What Should a Disciple Look Like?

What Does a Disciple of Jesus Look Like? A great question. We often attempt to develop new believers into what we think is a good disciple, but at the end of the day, our product looks more like the chief opponents of Jesus rather than his disciples. [ for example, see here ]

It is so important to see the end from the beginning, so we know what we desire in a follower of Jesus. Then we can take positive steps to see that vision come to fruition. Let me suggest these characteristics that should be developed into a disciple…

DDecided Faith – He or She Has Unwavering Assurance of Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone (1 John 5:13, John 1:12-13, 1 John 5:11-12, Ephesians 4:14, Romans 8:16, 1 Corinthians 2:14)

IInward Growth – He or She is Developing Devotional Practices for Spiritual Growth (Mark 1:35, Genesis 19:27, Exodus 34:2-3, Psalm 5:3, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Timothy 4:13, Acts 17:11, Proverbs 2:1-5, Psalm 1:1-6, Joshua 1:8)

SSeparated from Sin – He or She has Embraced the Practice of Repentance and a Life of Sanctification (1 John 1:5-2:2, James 1:22, 2 Timothy 2:19-22, Romans 6:12-14, 1 John 2:15-16, Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:9-10, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Ephesians 6:10-20, Romans 13:14, Mark 14:38, 1 John 1:9)

CCommitted to Community – He or She is Small Group Focused and Does not Neglect the Gathering of Saints (Acts 2:42, Acts 17:11, 1 John 1:3, 7, Hebrews 10:24-25, Psalm 122:1, John 15:12, Romans 12:10, Romans 14:9, 15:7, 14, 1 Corinthians 12:25, Galatians 5:13, 6:2, Ephesians 4:2, 25, 29, 32, 5:21, Colossians 3:13, 16, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, 13, James 5:16, 1 Peter 4:9-10, 1 Peter 5:5)

IInvesting in Eternity – Uses Their Time, Talent, and Treasure for Things That Will Last (Ephesians 5:15-17, Psalm 90:10, 12, Ecclesiastes 3:1, James 4:14, Romans 13:11, Romans 12:4-8, Ephesians 4:11-13, Proverbs 3:9-10, 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Luke 6:38, Proverbs 3:27, Galatians 6:6, Malachi 3:10, Proverbs 11:24-25, 2 Corinthians 8:9)

PPersonal Testimony – He or She is Committed to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Luke 8:38-39, Acts 26:1-23, John 9:25, 1 John 1:3, Colossians 1:28-29, Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Acts 8:35, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Luke 19:10, Mark 10:45)

LLordship of Christ – He or She Pursues Obedience to God’s Word and Self-control in This Life (Luke 6:46, Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:18, Hebrews 1:2, John 14:21, 23, John 15:10, 14, 1 Samuel 15:22)

EExtending the Love of Christ and his Kingdom – He or She Embraces the MVPs of Mission, Vision, and Proclamation (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:16-18, John 15:13, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 1 John 4:7-21, Matthew 9:35-38, Acts 1:8, Luke 24:47, John 20:21, Isaiah 6:8)

False Expectations

This message is a part of the new sermon series for 2016 at King’s Grant Baptist Church, taken from Luke 14:25-35. Here is the video of my message.

There was a debate perhaps 25 years on the meaning of salvation. At that time I discovered a tremendously insightful resource by John MacArthur called, The Gospel According to Jesus. It changed my life. This is what it was all about…

As Baptists we understand that salvation by grace through faith. No one earns salvation through their deeds. But can someone be saved and not follow Jesus as a disciple? Can Jesus be your Savior without him being your Lord? Can you pray a prayer as a younger person, and because Baptists believe in “once saved always saved,” it matters not that you never grow in maturity?

Let me tell you a story about someone coming to Christ while I was out witnessing with my pastor; this was my first full-time staff position after seminary. The pastor and I went out visiting and this young man, likely a senior in high school, sat and talked with us at his kitchen table. I sensed that the guy was not buying what we were selling, but before we left, he was on his knees praying the sinner’s prayer with my pastor. My question after that evening, after it was all said and done was, “will we ever see this guy get involved in worship, Bible study, or have any desire to grow in spiritual maturity at all?” Did he mean it? Was he ready to accept the challenge of following Jesus?

What are the expectations that WE have of Jesus and Christianity? What are the expectations that Jesus has of US?

When Jesus left the Pharisee’s house, great crowds followed Him, but He was not impressed by their enthusiasm. He knew that most of those in the crowd were not the least bit interested in spiritual things. Some wanted only to see miracles, others heard that He fed the hungry, and a few hoped He would overthrow Rome and establish David’s promised kingdom. They were expecting the wrong things.

Jesus turned to the multitude and preached a sermon that deliberately thinned out the ranks. He made it clear that, when it comes to personal discipleship, He is more interested in quality than quantity. In the matter of saving lost souls, He wants His house to be filled (Luke 14:23); but in the matter of personal discipleship, He wants only those who are willing to pay the price.

A “disciple” is a learner, one who attaches himself or herself to a teacher in order to learn a trade or a subject. Perhaps our nearest modern equivalent is “apprentice,” one who learns by watching and by doing. The word disciple was the most common name for the followers of Jesus Christ and is used 264 times in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Jesus seems to make a distinction between salvation and discipleship. Salvation is open to all who will come by faith, while discipleship is for believers willing to pay a price. Salvation means coming to the cross and trusting Jesus Christ, while discipleship means carrying the cross and following Jesus Christ. Jesus wants as many sinners saved as possible (“that My house may be filled”), but He cautions us not to take discipleship lightly; and in the three parables He gave, He made it clear that there is a price to pay.

We are going to dive in to what it means to love Jesus Christ supremely and to carry one’s cross.

  1. Jesus’ Instruction concerning discipleship (Luke 14:25-27)
    1. In regard to the candidate’s family (Luke 14:25-26)
      1. Jesus was still traveling toward Jerusalem, and large crowds had joined him.
        1. Perhaps all these casual followers considered themselves “disciples” of this popular teacher.
        2. Perhaps they thought he was the Messiah and wanted to be there when he inaugurated his kingdom.
      2. Jesus needed to explain that following him did not mean receiving goodies, like the expectation of so many children.
        1. He wanted to explain what it meant to truly be his disciple. So he turned and spoke to them. His disciples had to hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself.
        2. This may be the only verse that teenagers will enthusiastically quote and follow, after all, Jesus said that I am to hate my parents.
        3. Certainly this caused a stir among the people. Who would possibly ask his followers to hate their family members and life itself? The point is not to HATE, but to LOVE others less. Your love for Jesus must be so strong that any other relationship of LOVE would look like HATE in comparison.
      3. Jesus never contradicts himself. Never has Jesus advocated “hatred”—in fact, he even commanded his followers to love their enemies (Luke 6:27, 35).
        1. In these words Jesus was not going against his own commands of love, or the fifth commandment to honor father and mother (Exodus 20:12).
        2. Instead, the word “hate” is a Semitic hyperbole—an obvious exaggeration to make a point (see Genesis 29:30–33; Proverbs 13:24). Their love for Jesus should be so complete and wholehearted that their love for family members, and for life itself, would pale in comparison, to the point of being like hatred. In first-century Jewish family settings, deciding for Jesus could mean alienation from the family.
        3. Jesus warned the would-be disciples that they must be clear about their true allegiance. Jesus’ point was that those who wanted to be his followers would have demands placed upon them. The task would not be easy. Sometimes relationships would be severed, and his followers would have to turn away and remain with Jesus (12:51–53). Those who cannot make that kind of commitment cannot be his disciple.
    2. In regard to the candidate (Luke 14:27)
      1. Besides being willing to love Jesus more than any others and more than life itself, the true disciple must be ready to carry the cross and follow Christ.
      2. Jesus’ audience was well aware of what it meant to “carry the cross.” When the Romans led a criminal to his execution site, the criminal would be forced to carry the cross on which he would die. This showed submission to Rome and warned observers that they had better submit too.
      3. Carrying your cross means daily identification with Christ in shame, suffering, and surrender to God’s will. It means death to self, to our own plans and ambitions, and a willingness to serve Him as He directs (John 12:23–28). Bearing a “cross” is something we willingly accept from God as part of His will for our lives.
      4. Jesus gave this teaching to get the crowds to think through their enthusiasm for him. He encouraged those who were superficial either to go deeper or to turn back. Following Christ means total submission to him—perhaps even to the point of death.
  2. Jesus’ Illustration concerning discipleship (Luke 14:28-35)
    1. A disciple must be like a man preparing to build: the example of the unfinished building (Luke 14:28-30). The story has a couple interesting observations.
      1. Adequate Resources – mockery – a landmark of foolishness. If a person could not finish what he started, the community would mock him, and his unfinished building would be a testimony to his lack of following through.
      2. Adverse Reality – the calling to follow Jesus deserves serious thought and contemplation – the example of John Mark leaving the missionary journey (Acts 12:25-13:5, 13:13). The glamour and newness wears off and reality sets in. The young man did not count the cost of following Jesus and serving God as a companion of Paul.
    2. A disciple must be like a monarch preparing for battle: the example of a unsuccessful war (Luke 14:31-33) – To rush out with his soldiers, without first discussing the options, would invite disaster for any nation. It is far better to think it through beforehand. So those who want to follow Jesus should carefully consider their decision.
      1. The Christian life is a battle, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
      2. Satan is the enemy and our adversary, who seeks out downfall. He is the god of this world. Spiritual warfare is not a minor endeavor.
      3. For some, giving up everything may be literal, such as the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18–23 and many of Jesus’ early followers; for others it may be a willingness to hold loosely to material possessions.
    3. A disciple must be like a maître d’ preparing for a banquet: the example of an unsavory condiment (Luke 14:34-35)
      1. The maître d’ handles the reservations and preparations, so many Christians blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ.
      2. But Jesus says if Christians lose their distinctive saltiness, they become worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves food, Christ’s disciples are to preserve the good in the world, help keep it from spoiling, and bring new flavor to life.
      3. This requires careful planning, willing sacrifice, and unswerving commitment to Christ’s kingdom. Being “salty” is not easy, but if Christians fail in this function, they fail to represent Christ in the world. The person with ears should be able to understand these words and apply them.
        1. Salt without flavor is good for nothing; it has no purpose at the dinner table.
        2. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

What are those “costs” to believers? Christians may face loss of social status or wealth. Family and friends may hate or avoid you. We may have to give up control over their money, time, or career. It is not like living overseas where Christianity is illegal, and may cost your freedom or your life.

Following Christ does not mean living a trouble-free life. All people must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ’s disciple so that they will know what they are getting into and won’t be tempted to turn back when the going gets tough.

The title of this message is False Expectations, so let me wrap this us by sharing with you what I would call one of the most haunting verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Talk about false expectations. Those who expects “well done, good and faithful servant,” heard Jesus say, depart from me, I never knew you.”

Discipleship is serious business. If we are not true disciples, then Jesus cannot build the tower and fight the war. Oswald Chambers wrote, “There is always an if in connection with discipleship, and it implies that we need not [be disciples] unless we embrace this. There is never any compulsion; Jesus does not coerce us. There is only one way of being a disciple, and that is by being devoted to Jesus.”

IF we tell Jesus that we want to take up our cross and follow Him as His disciples, THEN He wants us to know exactly what we are getting into. He wants no false expectancy, no illusions, no bargains. He wants to use us as STONES for building His church, SOLDIERS for battling His enemies, and SALT for bettering His world; and He is looking for quality more than quality.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when He spoke these words, and look what happened to Him there! He does not ask us to do anything for Him that He has not already done for us.

To some people, Jesus says, “You cannot be My disciples!” Why? Because they will not forsake everything for Christ, bearing shame and reproach for Him, and letting their love for Him control them.

Will you be His disciple?

Next Steps:

  • How possible are this conditions for you?
  • What has it cost you to follow Jesus?
  • What cost of following Jesus seems too high for you?
  • What relationships of other loyalties do you need to pray about to strengthen your loyalty to Jesus?
  • In what area of your life can you have a deliberate effect for Christ this week?

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New Testament Discipleship

This message called, New Testament Discipleship, comes from 2 Timothy 1:3-12.

Christianity is not a solitary sport, it is a team effort. When we come to faith in Christ, we join a global and a local community, in essence, this community is a timeless spiritual family. When you join a family, you are not alone. People look out for one another. So, how are lives connected in corporate worship? In this room we are all pretty much spectators. It is in a small group that we become participants.

I love small groups and I always encourage people to get involved and join one. It is easy to shop around here at King’s Grant because we have so many groups from which to choose. If you want to explore a group in which to get involved, let me know.

I can talk a whole lot about why small groups are important, but time is limited and I want to go through this text. While Skip used this text two weeks ago, I plan to go in a total different direction. We can talk about timothy and his family, but I prefer to talk about Timothy’s and Paul’s connection through being a part of a faith community. Let’s get started…

1. Reassurance (2 Timothy 1:3) – I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.

The text tells us that Paul was praying for Timothy, and that he likely had confidence in him. The first thing you notice is the relational aspect of these to followers of Christ. Those who are connected to Jesus pray for one another. In a small group, we are pilgrims on the same journey, giving support, encouragement, and challenge to those in the group. It is a blessing to be involved with fellow believers on a similar journey.

Speaking of blessing, we have the potential to bring out the best in those whom we bless. From the very beginning, God intends for his people to bless others (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:8). (Smalley and Trent, The Blessing, 1986). What does a blessing entail? How do we bless others? Imagine doing all of the following in a small group…

  1. Expressing Unconditional Love: agape is God’s kind of love, you cannot earn it nor can you lose it. It is not a love that says, “I love you because…” or “I will love you if…” – it is a love that says, “I love you anyway.” There is security in this sort of relationship.
  2. Uttering Spoken Words: a blessing is only a blessing when it is spoken. It matters not how much you care about someone if you never let them know about it. When you invest into other people, you cannot keep silent.
  3. Articulating High Value: Perhaps you saw the movie called, “The Help.” The main character is a black maid who worked for this 1960’s white southern household. This strong woman had a great statement that she repeated in the film, and the little white girl was able to quote it back to her, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.”
    1. It is like a family reunion, people are usually speaking to each other and talking all over the place but in that final hour people preparing for their goodbyes and are expressing the most important things that need to be said.
    2. Picture the undeveloped traits or habits or qualities in other people that can grow in their heart. Our desire is for them to be the best they can be for the kingdom’s sake.
    3. When we value others, we bring out their best.
  4. Picturing a Special Future: You can do this and thereby bring joy to people. You will make an impact on the kingdom of God and will be encouraging them to make a difference as well.
    1. Picturing a special future is like how Jesus encourages us by mentioning a wonderful statement at the end of time, “well done good and faithful servant,” which bring out the best in our lives, a desire for transformation into godly men and women.
    2. Kim is a hospice chaplain and I often remind her, usually when she leaves the house in the morning, or after a long and difficult day or week, that she is making a difference in the lives of people, especially at this critical stage in their lives, and the lives of their family members and staff.
  5. Disciplining When Needed: You may be thinking that I am just talking about parents and children, but discipline is greater than just a family because as followers of Jesus, we will fail many times in our lives. We need God’s discipline, and often that will come through fellow believers whom we trust and we know they have our back. We are to balance praise and correction. God deals with us rather than ignoring the wrong behavior; the same is true for our brothers in Christ. We cannot ignore behavior that goes against the teachings of the Bible. Ok, let’s move on to…

2. Reminiscence (2 Timothy 1:4-5) longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.

Two things are noticed here…

  1. Tears (2 Timothy 1:4) What Paul desired, (he longed to see Timothy again).
  2. Testimony (2 Timothy 1:5) What Paul described…
    1. The Reality of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5a) (mindful of the sincere faith he had).
    2. The Roots of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5b) (which came through his mother and grandmother)
    3. The Reinforcement of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5c) (I am sure it is in you as well). It is important to think about from where we have come, and how faith entered our lives. It is very good to share with others in your small group about how you came to faith in Christ, and reaffirm the faith we see in others.

3. Refocus (2 Timothy 1:6-7a) For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity…

  1. Stir up the Gift of God (2 Timothy 1:6) (Kindle afresh the gift of God) Small groups are training ground for living life on purpose, being on mission, and living a missional life.
  2. Suppress the Fear (2 Timothy 1:7a) (we don’t have a spirit of timidity or fear). There is strength in numbers, so your small group will give you the encouragement you need to stand strong in the face of the struggles of life. Finally, we are to

4. Remember (2 Timothy 1:7b-12) Remember what, you ask?

  1. Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7b) (not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline). The Spirit is the one whom Jesus promised to send that would fill us with the power to change the world (Acts 1:8). We must remember that in a small group, we do not depend upon our own power, creativity, teaching, or anything, but we allow the power of the Spirit to flow through us.
  2. Son (2 Timothy 1:8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
    1. Don’t be Ashamed (2 Timothy 1:8a) – of the testimony of Jesus. We know what Jesus did to secure our salvation, so never be ashamed of the gospel story. We don’t need to apologize to unchurched people about what we believe, especially when it goes against what the intolerant left mainstream culture promotes.
    2. Don’t be Afraid (2 Timothy 1:8b) – of Paul or Prison. When our society labels us intolerant and narrow-minded, and they come after the church and Christians, don’t be afraid to join with Paul in the suffering for the gospel. We stand stronger with a small group to help us navigate through the dark waters of modern culture.
  3. Salvation (2 Timothy 1:9a-b) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
    1. Our Conversion (2 Timothy 1:9a) It is important to understand that the purpose of a small group is to know Christ and make him known. The goal is not just a place to study the Bible, but to share life together, on purpose, with an intentional missional mindset. How can we get one more person to be a part of our group? One we get to a certain size, when will we birth another group where we can both continue reaching and teaching people? It is all about life transformation, and conversion is a great target. After conversion, we embrace our calling…
    2. Our Calling (2 Timothy 1:9b) Paul wrote about a holy calling. What does God want from you? What mission or purpose has he planted in your heart that only you can achieve? How will you walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ, and therefore make an eternal impact on the kingdom of God? BUT, our calling leads to service…
  4. Service (2 Timothy 1:9c-10) not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
    1. Our Commission (2 Timothy 1:9c). We don’t do any of this in our own strength or according to our own works, but according to the power of Christ. Remember that the body of Christ works together to accomplish the will of God. Each small group has the potential to embrace the commission and seek ways to be on mission together, and encouraging each of us to make an eternal impact.
    2. Our Commander (2 Timothy 1:10). We recognize that the Great Commission comes from our Great Commander. Jesus is the Savior, who abolished death and brought life and immortality through the gospel. Jesus causes our service to make sense. Non-Christians serve in order to give back (it is ME focused), but we “give back” with a purpose (because is it God focused). Serving can lead to…
  5. Servants (2 Timothy 1:11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. This verse reminds us that Paul was a Preacher and Apostle.
    1. What is a Preacher? It is not just someone who stands up here and delivers a sermon. The preacher (kay’-roox) really means, “a herald or messenger” or God’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). THAT is something that we all can do. We have a story to tell.
    2. What is an Apostle? The apostle (a-po’-sto-los) means, “a delegate, a messenger, one sent forth with orders.” The church is made up of believers, and we are literally “sent-out-ones.” Understanding this fact awaken us to the great possibilities of impacting the kingdom of God. Don’t limit God in what he can do in your life. Be open to go in whatever direction he has set before you!
  6. Suffering (2 Timothy 1:12) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
    1. Confidence (2 Timothy 1:12a) “For this reason” expresses Paul confidence. All that he has gone through makes sense when he had the proper perspective. Remember this letter was written at the very end of Paul’s earthly life. He was expecting execution any day. In the midst of this uncertainty, Paul expresses solid confidence.
    2. Conviction (2 Timothy 1:12b) Paul is convinced, and knows for certain that he is in the hands of Jesus. What has Paul entrusted to Jesus until THAT DAY?Perhaps it is either the day of Christ’s glorious return or maybe the day of Paul’s execution. His life. Jesus is able to guard his life, so what have we to fear?

All throughout this passage I see the blueprints for small groups. The purpose of today is to discover what it takes to encourage sticky faith in our kids and in the lives of other people. Small groups encourage stick faith, and the family is God’s original small group. Get involved in one and live life in the community of faith.

The next steps at the bottom of your outline will help you to remember what community has been in your life in the past, and perhaps you will recognize the need to have a more connected community in your current situation.

Next Steps: Make it practical…

1. For whom do you pray on a regular basis? (2 Timothy 1:3)
2. Who has had the biggest role in your spiritual development? (2 Timothy 1:3)
3. What gift has God given to you? (2 Timothy 1:6)
4. How is the Spirit’s power, love, & self-discipline shown in your life? (2 Timothy 1:7)
5. Why has God called you to a holy life? (2 Timothy 1:9)
6. In what ways are you called to be a preacher and apostle? (2 Timothy 1:11)
7. When was there a time that you suffered for the gospel? (2 Timothy 1:12)

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