Summary: Equating the conditions of salvation with the conditions of discipleship is a sure path to confusion. This sermon explains Christ’s demands of costly commitment to be his disciple, experience his greatest blessings and be rewarded in heaven.
Sermon 4 in the series, “Free Grace in Focus – A Biblical Answer to Lordship Salvation”
Chuck Sligh / September 4, 2010
TEXT: John 8:31 – “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”
Illus. – A group of people were given an all-expenses-paid trip to a wilderness area camp. – Here are some responses from comment cards given to the staff about their experience:
--Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
--Too many bugs and leaches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
--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.
--The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
--A MacDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.
--Too many rocks in the mountains. (Mike Neifert, Light and Life (February 1997), p. 27.)
This illustrates the two experiences of our relationship with God—salvation and discipleship. Just as these people’s trip to the wilderness area was totally free to them, so SALVATION is a free gift to every person who will simply trust in Jesus for salvation. But once these people got to the wilderness area, to experience all that was there for them required work and commitment on their part, the very same things required to experience the next level in our relationship with God—DISCIPLESHIP.
This is the last sermon on our focus on God’s free grace. In this series, I’ve tried to clarify the freeness of salvation—that the only condition to be saved is to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ, which means to TRUST in Him for salvation, to REST in His promise to save you based on His death on the cross for your sins.
Today I want to talk of God’s plan for you AFTER you believe—His plan of discipleship.
Illus. – Comedian Yakov Smirnoff said when he first came to the United States from Russia he wasn’t prepared for the incredible variety of instant products in American grocery stores. – He said, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk—you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice—you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought, WHAT A COUNTRY!”
Disciples are not made simply by adding water. That’s how you become a believer: Just add Jesus—the Water of Life—by trusting in Him to save you from your sin. No cost and no effort on your part; just reception. But following Jesus in discipleship WILL cost you.
Leadership magazine once ran a cartoon that showed a church building with a billboard in front that said: “The LITE CHURCH: 24% fewer commitments, home of the 7.5% tithe, 15 minute sermons, 45 minute worship service; we have only 8 commandments—your choice. We use just 3 spiritual laws and have an 800 year millennium. Everything you’ve wanted in a church … and less!” (Leadership, Summer, 1983, p. 81.)
Let me assure you that this mentality of the Christian life is not discipleship at all. Billy Graham said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have.”
In today’s sermon, I would like to answer four questions about discipleship. Let’s jump right in:
I. FIRST, WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
The Greek word translated disciple in the New Testament simply means “a pupil, apprentice, adherent” (BAGD (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature), s.v. “mathaētēs,” 486-48.) and is found 284 times in the New Testament.
In a general sense, the New Testament speaks of disciples as followers of various people, including Moses, the Pharisees, John the Baptist, Paul or Christ. At first, the term did not necessarily imply any particular level of commitment.
But Jesus gave the word richer meaning than simply “a pupil, apprentice or adherent.” He progressively refined the ideal of a disciple as one wholly committed to Him. Though no disciples fully reach the ideal their entire Christian lives, and some fall woefully short of the ideal Christ laid down, Jesus desired that everyone who believes on Him would become a devoted disciple.
II. NEXT, LET’S CONSIDER WHO IS A DISCIPLE?
It’s very important to differentiate between being a BELIEVER and a DISCIPLE. Here’s where a lot of confusion about salvation and the Christian life comes into play. The following chart explains the differences between salvation and discipleship. (EXPAND AS LED)
NOTE: The two lists below should be side by side in a single chart for easier comparison and has been formatted in this way because it does not show up properly on SermonCentral.com.)