Summary: What comes after the new birth? What is the target, and how shall I aim for maximum effect in Kingdom living?
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Part Two ¡V A Strong Man
May 25, 2003
16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
for training in righteousness;
2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
As we continue with our Growing Strong series it will pay to remind ourselves periodically that we are studying those things which are very important to us as believers, and also as members of this local body called Cedar Lodge Baptist Church.
These are the basics taught in our new member¡¦s orientation class, and central to what we have agreed in our Covenant of Faith, Practice and Fellowship. These are elemental and fundamental promises we have made to God and each other.
We, the members of Cedar Lodge Baptist Church, do pledge to affirm and uphold to the best of our ability the Church Covenant as our faith pledge to God, this church, and all mankind. (Cedar Lodge Covenant of Faith, Practice and Fellowship.)
Last week¡¦s first message in this series dealt with becoming a new person in Christ through the new birth. This week we progress to what it is like to live the new life once new birth has occurred. Our beginning point is a definition.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST.
A disciple is one who Commits All to Jesus.
25Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26¡§If anyone comes to Me, and does not „Thate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27¡§Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28¡§For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29¡§Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, Lu 14.25-29
Some have called it ¡§the surrendered life¡¨ because there is that sense of counting everything as expendable for the sake of being a good servant to Jesus Christ. Jesus raised the issue here of ¡§counting the cost¡¨ of following Him because it is difficult. Being a Christian is joyful, and there is the power of Christ to overcome even the greatest mountains ¡V but we must never make the mistake of thinking it is a cakewalk. Being a disciple often means hardship and heartache.
It is important to have this mindset of complete devotion because a disciple¡¦s purpose is to follow Jesus. In the long run, you won¡¦t do that unless you have committed all to Him. In America there is a lot to commit. We are so affluent compared to other parts of the world. ¡§Committing all¡¨ means just that ¡V all my time, talents and treasure is put at the disposal of Jesus; He then directs my life. Even more accurately, committing all means that He lives His life through me.
In Jesus¡¦ day the word ¡§disciple¡¨ meant being a learner. Typically a student would learn by following his Master, watching and listening. It is still that way with a doctoral student who is assigned to be a fellow to an older professor. By working for and with the professor the student gains valuable insights within his field of study.
That is the whole issue about growing strong as a disciple of Jesus. We follow after Him, learn of Him, and become more like Him. We become more useable in kingdom work.
Among the many ways that growth happens are two intentional disciplines that Christ has established for us, about which we are to be faithfully devoted.
I. HOW A DISCIPLE GROWS IN PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY, FELLOWSHIP AND PRAYER
There are two things that are invaluable when it comes to growing through personal study and prayer ¡V a devoted time and a devoted mind. The bottom line is, unless you put aside a definite time, where everything else has to be blocked out, you will not have a devoted mind¡Keverything else will take the place of study and prayer. I prefer an empty room, with just a Bible. There have been times when I try to study and pray in bed or at a library, or even my back porch. Places like that offer too many opportunities to think about projects to be done, or naps to be grabbed. If you¡¦re going to grow as a disciple, it isn¡¦t any different than hitting the exercise machine¡Kyou devote the time and mind to it ¡V or you don¡¦t! The result will show.
The devoted mind is simply a mind which is open to the truth of God¡¦s Word. There is a struggle going on today ¡V not just ¡§in the world¡¨ ¡V as we are prone to say as an excuse from paying attention. Rather the struggle is everywhere. U.S. News and World Report cited a survey that wanted to know what people believed about the Bible. Among the results: