Summary: So what does it mean to be successful as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
“SUCCESS IN DISCIPLESHIP”
6th in Series: Searching For Success
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, February 14, 2010 AM
(Note: This message greatly inspired by and partly modeled after a message by Dr. Tony Evans titled “The Great Commission”and delivered at a Transforming Leadership Conference at Bethel Theological Seminary on October 30, 1998.)
Have you ever noticed cracks in the wall? Have you ever had the problem where it seemed like no matter how many times you spackle and paint over the cracks, they seem to keep coming back and bringing 'friends' with them? Do you know why this happens? (Jeremy/Tim/Mickey?) It's because your problem is NOT the cracks in the wall but your house's shifting foundation.
Sometimes, the same can be true in our Christian walks and even in our churches.
Have you ever wondered how it is that our community and world is full of so many Christians, churches, ministries, etc. and yet there are still so many problems? Some say it is because “Sinners are sinning.” No, that's what sinners are supposed to do. Dr. Tony Evans proposes another answer: “Maybe the problem is that the saints are not supposed to be like the sinners who sin and are often more sinful than the sinning sinners who sin. Maybe the problem is that we don't have enough disciples. Maybe we have a lot of Christians and church members and people who give verbal allegiance to the cross, but perhaps the fundamental role of the church has been missed . . . and that is the development of a generation of disciples. That is what the Great Commission is all about.”
So what does it mean to be successful as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 28:18-20
From the mouths of babes:
A four-year-old, after watching her mother read from her Bible for at least a few moments each day for several years, started to become concerned. She asked her mother, “Aren't you ever going to get finished reading that book?”
Another mom asked her four-year-old son, “Benji, would you like to receive Jesus in your heart?” Benji rolled his blue eyes and answered seriously, “No. I don't think I want the responsibility.”
What is the Christian life really supposed to look like?
I.) THE DISCIPLESHIP DEFICIT
While our world is full of Christian churches and our churches are full of self-identified Christian people, there is a great and alarming deficit in our churches and world of true disciples of Jesus Christ – as He defines it.
Yes, the biggest part of the problem is often that when it comes down to it we love our lives of sin, selfishness and independence more than life in Christ. But, how has it become so normal and accepted for the redeemed to so easily settle for the promise of salvation and easy belief apart from transformed living?
The underlying justification, I believe, is a false and unbiblical understanding of what discipleship means.
A.) Understanding the Concept
Far too often, we have wrongly come to accept the concept of being a disciple as synonymous with accepting Christ's gift of salvation and identity as Savior.
We have watered down what it means to be a disciple so much that what we frequently accept is not even recognizable in comparison to what Jesus expects of us.
As Greg Ogden writes: “... We focus on the benefits we receive by faith in Jesus rather than on being conformed to the life of Jesus. We want abundance without obedience. [Dallas] Willard calls this 'bar code' Christianity. We are merely concerned with being read by the great scanner in the sky as possessing eternal life. . . We have not called people into an apprentice relationship with Jesus. Jesus is not looked to as our discipler, teacher and Lord. We do not see Him as the compelling figure who is our trainer in this life.”
(Transforming Discipleship, pp. 46-47)
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?
In order to fulfill Jesus' Great Commission, we need to understand the beginning from the end. That is, we must first evaluate and recognize the gap between where we are, and the stated end Jesus has for us; between our actual character and practice and His call and desire for us. Closing this gap requires an intentional, ongoing process and is accomplished only at a great cost. That cost is giving up what was and what is and replacing it with what Jesus desires us to be.