenient, only when Jesus fits into our busy schedule. The call to follow Jesus is a call to set all else second. To make the kingdom of God our first priority. That doesn’t mean we will all quit our jobs and become pastors or over seas missionaries. But it does mean we are all to live missionally. And we will come back to that idea of missional living.
But first lets get to the second part of the call. SLIDE 15
‌ “I will make you.”
A disciple is someone who is first following Jesus and then being changed by Jesus. Now this is both a promise, in that Jesus is promising us He will change us, but it is also a condition - we need to allow Him to make those changes. I could spend five hours a day at the gym over here on campus… but if all I do is sit there and watch other people work out I’m not gonna change. In the same way we can sit in church every Sunday and watch other people follow and grow in Jesus and not change ourselves. We need to follow Jesus and as we are following Him we need to be partnering with Jesus for our change.
Romans 12 SLIDE 16 tells us
1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
We need to seek to live a life holy, pleasing to God. We need to avoid conforming to the patterns of the culture, but rather allow God to transform our minds and will to align with His! Second Corinthians tells us we are a new creation, the old is gone the new has come - we need to live out of that newness; we need to forget what is behind, forget the old self, and strive towards what is ahead, living out of the new identity! We are to be changed by God!
A disciple is one who follows Jesus. A disciple is one who is being changed by Jesus. And the last part of that verse... SLIDE 17
“Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
A disciple is one who is on mission with Jesus.
When I told people we were moving to Fayette I typically heard one of three things… 1) The hunting up there is amazing! 2) Isn’t that where Upper Iowa is? or 3) They have some great fishing up there.... so I want to be sure to be clear here… again, definitions matter… we’re not talking trout fishing… we’re not talking bass fishing.... we’re not talking walleye fishing… we’re talking fishing for people. Not with a net, not with a rod and reel, but with truth! and we don’t practice catch and release here at Fayette Community Church - we practice catch, convert, and disciple! Well… then we can release them into the world to make more disicples…
I will make you fish for people.”
We are following Christ, we are being changed by Christ, and we are to be on mission with Christ! Again, we need to be living missionally. And what is the mission? Well, lets go back to
Matthew 28 SLIDE 18
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We need to be making disciples. A disciple is one who creates after their own kind, disciples make more disciples! And we do so by recognizing God’s authority. We do so by shedding our identity and adopting that of Christ; and declare that publicly through baptism. We make disciples through teaching BUT not just teaching knowledge for the sake of knowledge… teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.We are teaching and training for the sake of obedience with the goal and hope of making more disciples; more followers of Jesus, changed by Jesus, and on mission with Jesus! SLIDE 19
A disciple is someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and living on mission with Jesus. So… What is your next step in being a dissciple? If our goal is to be following Jesus, changed by Jesus, on mission with Jesus. What do you need to do next? Let me hit each of these in turn, and if you think you already passed steps one and two… still pay attention because part of step three is walking others through these two steps!
Following Jesus.
If I had forty minutes I’d do an entire Gospel presentation right now and explain the importance of putting your faith in Christ as your Lord and savior. But we’re already twenty minutes in so instead let me offer an invitation. If this is you, if you’re thinking, you know what - maybe I haven’t taken this step yet and I would like to see this illustration… I’d love to grab coffee or something with you this week - let’s make it happen.
But I think following Jesus is summarized very well in Matthew 6:33 SLIDE 20
“33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
This follows Jesus saying don’t worry about what you will eat or wear. But seek first the kingdom of God. Make the kingdom of God your first priority. That doesn’t mean we neglect the other roles and responsibilities we have - if you’re a parent, parent with a kingdom mentality. If you have a job, work with a kingdom mentality. If you’re a student, learn and relate to your classmates with a kingdom mentality. If you’re retired, live and serve missionally!
So if this is you - if your next step is to follow Jesus - you can make that choice RIGHT now - SLIDE 21 Submit your life to Jesus. Simply tell God that you are choosing to follow Him - pray to God let Him know! AND THEN tell someone else here - tell someone else that you made this decision to follow Jesus and then, maybe ask them to help you discover your next steps, or ask me, we’d love to help you!
To follow Jesus is to seek first His kingdom, to priorities our righteousness and that of those around us before out comfort or our preferences. To follow Jesus is to recognize we are to follow His will while praying that ours will change to conform to that of His own.
Oh.... you see what I did there.... to follow involves us changing… yup… SLIDE 22Now our culture is weird… we both love and hate change don’t we… We love to change what we want to change and we hate to change when it is asked or forced on us by other people… Culture tells us we should just trust and follow our heart - why should I listen to a God who tells me what to do and how to change.... Well… Every bad decision you ever made… or that I ever made… trust me there are a few… were my decisions. My friends may have influenced me but they were my decisions. I’ve made good choices yes, but also bad ones, so how can I trust, solely relying on myself to know what is right?! Well I can’t, and why can’t I? SLIDE 23
“9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? 10 I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.”
The heart is deceitful beyond cure! That’s not the kind of diagnosis I want to hear! But the good new is God changes us, we are a new creation, we can rely on God, be changed by God! When God raised the prophet Ezekiel to tell Israel that God was preparing to return them from exile He gave a great promise. SLIDE 24
25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
I will give you a new heart… I will put a new Spirit in you. When we begin following Jesus we are promised what Jesus called a helper, we are given the Spirit of God to help guide us! We are a new creation the old is gone the new has come - We need this change, and we can’t do it on our own - we need Christ to change us. We need Christ to shift our wants, wills, and desires off of ourselves and onto His kingdom.
If this is you right now, I want to offer two steps, and I want to encourage you to take one of them.
Step option 1 - SLIDE 25 what might you be pursuing that doesn’t align with God’s kingdom? What habit, hobby, addiction, or sin may you be holding onto thinking - you know it doesn’t help advance the Gospel of Jesus, but it sure makes me feel good… maybe your step is to put an end to that thing. It may be an unhealthy relationship that you need to cut off. It may be a show that leads you into sinful thoughts or temptations that you need to quit watching. It may even be a sin that the church typically ignores… pride, selfishness, anger, impatience, irritability, judgmental, gossip, anxiety… If you’re a reader there is a book called Respectable Sins, I read it in my undergrad, and the author, Jerry Bridges, points out some of these sins and how scripture speaks against them and shares how we can overcome them - if you’re a reader maybe reading a book lie that is your next step.
Step option 2 SLIDE 26 - what can you start doing to better pursue the kingdom of God? See how it’s like the opposite of the last one… clever right… I took classes on preaching… But maybe you are reading this last passage;
I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
And you are thinking… oh, I need to actually follow and obey what God tells me to follow and obey? A simple step for you may be learning what God’s statutes and ordinances are and you want to start reading your Bible every day just to spend time with God and learn more about Him. And if you have no idea how to do that - let me or someone else here know we’d love to help you! And if you want a simple resource you can google ‘7 minutes with God’ a great tool for how to do that - or if you follow us on facebook I will share a video I made a while back about that method… And if you’re thinking Pastor Brian - you think I have 7 minutes of free time in a day you must be crazy… your new step is to learn to say no to things and free up some margin in your life ok! Alternately, maybe you already read your Bible and you want more - you want to learn what else you can do to better be changed and made more like God - maybe you could learn about what we call spiritual disciplines - things we can do that help us grow, be changed, to better resemble Christ - again, if you’re a reader - you can check out a book called Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster which talks about practices like prayer, fasting, study, submission, worship, and more!
Now lets say you are sitting here thinking - Pastor - I’ve been following Jesus for YEARS - I’ve mastered the art of studying scripture, I’ve mastered the arts of the spiritual disciplines, what do you have for me?! SLIDE 27
Your next step may be to talk all that you’ve learned while following God, while being changed by God, and teach that to someone else. To one other person. Find someone who wants to grow and invest in them! Get together with them for an hour or so a week and spend time with them reading the Bible, praying, talking about how to do these other steps and walking alongside them! Step on mission with God!
A disciple is someone who is following Jesus. Being changed by Jesus. And on mission with Jesus. What steps may you have to take to start living out of this definition?
Let me pray for us.
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