Series: A Disciple-Making

Disciples Overcome


Sermon Passages: Luke 7:18-23; 4:16-21; Matt. 10:1-8; Luke 10:1-3;17-20; 2 Cor. 5:17;

Sermon Notes

Vision for the future requires change today. If we expect a disciple-making movement, the movement will only happen if everyone catches the vision and makes it their own.

To recap, we've discussed three paradigm shifts in our thinking:

  1. All Christians are called and equipped to be disciple-makers.
  2. Growth focuses on your next step and does not despair by attempting to jump to step 50.
  3. Mutual discipleship requires relationships that allow self-disclosure and challenging accountability.

In order to invite people into the vision of the movement Jesus started, we have to know what we're inviting them into. In Luke 7:18-23, Jesus points to ways in which his kingdom has started to change the world. His healings, exorcisms, and other miracles show that salvation is not just about Hell insurance or the Eternal Retirement Plan. Salvation is joining Jesus' work in undoing the Curse.

Jesus didn't just come to die. He came to recruit disciples and start a movement that is a foretaste of the new creation yet to come. In this movement, people are healed, peace is restored, and Jesus reigns.

What do Jesus' healings have to do with disciple-making? As we see in Matthew 10:1-8 and Luke 10:1-7, disciples are sent out to do Jesus' miracles. This is to show that the kingdom of heaven has come and is coming. It is a glimpse, a movie trailer, or a taste of the full coming of the kingdom yet to happen.

Christianity isn't about chilling and hanging out waiting for death or the Second Coming. It is a call to a very active agenda change. Our lives are no longer to be spent on pursuing a 401k or a comfortable retirement. Our lives are for the sole purpose of bringing in the kingdom. Instead, we have been made into new creations (2 Cor 5:17).

So, what does this look like? Jesus says his disciples will heal, cast out demons, and do miracles. Is that what we're supposed to do?

Jesus' description of the disciple-making movement of the "Kingdom come" is a picture of overcoming darkness. Our lives should be dedicated to helping people heal from physical, emotional, and spiritual turmoil. Our culture is ripe with broken relationships, people battling depression, guilt-ridden individuals. Sharing Jesus' love, we will come alongside them to bear their burdens and help them heal.

When do we cast out demons? It isn't biblical to go around like many Televangelists casting out demons like a circus. Rather, Satan is described as the father of lies and deception. Where are people lying to themselves. Where are people excusing their bad behavior or beginning a relationship with an abusive person? Where are people saying, "I'm okay," when they aren't? Satan is known as the accuser. Where are people living in shame and guilt and need the freedom of the grace of the gospel? Who around you is trapped in a legalistic, condemning religious atmosphere? Satan encourages oppressive pride, exploitation, narcissism.

Be a healer by getting involved in the lives around you. We can't say "become a disciple-maker" because if you're a Christian, you already are one. The question is rather whether you are fulfilling your role or sitting back and waiting for retirement.

Disciples Must Love

 

Sermon Passages: 1 Cor. 13:1-3Mt. 22:34-40;1 Jn. 2:15-16Jn. 13:35;1 Cor. 13:4-7

Sermon Notes

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us that without love, all the obedient acts of disciples are worthless. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:34-40 that the two greatest commandments are to love God and people.

What's your next step in loving God? You may respond . . .

  • I think I love God, but I don't really think about it that much. How do I know how much I love God?
  • I definitely love God, but how do I grow in that area?
  • I'm not opposed to God, but I haven't thought of God in that way before.

How we respond to the command to love God tells something about what we think about God. We might think think God doesn't really care about our love of him but only wants our obedience?

If your buy your significant other a precious gift and tell them, "It was my duty and job to give you gifts." That doesn't show the other person value. Value is ascribed by affections. Instead, we might say, "Every time I see you my heart skips a beat! I am so in love with you and will love you eternally. Thank you for being in my life." This displays affection and ascribes value to the other person.

The same is true of God. The preacher John Piper says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." We ascribe more value to God not when we merely obey him out of a sense of duty but when we are satisfied for him, loving him and taking joy in obedience.

What happens in your heart when you remember God in tough situations? Do you cringe and feel guilty? Does thought of God conjure affection and a desire to obey God more? Love always includes affection. Love God and love the things God loves.

We can't grow in love for God if our heart is full of other things (1 John 2:15-16). When we love other things and fill our life with the pursuit of those things, we feel full and not hungry for God. We fill our delight in things other than God. This is why Christianity thrives in persecution. All other desires are stripped away, and Christians are left with nothing but their complete satisfaction in God alone. Don't let a good crisis go to waste. It is an opportunity to grow in affection for God.

How do I take my next step in showing God love?

  • List the blessings God has given you. Remind yourself continually of who He is.
  • Find places where you forget him most because you are already full and don't feel hungry. In what seasons or areas of your life are you least hungry for God?
  • Love God through loving people.

How do I love people? John 13:35 says, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This means that if we're part of a disciple-making movement, it has to be abundantly clear that we love each other. It should be so obvious that it catches people's attention and causes them to ask questions.

Further, loving is, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,

  • Patient: The world will notice that we don't lose our patience with each other.
  • Kind: We're kind even when it doesn't make sense to be kind to one another.
  • Envy: We aren't secretly wishing we had what other people have.
  • Not boastful, arrogant, or rude: Our greatest hope is not found in our status or possessions. We aren't consumed with trying to elevate ourselves or outdo each other.
  • Does not insist on its own way: We humbly accept better ideas or criticism, deferring to each other instead of being offended.
  • Not Irritable or resentful: When people don't act rightly, we don't respond with irritation and resentment.
  • Not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth: We don't spitefully say, "he deserved that" or retaliate in anger. When someone else falls because of wrongdoing, we don't celebrate.
  • Bears all things: We don't give up on each other or become impatient with another's growth.
  • Believes all things: We don't grow suspicious of each other.
  • Hopes all things: Rests on the work of God, expecting great things from God as he uses his people for his mission of creating disciples.
  • Endures all things: We love others even when it's never reciprocated. No matter what you do, I will always love you.

That is how the world sees that we are Jesus' disciples. You can't stop a movement like that. The greatest joy in God is expressed in love for each other. Our community will come to know us as the most loving and generous group of people they know.

Renounce All You Have

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Sermon Passages: Luke 14:25-33

Sermon Notes

3 Paradigm Shifts:

  1. All Christians are disciple-makers
  2. All Christians are qualified to be disciple-makers
  3. Renounce all you have (today's sermon)

In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus tells us that in order to be his disciples, we must hate our family and prepare for a gruesome execution (take up our cross). To be sure, the Bible also tells us that hating our brother is murder (1 John 3:15), and it says that if you don't love your brother, you can't love God (1 John 4:20). Then what is Jesus saying here?

Jesus is shocking us with radical statements to impress upon us how important it is that he is challenging our idea of what a disciple is. Christ is challenging our allegiances and asking us if he's on top. If not, "You cannot be my disciple."

The apostles left everything to follow Christ and become missionaries, but that doesn't mean we all have to. The apostles planted churches in cities and didn't ask everyone to quit their day job. On the contrary, most were to transform their lives right in their own hometown. The real question is this: What are the most important things in your life, and how would your life change if you renounced those for Christ? When thinking about where you should be, shame shouldn't motivate obedience. Just focus on your next step, not step 50. Here's just a few diagnostic questions:

  • Schedule: Does Christ pushed to the side, only getting your leftover time? We stop growing only when we place other things as more important than Christ.
  • Money: What motivates you to spend money? Do you spend liberally on your own comfort and only use the leftovers for serving others? Do you give only if it doesn't infringe upon your goals or financial security?
  • Family: Are your kids the center of the universe? God should be. Teach them hold God as the priority by showing them that he is yours. John Maxwell says, "You teach what you know, but you can only reproduce what you are." If your kids had to define a disciple of Christ by your example alone, what would they say? Do they get to see you breaking your back to serve others? Are they ever taught why you make the decisions you do? Maybe they would define a disciple as someone who is always at home or never at home, maybe defining service as just writing a check once in a while or defining it by the way they see your heart breaking over the sin of others and helping them even while being helped by them.

Crucify the Flesh

Sermon Passages: Galatians 5:16-24John 14:15-18

Sermon Notes

Paradigm shifts:

  1. Every Christian is a disciple-maker
  2. Every Christian is qualified to be a disciple-maker
  3. [Next Week]

Every Christian is a disciple because disciples obey Jesus and bear fruit (John 15:8). Therefore, every Christian who helps another Christian bear fruit is their disciple-maker. Jesus tells us all to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

What is a disciple?

Christ tells us that disciples are those who abide in his word (John 8:31-34, last week's sermon).

He also says that disciples crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24). The Spirit lives within you to grow you and remind you of the grace that you have in Christ.

In Galatians 5, Paul lists a bunch of sins and desires of the flesh. In modern language, here's what that list can sound like:

  • Sexual immorality: "You can sleep with her. Don't be so old fashioned"
  • Impurity: "So what if he's married. You deserve someone like him."
  • Sensuality: "You can look. There's nothing wrong with looking."
  • Idolatry: "God hasn't been listening to you. It's time to look elsewhere for help"
  • Sorcery: "The Bible doesn't say anything about Hindu meditation. It helps you clear your head."
  • Enmity: "Those people are parasites. They just live off the hard work of others. Don't waste your time on them."
  • Strife: "Those Democrats are godless, liberal, hippies. God's judgment will fall on their socialist heads."
  • Jealousy: "She shouldn't have gotten that promotion. You've worked a lot harder than she has. She's just a suck-up. It's all rigged."
  • Fits of anger: "Why can't these stupid people learn to drive!!!"
  • Rivalries: "It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. If they can't handle it, they need to get out of your way. It's ok to step on them on your way to the top. Some people are meant to stay on the bottom."
  • Dissensions: "Can you believe they let their kids do that? I guess some people just don't care how their kids will turn out."
  • Divisions: "Do you know what preachers they listen to? You can't trust anything they say. They're probably not even saved."
  • Envy: "It's their fault your life is this way. You deserve to make more money and live better than this."
  • Drunkenness: "Finish the bottle. You've had a hard day and this will help you escape the pain."
  • Orgies/gorging: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." "You don't eat like this all the time. It just makes you feel better. Have some more."
  • "And things like these"

In contrast, Paul gives the Fruit of the Spirit, which are the fruit of walking by the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Crucifying the flesh & walking by the Spirit isn't behavior modification, it is a change of desires. "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). Even coffee shops train their employees to be patient and kind. The difference between Christianity and coffee shops is that we are called to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit even when we're off duty, even when it doesn't benefit us, even when nobody's looking, and even when doing so will cost us everything.

We gain victory over the flesh only because it has been crucified with Christ. We can't do it on our own with our own effort. Christ has defeated the flesh for us so that it no longer has dominion over us, it no longer calls the shots. Because of grace, we have the ability to say no to temptation. The Spirit continues to work in us as we walk by the Spirit to grow our desires and habits to be more and more like the Fruit of the Spirit than Paul's list of sinful desires.

What does it take to form a disciple-making community?

  1. Relationships
  2. Good questions

Good friendship and chatting about sports over coffee isn't enough. We need someone who will correct us, someone who knows our dirty laundry and can help us clean up.

We get offended at criticism because our identity is wrapped up in our sin. We love our sin. Yet, when another Christian helps you see your sin so that you can grow, they are helping you fight your enemy of the sinful flesh. They are an allied assault on the enemy, reinforcements sent into our life.

 

Disciples Must Abide

Sermon Passages: Mathew 28:18-20John 15:8; John 8:31-34

Sermon Notes

Every Christian is a disciple-maker, according to Matthew 28:18-20.

Myth: Disciple-maker is a mature Christian who has "arrived" at a certain level of maturity and is only then equipped and called to teach others.

Truth: If you help someone else bear fruit, you're their disciple-maker. We are all to help each other bear fruit. Disciple-making isn't a linear path or top-down approach where the more mature have "arrived" and teach others without being taught. It's an ongoing process, like a cycle, where we're all discipling each other.

Have you ever said, "I'm not growing at that church?" Here's two possible reasons:

  1. You haven't formed relationships. However, if all Christians are disciple-makers, its the responsibility of all Christians to be proactive in creating relationships to help others bear fruit.
  2. "I'm not intellectually stimulated." Even if you were, that doesn't guarantee growth. Christian maturity is not in how much you know but in how much you apply.

Jesus says, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).

You're only as mature as the knowledge you apply. Of course, this implies that you must continue to grow in some knowledge. But that knowledge is only as good as its application.

If we were to imagine a disciple-making movement, a community of 100% involvement, what elements would be necessary?

  1. Relationships: Risk and invite relationships that are intimate enough to challenge you and to allow you to challenge others. Bear your soul.
  2. The Right Questions: Not all relationships bear spiritual fruit. We need to be intentional, asking each other about our spiritual lives.

If you are a Christian, the church doesn't exist to serve you. Instead, you are the church and you exist to serve others. We imitate Christ who said, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

The Dream

Sermon Passages: Mathew 28:18-20; John 15:8; Ephesians 3:20-21

Sermon Notes

In the next month, we will introduce the biblically-based definition of disciple-making that Crossing Church is dedicated to.

1. You Are a Disciple-Maker

The Great Commission says (Matthew 28:19–20):

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

What does it mean to make disciples?

Baptize and teach.
Teach what?
Not just information but obedience and application.

What is a disciple-maker?

A mature Christian?
Someone called to teach?
No, every Christian is a disciple-maker, according to the Great Commission.

Jesus says (John 15:8),

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Disciples are those who bear fruit and help others bear fruit.

"But I'm not ______ enough to make disciples."

Jesus called imperfect people to help other imperfect people bear fruit. You are God's Plan A for accomplishing his plans. God has no backup Plan B. Jesus' first disciples were messed up guys and he sent them out to preach before the New Testament was even written. "Yeah, but...." God knows he chose you and everyone else he chose is messed up too.

2. Take the Next Step & Help Others Do the Same

You may be frustrated that you're not where you want to be, or you're frustrated that someone else isn't where you want them to be. This frustration is only because you've forgotten who you're following. You're not following people, you're following Jesus. Compared to him, we're all terrible and imperfect. Nobody gets completely fixed this side of heaven. The moment we stop looking ahead at Jesus and turn around and look at how immature everyone else is we have ceased to focus on Christ.

Maturity is not an achieved status but constant movement. It is not a certain amount of knowledge but how much you apply. Celebrate every next step that you or others make, no matter how small and no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. Everyone has a next step.

3. You are Qualified to Make Disciples Because the Holy Spirit Is in You

God is the one who grows us, and he does so through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in you will grow you and help you make disciples (Ephesians 3:20-21):

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

This passage encourages us to dream big because God is bigger and accomplishes more than we imagine and more than we give him credit for. If he granted all our prayers in the last week, what would change and what would stay the same? The missionary William Carey said, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”