Today I would like to speak to you about how to be a disciple. Are we disciples? Well, we should be. Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, Who call all the original disciples, and Who calls all of us today. I'm not sure that the McDonald Road Church is doing all that we ought to be doing. We are Seventh-day Adventist Christians. We have added many hundreds of members to our church and we've baptized many but Jesus did not send us to baptize people. Jesus did not send us to add to the church. Jesus sent us to make disciples. This is the great commission, the gospel commission.
Look over here in Matthew in the twenty-eighth chapter in your Bible, and the last two verses of Matthew. Jesus didn't assign His precious gospel to some advertising company or some billboard company. Jesus assigned His precious gospel to His disciples. He gave it to His Disciples. How many disciples were there? Well, you say, "There were twelve." Somebody else said there were 120. Actually Jesus wants 6.3 Billion living Disciples today. That's how many people there are. Matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." I checked with a very expert Greek professor, who is here today, and I said, "Is it true that there is only one imperative in verse 19?" And he said, "Yes, that's true." Do you know what the imperative is? It's the word, "make." (In the Nestle's Greek New Testament the word, mathetensate, is used, which means, "disciple ye," Make them disciples.) Go as in going. Go is not an imperative. We are implored to make disciples.
Now, what is a disciple? He's a learner, a pupil. There are four characteristics of a true disciple.
1 More than a Follower
If we look at 1 Corinthians 4:16 (KJV), we find another command. "Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me." (Some versions say, "imitators of me.") That's a command, isn't it. You might say the twelve disciples were followers of Jesus. But, they were much more than followers. That would only be partly true. Someone asked a professor about a younger man. "I hear he is one of your students." The teacher answered devastatingly, "He is NOT one of my students. He may have attended my lectures, but he is not a student of mine!" There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. It is one of the supreme handicaps of the church that in the church there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few real disciples of Jesus Christ. (William Barclay)
Jesus wants us to be disciples, not admirers. An admirer is the cheap edition of a disciple. An admirer stands along the path applauding. A disciple steps onto the path and follows and takes up the work of Jesus Christ. An admirer sits in the pew and enjoys. A disciple labors to fill the pews by doing the work of Jesus Christ. There is one church office each of us holds, and that is: "Disciple." We are called to be disciples.
2 A disciple will be like his Master.
Matthew 10:25 It is enough for the student (Disciple) to be like his Teacher. The disciple should be like his Teacher, like his Master. I read in Desire of Ages - EG White, p. 827, "Christ is sitting for His portrait in every disciple." If all you do is sit in the seat in the pew and listen you have missed true discipleship. Your goal is to be like your teacher. What you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God. What have you made of yourself? That's true discipleship.
3 A disciple shares the work of Jesus
Look a Matthew 11:29. Here's something wee don't often like to have. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Do you have a yoke? What is a yoke? How many of you think a yoke is a heavy burden? Really, it's not a heavy burden. A yoke is a wooden frame worn around the neck of a strong farm animal. It is not a burden to that animal. The animal has much more strength. It is just the opposite to the animal. A yoke makes the load lighter. If you were to hook up a heavy load to the ox without a yoke it would be unbearable to that animal. The plow chains would cut into the hide of that animal, it would choke that animal. A yoke is designed to eliminate pain, not cause pain. So, when Jesus says to "take My yoke upon you," this is something good. It's designed to eliminate pain and not cause pain. A yoke is just the opposite of an instrument of torture. In fact a yoke is an instrument of mercy given to us by Jesus Christ, our Savior. A yoke makes the work easier, and we must never speak of the yoke of Jesus in a negative sense.
The yoke is your job description. No, if you habitually refuse a church office for instance, you may be on your way out of the church. You're refusing the yoke. What office do you hold? Jesus came by twelve fishermen and He called everyone of them to leave their fishing poles and to become fishers of men. If you are currently unemployed in your church office or your Christian work, then you are not a disciple. When the church nominating committee calls, say yes. Volunteer for something. Take up your yoke.
4 A Disciple is Totally Committed to Jesus
Are you totally committed to Him? Wilbur Reese hit the nail on the head when he wrote: "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please . Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth. I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack."
A true disciple wants a deep and total and rich experience with Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 6:5; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Luke 14:33. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Have you ever said to the Lord, " You know, I was almost Your person today." I thought what it would be like if Jesus had done the same thing. What if Jesus would have said, "I was almost born for you. I almost lived for you. I almost died on the cross for you, but I changed My mind." Almost is not enough, is it. It takes total commitment. What would it have been like for Him to say, "Ask and it will almost be given to you. Seek and you will almost find. Knock and it will almost be opened to you. Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will almost give you rest." He didn't do that, did He.
Almost Christianity is void of discipleship. How many times have you played the game of being one of Jesus' "almost disciples." "I almost chose that office. They called me and said, "would you be willing to do..? I almost said, 'Yes.' I didn't do it, but I came close." How many times have you prayed almost believing? How many times have you walked through your days as if He were almost risen. We must walk our talk. It's time to be a total Christian. -- Tim Hansel, When I Relax I Feel Guilty, p. 51.
A disciple is totally committed to Jesus. That commitment keeps you going when things get tough. In fact when the going gets easy, you'd better check and see if you are going downhill. At one time, Daniel Webster was considered the greatest of all living Americans. He was outstanding as a statesman, lawyer, orator, and leader of men. Twenty-five national leaders attended a select banquet in his honor. One man at the banquet asked Mr. Webster, "Sir, what is the greatest thought that ever entered your mind?" Without hesitation, Webster replied, "The greatest thought that ever entered my mind was the thought of my responsibility to God." As he spoke, he wept, excused himself from the banquet, and went outside to get control of his emotions. When he returned he talked for thirty minutes about man's responsibility to God. - Carl G. Johnson, Ready for Anything, Bethany Fellowship Press.
We disciples have an awesome responsibility to our Creator. Considering God's ultimate investment in us, what is he getting in return? Hopefully more than my checking account which barely averages 1/3 of 1 percent in interest.
God wants all of us, or none of us. Are you totally committed to Jesus? "When Cortez landed at Vera Cruz in 1519 to begin his conquest of Mexico with small force of 700 men, he purposely set fire to his fleet of 11 ships. His men on the shore watched their only means of retreat sinking to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. With no means of retreat had gone up in smoke. There was only one direction to move: forward into the Mexican interior to meet whatever might come their way. In paying the price for being Christ's disciple, you too must purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat. You need to rid yourself of that thing that enables you to slip back to your bad habit and slip into sin. Get rid of that thing. Burn it up! Torch it! Resolve to pay whatever the price is for being a follower of Jesus Christ. - Walter Henricksen, Disciples Are Made -- Not Born
. 5- The Disciple Pays the Cost
What is the true cost? If you want to be a disciple of Jesus it will cost you everything you have. Luke 18:22 (KJV) Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." Did the rich young ruler do that? No! Would it have impoverished the young man? He would have been richer, wouldn't he. His treasure would have been in heaven instead of here, but he would have had treasure, treasure that could not be taken away.
If you look at discipleship another way... "It never has cost any disciple anything to follow Jesus. To talk about cost when you are in love with someone is an insult." - Oswald Chambers
When you give everything you have and follow Jesus, you have more than you had before. Each Christian either bears a cross or a crown. Until we take up our cross we will flaunt our crown. We want to wear the crown but we demand that Jesus wear our cross. We want a clean gospel. If there is blood we want Him to do the bleeding. If there is pain we want Him to suffer. Thus we never grow up and mature into strong Spiritual giants. Unfortunately we backslide into tiny sterile spiritual dwarves unable to reproduce more disciples.
Jesus has many lovers of the heavenly crown but few bearers of his cross. Matthew 16:24. Then said Jesus to His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." Jesus has many desirous of exultation but few of tribulation. He finds many companions at his table, but few are followers of his abstinence. Many want to share with Jesus at the breaking of bread, but few at the drinking of the cup. Many reverence his miracles but detest the times of His silence. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities befall them. Many bless him so long as they receive blessings from him. (Adapted from Thomas Kempis)
6- The disciple is a servant
Matthew 10:25 (KJV). "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." We are to be servants, aren't we. We're to be like Jesus, and we're to be servants of Jesus. There is very little blessing or reward in serving the Lord conveniently.
Modern worship in our time has been infiltrated by the tourist mind set. Worship is understood as a visit to an attractive, friendly location. If it isn't we stay at home. It is to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church. For others, there will be occasional visits to special services. We are becoming religious tourists.
Some, with a bent for Christian entertainment and sacred diversion will attend if there is celebration and there's a lot of hoopla and if there's entertainment. The more unorthodox the better. They plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We will go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so, somehow, expand our otherwise humdrum lives. We'll try anything new -- until something else comes along. Too many of us are fast becoming spiritual tourists at the religious strip malls of life.
What God wants are hardened disciples willing to do the work of Jesus, to stay put rather than run away. Willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work of the Lord. A disciple is a willing servant.
Wherever you are, you can do God's work. You don't have to go over there and be entertained. You can do His work right here.
6 A True Disciple Abides in the Word.
John 8:31, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. You're going to hold to His teaching. You're going to know His teaching. You're going to read His teaching. You're going to saturate yourself with the Word of God. A true Disciple has a deep personal study time in the precious Word of God. Its words are your soul vitamins.
7 A True Disciple Loves Like Jesus Loves
John 13:35, By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." "If you love one another then they will know that you're My disciples." If you can't stand the saints, you might not be a disciple. If you can't stand sinners you might not be a disciple. Let's be friendly and loving. I almost wept when I got an E-mail this week. I get a lot of spam. I need to teach my computer worms to eat my spam. I did get an email this week that said, "Pastor Gettys, I really enjoyed the visit to your church. We were here last Sabbath. The preaching was great. The music was great. The Sabbath School was great. But what I found disheartening was the fact that nobody came out and welcomed us. Even the people sitting around us did not welcome us." That's just unfortunate. We want to be a friendly church. We want to love people. You want people to love you, speak to somebody. Speak to a bunch of somebodies. Let them know they're welcome. Share the love of Jesus with them. A true disciple loves like Jesus loves.
8 A True Disciple Bears Much Fruit
This is our last point this morning. John 15:8, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. A disciple bares fruit. A disciple makes other disciples. This is not an option. It is a byproduct of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. How do we make more disciples? John 15:1-8 ... by being connected to the vine. Like grapes.
One of our members raises grapes. How do those grapes grow? They do what is recorded in the first eight verses of John 15. They are being connected to the vine. That's how you produce fruit. Most churches grow by osmosis. If we are not Making more disciples we are dying or dead. You're not one of His disciples unless you're making some. That's the fruit of your ministry. Many of our churches have been in a spiritual coma for 25 years with no Baptisms. A church like that needs a living will. They need someone to pull the plug. Either prune that vine or root that thing out, and plant another one. We need to be making disciples for Jesus Christ.
"If you want to remain a full-orbed grape," Oswald Chambers said, " you must keep out of God's hands for he will crush you. The liquid fruit of the vine cannot be had in any other way." Put yourself in God's hands. He might crush you, but the result will be wonderful."
"Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have." Billy Graham. Are you a disciple, or are you a pew-warmer? Are you a free-loader, are you a spiritual hitch-hiker? Give your best to the Master. Give your really best to Jesus Christ.
Hymn of Praise: #15, My Maker and My King Scripture: Matthew 28:19, 20 Hymn of Response: #572, Give of Your Best to the Master 04013#547
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last updated 4/12/04 by Bob Beckett.