Summary: I relied heavily on SermonCentral contributor Larry Sarver's sermon "Defining Discipleship" for this lesson. I addressed the topic of Growing Deeper through Discipleship in two sermons.

A. The story is told of a pig and a chicken who were walking down the road one day.

1. As they passed a church, they notice that a potluck charity breakfast was under way.

2. Caught up in the spirit, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each make a contribution.

3. “Great Idea!” the chicken cried. “Let’s give them ham and eggs!”

4. “Not so fast.” said the pig. “For you, that’s just a contribution, but for me, it’s a total commitment.”

5. Let me ask you this question: with regard to your commitment as a Christian, are you more like the chicken or the pig?

B. Now, let me tell you about the Bridger Wilderness Area that is located in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming – from this picture, you can see that this is a beautiful place!

1. It is comprised of over 400 thousand acres and has 600 miles of hiking and climbing trails.

2. The highest peak in the area is Gannett Peak at 23,809 feet tall.

3. No motorized or mechanized vehicles, including bikes, are allowed in the park.

4. Let me share with you some actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area:

a. Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.

b. There are too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.

c. Please pave the trails…Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.

d. The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.

e. A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call…

f. Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.

g. A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.

h. There are too many rocks in the mountains. (Mike Neifert, Light and Life (Feb. 97), p. 27

5. These comments and complaints indicate that the people who made them do not really understand what it means to stay in a “wilderness area.”

a. They were looking for something convenient and comfortable, but not truly a wilderness experience.

6. In a similar way, many people today do not understand what it means to be a genuine Christian.

a. There are multitudes that often follow Jesus or claim to be a Christian but they do so on their terms and not on Jesus’ terms.

b. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship.

C. Last week, we began a sermon series called “A Healthy Church,” and I spoke on that topic.

1. In that sermon, I encouraged us to take a look at where we have been, as a congregation, and where we are going.

2. I suggested that healthy churches will be growing churches, just like healthy plants grow.

3. I went on to cover some myths about growth and growing churches.

4. In the midst of that lesson I suggested that there are five elements that need to be functioning for a church to be healthy and growing.

a. Those five elements are discipleship, fellowship, worship, ministry, and evangelism.

5. Today I want us to begin focusing on the first element - discipleship.

6. God desires that we grow deeper through discipleship.

D. But, what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

1. In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus makes it very clear what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

2. So, let’s take a look at how Jesus defined discipleship, but before we do, allow me to explain the word “disciple” which is repeated several times in the passage in Luke 14.

3. A disciple is a true follower of Jesus Christ.

a. In other words, a “disciple” is what we would call a “Christian.”

b. If you are a Christian, then you are a disciple; if you are not a disciple as Jesus defines it then you are not a Christian.

c. These two terms (Disciple and Christian) mean the same thing in the same way that I can speak of my “spouse” or my “wife.”

4. The term “disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament, while the term “Christian” only occurs three times.

a. In the Book of Acts we’re told that “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26).”

b. This makes clear that the terms are interchangeable.

5. Both terms describe someone who is committed to following the teachings of Jesus.

E. With that brief explanation let’s now work through Luke 14:25-35.

1. Let’s start with verses 25-27: 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “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.

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