Friday, April 10, 2009

The Gospel Driven Disciple Part II

The Call of the Disciples of Jesus There is a fundamental mark of the NT disciple; they are called by Jesus to discipleship. This aspect dominates all the instances in the gospels where this word is used. Now, this is different from the disciples of the Rabbis. These types of pupils, learners, students, apprentices, had to seek out an amiable and willing teacher and attach themselves to a teacher. Jesus did not seem to permit an individual to simply attach himself to Jesus. Jesus made the initiative. He called disciples to Himself. Luke 8 is a classic example. Jesus heals a man possessed by demons. He was naked, lived in the graveyard, he had been chained and shackled but would and could break the chains, he often was driven by the demons into the wilderness. Jesus cast out the legion of demons in him, and if you remember, Jesus put them into a herd of pigs that ran off a cliff and killed themselves. The locals were so afraid that they asked Jesus to leave, to get out of town. Verse 38 records the man’s request to go with Jesus, as a matter of fact; the word used there is begged. What did Jesus say? Sure, jump on board? No, he would not let him join the group. He sent him to his own town. Jesus calls disciples. He calls today. He has called you to be his disciple. If you are called by Jesus you will be a disciple and you will persevere to the very end. If you are not a disciple called by Jesus then you will eventually fall away, either, you won’t believe and will simply go away, or when trials or temptation comes upon you, you will go away, or when distractions appear, you will go away. The Commitment of the Disciples of Jesus The relationship of the disciples and Jesus is very unique. It is a very personal relationship. Since Jesus is the one who initiates discipleship, Jesus gets to set the form and content for the relationship.
Jesus was committed to His disciples. Later in John 17, He told the Father, that He had lost none of those who had been given to Him by the Father, except Judas, but that was predicted and determined by the Father to take place. The disciples were equally committed to Jesus. They lived with him, traveled with him, suffered with Him, and died because of Him.
As disciples, Jesus has a tremendous commitment to you, he says that he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:15) But He calls the shots. He says you must deny yourself, he says that you must die to live, you must be last to be first, you must wear a cross before a crown. The Command of the Disciples of Jesus
“And Jesus came and said to them, “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.” (Matt 2:18-20) What is Jesus calling us to in Matthew 28:18-20? Is this a command or is it a suggestion? Do we simply “evangelize” and leave the converts on their own? Do we teach believers, particularly new believers the precepts of the bible and the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ? Does being a disciple mean that I can show up on Sunday morning and participate in church, or does it require obedience and action on your part? Well, the passage at the end of Matthew is called the great commission. It could very well be called the great omission. This seems to be the main command Jesus gave His church and the one command that seems to be the most ignored. Chew on this a minute, this is the main reason for churches to exist, but how many churches do you know that actually teaches the basics of Christianity and then moves them deeper into the precepts of fellowship and the Word through all the challenges of life? Many churches may be “good” at evangelism. Many churches may be good at preaching, especially on the Lord’s Day. But now many actively develop their membership? What happens is a few believers longing for more than warmed over meals on the Lord’s Day, eventually end up developing and discipling themselves. Where discipleship is missing from a local church, most Christians will not understand how to live out their Christian life, and they are horribly cheated by their local church. Why? Because they will not be able to handle problems, they will not be able to handle temptations, they won’t be able to share the gospel, and most tragically they will not be able to grow spiritually. Why? There is no one to show them the way, no one to model for them. We have become adept at warehousing Christians. We store them in the pew. There they sit week after week after week after week. Being a disciple is more than just “asking Jesus into your heart”, it goes far beyond that. Our election, calling, regeneration, conversion is just the entrance if you would into the Christian life. It would be like joining a club and never going to the club. The average church encourages people to accept Christ, get baptized and then join a Sunday school class or small group. But Sunday classes and most small groups are dispensers of information and not vehicles for discipleship. Sadly, the church as a whole has left the new believer to figure it out on their own. Some believers give up, others become confused, most just stay infants who celebrate their attachment to their heavenly Father and they never mature. The church is called to make disciples. Again, it is our chief duty, but it is also the chief neglected duty. Why is that? We will consider this next Friday as we consider the Gospel Driven Disciple.

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