Summary: What is authentic discipleship ? Surely it is that which Jesus taught. In this message we look at the terms Jesus laid down for those who would choose to follow him.
FOLLOWING THE LEADER
The Terms of Authentic Discipleship
The children’s game ‘following the leader’ has introduced all of us to the concept that Jesus sought to initiate among his DISCIPLES. Watching, walking, imitating, responding as the leader does.
The setting and context for these words of Jesus is significant.
An explanation of his impending sufferings
Peter’s inability to accept this reality
Jesus’ rebuke to Peter’s satanically prompted ignorance
These words are the strongest and clearest from Jesus that teach the requirements necessary in those who will follow him.
They are an outline of the TERMS OF AUTHENTIC DISCIPLESHIP.
The church has been guilty of diluting discipleship to make it more palatable to a sceptical generation.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Theologian and Pastor who was executed by the Nazi’s in 1945 for opposing their ideology and military campaign. He said “Salvation without discipleship is cheap grace”.
Jesus never taught ‘cheap grace’ – the life of authentic discipleship is costly yet thrilling and fulfilling. Matthew 16:24 contains 4 qualifications of authentic discipleship.
The Message: Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead
Living Bible: If anyone wants to be a follower of mine
NKJV: If anyone DESIRES to come after me
Desire is a powerful word:
Synonyms of ‘desire’- burning; longing; craving; hunger; yearning; appetite; passion; lust
We sing – “This is my desire to honour you ……..”
Discipleship is a process that begins with desire. With an appetite for Jesus.
Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.
Desire drives people:
Desire for fame, wealth, love, success, happiness etc.
It’s an engine, a motivator. Desire drives people to make choices and changes in pursuit of their goal.
Desire is at the heart of discipleship:
Some Christians simply lack real desire to FOLLOW Jesus.
The message: Anyone who INTENDS to come with me ……
This is a calculated decision to follow – not an emotion but a choice.
Authentic discipleship does not follow salvation automatically – it’s a choice !
NIV: He must deny himSELF
Living Bible: He must give up all right to himself
The Message: You’re not in the drivers seat ; I am
Matthew 16:25,26 provides a commentary on verse 24 (an explanation)
SELF is the enemy of authentic discipleship. Consider the variety of words prefixed by SELF that illustrate how SELF can dominate us …….Self righteousness ; self centredness ; self interest ; self confidence ; self consciousness ; self defence ; self importance ; self indulgence ; self opinion ; self reliance ; self satisfaction ; self seeking ; self sufficient.
In many Christians, SELF leads, not Jesus !
Self is a greater problem for those who have neglected ‘The Terms of Salvation’
Romans 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Colossians 3:9,10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator
These ‘terms’ are not in small print. Denying SELF means putting His rule and His kingdom first in our lives.
How often have we put our self interest, self importance or self indulgence before what we know was hid best for us ?
NIV: Take up his cross
The Message: Don’t run from suffering; embrace it
The context of Jesus’ teaching here is important. Matthew 16:21 talks of his future suffering FOR THE SAKE OF MAN’S SALVATION. His suffering was a means not an end.
Authentic discipleship is a sacrificial lifestyle. It’s a life not lived solely for ones own interests or ends.
The cross symbolised the ‘cause’ Jesus both lived for and died for. We are called to die ‘daily’ to that which gets in the way of us knowing him, loving him, serving him, following him.