WHO CAN BE A DISCIPLE-MAKER?
WHY SHOULD WE BE A DISCIPLE MAKING CHURCH?
Text - 1 Tim 1:12-20
Before we get into our text, I want to ask you two questions, because these questions will be before us the next few weeks.
1. “What is the difference between being a Christian and being a disciple?”
Is there a difference between a convert and a follower?
Is there a difference between a fan and a player?
One has seen, and another continually sees.
One has encountered, the other continually encounters.
The result is transformation. A follower becomes like the one he follows. A player becomes like his teammates (transformed by the coaches)
“We are not so much Christ followers as we are Christ admirers who happily listen to amazing stories about His life and His teachings, then go about our business without the principles imparted making an impact on who we are.”
2. Why is Disciple-Making so Important?
Jesus told us to make disciples.
World Philosophy is overpowering.
People CAN be overcome in the wilderness.
Last week Ray looked at 1 Thess. 1
Ray told us about worldly philosophy that is so prevalent, and how the only way to rescue men from the world is not just to get them saved, but to intentionally make disciples.
Paul, Silas and Timothy were committed to making disciples. A simple belief was not enough to overcome the worldly philosophies that were bombarding the Thessalonians. Paul and his fellow workers realized they must invest time in the new converts to see them grow in Jesus Christ and be overcomers.
1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also with full conviction. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
The Thessalonians became friends with Paul, Silas and Timothy. Not just “sure is hot” “weather friends” but I am struggling with my faith because I’ve been out of work for a year kind of friends. Friends who are with each other in the trenches. Friends who pray together, who seek the Lord together. Friends who talk about problems with family together. Together, together, together. Discipleship is togethership.
George Barna states in his book, Growing True Disciples, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities. Stunningly few churches have a church of disciples”, (Barna 2001, 21).
88% of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
Approximately 2/3 of the members of Southern Baptist churches attend church only sporadically.
The average "evangelical" church in America wins 1.67 persons (less than 2) to Christ and their church each year for every 100 persons who attend that church.
1/3 of church members state their greatest individual needs are not being met by their church.
Less than 50% of church members pray for 5 minutes at least twice a week.
Only 11% of church members have shared the gospel even once in the last year and 33% have never shared the gospel with anyone.
Most church leaders, when asked, cannot even define "Disciple", and hardly any have been trained to "Make disciples".
“In a comprehensive study we conducted, we compared the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of believers and non-believers…. We concluded that it is difficult for non-Christians to understand Christianity since few born again individuals model a biblical faith (Barna, 63).
The Church in America is failing to live up to its promise; we’re not even coming close to fulfilling it…. Believers are largely indistinguishable from non-believers in how they think and live … If we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and in the nation’s culture, then we must increase our intentionality, our intensity and improve our strategies” (Barna, 13).
“Discipleship does not happen simply because a church exists. It occurs when there is an intentional and strategic thrust to facilitate spiritual maturity” (Barna, 29).
“My most recent research, described in Maximum Faith, shows how the vast majority of American Christians have denied God His rightful place on the throne of their lives. Our default response, driven by cultural expectations and personal preferences, is to withhold control of our lives so that we, not God, can reign supreme – all under the cover of being “good and responsible Christians.” More often than not, we treat God as our religion consultant and turn to the Bible as an emergency reference book.
Most Americans point to their typical faith practices – e.g., church attendance, Christianeducation involvement, personal Bible study, daily prayer, freely donating money to ministries, participation in a small group, etc. – as evidence of personal piety.
In essence, the born-again community has invited God to reside in our hearts, accepting the special gift of love and forgiveness that He offered, along with His promise of eternal salvation. Sadly, once we felt certain that we had His gift securely in hand, we abandoned Him and have continued to operate by the standards and values of the world, searching for earthly treasures and pleasures. That is why the research has consistently shown over the past two decades that the lives of born-again Christians are essentially indistinguishable from those of people who do not claim Jesus Christ as their savior. We may be “religious” but we are not truly transformed by our faith in and relationship with God. Only a tiny proportion of born again adults get beyond their profession of faith to experience the more robust and significant life that is available through Christ to His followers.
A major reason why few Americans experience the richness of the Christian life is that we do not know what to do beyond reading and memorizing more Bible verses, attending church services more consistently, donating money to worthy causes, volunteering a few hours at church, and discussing our faith in Jesus with family and friends.
And unfortunately, my research reveals that a majority of believers who figure out where the journey goes, and what it takes to maximize the opportunity God grants us by completing the journey to wholeness, instead choose to settle for a less complete and fulfilling life.
Jesus Altar Call
Jesus’ altar calls were different. His view of what it meant to be saved was different from the modern church’s feeble definition. Jesus qualified the true heart of repentance by the test of discipleship.
The rich, young ruler ran and stopped Jesus in the street. He inquired, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The Lord responded by sharing one of His favorite sermons written by Moses.
The young man replied, “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus then raised the bar of discipleship: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:17–22). Scripture is clear, this young man walked away sad.
The rich, young ruler was willing to be a convert, but he was not willing to pay the cost of discipleship. He wanted a religion that was convenient for his lifestyle apart from the lordship of Christ. His desire for convenient religion left him where it leaves every insincere person — sad and despondent.
Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ. This kind of discipleship becomes nothing more than an abstract idea, a myth that has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as a living Lord and Master. Without real discipleship there is trust in God, but there is not a genuine following of Christ. Cheap grace is a deadly enemy of the church.
As we go forward with forming “GraceLife Community Church” I hope you will see the need to form a church whose culture and core is intentionally built upon relationships which are growing together in Jesus Christ. After all, that is discipleship.
1 Timothy 1:12-20 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
A. Christ Values Faithfulness
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful
Christ doesn’t look for your leadership skills, or knowledge or athletic ability. God looks for one quality in disciple-makers-faithfulness.
What does faithfulness entail?
2) Single eye
3) Deep appreciation
4) Common goal
5) Not double-minded
B. Christ Appoints Sinners To Service
appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,.
1. God’s mercy and grace transforms us with faith and love in Christ.
Why does God use sinners (broken vessels)
2. God wants His grace to overflow from us to others.
and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus
3. Grace always flows when we are emptied of self at the Cross
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-30 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
C. Christ Desires to Save Sinners
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem and wept as he saw thousands enslaved by sin, overcome by the world. He desired to gather her children up into his arms as a Mother Hen gathers her brood, but they would not come. So Christ saw that He could take fellow sinners, broken vessels, and use them to reach out to fellow sinners.
1. Sinners are to be examples
2. Patience and Endurance are on display in Discipleship
Not our patience or our endurance, but Christ’s. Christ endured to the bitter end for our sakes, and He runs alongside us in a marathon, not a sprint. His perfect patience is displayed when we come alongside other believers. His patience with us leads others to believe.
3. Discipleship is based on transparent relationships rich in mercy.
D. Christ Desires Soldiers who Overcome
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.
When one is overwhelmed by their sins, they realize they need a Savior.
When two admit they struggle with sin, they realize they need an Overcoming, Conquering King!
1. Discipleship takes believers and leads them along three prioritized paths:
a. The first priority is a growing commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ.
b. The second priority is a growing commitment to the Body of Christ, your face-to-face group of disciples.
c. The third priority is a growing commitment to the work of Christ in your world.
These do grow on each other, but they also must be engaged at the same time. You need growth in all three to stay healthy in your Christian walk. You need growth in all three to overcome the world.
The disciple-making church operates with a specific definition of discipleship to Jesus.
Jesus defined disciples as those who forsook all to gain all of Him! We can dumb down discipleship, but we will get what we ask for.
If we ask for small commitment, we will get small disciples. If we ask for sometimes commitment, we will get sometimes disciples.
A true disciple maintains his or her relationship with Jesus Christ 24/7, 365 days a year. A true disciple follows the King of Kings!
2. Discipleship Grows Overcomers
that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience
Luke 11:21-22 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Is your life a contradiction to discipleship?
A disciple who does not grow, who does not have the purpose of growing, in their discipleship to Jesus is a contradiction in terms.
A stagnant or comfortable disciple is a contradiction.
A disciple who does not change and grow is a contradiction.
3. Discipleship Does Not takes the Path of Least Resistance.
2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
4. Disciples will have authority when Christ reigns
Revelation 2:26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
E. Christ Desires to be our Helmsman
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Our life can be seen as a majestic ship sailing the oceans with its tall mast and sails filled with wind, gliding across the waves with the grace of its maker. Disciples sail the seas of life guided by the direction of our helmsman Jesus Christ. It is the trust and faith we have in him that allows our lives to be directed by His will.
Hymenaeus and Alexander followed Christ for awhile. For some reason, their faith faltered and they found themselves overcome by the waves of the world, and finally their lives were shipwrecked upon the rocks of the shore.
They rejected Jesus Christ as their guide and began to take control of their own lives. They cast the Lord “overboard” and took control of their own lives, steering as they willed. Sadly, their ship wrecked upon the shoals of this world.
Shipwrecks are caused by carelessness and indifference. (Like the captain of the Cruise Ship that sunk) The seas of life are very treacherous, filled with hidden obstacles that can tear a hole in our hull. Only Christ can guide us safely through. Jesus knows every obstacle that will be in our path. The Lord knows what we need and He knows where we need to go. We worry about what is over the next horizon and how to survive the coming storms. Our hearts are filled with fear as the storms of life pound upon us and we cry out to the helmsman for relief. One who is a disciple has been trained in how to stay close to the Savior and interpret the signals He provides.
Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their faith. Their hearts were corrupted and they rejected God’s will and turned to their own desires. Paul declares in II Timothy 2:18 that Hymenaeus (and Philetus) “have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some” (II Tim 2:18 ). Their actions not only caused them to lose their souls but also impacted others whose faith was “upset.”
Should we be disciples? Most definitely. Can you be a Christian and refuse to be a disciple? I don’t see how.
Who can be a Disciple and a Disciple maker (they are one and the same)?
Any sinner who decides to be faithful to Christ and allow Him to lead his life, because you want to be an overcomer.
So Why Should a Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?
Because we owe it to Christ.
Because it allows Sinners to reach other sinners
Because it allows Grace to overflow in our lives
Because it produces Overcomers
Because it keeps us ship-shape.
Because we will be drawn into the power of Christ for our every-day lives.