Summary: This sermon is about the growth process that should take place in the life of a believer.
From Church Member To Disciple
John got back his history exam and for the third time he got a D-. He looked over at his friend Terry, who had a big smile on his face. Terry had an A. John made up his mind he was going to learn all about what Terry did in order to get an A. He noticed that during recess, before a quiz, Terry would take his notes and look over them while others were playing. He found out that Terry took home his history book the two nights before a history test.
He talked with Terry’s sister and she told him that Terry did not watch TV the night before a history test, but spent two hours going over and over the chapter again and again. He also discovered that Terry gave himself his own practice test before the real test. John learned all about Terry’s secret to getting A’s on history tests. John was now equipped with the knowledge to go from being a D- student to an A+.
With this newly acquired knowledge John approached the next history test in the same way as he had the past tests, with the exception that now he knew Terry’s secret. When the grades came back, John looked over at Terry, and sure enough Terry was smiling.
When the teacher handed John his paper, John too was smiling, until he saw that he once again had a D-. What went wrong? Simply learning about Terry’s study habits, was not enough. If he did not apply those same study habits to his own life, they would be of little use to him.
Now in this simple story we can all see that knowledge alone can be a helpful thing to have, but knowledge without application does not produce a whole lot of positive results. One of our goals for the next few years is to become one of the most spiritually mature churches in Ohio. Now I didn’t say to become the largest church or to become a church where we think we are better than everybody else.
A spiritually mature church is one in which people voluntarily and eagerly move from being church members to being disciples of Jesus Christ. It is going to take disciples to move our church from where it is today, to where God is going to place it tomorrow.
How do you tell a church member from a disciple? Now a church member will come to church occasionally and sometimes even every week. The person may serve dutifully in some aspect of ministry. The church member may be greatly admired by others in the church and may even rise to a leadership position.
The church member may say amen, during the sermon, and may sing beautifully in the choir. The church member may look very much like a disciple. So what’s the big issue.
The only thing that separates the church member from the disciple is what separated John from Terry. A church member hears the word of God, a disciple is changed by the word of God. A church member’s power comes from the church member. A disciple’s power comes from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit dwelling on the inside.
A church member may enjoy the word of God, but a disciple is changed constantly by the word of God. Church members can be very effective in the church, but they are not of much use to the Kingdom of God once they leave the church doors.
At home, or at work or at school, the church member may turn into a church dragon, and no one who comes into contact with the person is interested in following him or her to church because they only expect to find more dragons.
It’s not that hard to become a church dragon. All that has to happen is for somebody to get on our nerves, or somebody to keep us from getting our own way at that moment. Or we discover somebody has not done something they ought to have done. The church member is not even aware when the transformation to church dragon has taken place. Why? Because the dragon is accepted as something natural.
The disciple knows that the dragon is lurking around ready to show it’s ugly head, and it must be slain again and again. The disciple refuses to accept the dragon as being something natural in his or her walk with Christ. When the dragon appears, the disciple cries out to Jesus for help. The disciple knows every time we find the dragon appearing in Scripture it’s associated with the devil.
In the book of James, where part of our Bible study will be this week, the apostle writes to us about several problems in the church. At the core of the problem was, the church had a number of church members, but not nearly enough disciples. There were those church members who blamed their sin not on the “devil made be do it”, but they blamed God saying “God was tempting me and God did it too long.”