Tag Archives: discipleship

WHY?

Peninsula Community Church 

May 26, 2019 

John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

This weekend has been established as a national holiday to celebrate Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those who have given their lives so we can live free as a nation and as individuals. It is noteworthy that Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War in 1856. The families and survivors of the Union Army were passionate about honoring those who gave their life during the Civil War. They would visit and place flowers on the graves of those who died. After World War I and all wars after that, those who died were honored. Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the price paid for our freedom. 

For so many, this weekend is associated with the beginning of summer, but the reality is it is less about the start of summer and much more about the lives who were sacrificed for our freedom. It is a time to remember why they died. Today, we are reminded these men died so we could be free. They died so we could worship and speak freely, even if we do not agree with the worship or speech of another person. They paid that price with their lives. On a side note, it is so sad that those freedoms are being encroached upon and being eroded in big ways. 

Last week we noted that to understand discipleship we needed to know the why more than the how of evangelism and discipleship. The how and mechanics of what we do is important, but the why of what we do is even more critical. Without the why, we can become mechanical and programmatic in our approach to discipleship. For a few minutes this morning I would like to consider the why of discipleship and evangelism. In other words, we will look at why we do what we do.

Last we week we were reminded that while salvation is important, growth in Christ in terms of discipleship was the focus of the “Great Commission.” So, why do we disciple others? Why does it matter? Why should we share Jesus with those we encounter and within our sphere of influence? The answer lies in this passage before us today. We are called to be disciples and we are to disciple others because of John 3:16. We do so because God so loved the world. 

This sin filled, depraved, godless world has been and still is loved by God. He loved it so much that He sent His son to die on the cross not for one sin but for all sin. This is the most incredible part of this passage. He did not die for some people, He died for all people. He died for the world, the whole world. He died for all mankind regardless of social standing, financial standing, or even one’s looks. Thank God for that. There is not one person who was not on the mind of Christ when He hung on the cross. We are all covered by the sacrifice He gave. 

Why did He do this? He did so in order that every person who would believe in Him might have eternal life, and not just eternal life but abundant life. You see Jesus did not come to help us just escape hell. He did not die so that we could join a Christian social club. He died so we could live and live freely in a world that seeks to shackle us with fear, anxiety, and deceit. He died so that anyone who would believe in Him and accept Him would be received as His child. Through acceptance of Christ his or her name is written into the Book of Life. 

We must understand that salvation is not automatic. You must choose to accept Christ as your Savior. The sad part is that not all will be saved because they will refuse to choose Him. Instead they will reject Christ and His provision for abundant life. The truth is that not every person will be saved but the opportunity for salvation is available for all people. This includes the worst of all mankind and it includes the best of all mankind. We must all accept Christ on our own and for ourselves. We cannot depend on our friends or our family. We must accept Him personally. 

Because of God’s love there is great misunderstanding of some doctrine that is being propagated by some in the church today. There is so much that is based in human ideology and not God’s theology. I have stated this before. We must be assured that our presuppositions are formed by Scripture and not the other way around. We must not allow our presuppositions to determine our beliefs, but we must allow God’s word to form our beliefs. When we start from the basis of our own beliefs, and we are looking for Scripture to give us answers to support our beliefs, we have failed to allow the Word of God to be the roadmap of our life. In a world that is encouraging us to jettison all absolutes and live by our own moral compass, we as believers need to heed the call of God to live by the word and not our own beliefs. 

With that said, I would suggest to you that there are four motivating factors for our work in discipleship and evangelism. It is these motivating factors that define for us the why of discipleship. First of all, the love of Christ compels us. As we look at this passage let me let you in on a secret. God did not create the world, sling it into existence and then forget about it. He loved the world before its foundation. He loved the world when mankind failed in the Garden and sin came rushing into their minds and hearts. He loves the world just as much today as He did then. It is that love that compels us to share Christ with others. It is that love that constrains us to accomplish His will. Listen to Paul’s words. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV). In the ESV the word is Christ’s love controls us.

So, why do we do this? We do so because the love of Christ overwhelms us. We do so because the love of Christ motivates us to speak truth in love to those we encounter and to those to whom we have been given influence. When we embrace the love He has for us and that love overwhelms us and motivates us to share our faith with others. 

Second, we are commanded by Christ to disciple. The love of God experienced through the work Christ done on our behalf motivates us to obey God’s call to be discipled and to disciple. If you remember, last week we found that Jesus commands His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Peter says to all Christians, “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). 

We disciple because it is a part of the plan executed by God. Think about this, God could have used any means possible to share His love. He could have just spoken directly to those around us. But for some strange reason, He chose us. He chose this imperfect, sinful creature created by God to be the vessel He would work through to touch people and to give them the word of hope. 

Third, a love for the lost compels us. A love for the lost should compel us to have compassion for those in need, and everyone’s greatest need is eternal salvation. We saw before that it is love that should compel us as a motivation for discipleship. To effectively accomplish this we must have a love for those to whom we are being sent. 

To understand that love we must consider how richly God has loved us. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1). Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11).

And finally, we disciple because we have a love for God. Our ultimate motivation in evangelism must be to see God glorified, and God is glorified when the truth about Him is known and made known. Thus our desire should be to glorify God by proclaiming the truth about Him as often as we can. This motivation will sustain us when our love for others may run dry. If we are to faithfully evangelize despite rejection, opposition, and even persecution, our deepest motivation must be to glorify God. You see perfect love casts at all fear. When our love for God overwhelms us, we are motivated by faith and not the individual we are sharing hope with. 

So why do we disciple others? We do so because of the love of God who sent His son and the love that is manifested in our hearts.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Make Disciples

Peninsula Community Church 

May 19, 2019 

Matthew 28:16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Acts 1:7-8 He said to them,“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In the movie Citizen Kane, the last words Charles Foster Kane utters on his death bed are the words “Rosebud.” These words served to frame the movie’s narrative and provide the key to understanding the man’s tragic but world-changing life. In Jesus’ final days, He also spoke powerful words to His disciples that frame the narrative that would guide the rest of their life. These words continue to guide us and direct us as passionate followers of Christ, even today. You see Jesus gave us a “Great Commission” that helps us focus on our purpose and the reason we live in this world torn apart by sin and the depravity of mankind. It gives us purpose beyond our existence today.

The statements before us answer the life long question that so many ask. “Why am I here?”  “What am I suppose to do with my life?” “Can I really make a difference?” Mark Devers in his book “Disciple Maker” has suggested that disciplining is a ministry of how, but it is really a ministry of why. Discipling others involves modeling faith and godliness with our lives. Paul called those in Philippi to imitate what he had done and the life he lived (Philippians 3:17). Effective discipling also imparts the reasons for believing in and living for Jesus. Paul called Timothy to entrust to others what he had learned from Paul (2 Timothy 2:2). So discipleship is in fact a means to show why the way of Christ is the way to go. It is to answer the question “why Christ.” “Why should I believe?”

The truth is we are always disciplining. We are always effecting others. To disciple others we  must be passionate followers of Christ ourselves. Anyone can imitate Christianity for a while without any real conviction, but that kind of “faith” will not last, and it will not save. False Christianity is a hindrance to people receiving what they really need. The fact is those who look to us need the truths we believe, the truths behind how we live, but they need more than just a good person to follow, they need Jesus. You can never teach anyone all the how’s, but when you teach them the why’s, you prepare them to exercise wisdom and generate their own how’s long into the future.

As we look at the words contained in this passage, we find that through these words Jesus laid out three exclusive means to be disciples for Him. I say exclusive because this is reserved for those who have experienced a saving knowledge of Christ. These three elements include the following. He gave us a plan. He gave us a promise. He empowered us to accomplish the task that He called us to do. That is what I love about Christ. He never calls us to anything that He does not equip or prepare us to accomplish. Hudson Taylor the great missionary to China had one of the greatest quotes ever. He said Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. How many times have you been assigned a task but were not given the tools or power to accomplish the task? God never does that. He always provides everything we need.

So what is discipling? Mark Dever suggests that “At its core, discipling is teaching.” He says, “Your discipling should help people understand more. Through discipling, you want people to know why Christians pray, why we share the gospel, why we join the church, why knowledge of God’s sovereignty impacts how we live, and more.” To do this we must have been impacted by the Gospel message ourselves. We must have been changed by the radicalness of the Gospel.

A careful observation of this passage reveals that the only command in this text is really to make disciples. While go is a command. Teach is a command. Baptize is a command. In the original language, the major command here is to make disciples. All of these are the actions to be taken in order to disciple those around us. In essence, the passage could be translated something like this . As you are going, make disciples. As you are teaching, make disciples. As you are baptizing, make disciples. The emphasis, the pinnacle of this passage, is on discipleship. We reach people and bring them to a knowledge of Christ and help to deposit in them a hunger for more. 

As we consider these words, let us look at what He has done for us. First of all, Jesus gave us a plan. The words we have before us are just as powerful and just as important as they were 2000 years ago. Notice what He communicates to His disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples.” This is more than just winning someone to Christ. It is turning hearts to the ways of Christ. It is allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you in such a way that people would want what you have. I think, based upon this text, Jesus would say there are three things that are true for disciples. Disciples have been adopted by God, disciples are being formed by God, and disciples are empowered by God for life and mission.

We have focused at times so much on the evangelism aspect of what God wants us to do, we have missed the discipleship aspect of what He has called us to do. Not too many years ago one of the largest churches in America, Willow Creek Church, realized an important missing component in their ministry philosophy. They had done a good job of bringing people into the church through evangelism, the problem was that they had not been as successful in discipling those who came into the church. 

Listen to Hybels own words. ”We made a mistake… What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self feeders. We should have gotten people (and) taught people how to read their Bible between services (and) how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.” Hybels indicated that the emphasis on programs and meetings did not produce disciples. Did you get that? Programs and ministries do not produce disciples. We must engage the gospel personally to grow in Christ. 

The problem was that while the church was growing, they were not making disciples. While there is something to providing an atmosphere that encourages people to come to the church and feel welcomed. It is another to provide opportunities for people to grow and become disciples. How do we know that people are disciples of Christ? A true disciple of Christ makes disciples of others. That is disciples make disciples. That is why it is noteworthy that Christ commanded us to make disciples and not just evangelize. Evangelism therefore is a subset of discipleship because without accepting Christ, discipleship is ineffective. 

Jesus said that we are to go into all of the world. The question however is where is our world? In other words while we all have a sphere of influence sometimes we need to move outside that sphere of influence to reach others. The world is our ministry. Where ever God plants you, that is your field of service for Christ, that is your world. No matter where you are, make disciples of all men. It is not your job to be selective, but to reach those you are given the influence to reach.

Secondly, He has given us a promise. He will be with us. He will be there and will guide your words and your voice. For this reason, we do not have to fear or for that matter worry about what we will say or do. Be confident in the fact that He is with us and that He is watching out for us. Be confident that He is leading us and directing our steps. Man makes plans in his heart but God directs his steps. 

Thirdly, He has empowered us. Jesus promised that He would not leave us without empowering us to accomplish the task at hand. He has empowered us by way of the Holy Spirit. There are some in the world who have a mistaken idea of what the Holy Spirit does and what His role is in our life. Based on Acts 1 His responsibility is to empower us to evangelize and disciple others. 

How does He do that? We only have to look at some of the amazing stories of the Book of Acts to see how this is worked out in us. Peter stood and preached a message where 3000 came to know Christ in one service. The disciples were empowered to meet daily in homes to encourage one another, teach the word, and share life with one another. The Holy Spirit also empowers in miraculous ways. Remember when Peter and John just walked by people and their shadow alone healed those they encountered. Stephen was empowered to preach a powerful message while men had stones clenched in their hands and were about to throw them at him. 

While these things are sensational, the Holy Spirit’s task is simply to empower and make a way for us to share Christ in every day life and existence. It is that simple. It is not complicated. Know this that Jesus has a plan for your life and He has promised to be with you so that no matter where He leads you He will be with you. He has imparted to you His Holy Spirit so that you are empowered to do what He calls you to do. 

So what do we do with this. We recognize that Jesus has a plan. We recognize that He has promised to be with us. And He has empowered us to accomplish His task. Let’s go for it. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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