Discipleship 2: The Importance and The Cost.
Good morning my friends, last night we began our Discipleship group again after the long summer break. Here’s the teaching; if you’d intended to come but couldn’t make it, don’t worry, we’ve only just started and need to go over it again.
A) Key Scriptures:
John 15:16: John 15:16 (NIV) “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
Luke 14:26-35 (NIV) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV) “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Luke 9:23 (NIV) “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
B) Why Discipleship?
i) The Lord Jesus Christ showed the importance of Discipleship by making the training of the twelve disciples a priority during the three and a half years of His public ministry on earth.
ii) Jesus Commissioned all His followers to train disciples becasue He intended fruit that lasts.
iii) Discipleship is the best method to reach our world for God. The impact that Jesus’ twelve disciples and Paul had on the world shows us the value of discipleship. A small number of committed disciples, who have been well trained, will achieve far more for God than large numbers of converts who lack spiritual depth. In fact, discipleship is God’s chosen strategy to reach the world. If one disciple led just one other person to Christ, and devoted a whole year to training her or him, and the followeing year both disciple and discipler each made one new disciple apiece, and the next year those four made four more (one each), then in about thirty-two years the whole world’s population would be saved – that’s according to plain mathematics, i.e. Multiplication instead of Addition.
iv) The end result is Spiritually mature Christians. Maturity does not come automatically with increase in age, knowledge or experience, but as a result of gradual Spiritual growth on the basis of obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Word and by allowing Holy Spirit to transform us from within. The more open we are to His presence and power then the faster we’ll become a mature believer.
v) Many people foolishly assume that just because a person has been a Christian for a few years that they’ll be ‘mature’ believers. However, experience will soon reveal and has shown me that just because a person is SAVED it doesn’t mean that they are growing towards maturity in Christ. Sadly, many, countless thousands upon thousands, never grow-up and remain mere babes in Christ, simply because they didn’t get discipled. They don’t develop the faith muscles necessary to grow, they remain babes in Christ all their saved-lives. That’s NOT what God wants, He wants and has revealed it clearly in many places in His Word that He desires, commands and expects every believer to press-on towards maturity in the faith. And He’s also given us who are saved and mature the responsibility to Disciple others.
C) Seven Signs Of Spiritual Maturity:
i) Fruitfulness in our service for God (Matthew 25:14-30).
ii) A humble attitude and a willingness to serve others (John 13:12-17).
iii) A standard of excellence in our lives in general (2 Corinthians 13:11).
iv) A close and growing relationship with Jesus (Galatians 2:20).
v) The fruit of the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
vi) A stable, consistent and holy walk before God and man (Ephesians 4:11-16).
vii) A solid knowledge of God’s Word and discernment as a result (Hebrews 5:13-6:2).
NOTE: All of this can be summed up as “Christ-likeness”: Because as we grow in our faith and walk with Jesus we will be transformend into the likeness of Christ. 1 John 2:6.
NOTE: What it is NOT: Maturity is not about knowledge of ‘church’ politics, church procedures, church etiquette, church building or planting etc… Maturity IS Christlikeness.
NOTE: The first followers were given the nickname (a term of abuse at the time) Christians, because they took note of how much like Jesus his followers had become.
D) The Need For Spiritual Maturity:
i) Growth into maturity in Christ is what the Bible suggests is expected for all Christians (Ephesians 4:11-16).
ii) Without maturity there can be no leadership, and leaders are necessary for the Church to grow because they are the under-shepherds of God’s flock (1 Peter 5:1-3).
iii) Only mature Christians will be able to effectively stand against the devil and his powers of darkness and this is what God wants us to do (Matthew 12:29).
iv) Only mature Christians have a lasting impact for God on our world today.
v) It is only the mature disciple who, through his loving example, is able to convey the character of Jesus to the world.
Yesterday I was reading Philippians 1, where Paul was discussing the advancement of the Gospel whilst he was in prison. He revealed an amazing secret and last night one of those on our Discipleship Course stated; “I’ve come to realise that no matter what circumstance I’m going through, God has planed it for good. He’s helped me to see that it’s so simple, we just need to trust Him in everything”… You’ll never know how much I’ve been praying and longing to hear that from the lips of someone I’ve been teaching. (Soak yourself in Philippians 1 and 2 for a while and you’ll see)
Winning converts adds to the numbers of born-again believers, but only discipleship makes disciples who are mature, will reproduce and will in turn multiply the numbers of born-again believers and disciples.
We don’t just want to go for Addition, that easy to do, but for Multiplication.
Another member of our Discipleship Group stated last night: “For many years I’ve been going from church to church to get a blessing, to be prayed for, to get the ‘Super Pastor’ the Anointed to pray over me. In all those years I never changed one little bit, but now that I’ve committed myself to deeper fellowship, things in my life and my walk are beginning to change and I’m seeing what’s been missing. Now, though I’m tempted sometimes to go and do the rounds again, I don’t, I just ask my brothers and sisters to pray for me, Even my own brother who’s been a minister for years. It’s amazing how God is moving in my life.” Discipleship rather than focusing on converts works. Discipleship rather than numbers works.
F) The Cost of Being A True Disciple:
My friends, being a disciple or a follower of Jesus Christ is a very serious business. It is a costly thing, that’s how Jesus looked upon it. He didn’t start out by offering His followers a bed of roses. Jesus made it abundantly clear from the beginning what was involved. To be a disciple of Jesus we need to carry our own cross and follow Jesus (Luke 14:27). We need to give our whole lives and everything we have to God, for Him to use us as He wants.
G) Too Many Settle For Far Less Than God Wants For Them.
Most Christians have settled for a form of Christianity that requires little or no discipleship, it bears scant resemblance to Biblical Christianity or what Jesus obviously expected His own disciples to reproduce. He said, “Teach them to obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you…” How much should those who are discipling others teach them? EVERYTHING.
The result of this lack of discipleship is that we don’t become what God wants us to be; we’re failing to be the witnesses He’s looking for. His Word and His Teaching are being constantly compromised either through fear or a desire to fit in with the world. No wonder the ‘church’ is regarded as weak, not because we’re not strong physically or politically, but morally. Where is the Christlikeness?
It’s easy to follow someone who doesn’t expect that much from us, but God wants us to achieve so much more than we do ourselves, to be stronger than we are, to be more powerful than we are, to be even more effective at winning others than we’ve ever been. Let’s imitate the LORD Jesus as instructed: (1 Corinthians 11:1 and Romans 8:29). Remember Jesus said that we’ll do even greater things than He’d been doing, one of the ways is the time that we’ve been given, it may be longer than the three years that Jesus had whilst He was upon the earth, so we should be making every single year count.
H) Counting The Cost:
High Costs: Giving up your life to follow Christ. Are you ready?
Jesus taught this many times and in different ways.
Luke 9:57-62; John 6:60-66; Mark 10:17-31.
In view of the high cost of discipleship which Jesus demanded and required of His followers, a dedication that was complete, it is not surprising that He only ended up with a few deeply committed followers. BUT those few were enough to change the whole world. It’s obvious that you’ll get some who’ll drop-out, be led astray, fall away, but if you are aiming at maturity instead of simply conversion, then those who remain will be steadfast and they will be multiplying over the years.
We’re going to continue looking at the COST:
I’m sure, like me, you are wondering if you are up to the task. I almost gave up being a follower of Jesus when I first came to understand the full impact of His teachings, but in His grace, mercy and love, He showed me from His Word that though He expects and even commands this massive high standard, He knows what we are like, how fickle we are and how much we need His help and power to live one moment as a Disciple. So Jesus, thankfully, gives us the Holy Spirit and fellowship of the Saints in Christ to help us on our way. Thank Him for your Pastor, the Teachers, the Evangelists, the Prophets and Apostles that He calls and appoints afresh in each and every generation to assist you in growing towards maturity. Thank Him for the gifted brothers and sisters and fellow saints to build you up in your faith walk with Him. Finally, thank Him for His presence with you every day. He is in you if you are Born Again by His Spirit.
He’s not going to leave you alone. When you fail, and you will from time to time, get back down on your knees, seek His forgiveness, humble yourself before Him and He WILL LIFT you up again. (Because God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the humble). It’s awesome to be given room to fail and try and try and try again. Sometimes we get it wrong, but you are not really trying if you never fail. To be the best we possibly could be for Jesus, we’re going to have to come to terms with our own personality flaws, weaknesses and bad-habits that take time to break and to be moulded into the character that Christ wants to achieve in our lives. It’s always a JOY to know that He’s working in your heart, mind, soul and will. He’ll never stop until we reach glory or see Him when He returns in Glory.
Philippians 1:6 (NIV) “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Let that be your motto and let God’s Spirit mould you.
- What traits in your life is Christ working upon right now?
- What personality flaws are you aware of that need transforming?
- What ways has He begun to develop within you a NEW HEART?
- What ways has He changed you already?
Give Thanks: Praise Him: Worship The LORD with gladness.
Have an AWESOME Wednesday.
If you are in London tonight, why not come out with us to share the Good News of Jesus? We’re going into the streets to engage people in conversation, one heart at a time, the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. We’re meeting up first at St Luke’s Church for some training at 7.00pm, then going out at 7.30pm to win some souls for Jesus.
7.00pm Evangelism Training / Prayer / Preparation.
7.30pm Street Evangelism.
9.00pm Return to Church for prayer, praise and sharing.
9.30pm: Go home and put feet up and praise the Lord.