Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: Maintaining our Focus
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
Maintaining our Focus
As a pastor there are so many needs and so many good things that can be done. It is easy to get distracted and lose focus on the most important things. The church in America is easily distracted that the main thing God has called us to do is neglected or lost and that is discipleship. There are many churches that are ‘successful’ but are neglecting what Jesus calls us to do, make disciples. That is why we are committed to winning, training and sending. Many churches value and are committed to one thing – size. I get material all the time describing methods of growing your church. That is not necessarily all wrong but it implies one thing – that size is what matters. But I think scripture takes a different approach, it focuses on making disciples and trusting that God will add growth to his church. Making disciples is the issue; are we making disciples. Are we making disciples as a church and are we making disciples as individuals.
God has been gracious to us in several ways. We are seeing people come to Christ and growing in their faith. We have established a process to try to integrate those who call CCC home into the life of our church. We have had a number of people go through our 101 and 201 classes and while that is good, it is not really discipleship. Discipleship does not happen in a classroom; it has to have a relational component. I addressed this with the elders and so we started praying and looking at what we needed to do to be more effective in developing relational discipleship. At the same time, God was pointing us to resources to help us with this component. So today I want us to look at what does it mean to be a disciple and how we see discipleship being developed or cultivated in our body – children and adults.
1. A Disciple is One who Knows and Follows Christ (v. 1)
The Galatians knew Christ but were being swayed from following him by false teachers. We are not going to talk about that today as we have addressed that a number of times in this series. What Paul makes clear in this letter is that the good news of the gospel is fundamentally a work of God that makes us acceptable or justified before God. Christianity addresses the fundamental problem of humanity, our sinfulness that separates us from God and puts us under Gods judgment and wrath. The issue for each of us is not how do we become a better person, a better spouse, or have a happy life, but how do we know God. We cannot lose sight of that issue. The gospel is not good advice but good news what God has done in Christ to remove our guilt and Gods wrath.
That is how we come to know God (4:8-9). We know God because he knows us and to know Christ is to follow him. “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples (John 8:31). If you are not following him; you do not know him. The nature of saving faith is that it produces an appetite, a desire for God. So first of all a disciple is someone who knows and follows Christ and then a disciple is also someone who is being changed by Christ.
2. Disciple is One who is Being Changed by Christ (vs. 2-3)
Faith not only brings us into a relationship with Christ so that we know him intimately, but in that intimacy he exerts his relentless influence to change us, what we call sanctification. God promises to change us and that change is centered on the word. That is what Paul means by hearing with faith. Gods Spirit takes the hammer of Gods word to smash the spell of deception and unbiblical thinking. That may come in many different forms – it may come in reading the Word, preaching and teaching, or in a prophetic word from someone. The Sprit undergirds, guides, enlightens as we study, meditate, etc on the Word.
So we see that a disciple is one who knows and follows Christ; is one who is being changed by Christ; and lastly, a disciple is one who is committed to the mission of Christ.
3. A Disciple is One who is Committed to the Mission of Christ (vs. 5, 8)
Paul brings it back to the power of the Spirit and the Abrahamic Covenant pointing us to the mission of God. The blessing of Abraham to all nations is the gospel (14). Our faith is not an isolated one between God and me. It brings us into the plan of God, the purpose of God, the mission of God. We have the good news and God calls us to disciple the nations. We do that starting at home, across the street and across town, we do that as we go into the villages across the state; and we do that as we go to the nations – Peru, India, Philippines, and Brazil.