Faithlife Sermons

The Process of Discipleship

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Discipleship causes us to become more like Christ through knowing, loving and serving him.

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Introduction

Good morning, and welcome once again to Grace Baptist Church. We are thankful for the opportunity to open our Bibles together with you this morning and learn from God. I am Kyle Linville, the pastor of discipleship here at Grace. We are in our second week of a three week study on discipleship and intentional community. Last week, we talked together about what it means to be created in God’s image. Being created in God’s Image actually tells us about our purpose in life - we are the visible representatives of the invisible God. God sent Jesus as the perfect image of God and is using all things in our life to conform us into the image of God.
Jesus tells us:
Luke 6:40 NKJV
40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Discipleship is how we grow to be more like Christ. God uses discipleship to restore us to our original purpose - representing him to the world!
40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
If God has created us for this purpose and we try to live for some other purpose, it leads to frustration. Last week we compared it to using a tool for something other than its intended purpose. Like racing on a tricycle [PICTURE]. That is just not what its designed for, and the race will not go so well for Johnny. Or cutting hair with garden shears [PICTURE]; sure they may cut, but this would be so frustrating.
God’s
Imagine, though, you have the right tool, but in unskilled hands. Maybe Alaina decides she doesn’t trust me to cut her hair with the garden shears so she grabs the right tool. She grabs a pair of scissors. But having the right tool does not make her ready to cut her own hair. We’ve all seen pictures of the kid who gets some scissors and cuts their own hair.
The same can be true in our spiritual life. We may understand we have a purpose, we know that God has called us to be his representatives, but that does not yet mean that we are now like Christ. Now, my analogy breaks down a little hear. I would tell the child to put down the scissors and back away slowly. But we do not do that. We do not hide from the world until we have been conformed into the the image of Christ and then come out to represent him, BUT we should be ready to grow. And that growth - that following after Christ, being conformed into his image - is a process; growth isn’t instant. Being conformed into the image of Christ is a life long process.
Jesus describes it as a daily process:
Luke 9:23 NKJV
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Matthew 16:24 NKJV
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Matthew 16:24 ESV
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Mt.
Matthew 16:24 ESV
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
This morning I want to look together at Paul and see how he grew as a disciple.
Matthew 16:24 NKJV
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Paul’s Motivation as a Disciple

We will look at
In Paul wanted to let the Corinthians know what drove him as a Christian. What is it that motivated him to do what he did? This passage is a rich description of the motivation of the Christian life. This passage should not only describe Paul, but all believers. He says this:
In this passage Paul wanted to let the Corinthians know what drove him as a Christian. What is it that motivated him to do what he did? This passage is a rich description of the motivation of the Christian life. This passage should not only describe Paul, but all believers. He says this:
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NKJV
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Love

What is it that drives Paul? What is his motivation to live for Christ? It is the LOVE of Christ. Paul has understood the reality of what Christ has done for him and it radically shifted the course of his life.
Paul has understood the reality of what Christ has done for him and it radically shifted the course of his life.
How does Christ’s love motivate Paul? It compels him. Other versions might use “control” or “constrain”. Pastor Phil and I were talking about this passage earlier in the week and he pointed out that “compel” and “constrain” seem opposite to him. To “compel” gives you the idea of pushing someone one and “constrain” has the connotation of holding someone back.
The word is not used a lot in the New Testament , but it often has the idea of being restricted.
Luke 8:45 ESV
45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”
This is the story of the lady who touched him and was healed. Here it says that the crowds surrounded Jesus. That is the same word. Or in it says:
Luke 22:63 NKJV
63 Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.
These men “held” Jesus. In other words, they were restraining him in custody. These passages can help us get a better understanding of the word in our passage this morning. It seems that there is a restrictive sense involved. The love of Christ has restricted the options available to Paul. But there are some significant difference between our passage and the passages from Luke, especially the source of the restriction. In the first Luke passage it is a large crowd. They had their own interests in mind. THEY wanted to see Christ. THEY wanted to be healed. THEY were not concerned immediately with Christ’s needs. In the second passage, those who were restricting Jesus were his enemies.
But what about Paul? Paul was compelled by LOVE. It is LOVE that restricted Paul’s actions. It is LOVE that leads him on. It is LOVE that constrained Paul to no longer live for himself, but for Christ. Love has not so much bound Paul, but has set Paul free. Love freed Paul from the slavery of sin, from the slavery of self, and Paul could do nothing - Paul would do nothing - but live for Christ. The LOVE of Christ has so captivated and amazed Paul that he can say to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:8 NKJV
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Phil 3:8
So, is Paul restrained? Yes! Is Paul restrained against his will? No! The effect is this, Paul is freed to willingly and lovingly serve his new master. Jesus says this:
Matthew 6:24 NKJV
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The love of Christ has freed Paul’s heart from any potential master that would tempt Paul from serving God whole-heartedly. How has this happened in Paul’s life? He tells us:
2 Corinthians 5:14 NKJV
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
1 Cor 5:14

Conviction

Christ’s love compels Paul onward BECAUSE “we judge thus.” What does that mean? The word “judge” means that Paul has weighed the facts and he has become convinced in his mind. Paul has a conviction about what he is doing. His passion and his action are firmly grounded in conviction. Conviction in what? He says, “that if One died for all, then all died”.
What does Paul mean by that? At first glance, it might not even make sense. Maybe we would expect it to say something like “one died instead of all” or “one died that all might live.” Paul fleshes this idea out a little bit for us in . Let me read just a few verses with you this morning and I think it will help us understand what he means.
Romans 6:5–8 NKJV
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Romans 6:5-7
This is the gospel that Paul preaches. That Jesus died in his place for his sins. That by his trust in Christ, it was as if Paul had died, and he could have forgiveness for his sins and freedom from those sins - not because he was good enough, but because in Christ he had died and was given new life in him.
[How much do I want to write here? Maybe I circle back to this after I have written more]
These are deep theological truths that form the grounds or the reason for Paul’s confidence in Jesus’s love. Paul’s confidence is not in wishful thinking. Paul didn’t “just believe.” His confidence was because he had learned the truth about what Christ did, he was convinced of this truth, and it became his driving conviction. This conviction of God’s love for Paul and the grace of the gospel became a bedrock, an unmoving foundation. Paul is compelled by the LOVE of Christ because he is CONVINCED of the love of Christ.
Paul is
2 Corinthians 5:14 NKJV
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
I believe something else happened here as well. I believe that Paul is seeing the personal love of Christ through his sacrificial death, and being convinced of that love, loved Christ in return. That’s not a great leap is it? Paul actually used a slightly vague wording here when he says “the love of Christ.” He did not say, “For Christ’s love compels us” he says, “the love of Christ compels us.” Now, “love of Christ” could mean two things. It could be Christ’s love for Paul, BUT it could also refer to Paul’s love for Christ. It’s not totally clear (at least from the grammar) who is doing the loving. From the context though, it has to be Christ’s love for Paul. He goes on to talk about the sacrifice of Christ, in other words, Christ’s expression of love.
This is a rare place where the author may have been intentionally vague because he actually meant BOTH. Many theologians see that here, and I agree. Who did Christ die for? All, right? Everyone. But not everyone is compelled to live for Christ. But Paul is amazed by Christ’s love for him and it produces in Paul a love for Christ. Those loves together compel him. John admits the same in his own letter. He says,
1 John 4:19 NKJV
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
The love that John has for Christ is a response to Christ’s love for him, and that is the case for Paul as well.
And what difference does that love make?

Action

Paul’s life - the life of anyone compelled by the love of Christ - is radically different. We are radically changed by that reality. This passage shows two different alternatives for living our life. We can live for ourselves or we can live for Christ.
Paul packs a lot
This passage shows two different alternatives for living our life. We can live for ourselves or we can live for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV
15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Cor
Living life for ourselves is the default. When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator and Lord, they made living life for ourselves the norm.
Paul Tripp describes this passage and the situation of those who still live for themselves this way:
The apostle Paul summarizes here what sin does to all of us. Sin turns us in on ourselves. Sin makes us shrink our lives to the narrow confines of our little self-defined world. Sin cause us to shrink our focus, motivation, and concern to the size of our own wants, needs, and feelings. Sin causes all of us to be way too self-aware and self-important. Sin causes us to be offended most by offenses against us and to be concerned most for what concerns us. Sin causes us to dream selfish dreams and to plan self-oriented plans. Because of sin, we really do love us, and we have a wonderful plan for our own lives!
What all this means is that sin is essentially antisocial. We don’t really have time to love our spouse, in the purest sense of what that means, because we are too busy loving ourselves. - Paul Tripp
Tripp, Paul David. What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (p. 47). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
But the love of Christ offers and even compels another way. We don’t have to live in a claustrophobic kingdom of one. We don’t have to dream selfish dreams or plan self-oriented plans. Christ offers a life of freedom and hope apart from the slavery to sin we were born into. Sin promises freedom. It promises fulfillment. But it delivers slavery, it delivers destruction, it delivers death.
Christ on the other hand died for you. He died the death our sins earned for us. But he also rose again for you. He rose again promising us new life as children of God. He rose again so that we might have a living hope and an imperishable inheritance ().
Paul believed this truth was so incredible that it changed his life. He no longer lived for himself (even as a religious leader WHAT DO YOU MEAN?). With conviction in the reality of what Jesus accomplished on his behalf, and compelled by the love of Christ, he was free to live for Christ.
Last week we looked at how God’s purpose for mankind is that we to be his representatives to the world - and so we were created in his image, and now, as believers, we are being remade into the image of Christ. So, to live for Christ, to fulfill the purpose for which God created us, is to be conformed into the image of Christ. To become like Christ.

Putting the Pieces Together

So, let’s zoom back out and look at how this works in Paul’s life.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NKJV
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:
The love of Christ compels Paul -> Why?
Because he is convinced of the love of Christ in the gospel. He realized what Christ had done for him. This conviction serves as the grounds or the basis for a love that compels him, so the logical order is conviction then love.
And the result? The purpose for Christ’s death, that results in a love that compels Paul, is to live for Christ. It is action.
A Conviction that leads to love that leads to action.
because we judge (are convinced) thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
For the love of Christ compels us,
and He died for all,
that those who live should live no longer for themselves,
but
for Him who died for them and rose again.
[CONVICTION]
because we judge (are convinced) thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
[LOVE]
For the love of Christ compels us,
and He died for all,
that those who live should live no longer for themselves,
but
[ACTION]
(to live) for Him who died for them and rose again.
Paul’s life was changed by a conviction that leads to love that leads to action.
We grow in Christ by knowing, loving, and serving.
As believers, made in the image of God, we are not instantly conformed to the image of Christ. Even though we know our purpose, though we are resolved to fulfill it, it does not mean that we are equipped to fulfill it. It takes time. We deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Christ.
Paul says this earlier in the letter:
2 Corinthians 3:17–18 NKJV
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Cor 3.
We look at Christ (through the Word) and we are transformed into his image from glory to glory, or as the ESV puts it “one degree of glory to another.” That is, we grow bit by bit. Discipleship is a process. We change slowly, and that change happens as we know Christ through his word, we behold him, we grow in conviction and confidence in Him. We grow in amazement of what he has done for us. And by knowing him we love him. As we see what God has done for us, it wells up into unshakable gratitude and a deeply rooted loved that compels us to serve him. It compels us to repent of sin. It compels us to throw down our kingdom of one and serve the one true king. We did not pick the words “know,” “love” and “serve” on accident. We believe that this is the path of change in our life. This is how God changes us and conforms us into the image of his son. This is how we learn to use the right tool in a skillful way.
Love of Christ - Subjective, objective or both?
Subjective for sure.
Both? - ,

Application

Becoming more like Jesus is not only about doing or serving more. It’s also about knowing him through his word and loving him and others. It is not less than serving him, but it must be more than that. Paul’s life lived for Christ did not start by living differently. It starts by knowing him through his word and then growing in his love towards him.
This is not a linear process. We do not learn all there is about Christ (like we can do that), then love Christ fully, and then live for him. It is a circle, or a spiral. We continually grow in each of these areas. We learn something new about Christ, or appreciate it for the first time, and that changes our hearts to love him more. In response we desire to live for him. And then we do it all again and again, every day.
What does it look like for us to apply this in our life? How do we grow in each of these areas? Let us look at each area.

Knowing

God has made himself known to us through his Word. Through the Bible we get an accurate picture of who God is, who we are, and about his plan to redeem us. If we are doing it right, these truths change us. For this to happen, we need to put ourselves in the path of God’s Word.
This looks like:
Pick a Bible reading plan and start it
Listening to sermons
Memorizing Scripture
Being accountable to someone for these
Regularly attending church
Story of Alaina and the Curtains

Loving

How does God’s Word help us to better love God and others? tells us a story that can help us see how the Bible can help us to love better.
Luke 7:36–50 NKJV
36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Who in this passage loved much? Who in this passage loved little?
Colossians 1:9–10 ESV
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Who in this passage loved much? Who in this passage loved little?
What does Jesus say made the difference between the man who loved little and the woman who loved much?
Was the issue that the man who loved little had little in his life to be forgiven of?
How could a better understanding of the Bible have helped the man in this story?
How can the Bible help us to love others better?
Praying for God to grow your love for him
We go to God’s Word to see who Christ is, and to see who we are.
Making a list of the blessings you have from God
Reading Scripture looking for reasons to thank God

Serving

Ultimately, because of what Christ has done for us, we are not our own. We were bought with a price and therefore, we are called - and freed - to no longer live for ourselves but for God. Jesus says that “No one can server two masters” ().
Ask God after each time reading the Bible, or hearing a sermon to show you how you can apply it.
Do you ask,
Confess our sins
Ask ourselves if we are seeking God’s will or my will
As we are being conformed into the image of Christ, we grow in the same three areas that Paul did. Let’s pray

Prayer

Luke 7:36–50 ESV
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Prayer

Luke 7:36–50 NKJV
36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Luke 7.36-50
Who in this passage loved much? Who in this passage loved little?
What does Jesus say made the difference between the man who loved little and the woman who loved much?
Was the issue that the man who loved little had little in his life to be forgiven of?
God we thank you for your word. I thank you that you have given us a clear purpose for our lives. I thank you that you have given us clarity on how we can grow in Christ. And I thank you that you have sent a helper, the Holy Spirit, to enable us. We need your help to live this out. I pray that you will give us a desire to know you more through your word, that you will grow our love for you, and that our lives will be spent serving you. God I pray that you will help us to see the great love that you have for us in Christ, and I pray that your love will compel us to live for you rather than for ourselves. Use Grace Baptist Church to be a light in our community because lives that are being conformed into the image of Christ.
Amen
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