Today, we are introducing a new series that we will journey with over the summer.
I am grateful for the closing of one series, and as always, I am excited about opening a new series.
We will be looking at snapshots of Jesus in the Gospels and breaking them down so we can grasp His teaching on the Gospel.
As we dive into this series, I want to break down a few words. I don’t believe all of us are always on the same page, so I want to put definitions to terms.
Gospel- Good News!
As we work through this series, I want to break down this word.
The Gospel is good news! But, I believe there is a problem with understanding that word.
Many people believe the Gospel. They want the Gospel preached. But if I were to ask them to tell me what the Gospel is, it wouldn’t me met with a clear statement of understanding.
It is my goal through this series that we look at Jesus and grasp a full understanding of the Good News He brought.
Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
When I say the word “Gospels” after talking about the word “Gospel” you would think the definitions would be the same.
I want to talk about this and give some clarity on this word as well
The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels.
However, I believe words are very important. If we use the word “Gospels” one might come to the conclusion that this is four different Gospels.
This is not the case.
There is one Gospel. That is the Gospel that Jesus shared with us.
The message of that one Gospel is recorded by four men, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. All of them point to different parts and elements and share different perspectives of the same Gospel.
In this series, we will look at the Good News that Jesus shared with us from these perspectives
Often, when communicating the Good News, we do this from a perspective of other books like Romans, 1 Corinthians, or Galatians.
This is not wrong, but why do we often avoid using the life, teachings, and explanations of the Gospel from Jesus?
The need for the Gospel
There are lots of books, teachers, and theologies out there about the Gospel and Salvation.
Many people try to boil this topic down to the primary nuts and bolts and bare minimums of Salvation.
The Gospel becomes an academic understanding of some Biblical truths and when you learn them, you are good to go.
I don’t believe this is what Jesus communicated about the Gospel
Our world has presented a form of the Gospel that does not address sin, does not address life, and SEPARATES FAITH FROM FAITHFULNESS.
Statistics show that 1.6 billion people worldwide consider themselves to be Christian.
Nearly 1/3 of Americans believe to be Born Again.
When we look at these statistics, I have to wonder, “What makes them saved?”
Are their lives marked by faith and transformation by God. Have they left their life of sin and actively follow Jesus?
If we don’t bring clarity to this issue, we become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Jesus’ call to us is simple, but it is profound. It is (and should be) life changing.
My purpose in this series is to look at evangelistic encounters Jesus had with people in his life.
Then we will look at what he teaches about salvation from those encounters.
I believe that a lack of clarity on this topic has brought a distortion to Jesus’ teaching of the Gospel. Only by looking at Jesus will we find the clarity we need.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
This is a harsh statement, but it is the reality of the Gospel. If the Gospel presented is a distortion from what Jesus calls us to, then we need to clearly understand it.
This passage also shares with us the importance of understanding this topic.
But we cannot confidently point people to Jesus unless we get the Gospel right.
Salvation is God’s part. I cannot preach anyone into Heaven or out of it. My opinion doesn’t matter at all. But Jesus’ does. And I want to share what He says about the Good News.
In most of our sermons, we will choose a passage or story from the life of Jesus and read through it with that passage as the basis for our sermon that week.
Today, we will have a key passage and concept that I want to tackle. Our topic today is the foundation of discipleship.
We are throwing around quite a few terms (gospel, discipleship, salvation).
As we journey through, these words will be brought into absolute clarity.
Today is one of the most important concepts in our salvation and I believe it has not been clearly communicated.
I want to work backwards before working forwards.
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven he gave this command:
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.”
It is from this verse that we find our mission as believers.
We are called to make disciples.
As a church here at RLN, it is our mission to make Biblical Disciples in Relational Environments.
We exist to make disciples.
But we need to break down this idea of what a disciple is.
Now, I’m sure some of you church veterans have heard a sermon start this way and are saying, “I can tune out. I’ve heard this one before.”
Let me catch you before you tune out. You haven’t.
We are going to break down what the Gospel says about our posture before Jesus in discipleship.
I want you to notice that this passage doesn’t say, “Go into all the world and convert people to Christianity.”
It says, “Go make disciples”
If we are going to understand the Gospel (good news), then we need to know what discipleship is.
In order to begin that journey, we are going to start at the beginning of Jesus ministry when he called his first disciples.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
This was the beginning of their journey.
These men had no idea what the next steps of their lives would look like. But, it began something of a training process that led them through success and failure and ultimately to becoming leaders of the body of Christ after Jesus resurrected from the dead.
First, I want you to see that the Great Commission we just read is found in this passage as well.
Jesus called them to follow Him.
Then he told them what they would do as a result of following Him.
They would go out and get people to follow Jesus.
In this verse, Jesus was fishing for men. and said, “What I am doing right now, I will send you out to do as well.”
Someone following Jesus
Someone being changed by Jesus
Someone living out the mission of Jesus
Today, I want to look at our posture before Jesus
We will get into the details of following, life change and the mission of Jesus.
But today, I want to ask, “Who is Jesus and what is He calling us to when He says ‘follow’”?
There are two words we are going to look at today.
Our understanding of these two words may end up being very uncomfortable.
But as I read through the NT, I find that these two words don’t just show up once or twice, but the idea behind them carries throughout the Gospels.
Key Word #1- Lord
This is a topic that we cannot overlook.
But today, I want to break that word down in a strong way.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The connection between Jesus being Lord is something that we see throughout the NT.
This is something that is not disputed.
This is something that throughout history, has been held to be true.
However, the ramifications and definitions of the term “Lord” have changed recently.
I believe this is a part of what our breakdown in Christianity revolves around.
When Jesus called his disciples, he was not simply trying to get some friends on the journey
He did not call them to be sidekicks to the superhero.
He did not call them to be the entertaining crowd for his miracles.
When Jesus called his disciples, his demand was for unconditional surrender of their lives.
They left their jobs, their homes, and their life to follow Jesus.
This revolves around this word “lord”.
Lord- (Greek) Kurios- Someone with power, ownership and an unquestionable right to command
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Jesus identifies Himself as “Lord”
Now, we will get into the touchy part of this sermon because what the Bible says is clear and very uncomfortable.
In order to get there, I want to use an example.
If I stand in front of you and say, “I am a teacher”
You would want to know, “Who do you teach?”
If I said, “I don’t have any students, but I am still a teacher.”
You might say, “Well, you aren’t a teacher if you don’t teach.”
That would be a reasonable conclusion.
If Jesus is Lord, who is He Lord over?
The Greek word Kurios was a word for a master or ruler of others.
The word for those who were the followers of a “Kurios” was a “doulos”
A teacher has a students
A king has subjects
A leader has followers
A Kurios (lord) has Doulos (slaves)
Doulos (Greek)- Slave; a person with no standing or rights
Now, if you are like me, you are saying, “Is Jesus calling me to be a slave? And He is the great slave master? This doesn’t sound right.”
I want to walk through this thought process.
Slavery is something that is repulsive in our world. It is the abuse and objectification of human beings who were created in the image of God.
When I bring up the word slavery, it justifiably carries with it negative connotations in our minds, and also our society.
I know this is a tough one to process, but walk this out with me.
This brings clarity to verses like:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
The idea that a Lord would have a doulos that would not obey was completely unthinkable.
If you call Jesus “Lord, lord” the idea is that He is your Lord.
This isn’t just a statement about who Jesus is.
This in turn opens up a reality of who you submit to be since He is Lord.
I become His doulos.
Our world has tried to soften the language of doulos.
It is hard even standing up here saying the word “slave”.
It is uncomfortable.
Our world tries to make it be defined as “servant”
I live a voluntary life of service to my Lord.
The problem with this interpretation is that there are lots of Greek words for “servant” and “service”
Kurios and Doulos do not involve those words and those usages.
Doulos speaks of slavery, pure and simple.
It describes a person lacking personal freedom and personal rights.
It describes a person whose very existence is defined by his service to another
An example of this can be found in Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do you see the word “serve” here? Do you see the word “master”. This is doulos and kyrios.
This is not the Greek word for “serve” It is the Greek word doulos.
If we think of this in terms of simply serving and helping out, this makes no sense.
Can a person have two jobs? Yes
Can a person help out two neighbors? Yes
But when we think of the word “serve” in the context of doulos, or serve as a slave, this verse makes all kinds of sense.
You cannot doulos two kyrios’.
You cannot be owned by two masters.
Either you will love and show devotion to one or the other, but you can’t do both.
This thought is carried on in Romans 14:7-9
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why would Jesus do this?
This is the question. Why would Jesus call us into this kind of relationship?
This concept is repulsive and offensive to look upon.
Especially for us who are generations removed from observing slavery in our lives, it makes this concept even more difficult for us to wrap our heads around.
Here is where we find some divergence from the cultural Gospel and Jesus’ gospel
The cultural gospel presents Jesus as the solution to our problems.
He will help your self-esteem, he will fix all that ails you.
Jesus is seen as that missing piece of the life we have built that will make the foundation we have established something great!
But Jesus doesn’t communicate this at all.
His message is, “The life you built is not on a foundation that I can work with”
We are called by Jesus to give up our rights. You have to give up all of the ownership of your life and follow Him.
Discipleship is not a call to add a new moral standard to your life.
It is not a means of achieving greatness for yourself.
It is the sacrifice of your very life and voluntarily submitting to the Lord as his slave.
Listen to the words of Jesus
Our call to be disciples is one of complete surrender to Him. He becomes our Lord. We become His slave.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
Kurios and doulos in this passage again
The comparison of being His disciple is like a slave to a master.
Another parable Jesus told was of the parable of the good steward. At the end, here is the conclusion:
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
The Kurios replied to the doulos.
Jesus always communicated discipleship this way.
In fact, the one thing that was noticeably missing was any effort to make discipleship sound appealing to the modern world.
He didn’t beg people to follow.
He didn’t soften the truth.
He spoke almost as if he were driving people away at times.
But, when the message is to deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Him, there is no soft and simple language.
This is a calling of complete life devotion.
How is this Good News?
Here is the Gospel. God didn’t call us to be mindless slaves that were objectified by Him for His work.
This all revolves around the big picture of this world that God created.
God created us to be in relationship with Him
Garden of Eden
Sin entered the world.
Sin always breaks relationship.
Mankind that God created for relationship was now taken as a slave to sin.
Man could no longer be in relationship with God because it had a new master. Sin.
Mankind lived with sin and the consequences of sin.
God made a way through sacrifice in the OT, but through Jesus made the permanent way to the Father through Him.
As human beings, we will serve a master.
We will either serve sin or we will serve God.
As a master, God is loving and forgiving. He does not condemn, He forgives.
The master of this world is a ruthless master.
Where is our freedom?
We are free from the power and influence of Sin when we embrace Jesus.
that is the only way to be restored to our created purpose
It is through Jesus that we become free.
It seems strange that the phrases slavery and freedom would co-exist in discipleship.
They seem to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Freedom from sin
Loving master Jesus.
He asks for it all from us.
Sin in relationship to God
There is no freedom in this
There is freedom but only in the sense of sin resolution
Jesus is not our equal
Jesus is not our partner
Jesus is not our means of greatness
Jesus is our Lord