Sharing Jesus Part 3
Over the course of the last six weeks, we have been laying a foundation for our future together as a congregation. We talked about prayer being the center of how we face forward and move in accordance with Holy Spirit’s guidance as we follow Jesus. For two weeks we talked about the inspiration, authority, interpretation, and application of the Bible in our lives. The Bible is the supreme authority to guide our lives and our ministry. Since it was written by God through the work of people, we can have assurance that the Bible will never lead us astray. However, we must read the Bible in the correct historical context to the people it was originally written to based on the original language it was written in before we ever think about how it applies to our own lives. When we read the Bible and study it, we always, always, always start with “what does the Bible say?” We do not get to read our own ideas, our own standards, our own presuppositions into what the Bible says. We don’t read our politics, traditions, or preferences into the Bible either. We start with this is what the Bible says, and if we don’t understand what it says, we can use resources to help us understand. We never get to say, “the Bible says, but…” We need to keep our butts our of it.
We have two guiding principles. We are never called to condemn anyone. Jesus came to save the world because the world is already condemned, we are here as his hands and feet to share Jesus love for humanity that they may come to him to be saved. Even when we use the scriptures to bring correction into the lives of fellow believers, we never use the Bible as a weapon. We do everything in love. Love is the rule of the day. Love God, Love others, Love one another are the three great commandments. It is only in the context of our relationship with God as our Father, Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and the indwelling Holy Spirit as our guide that we live our lives according to God’s standards, not the world’s standards. The Bible itself should shape our entire worldview, so that we live lives that are set apart as a beacon to draw people to Jesus, not drive them away.
Two weeks ago, we talked about the command that we have to make disciples, our Great Commission, Jesus said
‘Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”’
He had also said in Acts 1:8 after telling his disciples to expect Holy Spirit to come,
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”’
Part of what we discussed last week is the fact that Holy Spirit is with us whenever we are talking about our faith experience with another person, so we rely on him for the words to speak. However, it is usually far better to listen than to speak. If someone knows you care and you are listening attentively, you might be very surprised about how much they really end up sharing with you. Talk about a great opportunity to share how God has been walking with you in your life!
We over complicate how we witness, give testimony, or share our faith so much in our minds that many times it causes us not to try at all. Remember, sharing how God has walked with us through our lives can be as easy as sharing the details of eating at your favorite restaurant. If you have walked with God for any period of time, you have a story to tell of God’s faithfulness. My friend, Rick Grace, just last weekend called these your pivotal circumstances. My story may seem extraordinary to some, or your story may seem uneventful to you, but there is a story there if you take the time to reflect on it.
However, making disciples goes far beyond just getting someone to believe in Jesus. Making disciples is about teaching and instruction, about walking a path of faith, about living a life that reflects God’s glory as we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Roman 8:28-29 says,
‘And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’
Our purpose is to be conformed to the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Right doing through right learning about who Christ is and what, within the context of our relationship with Him, God expects from his people is what being set apart is. Over and over again through the scriptures God gives instruction and direction about how his people are set apart by how they act.
‘“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ‘
Paul says to us,
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ‘
And he told Timothy,
‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’
2 Timothy 3:14-17
Through the power of the Spirit we learn to live lives set apart for God through the instruction of his Word. Our actions and attitudes are what define us before people, so it is our actions and our attitudes that become conformed to the way God wishes us to be living out godly lives in accordance with Christ’s righteousness covering us. All of this is gained through proper discipleship, as we make disciples by teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded his apostles.
True discipleship is not what happens on Sunday morning or even at the our Bible study groups. True discipleship is a one-on-one personal walk with another believer who is more mature than we are or those who are mature spiritually walking and teaching someone newer or less mature in the faith. A prime example of what discipleship in the church should look like is the relationship between a sponsor and a sponsee in a twelve-step program like AA. In AA, a sponsor is someone who has worked the 12-steps, is continually sober, and living in such a way as to be a good example of sober living. It is a person the sponsee wants to pattern their life after. This is what a disciple of a rabbi in the Jewish culture did. Jesus’s core disciples lived with him, worked with him, ate with him, slept near him, watched everything he did and taught, and tried to pattern their lives after him. His disciples experienced true discipleship walking with Jesus. Discipleship doesn’t happen on our own or in a vacuum.
According to the book, Biblical Discipleship, a disciple is a person who places him or herself under the instruction of an expert or master with the goal of becoming like the person they are following. There are four key elements to biblical discipleship…
- Discipleship is a process that happens to a person, it takes place at the individual level.
- Discipleship requires a relationship with someone else.
- Discipleship requires an expert teacher. The Expert Teacher is Jesus himself and we have his indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is the one we are following, and we need a growing understanding of who he is, what he taught, and what he expects from his followers. We find all this in the scriptures.
- Discipleship has a defined goal or destination. Jesus expects his follower to grow in their obedience to him until they finally become like him.
This is what Paul meant when he told the believers in Ephesus,
‘when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ‘
As we grow in our knowledge, love, and obedience toward Jesus as our Savior, we are being active in our path of discipleship. As we move forward as a congregation, following the Lord’s will for us making disciples throughout our community and engaging in or supporting opportunities to make disciple throughout the world, these are the actions we need to be taking in actively making disciples of those already here and those who are coming.
Maybe through the course of the last few weeks, you’ve realized you aren’t following Jesus quite the way you thought you were, or maybe you need to recommit to following Jesus closer, or maybe you have yet to commit your life to Jesus and start the process of discipleship. or maybe you’ve been a mature Christian for a while now, but you have not been active in making disciples. However, maybe you have been active in making disciples and now you are looking for ways to help others to learn from your experience. Pray for God to bring you in step with what his Holy Spirit is doing, so you can be a part of building his kingdom.