Friday, 27 May 2016

Disciples Make Disciples~ Ganeida

The foundation for salvation is found in Romans 10:

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;  for the same Lord is Lord of all,  bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Salvation is a free gift. This is quite clear from the Greek. Two different Greek words are used: Dorea meaning unwarranted & received without merit [Romans 5:15, 2 Corinthians 9:15] & Charisma, meaning “a gift of grace” [Romans 5:15-16, Romans 6:23] What is a gift by Grace cannot be earned. 

I want us to be very clear because I believe there is a distinction between salvation, which is free, & which the scriptures declare unequivocally to be free, & discipleship, which Jesus declares to be costly. [Luke14:25~35] The 2 are linked.  To be truly saved one becomes a new creation.  When one is a new creation the old things have passed away. 

According to Greek Bible scholar Spiros Zodhiates, mathetes “means more than mere pupil or learner. It means an adherer who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct.” As James puts it, a disciple is a doer of the word.

Today I want to encourage you to become disciples, not merely followers ~ but you must count the cost, firstly because " a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn't prepared and doesn't carry out those instructions, will be severely punished”. Luke 12:47 He will, in fact, be assigned *a place with the unbelievers.*12:46

You must count the cost carefully because it will cost you everything you have but the greatest need our world has today is for believers who are disciples.

Some wit has declared that some people view salvation as *Fire Insurance*.  It will keep you from the fires of Hell but not really impact your life; Jesus is saviour but hardly Lord yet it is clear from Romans that we are to confess Christ as Lord ~ & that confession carries certain implications.

Jesus final command was: Matthew 28:19

 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus says some things about what that looks like.

Matthew 5:13:
 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”

The 2 main qualities of salt are as a preservative & as seasoning.  The first acts as a purifier to stop corruption, the second as an attractive quality that makes you want more.  It makes you thirsty & Jesus’ invitation is to come to Him & drink.

What we tend to see is a Christianity that has become conciliatory & coming into agreement with the world ~ in the name of love.  As such it loses its flavour. We were never commanded to love the world. Indeed the opposite is true 1 John2:15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. The command is to love other believers. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

This becomes messy when dealing with people but scripture says there is to be a clear distinction between the believer & the world.  We are not meant to look like the world, talk like the world, enjoy what the world enjoys, think as the world thinks, behave as the world behaves. If we feed on the world we will look more & more like the world but when we feed from the Holy Spirit we will look more & more like Christ. Paul states it this way:  They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed Titus  1:16

Our love & obedience to Christ should over~ride every other consideration in our life ~ including our love for our family Luke 14:26

We are commanded to pick up our cross & follow Christ.  While we understand the cross is an instrument of death we fail to really grasp what it looks like to pick up our own cross.  Firstly anyone carrying a cross was on a one way journey from which there was no returning.
 Secondly it makes far more sense when we remember we are told to crucify our flesh. Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Our own thoughts, desires, needs are seconded to the kingdom. What does not line up must go! Jesus set the example in Gethsemane…Not my will but thine…Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross any more than we do.  If there had been another way, any other way, He would have taken it.  He could have left us in the messy stench of our self~will & self~love, bogged down by the weight of our sin, but He did not.  He gave up His own will to the Father’s to receive the Name Above All Names.

I like the way Dwight L. Moody says it:
Give your life to God; he can do more with it than you can

We have covered much of this ground before.  We have discussed the 2 dominating characteristics of the early church: their love for each other & their willingness to suffer persecution if it came.

The early church spread like wildfire despite the fact that most Christians ended up poor, found it difficult to get work due to their faith, could be arbitrarily evicted from their homes, were avoided socially ~ in short they suffered as the Middle East church suffers today.

The early church was remarkably different to the society surrounding it & it was remarkably sturdy it its ability to stand against societal norms. One reason for this was that it practised discipleship.

If I say the word disciple most of you will consider it a noun & attach a name to it: Matthew, John, Peter, Nathaniel…However disciple is also a verb & I would argue the primary use of the word in scripture is as a verb.

Jesus chose 12 men to disciple. In fact He entrusted His entire ministry to those 12 men. He sent them out to practise Mark 6:7~13. Both Matthew & Luke also record the occasion. However those 12 were not Jesus only disciples. Luke 10:1 records 72 being sent out to heal the sick & preach the KingdomV8 & they reported even the demons obeyed them when they used Jesus name. V17.

·      This is the pattern you see in the epistles. Yes, the apostles went out & preached the gospel.  They healed the sick.  They taught, exhorted, proclaimed. They cared for the poor & planted churches. They also made disciples because that is what Jesus told them to do. Barnabas invested in Paul when pretty much no~one else would & Paul reached most of the known gentile world with the gospel.  Paul invested in Timothy who eventually pastored the church at Ephesus. Titus & Luke were also discipled by Paul. What’s more, he expected them to also disciple others.
·      “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

·      The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

In case it’s not obvious the first requirement of discipleship is relationship.  Those who disciple & those being discipled must invest time in each other. Jesus invested his time in 12 men. Paul invested his time in a number of different people. Priscilla & Aquinas mentored Apollo.

The 2nd requirement of discipleship is that it is a 3~way relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says:
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

We have our own personal relationship with Christ. We should have a more mature Christian who is prepared to invest in us & we should have those that we ourselves are helping to grow in the love & knowledge of our Lord Jesus. This is how the kingdom is grown.

Discipleship is NOT evangelism.  Preaching the gospel is only the first part of our duty. Saved people need to learn how to worship in spirit & in truth.  They need to learn how to walk in victory in difficult circumstances.  They need to learn how to crucify their flesh, renew their minds & overcome the world.  For most of us this is not an automatic download the moment we get saved.  It is something we learn over time.  Much heartbreak & anguish can be prevented when we take the time to invest in other’s lives & show them how to walk out their faith.

So my question to you today is threefold:
·      Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus & His Holy Spirit?

·      Do you have someone in your life who is investing their time, knowledge & experience in you?

·      Are you investing your time, knowledge & experience in someone else?

Each of us can reach somebody for Christ; none of us can reach everybody.

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