Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Mark of Greatness Is to Invest In People. Mark 9 Receive them. Perceive them
Mark 9: 30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Have you ever flown? Do you like it? After awhile you start to notice that plane flyers are ranked. Have you noticed those people who regard themselves as better than others.. they call that first class.. I fly herd class…I mean third class… up in first they seem so much more superior don’t they?
The disciples may have felt that way. Some of them had had a special experience that the other 9 did not have; they had been to the mountain!! They had been there and seen Elijah and Moses speaking with the Lord Jesus! They had seen the cloud! They had hears the voice “this is my beloved Son hear him!” Mark 9:7 This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
And now as they go down the mountain, they are discussing important stuff; the pecking order!
Who is on first!!
Funny, whenever the Lord talks about something important, His death and resurrection, these guys lose the plot and wander off into something very selfish!
I was required to attend a three hour lecture on altruism at Teacher’s college.
Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty and duty. Altruism is a motivation to provide a value to a party who must be anyone but the self, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (for example, a god, a king), or collective (for example, a government). Some individuals may feel both altruism and duty, while others may not. Pure altruism is giving up a value (a reward or benefit) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (for instance from recognition of the giving).
During the 3 hour lecture, I learnt something: I have a big mouth!
We were asked to ask questions of this altruistic person about altruism.
I couldn’t stand the silence. No one asked anything.
I stood and asked “Why are you altruistic?”
“Because it makes me feel good!”
“So you are altruistic for selfish reasons? You do get a pay out in the end?”
How opposite to what is important to the Lord!
When asked what was the greatest commandment the Lord replied (Mark 12: 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
What is our essential motive for the ministry of reaching and teaching people in Christ’s name? I like to use the term Great Commandment love. In one of the most defining moments of his ministry, Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest. He answered, “ ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, NASB). This Great Commandment to love God and love people defines the true identity of those who are called his church. Great Commandment love is at the heart of who we are and what we do.
Compare Christ’s Great Commandment with the equally important Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB). The Great Commission to declare God’s truth on the vital issues of sin, Scripture, and salvation, and to call people to bow in obedience to God, relates more to the mission of the church. The Great Commandment to love God and others defines our identity orheart as a church. The Great Commission capsulizes what we do while the Great Commandment embodies who we are. What I refer to as the Great Commandment Principle is the accomplishing of the Great Commission within the context of the Great Commandment.
Both are vital to our ministry to the churched and unchurched. We cannot effectively do what we have been called to do unless we embrace and live out our identity as people who love God and others. In fact, when we adhere to the Great Commandment Principle of loving God and one another, we can “do” church effectively because we are “being” his church.
As the Great Commandment Principle comes to more clearly define who we are, it will be God’s love that prompts our activity, empowers our work, and becomes the explanation for any “success” we might have. This principle will bring the evidence of his love into every relationship we enjoy and every message we share. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NASB).
Embracing the Great Commandment Principle does not mean we are soft on the vital issues of sin, Scripture, and salvation. For example, Jesus compassionately said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “I don’t condemn you,” but he also said, “Go and sin no more.” Great Commandment love connects us to the very heart of God, where we are empowered to minister truth to people whose lives are scarred by sin, disobedient to Scripture, and spiritually lost. Indeed, only when the truth is spoken in love will people be moved to conform to the truth.
A 1994 Josh McDowell Ministry study of 3,795 church-attending youth reveals:
Fifty-three percent of our church-attending youth feel alone in trouble or crisis.
Fifty-two percent say they don’t want a marriage like their parents’.
Fifty percent say they are stressed out.
Fifty-five percent say they are confused.
Forty-four percent do not believe their church is relevant to their lives.5
If our church-attending youth find themselves lonely, stressed out, and confused, can it also be true that a comparable segment of adults are also lonely, stressed out, and confused? Research confirms it. A staggering 74 percent of today’s Christian adults claim that the church is not sensitive to their needs.6
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Receive People
Jesus was willing to be inconvenienced by people.
He received people
35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
He received a child with welcoming arms
36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
He received a near disciple with welcoming arms
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
Just as I am without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou biddst me come to Thee O lamb of God I come,
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Sometimes when I go to a church and just watch the interactions between people, I wonder how I as a young, non Christian would have perceived prideful behavior. I wonder if the young man some are rejecting were me, would I have stayed in a church? Would the church have lost a preacher? I am very careful now to be kind towards all that come.
As we begin to restore Great Commandment love to our personal lives and ministries, we will be increasingly attractive to the hurting, needy people around us. Two critical questions must be answered in order to effect this vital restoration. First, what does Great Commandment love look like in our lives and ministry? Second, how does restoring Great Commandment love to our lives and ministry make our message relevant? In the pages ahead, I will attempt to paint a word picture of Great Commandment love in action. I will show how this kind of love results in relevant ministry without compromising God’s truth about sin, the absolute authority of Scripture, and man’s fundamental need for God. And I will share with you the dramatic difference Great Commandment love has made in my own life, marriage, and ministry.
In order for our lives to demonstrate Great Commandment love and impact our world in a relevant way, three things must happen.
1. We must identify and meet the real needs of people.
Receive on another even when it is inconvenient
He was interrupted at prayer, at meals, on vacation, in times of privacy, when it was suited to His schedule.
We can only have an outgoing love when we know we are loved.
1 John 4 :19 We loved because He first loved us.
We can only receive people for Jesus’ sake when we know we ourselves have been received by Jesus.
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Take The Initiative With People
Jesus took the Initiative With People
The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that we must:
See the need
Sympathise with people’s pain
Seize the moment when it comes along to help
Spend whatever it takes, particularly when there is no hope of recompense
Do you love others and seek to serve them, and not yourself?
Again the example of Jesus is key, who loved more than we ever could, and “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
In the parable there was a man going from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And Jerusalem sits high on Mount Zion, while Jericho is situated near the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on Earth – 1388 feet below sea level.
“So this is a picture that when humanity moves away from God, it moves from the heights to the depths. I was moving farther down into that valley the first 16 years of my life.
“And as this man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, he fell among thieves. They beat him, stoned him, kicked him, stripped the clothes from him, took all his money, and left him there in a pool of blood—dying. This man is a picture of humanity apart from God, battered and robbed by the devil.
“Sadly, we live in a world of people who are going from Jerusalem to Jericho. They’re on their own path, away from God, heading down into the valley of the shadow of death; and many have been beaten and robbed by Satan. Ours is a hurting world! Hearts are crushed, bruised, bleeding, and broken.
“The amazing thing in this parable is that Jesus reveals that religion is not the answer. Did you hear that? Religion is not the answer. A priest and a Levite passed right by this hurting man.
“The priest represented religion with its rituals and rules. The Levite represented the law, which can describe us and condemn us; but can’t save us.
“When your neighbor is hurting, he doesn’t need religion with its rituals and rules. He doesn’t need a course on theology. He need compassion. He needs Jesus!
“The Good Samaritan who ministered to this man, is really a picture of Jesus. The Good Samaritan bound up this broken man. He soothed him with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit; and He cleansed him with wine, a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ.
“And then Jesus, the Good Samaritan, sat this man on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Out of love, Jesus comes to us in the midst of our sin and rebellion, and He is moved with compassion. We live in a hurting world that needs help. We can’t wait until they come to us. We must go to them with hearts of mercy and love.”
The Mark Of Greatness Is Be Interested In People
Jesus Was Interested In People
Billy Graham wrote
The human soul is a lonely thing. It must have the assurance of companionship. Left entirely to itself, it cannot enjoy anything. God said in the beginning, “It is not good that man should dwell alone” (Genesis 2:18). The creation of Eve was the beginning of human companionship. God’s people are a body, not intended to function separately, not intended to be unconcerned for one another. The only true body in the world is the Church. The world may talk grandly of brotherhood, but in reality its philosophy is “each man for himself.” God’s children are guaranteed the richest and truest friendship, both here and hereafter. Only in a true friendship and a true love do we find a genuine basis for peace. Only God can break down the national and racial barriers that divide men today. Only God can supply that love that we must have for our fellowman. We will never build brotherhood of man upon earth until we are believers in Christ Jesus. The only true cohesive power in the world is Christ. He alone can bind human hearts together in genuine love
"Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them. " — John Calvin
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Perceive People
Jesus Was Careful With People.
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
A Great Commandment follower of Christ enjoys the presence of God in his or her life and ministry. Why? Because in order to love God with heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves, we must be in touch with the loving heart of God. We cannot love at all apart from God’s love. The apostle John stated, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Great Commandment love cannot be manufactured; it is God’s love and compassion flowing in and through his people to draw a hurting world to himself. And as you deepen your love relationship with God, the most immediate benefit is the intimacy you enjoy with him.
Our world needs a relevant, vibrant body of believers who will serve as a shelter in the storm, a refuge from the pressures of life, a sanctuary of hope where hurts can be healed and spiritual needs can be met. Christ is the answer—we sincerely believe it. But the needy world has every reason to question the relevance of the answer if our lives and our ministries fail to exude Great Commandment love.
Are you aware of people in your community, in your circle of ministry, and perhaps even in your own home who are in need of a shelter, a refuge, a sanctuary? Do you long to provide solutions that are real, relevant, and revolutionary? Do you believe that God is the answer and that he desires to use his people as his ambassadors for communicating the answer to a hurting world?15
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Core Group discipleship
Try this website for free discipleship resources http://coregroups.org/core3strand.html
C3 Discipleship Process
Jesus did it. Wesley did it. You can too.
Jesus' 3-Strand Discipleship
The most effective manner to train and equip people for any skill is by providing effective models and opportunities to practice the skill itself. Jesus used a show, tell, release, and supervise model of training. Jesus ministered to the multitudes (crowd), the 12 (cell), and the inner circle of 3 (core). After calling the disciples, He took them along with Him, teaching and healing the sick as He went. Then, after He thought the disciples had seen and learned enough to try for themselves, He commissioned, empowered, instructed, and sent them out to do the same things. This discipleship process should be no different for those desiring to bring others into a complete understanding and walk in Christ-likeness.
John Wesley’s 3-Strand Discipleship
In 1743 John Wesley created a 3-strand discipleship model, a company of people having the form and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they might help each other to work out their own salvation. The 3 groups were called societies (crowd), classes (cell), and bands (core).
C3 Discipleship Process
The C3 discipleship process can be integrated into any church using all 3 strands or by launching stand-alone Core Groups. It can be used by any Christian church as a roadmap and adapted to fit any church expression or in small groups or for individual study. In addition to the process, we also provide free resources to assist you in equipping the saints.
Strand 1: Crowd
Size: 50+ people; this is typically the large gathering of people for corporate worship
Purpose: To bring about a change in knowledge
Focus: celebration - worship.
Wesley's society or crowd group included those in a geographical area, much like a typical, congregational meeting in today’s church. These large groups of people met once a week to pray, sing, study scripture, and to watch over one another in love. However, as is true of today's corporate church gathering, there was little or no provision made at this level for personal response or feedback.
Strand 2: Cell
Size: 5-16 people
Purpose: To bring about behavioral change; conduct
Focus: community - fellowship.
Wesley's class or cell group was the most basic group structure of the society. The class was composed of 12-20 members, both sexes, mixed by age, social standing and spiritual readiness, under the direction of a trained leader. It was not a gathering for academic learning. They met weekly in the evening for mutual confession of sin and accountability for growing in holiness. This group provided the structure to more closely inspect the condition of the flock, to help them through trials and temptations, and to bring further understanding in practical terms to the messages they had heard preached in the public society meeting. Membership in a class meeting was non-negotiable. If you wanted to continue in the society you had to be in a class. In 1742 in one society in London there were 426 members, divided into 65 classes. Eighteen months later that same society had 2,200 members, all of whom were in classes. Every week each class member was expected to speak openly and honestly on the true state of his or her soul. This strand closely resembles today's cell groups, small groups, life groups, etc.
Strand 3: Core
Size: 3 or 4 people
Purpose: To bring about a change of direction, heart and position; knowledge, character and conduct
Focus: committment - discipleship.
Wesley's band or Core was made up of 4 members, all the same sex, age, and marital status. This was a voluntary group of people who professed a clear Christian commitment, who desired to grow in love, holiness, and purity of motive. The environment was one of ruthless honesty and frank openness. There were specific rules about punctuality and order within the meeting. He introduced accountability questions which everyone answered openly and honestly in the meeting each week. Bands became the training ground for future leaders. This group held to extreme confidentiality in a “safe place”, mutual submission where matters of indifference were yielded to the released leader, and godly stewardship. This was the group that could intensively pursue goals and vision together. There is a strong case to be made for churches to review, adapt and integrate a 3-Strand Discipleship Process into their expression. It begins with the Bible, is supported by sociological evidence, makes sense from an organizational standpoint, and has been proven successful for thousands of years.
"One standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Biblical Evidence for 3-Strand Discipleship
Scripture paints a clear picture of a God who not only lives in community but embraces and seeks after it. First, with Adam (Gen.1:26), then with the people of Israel (Deut.6:4) and finally in the Godhead itself (John 1:1-3). There is power in a cord of three and this concept runs throughout God's Word. Since God Himself lives and works in community, and we are made in the likeness of God, then we too are created to live in and for community. To be human is to hunger for community.
Additionally, Jesus and the disciples modeled a closely knit community. Christ Himself came to provide community and live with us (Mth. 1:23) and then He called a small group of disciples to live and walk with Him (Mark 3:7-10,13-14). Jesus knew that the multitudes had great needs, but chose to minister to the twelve and especially the three (Peter, James and John). By walking with and training a few, He ultimately transformed many lives.
This cord of three strands is Christ’s highest dream for His Church. It is seen in His prayer for us that we may be one as He and the Father and Holy Spirit are one (John 17:11). Additionally, Christ sees our unity and community as our message to the world that He came and that He is love, and if we, the Church, fail at community, we fail our mission (John 17:21, 23).
Relational Evidence for 3-Strand Discipleship
There is relational evidence that God created us to crave relationships and community:
• God wants us to seek a relationship with Him (Acts 17:24-27)
• God wants us to have relationships with others (Genesis 2:18)
• God reveals His emotions to us (Ephesians 4:30; Zephaniah 3:17)
• God intervenes when we can’t communicate (Romans 8:26-27)
There is also blessing that comes from community:
• Strength for storms of life (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
• Wisdom for making good decisions (Proverbs 15:22)
• Confidentiality and accountability for spiritual health (Proverbs 27:17)
• There is strength, reliability and assurance in community (Proverbs 18:24)
Structural Evidence for 3-Strand Discipleship
As churches are planted to accomplish God’s work in the world, organization becomes a necessity to ensure community. The Core Discipleship process and groups are a way to ensure that this done in a life-giving manner by “doing life together” - everyone is cared for and no one cares for too many (not more than four). Just as is true in a natural family, the Core Discipleship Process enhances spiritual parenting to ensure that no one stands alone, struggles alone, serves alone, develops alone, seeks alone, or grows up alone.
The Core Discipleship Process and groups are a God-ordained way to provide infrastructure within any church to assure the development of disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), where the workload is shared (Exodus 18:9-22), where everyone receives care (Acts 6:1) and where leadership can be determined, equipped and repeated (Titus 1:5).
Finally, the Core Discipleship Process provides a structure for “mutual membership” to promote unity in the body (Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16), a sense of belonging to one another (Romans 7:2-4) and a place to edify, bless, grow, serve and challenge each other through the exercise of each person's spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12:12-27).
Church: 3-Strand Discipleship Process
Strand 1: Crowd
Size: 50+ people; typically large gathering
Population: Mixed gender
Purpose: To bring about a change in knowledge
Strand 2: Cells (Life, Home, or Small Groups)
Size: 5-16 people; typically in homes
Population: Mixed gender usually
Purpose: To bring about behavioral change; conduct
Strand 3: Core Groups
Size: 3 or 4 people
Population: Same gender (see process)
Purpose: To bring about a change of direction, heart and position; knowledge, character and conduct
Focus: Commitment/discipleship - intentional, relational, reproducible
Core Groups specifically embrace the Great Commandment and the Great Commission by focusing on the imperative to make disciples found in the Great Commission as they are taught to "...observe all that I commanded you"(Mth. 28:20). This is accomplished as we build life-long relationships in the context of safe and confidential groups of no more than four disciples, men with men and women with women. Core Groups are not accountability groups or smaller, small groups. Core Groups develop students and adults who commit their lives to Jesus Christ and are willing to follow Him as presented in the pages of God's Word. From the very beginning, Core members are held accountable to begin praying for two to come to Christ and for someone they are called to disciple.
Core Key Values
1. Love: Great Commandment
The first foundational value of a Core Group is the pursuit of the Great Commandment - our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with others (Mth. 22:37-40).
2. Christ-likeness: Great Commission
The second foundational value is the pursuit of Christ-likeness as we observe the Great Commission (Mth. 28:18-20). It is our desire to be genuinely conformed to the character of Jesus. We believe God’s vision for man is to make us in the image of Christ (Gen. 1:26; Rom. 8:29). We believe that all spiritual progress is the result of God’s grace. We believe that humility is the pathway to Christ-likeness. In seeking to truly become like Christ, we remember His command to, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mth. 11:29).
3. Devoted: Acts 2:42
The third foundational value of Core is a commitment to the four fundamental devotions of the church as recorded in Acts 2:42: devoted to God's Word, fellowship, communion, and prayer. It is learning to be a doer of the Word.
4. Equipped: Ephesians 4:11-16
A Core Group outfits the saints for the work of ministry - the privilege and enterprise of each member of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).
5. Faithful: 2 Timothy 2:2
A Core Group is facilitated by a more spiritually mature person who prayerfully selects others whose faithfulness and gift have been evidenced (‘faithful men, teach’) as presented by Jesus (Luke 6:12,13) and by Paul (2 Timothy 2:2): "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Discipleship as "spiritual parenting" is a life-long process and those we prayerfully select are those we will invest a significant portion of our lives.
Discipleship And The Great Commission
From Matthew 28:19-20 we learn: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (bold mine).
The Great Commission has three participles: "go," "baptizing," and "teaching” and one imperative verb, a command: "make disciples." The main idea is to make disciples. The participles tell us how to do that: we make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. So the goal of a Core Discipleship Group is to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
There appears to be a lack of consensus regarding the Biblical definition of discipleship as it appears in the Gospels and the Epistles (theology and methodology). It appears from Scripture that the main verb, 'make disciples,' does not really explain the means of discipleship, but its goal. To make disciples according to Jesus' Great Commission is accomplished by going (first participle), initiating people into the life of discipleship by 'baptizing' (second participle), and achieved by 'teaching' (third participle) which is the continuous obligation of the church in the life of a new convert as they develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as both Savior AND Lord. Teaching then is the process of getting the person to know Him in a life-long, deeper, and more intimate way. Scripture is an absolute essential element in the process of Holy Spirit-inspired, transformation of knowledge, conduct, and character. Discipleship is the corporate responsibility of the church. Discipleship is a life-long process, beginning at the point of salvation, and participated in by a variety of individuals within the church, each as the Lord directs, from his or her own unique gift set and way.
Making disciples does not refer to some formal structured program intended only for the super-spiritual. It is God’s imperative for every believer in His church. It involves the initiation and the instruction of every believer into an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. It seeks to make every person a follower of Christ.
The last phrase of Matthew 28:20 contains an incredible promise: "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." In context, this verse is primarily talking about making disciples. What Jesus is saying is that when we make disciples according to His plan and process, He will be with us. When Jesus sees a disciple making church, He gets involved there. When He sees disciples going out to make new disciples, then baptizing and teaching them, He is very present. According to Romans 12:1-2; Romans 8:29, God wants disciples to be conformed to Christ's image, and according to His Commission, He promises to help us make disciples to accomplish His plan.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Discipleship And Salvation Mark 8:31-34
Before I became a Christian there was no way that I would enter a church! I knew what church was like! I had attended a church service once when I was 5. There were 700 people crammed into a small building seating 300. It was hot! It was boring! It was crowded! It was boring and it was boring!
As a young man, growing up in a non-christian family, I was invited by friend to attend a church service. The problem was that my friend stood well over 2 metres tall. He had to crouch to get through doors! And big! His dad was a concreter and my mate Dave was (and is) a mass of muscle!
Dave said to me, “Grosey! If I got to go to church Sunday night, you can come too!” There wasn’t a whole lot of choice in it. Well Dave and I went to church. The third Sunday night that we went along there was this short elderly man in his eighties who was preaching about Eternity. I was interested! But.. we were invited to go along and have a cup of coffee and cake at one of the church members;’ house after church. And there was this little fellow. And he spoke. Again! After he spoke about eternity or something again, he said “Right. Every head bowed, every eye closed! Now! If you want to get to heaven, just put your hand up.”
Well I thought about that for awhile. To get to heaven you just put your hand up.
‘Okay. Sounds easy. Maybe.’
After another five minutes or so (in the mean time three or four people put their hand up, and the preacher said softly and deeply “I see that hand, God bless you!”) I decided to raise my hand. ‘Couldn’t hurt,’ I thought. ‘And , well he said if you put your hand up you go to heaven! Sounds like a good deal!’
“I see that hand! God bless you!”
Another five or ten minutes went bye with the 30 or so people in the room solemnly with bowed head and closed eyes sitting on the floor. I wondered what would happen if I opened one eye and took a peak. Finally the elderly gentleman invited us to open our eyes. Then came words I never expected to hear;
“All those who put your hands up, come out into the back room!”
‘Uh oh… what is this? Didn’t he say of you want to go to heaven just put your hand up? Now he’s adding something extra? I’ve been conned! What are they going to do out there; circumcise me?’
Well we weren’t going out to be circumcised! I placed myself at the tail end of the line of 9 young men aged between 15 and 25 who had raised their hands. Whatever was going to happen, they could all go first!
The elderly man came to where I was standing, stretched out his hand to shake my hand and said the magic words; “What are you?”
I stood there stunned. He said it again “What are you?”
I heard a voice in my head… “Well what are You?”
Discouraged he turned to the next guy and repeated the question; “What are you?”
‘Ha! This guy won’t know!’ I thought, and he answered “Saved!”
I thought to myself ‘What a dumb thing to say.. ‘saved?’ saved from what? How? Who? Him? Why?’
“Well praise the Lord!” The elderly fellow then turned to the next young man in the line.
“What are you?” and he answered “Saved!” Well Praise the Lord, as he shook the young man’s hand.
And to the next “What are you?” and he answered “Saved!”
And then the next “What are you?” and he answered “Saved!”
I thought to myself ‘Hey I get it now, I am supposed to say “saved!” I can do that!’ I waited for the elderly man to finish inquiring of each of the nine men standing in line, so he would return to me. AND HE DIDN’T! I was gypped again! I knew the expected answer now, and there was no one to ask me!
Well my mate drove me home in silence. Dave asked me what had happened in the back room. I told him, “We all got saved, and you better get saved too!” that night those words struck home to Dave, and before he went home he knelt at the side of his mini minor and prayed to receive Christ as His Saviour! And I was just plain confused!
(I did come to know the Lord as my own Saviour over the next 6 months as I read the Bible and trusted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour!)
Have you ever been confused? Have you ever felt gypped? Every felt that you couldn’t figure out this God thing, and when you think you have, you suddenly cop a twist in the story and wind up confused again?
Some people read these words of Jesus and think, “Whoa there, this discipleship thingy isn’t part of the deal! I am saved by grace, I don’t have to DO anything to be a Christian!”
But Jesus did say these words:
Mark 8: 34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?
Is it a con? How are we “saved by grace”, but we are expected to lay down our loves to get it?
The Truth about Discipleship
Discipleship and Salvation
Christ’s invitation to salvation is, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) His call to discipleship is, “Come after Me” (Mark8:34).
Salvation is about the Cross of Christ (Mark 8:31) while discipleship is about your own cross (Mark8:34).
At salvation, you receive a gift, eternal life; in discipleship, you give a gift, your body (Mark8:35).
Look at this chart:
1. Discipleship and Salvation
Is Discipleship the same as becoming a Christian? Can you be a Christian but not go all the way and be a disciple? Well let’s think about some basic truths first:
Discipleship doesn’t save; God does
Jonah 2:9 “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
John 1:11-13 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Salvation is found in a person, not in a formula!
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Taking your cross doesn’t save; Christ dying at the cross does
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
But, if you are not a disciple you are not a Christian!
If you are not obedient to the faith, you have never experienced saving faith.
Because Salvation is found in a Person and not in a theory, when a person comes to that Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, a whole new relationship begins. Repentance is turning from our ways and turning to Him as the Saviour and Redeemer. It is turning from the mess we made of our lives, and inviting Him to take over that mess and lead our lives in the best way He knows how, and He does know the best way how!! When a person turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, they can NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!
They become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Old things pass away, everything becomes new!!
I remember the day I was really “saved!” I woke up the next morning singing “Everything is beautiful!” and it was! I was surprised at the beauty of the creation around me! Why? Because I had a whole new way of seeing life. I was Forgiven! I was pardoned! I was a child of God! I had peace with God through what the Lord Jesus had done at the cross! Heaven above was softer blue, earth below a sweeter green, something lived in every hue, Christless eyes had never seen, Since I knew as then I knew I was Christ’s and He is mine!
DL Moody a famous evangelist had a similar experience :
“I remember the morning on which I came out of my room after I had first trusted Christ. I thought the sun shone a good deal brighter than it ever had before. I thought that it was just smiling upon me, and as I walked out upon Boston Common and heard the birds singing in the trees, I thought they were all singing a song to me. Do you know? I fell in love with the birds. I had never cared for them before. It seemed to me that I was in love with all creation. I had not a bitter feeling against any man and I was ready to take all men to my heart. If a man has not the love of God shed abroad in his heart he has not yet been regenerated."
Now that brings us to a bigger chart:
2. Discipleship and Sanctification
Discipleship and Sanctification are the work of God the Father God the Son God the Holy Spirit and the Believer.
Sanctification is the big word that means make holy and different. When you come to jesus you can never be the same again. That is because first of all;
There is the work of God the Father in Sanctification
Chosen to holiness
he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1:4
God chose that you should be holy right from the foundation of the world. He chose that you should be a disciple of Jesus. Better get in on His plan!
Jer 31:33 I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. Ezekiel 36, Eph 4:24
Do you feel bad about your sin? God has put His law in your heart and He wants you to change.
Raised from spiritual death to new life
You were dead in your sin! God raised you from Spiritual death and put Spiritual life into you!
Change heart and mind granting repentance
2 Tim 2:25 God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Phil 2: 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
It is God’s work! He will do it!
Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Chastising and trials
Heb 12:1-18 participate willingly in God’s discipline. If you kick against it, it will only hurt you more!
There is the work of God the Son in your sanctification;
Union in death
Read Romans 6
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Rom 6:11
Somehow, when the Lord Jesus was on the cross your old sin nature was nailed with Him there. You were united with Him in death, and that old you is now gone!
Union in resurrection
1Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
It is the same power that raised Christ from the dead that is at work inside you!
Motivation to Love
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
There is the work of God the Holy Spirit in you.
Did you notice that his name begins with “Holy”. That is what He intends to make you!
2Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Titus 3: 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Rom 8: 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
“to enlighten the eyes of the understanding” (Eph 1:18), that we may know the things freely given to us of God (1Cor 2:12)
Fruit of the Spirit
Gal 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Filling With Spirit
Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Eph 3:16-19 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
Why don’t you fill in the application box for what that will mean for you!
And there is your work in you.
The work of the believer in sanctification and discipleship.
It is a cooperative partnership to make you a holy sanctified disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phil 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Renewing the mind
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
Col 3: 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Read God’s word! Let it renew your mind!
Taught by fellow believers
That us what we do at church! We build each other up in love.
Serving the people of God
Don’t forsake going to church. We need one another
John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth,”
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Get God’s Word into you. It is life changing. Read it each day!
Apply Scripture to heart
Rom 8: 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Phil 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Submission, confidence, self-denial, patience, and meekness, as well as faith, hope, and love, are called forth, or put to the test, more or less effectually every day the believer passes on earth.
Conversion, Repentance and obedient Discipleship
Rom 1:5 to bring about the obedience of faith
Mark 8:34, And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Abiding in Christ
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Put off the old man and put on the new man
It is as you walk with Him that you become holy!
Mark 8:34, And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
So how does all this work out when Jesus calls you to become a disciple?
3. Discipleship And Its Seriousness
Discipleship is serious business.
1. Discipleship involves self-denial.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself,
Denying yourself means that you deny that you can sort out your life. Jesus calls you to turn from your mess and turn to Him. He is the only One who can take out your trash!
2. Discipleship involves servanthood.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself,
Denying yourself means that you are letting Him be the boss.
There were Old Testament rules for when someone got into debt. There can be crushing debt that you cannot get out from under. Proverbs tells us that the borrower is the slave to the lender, and we experience that every day with our banks: the bank loans us money for a house, and we spend all the rest of our days worrying about repaying that debt. We wear the slave mark that says “Owned by the CBC!” or “NAB” or “ANZ”.
In Old Testament times, if things got bad, someone could sell himself out to a boss as a slave on one third the wages of a normal hired hand. But the boss would look after his food, clothing, shelter and family. It really wasn’t such a bad deal for a Jewish “slave’. Not only did he get looked after for 6 years, but at the end of it, he got to keep some of the stuff he had earned!
Deuteronomy 15: 12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed.
And if he got a good master.. some folks wouldn’t want to leave! Why leave if your boss looks after food, clothing, work and healthcare? It sounds a bit like the Army, or the Public Service!
Well if the slave liked the new deal, he could arrange to stay past the 6 year time limit.
Deuteronomy 15:16,17 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same.
So if you saw someone walking down the street with a hole in his ear, you would have said “Man he must have a good master! I better remember that guy’s name! I may need a job one day!!”
Have you got a good Master? Is Jesus a good master? Hasn’t He loved you and cared for you and lead you along the way as your trusted in Him? That was why Paul loved to call himself “A bond-servant of Christ Jesus (Rom 1:1). He knew where to get a good deal! Will you serve Him?
3. Discipleship involves sacrifice.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross.
It costs to be a Christian!
The word sacrament comes from the Roman legion’s “sacramentum” a yearly ritual of a soldier offering incense to a bust of Caesar and declaring “Caesar is Lord!” It was understood that by offering that incense the soldier was vowing faithful service to Caesar even to die for him.
This sacrifice and oath was later required of every person within the Roman Empire. Of course, that brought Christians into conflict with the Empire. For a Christian the only declaration that could be made was “Jesus is Lord!” and all others are pretenders to the throne! He alone was worthy.
Have you made that sacramental vow to the Lord Jesus? As we share in communion, the Lord’s Supper, there is a sense in which this Sacrament is our opportunity to say “Jesus is Lord! And I will follow Him even until death!”
4. Discipleship involves sharing.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
The word sharing, means fellowship, communion, a getting to know one another at the deepest of levels. Jesus invites you to such a fellowship. Jesus said “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. (John 17:3)
He wants you to experience fellowship with Him as you walk along following Him.
Will you be a disciple of Jesus? If you are a Christian you are a disciple. You have entered a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and you can never be the same again!