The great omission from the great commission in which the great disparity is firmly rooted..
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 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.[
1) The church is great at making Christians but it was called to make disciples
There is a clear difference between being a convert to Christianity and a disciple of Jesus Christ.
A convert is someone who changes from one faith to another.
Simply changing one’s religion to Christianity does not mean that someone has become a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.
A convert is someone who has changed his or her faith but not his or her heart.
The result is a cheap grace that cost us nothing.
Dietrich Bonheoffer first defined cheap grace in his most famous work is The Cost of Discipleship, first published in 1939. This book is a rigorous exposition and interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, and Matthew 9:35-10:42. He described cheap grace as, “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
Read a quote this week on a Christian blog
Here in the United States, cheap grace is just one of many methods we use to draw crowds. We’ve also twisted Scriptures to promise people prosperity, and we’ve manipulated the Holy Ghost to entertain people who need an emotional high to get them through another week. Since people are not interested in the discipline of prayer, or in developing personal integrity, or in how to resolve marital problems, or in crucifying the flesh, we offer a smorgasbord of exotic charismatic delights to put Band-Aids on wounds. We have turned church into an ear-tickling show and worked everybody up into a frenzy, but in the end nobody’s character is changed
2) Christian V’s Disciple
The word Christian appears 3 times in scripture.
In contrast, the word disciple comes from the Greek word Mathetes, which is found 269 times in the New Testament and means an apprentice, learner, or a pupil.
In the ancient times of the Bible, a disciple was a person who left everything that they had to follow the teachings of a master.
The word ‘disciple’ implies much more than a learner or a pupil, it is someone who has totally committed his or her life to the training and teaching of a master or a school of thought.
Discuss the illustration of economics at University – it’s changed the framework through which I view the world
According to the New Testament, (John 15:7-17; Luke 9:23-25; Matthew 28:19). a disciple is a born again believer who is obedient, bears fruit, glorifies God, has joy, loves others, denies themselves, and is committed to fulfilling the Great Commission
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[a] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
3) The danger is that the church worldwide is being overrun by Vampire Christians
Some years ago, AW Tozer, expressed his “feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout evangelical Christian circles – the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need him as saviour and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to him as Lord as long as we want to.” He then goes on to state – that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred scriptures.
This “heresy” has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a vampire Christian. One in effect who says to Jesus, I’d like a little of your blood please, But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, wont you just excuse me while I get on with my life and I’ll see you in heaven. But can we really imagine that this is an approach that Jesus finds acceptable.
And when you stop to think about it, how could one actually trust him for forgiveness of sins while not trusting him for much more than that.
We want the saving blood but then we want to treat the rest of Christianity as an optional extra.
4) It is now statistically and anecdotally common to find that Christians generally do not differ significantly from non Christians in our culture.
Have been divorced (among those who have been married) Born Again Christians: 27%; Non-Christians: 23%
Gave money to a homeless person or poor person, in past year Born Again Christians: 24%; Non-Christians: 34%
Donated any money to a nonprofit organization, in past month Born Again Christians: 47%; Non-Christians: 48%
Bought a lottery ticket, in the past week Born Again Christians: 23%; Non-Christians: 27%
You are still trying to figure out the purpose of your life Born Again Christians: 36%; Non-Christians: 47%
What lies at the heart of the astonishing disregard of Jesus found in the moment to moment existence of multitudes of professing Christians is a simple lack of respect for him
5) We must stop using the fact that we cannot earn grace as an excuse for not energetically seeking to receive Grace. Having been found by God, we then become seekers of ever fuller life in him. Grace is opposed to earning but not to effort.
Spiritual Formation is an active not a passive process
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[i]), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Key focus of a true disciple is others focussed
6) Are we part of the crowd or are we part of the few who reach through the crowd, risking much, activating our faith to grab hold of the hem of Christ’s Garment.
Mark 5:30-31 – The story of the woman with the Issue of Blood
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
7) Definition of Salvation
Saving faith is to have confidence in Jesus Christ, the whole person and not just in some part of what he did or said, we have the understanding of a salvation that delivers the disciple, the whole person, into a full life in the Kingdom of God. This includes progressive inner transformation of the believer, not as a condition of entry into heaven, salvation in the common sense, but as a natural part of a whole that also includes new life, constant spiritual growth and entry in heaven as a natural outcome rather than as the central focus.
Definition of Spiritual formation is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by such character traits as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher. From the inward character the deeds of love then naturally, but supernaturally – and transparently flow.
So what are the takeaways from this sermon
· Ask yourself the question: – Am I a Christian or a disciple?
· Am I growing in Christ each week?
· Do you have an intentional discipleship growth pathway?
· What things in the lifestyle of a disciple am I treating as optional
These are the powerpoints from the Sermon