Sunday, September 18, 2005

Discipleship And The Church

Discipleship & The Church
Continuing Our Growth In God
Key Scripture: Matthew 16:18 … Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
When I speak of the Church, I am not just talking about any assembly, but rather I am referring to
The Christian Church - The called out, called together family, body and bride of Jesus the Messiah, with great power, great presence and great purpose.
Jesus has a vision - To build His Overcoming Church
He has a plan - To reproduce Himself through Discipleship
He is succeeding in our generation and around the world
And we now face our opportunity to participate.
When Jesus spoke about His vision to build this awesome group of people, He was speaking to His disciples and the church, at that time, it was just a dream, it only existed in the heart and mind of Jesus and His Father. It was Their vision for mankind.
In fact: In the King James Bible, we can follow the birth and the progression of Jesus’ vision by examining the number of times both disciple and church is mentioned in the scriptures:
4 Gospels (M,M,L&J) Church 2 Disciples 226
Acts Church 22 Disciples 29
Epistles - Revelation Church 90 Disciples 0
Discipleship built the Church as Disciples became the Church. All this in less than 70 years. From Jerusalem to Judea Samaria and on to the uttermost parts of the world. It worked then and will work now!
Discipleship is basic training for the Christian. Deeper than Sunday School or weekly worship services, discipleship is designed to produce deep spiritual growth which will affect every area of a person’s life.
Initially it is the intense and dedicated time we set aside on purpose, normally to come under the teaching and guiding hand of a more seasoned servant of God so that our souls may be prepared for use in the Kingdom call.
If we want bible results we must follow bible pattern.
The biblical pattern of discipleship is what we would call modern day mentoring. Each person first learning from someone, then teaching another what they have learned.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witness, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (NKJV)
Learning can be accomplished without a teacher but it is often the most costly, most time consuming and holds the greatest margin for error.
Timothy was so fortunate to be given a faithful and God-fearing mother and grandmother who laid the foundation of faith in his life. Then he was joined in heart and ministry to the Apostle Paul for further discipleship and on the job training opportunities. He did this for years before he became pastor of the church in Ephesus.
While others such as Hymenaeus, Philetus and Alexander, who had the same opportunities as Timothy, refused to stay under the guiding hand of their God given teacher and came into great doctrinal error and eventually ministerial and physical ruin.
It is the way in every other experience of life, whether flipping eggs at waffle house or walking on the moon, selling automobiles at a local dealership, being an operator in one of the chemical plants, acting as a crew member of a commercial airliner or running a switch board for a corporation or local hotel - there is a way the boss likes it done and every new person who joins the team must be taught, trained and tested to function as a productive member of the team.
In fact, The Great Commission as found in Matthew 28:18ff demands that we: (This is Jesus speaking here to His disciples)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (NKJV)
There is a school of hard knocks but very few people every get a useable degree from that school.
A man who isolates himself seeks his own destruction. Proverbs 18:1
A calling is just that, a call to come and be prepared for greater use.
Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (NKJV)
Many are willing to be used by God but are unwilling to be prepared for use by submitting their lives to a time of discipleship.
Perhaps these are some of those the bible speaks of in:
2 Timothy 3:7 Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJV)
What a shame it would be to spend our whole life climbing a ladder only to realize at the end that it was leaning against the wrong building.
Perhaps the most disappointing four words one could hear at the conclusion of their earthly journey are: “What Could Have Been!”
In order to be productive and content in these approaching days, we must connect with a greater presence, a greater power and a greater purpose than this life and its temporary successes can supply.
I believe that God is increasing our opportunities to serve Him.
God is asking us, our church and churches all over America and around the world, to revisit His divine plan - Discipleship!
To grow up and become mature sons and daughters, children of the Most High God.
Jesus said, as recorded in:
John 8:31&32 … If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
The bible reveals two schools of thought on how a person may be discipled … both are valid.
#1. The structured classroom setting where a given amount of information is covered, questions are asked and answers shared. This exposes the individual to the greatest amount of information over the shortest period of time, but does not always allow ‘hands-on’ training.
#2. The ‘living life together’ model. Where life experiences provide the subject for discussion and the disciple learns from being with his teacher and hearing biblical principles taught from a practical standpoint in respect to the situation at hand at that specific moment.
Jesus used both models.
#1. He sat on the hillsides of Galilee and taught lessons to the multitudes. In fact, Matthew 5, 6, & 7 was just one afternoon in class for those who attended. Then He began Chapter 8 giving His disciples object lessons on the practical application of the Gospel.
#2. Further, Jesus chose 12 to be with Him and to send them out to preach. (Mark 3:14) It was while walking through life together that Jesus would take the challenges of each moment as an opportunity to teach His disciples the greater and deeper principles of God. From the cursing of the fig tree to feeding the multitudes, from fear of storms, to excitement about having power over devils, from Zacchaeus to Jairus, Jesus took each event and challenged His disciples to go deeper in spiritual thought and practice.
We see that Jesus had respect for both the systematic education model and the living life together discipleship model.
This coming year will provide our church with the long awaited opportunity to launch a great new discipleship program. It will include both systematic bible education and life growth practicalities. It is my hope that all of you who wish will take advantage of this life challenging and life changing opportunity.
Discipleship will build the Church and Disciples will become the Church. Our future and the strength of the Kingdom is at stake.
Be praying about getting involved in this adventure of a lifetime. This discipleship program will not only help you to discover your purpose and pursue your destiny, but it will also equip you to stand on the solid rock of God’s word, will and way as you continue to face daily challenges; making a living, making a life and making a difference.
Years ago, in the middle of raising a family, I gave a season of my life to this same adventure and it changed me. It gave me a foundation, walls and structure for my life, my family, my ministry and my calling.
Today I still approach life from the perspectives gained through being discipled. I am what discipleship made me and I continue growing up into Christ on a daily basis.
Each day, in many ways, God is speaking to us. In light of this:
I like to know that I have grown each day, each week - that I am better! That I did not miss what God was wanting me to learn. So, Brenda and I both keep a record of what God says to us. This is something we learned during our discipleship season of life.
So, in closing let me share with you three things I have learned this week.
I have records of what God has said to me going back to 1978 and I remember things He spoke to me all the way back to 1967.
#1. It is good for the soul to invest in something it cannot control.
The church is likened to a body with many parts. Being just one part of a many membered body gives me perspective and humility.
Something bigger than myself, more important than me, something that will outlast me.
It’s the element of faith and trust …
In God, in His plan and in my fellow man
It would be a shame and waste to grow all of this spiritual fruit and never get a chance to use it.
#2. It may take drastic measures to produce drastic change
There are few times when we may achieve painless recovery, but most of the time we are like the prodigal son only humbling ourselves and changing when we are forced to.
#3. Not everyone who agrees with you is your friend.
Proverbs 27:6 tells us that faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful
Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you …
Truth is not determined by a show of hands.
Eternal rewards are not handed out as a result of a popularity contest.
Discipleship grounds us and grows us up.
It will cost increased time and effort. There is no other way - no painless recovery.
It has long been said that,
“Salvation is free, however, discipleship will cost you everything.”
Begin to make plans now and get involved in a discipleship program early in 2006 at Church On The Rock.
It will change your life!