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Disciple Maker

Listen Here!

    This morning we’re going to continue to talk about what it means to be a disciple of Christ Jesus, but before we do that, I want to tell you a story. Well, actually, I’m going to tell you the beginning of a story and then I’ll tell you the middle in the middle of my message, and I’ll tell you the ending of the story closer to the end of my message.
    So, we have made this decision as a church that we’re going to pursue discipleship. We want to be better disciples of Jesus and we want to be better about making disciples of Jesus. So, imagine my excitement when Jonny came home from the store and talked about an opportunity to sit down with a young lady and talk to her about Jesus! After all, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, right, making disciples?
    Now, as I understood, she seemed to be a Christian, but had some misinformation and misconceptions about the church, and so I thought it was important as a fellow believer who maybe was a little more mature in my faith, to sit down and talk to her and see if we could help her hammer out some of those misconceptions. Jonny set up a meeting with her at a coffee place last Wednesday, and we were excited about getting to meet with her.
    I’m going to pause the story right there, and if you already know how it ends…just be patient.
    We’re going to talk about Matthew 28:19-20 today, because it was these two verses that spurred me on to look for opportunities to talk about a relationship with Jesus with other people, including this young woman. See, I’m really not that comfortable talking to strangers about Jesus. That might surprise you, since I’m the pastor, but I really have social anxiety about striking up a conversation with someone I don’t know and going straight to the Jesus conversation.
    It seems not genuine to me to have the first thing that’s brought up when you first meet someone be how to have a relationship with Jesus. I think people will care more about what you are saying to them if you have some sort of relationship with them.
    So, this meeting with this young woman was a little out of my comfort zone, but I had been praying about opportunities to disciple people, so we took the opportunity. The point of this is that if we’re serious about making disciples and being better disciples, the Spirit is going to call us out of our comfort zones. We talked last week about the cost of following Christ, that it’s steep and requires sacrifice. I challenged you through a few questions to consider what you might be asked to sacrifice for the sake of following Jesus. Comfort is probably one of those things.
    Let’s look at Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    You’ll see in your sermon notes that you have two blanks to fill in for these verses. The first is DISCIPLES and the second is TEACHING.
    It’s a simple command, right? Go and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to be disciples. We know though, that sometimes even doing the simplest things can be complicated and not so simple.
    So, let’s break this down into two parts, the command to baptize, and the command to go and teach.
    We have a tendency in the church in America to not put an emphasis on baptism, for any number of reasons. However, it’s given here as one of the things that true disciples of Jesus should be doing when they make disciples, so it must be important!
    I want us to consider baptism from the viewpoint of a first century Christian. Shortly after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, being a Christian became punishable by death. Christians were hunted down. They were so highly sought after that they started making up symbols, like the ichthus symbol we have on all of our bumpers, the little fish, that they could use to identify themselves as believers to other believers without giving themselves away to the government that wanted them dead.
    Baptism was public, and it was a public declaration of allegiance to Jesus. Because it was a public declaration, they were marking themselves as potential martyrs. They counted the cost, and even though they knew that following Jesus might end in death, they followed Him anyway, and were obedient to His command to be baptized!
    Baptism was a big deal to them! Baptism should be a big deal to us, too!
    Here’s the next blank for your sermon notes. Baptism is a declaration that your LIFE, identity, and priorities are centered on Jesus and His mission.
    One of the questions I’ll ask you to answer this week is: Have you identified yourself with Jesus through being baptized? It was clearly an important act for New Testament believers, and it was important enough to Jesus that He was baptized, and important enough to Him that He told us to do it, too. If you have been baptized, I want you to think about why it was an important step for you to take? If you haven’t been baptized, I want you to think about what is holding you back from being baptized?
    For the first-fourth century Christians, they knew they would be hated, hunted, possibly even killed. Jesus assures us that becoming His disciples, His followers, will basically paint a target on our backs. He told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20).
    Baptize is just one part of Jesus’s commission to us, though. The other two parts are go make disciples, and teach them to be disciples.
    Let me tell you more of my story about meeting with this young woman for coffee on Wednesday. Jonny and I get into the coffee place and we go to order something to drink and he sees the young woman we’re supposed to meet with. Then Jonny says, “Hmm, I didn’t know she was going to bring someone.”
    I look over and sure enough, she’s brought two people with her: a man and another woman. Now, I’m still hopeful. I’m still thinking, “Okay, maybe she just brought some friends with her because she’s a young woman alone in Albuquerque, trying to be safe while she’s meeting some strangers at a coffee place.”
    But as we sit down and start talking, it becomes very clear to me very quickly that this isn’t just sitting down with a young woman who has some unsure ideas about the Bible. The man that she had brought with her, who turned out to be a missionary from her church, is a trained professional. You know the kind that come to your door from other religions and want to talk to you about the “true” Word of God? I realize that this guy has been taught a script, he’s been taught exactly what to say, and he has everything that he needs to “teach” us memorized in such an order as to build the case that he was going to present.
    After realizing that this was not just a friendly little Bible discussion over coffee, I changed my approach. See, they want to talk about who the Bride of Christ is, and I have to admit, that though I know the Bride of Christ is the church and I know that there are Scriptures that talk about this, I’ve never done an in-depth study to be able to counter someone who has memorized a script about this. So, I decide I’m just going to listen intently and take notes about what he’s saying. I want to make sure that I understand what he’s saying so I can go back later and research the passages he’s brought up and figure out what those passages are really saying.
    I listened to his whole planned speech and I definitely had some objections and questions, but as I said, I wanted to research the Bible more. So, I told them I wanted more time to pray and look into the passages he talked about. I said I wanted to read the context of the passages to see what was going on in those passages. And he told me, “Well, it’s right there.”
    As I said, the command to baptize is just one of the parts of Jesus’s commission to us. The other two parts are go make disciples, and teach them to be disciples. We’re going to look at these two parts together because they both involve the process of disciple making. We understand that once we see a person come to Christ and receive salvation and eternal life through Him, that’s not the end of their journey, it’s the beginning, and we have a responsibility to then be a part of that person’s growth in the Lord.
    Let’s reread Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    The commission to make disciples is one that is given to all. However, usually the church as a whole, not just us, but most churches, have come to think that the job of making disciples is the role of ministers: pastors, missionaries, evangelists, maybe even Bible study teachers. And for some reason in the church, the rest of the body, the majority of the church, has stepped back from the job of making disciples.
    It’s easy to come up with valid excuses as to why we can’t make disciples. For me, the idea of meeting strangers in a coffeehouse, as I’ve said, is uncomfortable. It gives me social anxiety. Maybe you’ve come to believe that you just have too much on your plate right now and you don’t have the time to meet with someone, even someone you know, to disciple them. Maybe you’ve come to believe that you just don’t know enough about the Bible to disciple someone. Maybe you think you’ve got too many issues in your own life that need to be sorted out first before you can disciple someone.
    These excuses we come up with aren’t necessarily untrue. Maybe you are uncomfortable talking to people about Jesus. Maybe you really do have a lot going on right now. Maybe you really don’t know much about the Bible. Maybe you do have a lot of personal issues you need to work through.
    Let’s look at Luke 9:57-62 real quick to see what Jesus thought about our excuses, “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
    Jesus didn’t think very highly about excuses that were given to Him to not follow Him completely. While our excuses may seem like good excuses to us, to Jesus, they just don’t hold any weight.
    I want us to look at Ephesians 4:11-16 real quick. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
    I’ve said that the church as a whole usually puts the job of making disciples into the hands of only pastors, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists. But you can see here, Paul says that the job of those persons is actually to equip the saints for works of service, and to build up the body—all of this with the goal of becoming mature Christians and to grow in ways into Christ. See, it is actually not only the job of pastors, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists to make disciples.
    It is the command from Jesus to every single believer to make disciples. Now, as you can see from my story, even I was stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to this young lady, and I was absolutely blindsided when she brought other people, and even more blindsided when the guy she brought was this brainwashed, trained professional. But I can’t make excuses. WE can’t make excuses.
    Here’s the encouraging thing about our call to make disciples: God has given us everything we need to make disciples, and will give us what we need to do it well. Hear what Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” He has created you to do His good works, and one of those works is making disciples!
    Here’s the other encouraging thing about our call to make disciples: we are not alone in making disciples. God has given us a whole group of people to partner with to make disciples. The passage we read from Ephesians 4 says that we are all a part of the body of Christ, and only through each part doing its job can we be built up to be the body God wants us to be. We need to work with each other to make disciples, which is good because it’s so much harder to do things alone.
    So, I want to do two things to close. I want to tell you the rest of my story, and I want to challenge you with some questions to answer this week.
    After Jonny and I left the coffeehouse, I went home and started researching the church that these people said they went to. I had already been thinking through how what they believed about the Bride of Christ was incorrect, but I wanted to fully understand their position on it before I started looking through Scripture. I found the church’s website and after just a few minutes of reading I discovered that Jonny and I had had coffee with members of a cult!
    So, you don’t know what opportunities will arise when you start to pray for a look for opportunities to make disciples, but I guarantee, God will give you what you need and you are not alone!
    Here are the three questions I want you to answer and consider this week:

1. Have you identified yourself with Jesus through being baptized? If so, why do you think this was an important step for you to take? If not, what is holding you back from being baptized?
2. What excuses tend to keep you from following Jesus’s command to make disciples? What do you need to do in order to move past these excuses?
3. Whom has God placed in your life right now that you can begin making into a disciple of Jesus Christ? Whom has God placed in your life for you to partner with in making disciples?

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