Skip to content

Category: Sermons

Unguarded Discipleship

Have you ever wondered why you’re still here? I’ve often thought “Wouldn’t it be nicer if God would just teleport us to heaven the moment we accepted him as our Saviour?” We could be done with sin once for all and we could immediately enjoy the wonders of being with our Creator. That would be way better than staying here on this sin-soaked planet – enduring the pain and the hardships of life.

The Apostle Paul wrestled with this very thought of how it would be better to go and be with the Lord, but at the same time, he knew that God had a purpose for him to remain. He writes in his letter to the Philippians:

I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. 25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. Philippians 1:20-25

Paul recognized that he had a job to do. He had a purpose on this planet – and that was to make disciples – in Paul’s words, his job was “to help people grow and experience the joy of their faith.”

And our job is no different. We read in Matthew 28:18-20:

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

God has chosen for us to be part of his plan of redemption. We are to be his messengers of this Good News. We are to be disciples who make disciples.

Last week we defined a disciple as:

One who is following Jesus, is being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus.

Those three elements are key to true discipleship. And the big question that we’ve been trying to tackle for the last several weeks is: how do we become and how do we make those kind of disciples as Jesus commanded us?

If that’s one of the main tasks that Jesus has given us to do, if that’s a major reason why we are still on this planet, then how do we do that effectively? How, in 2017 here in Canada, do we make disciples who are following Jesus, are being changed by Jesus, and are committed to the mission of Jesus?

Well, the Bible doesn’t give us a checklist to follow or a no-fail formula for disciple making – but it does give us all kinds of examples in the New Testament and in the old, of people making disciples – helping others trust and follow God.

And so for this message series, we’ve categorized those examples into 5 different contexts. These are five types of relationships in the Bible where we can see discipleship happening.

And so far we’ve looked at the public context, the social context, and the personal context.

And I don’t want to take too long to give you a full recap, but here are the keys points for those three contexts so far.

  • In the public context, disciples can be made in a crowd through teaching, preaching, and inspiration. A good modern example of this would be the Sunday Morning service. It is here that we are we are motivated, persuaded, encouraged, influenced, moved, stirred, spurred on, energized, and awakened in our journey with Jesus.
  • In the social context, Christianity is caught, more-so than taught as we see first hand from others what it looks like to follow Jesus. This sort of discipleship happens within a community – usually 20-70 people. For us this would include many of our church functions outside of the Sunday service – such as backyard BBQs or serving together in the town’s Fall Festival or our Mother’s Day brunch.
  • Then last week we looked at the personal context. If, in the public context we can be discipled by strangers, and in the social context by acquaintances, then in the personal context, we are discipled by friends who support and challenge us. These family-like relationships allow us to practice things like forgiveness and mercy and patience and all that other good stuff as we learn to love others like Jesus did. This is the kind of discipleship that happens in families or small groups of 4-12 people.

And now today we want to look at a fourth context – the Transparent Context.

Leave a Comment

Discipleship in a Family

16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him. Mark 1:16-18

Over the past several weeks, we’ve defined discipleship as the process of helping people trust and follow Jesus. We drew that definition out of the great commission in Matthew 28, where Jesus instructed his disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them and teaching to obey all that Jesus had taught. So as we looked at that passage, we came to the conclusion that discipleship is all about helping people trust and follow Jesus.

But now this morning, I want to give you another definition. We’ve defined: what is discipleship? But now I want to define: what is a disciple? And I realize there is certainly going to be come overlap in these two definitions – but I think this will help us gain a clearer picture of what a disciple actually is. And based on this passage that we just read, this is the definition I would give you.

“A disciple is following Jesus, is being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus.”

I think those three elements are key aspects of true discipleship.

  1. A disciple follows Jesus – we talked about that when we defined discipleship. It starts with trust – because only when we trust Him, that will we follow Him. That’s why discipleship is helping people trust and follow Jesus.
  2. A disciple is being changed by Jesus. In the NLT translation, Jesus says “I will show you how to fish for people” – but the more literal translations of that passage make it a bit clearer that Jesus is inviting them to be changed. The ESV says “I will make you fishers of men.” And the NET says “I will turn you into fishers of people.” So there’s clearly a process of change here. That’s important for us to remember as we think about out own discipleship today. We can’t stay the same as we follow Jesus. If we’re not changing, we’re probably not following.
  3. A disciple is committed to the mission of Jesus. Jesus is inviting us to do exactly what he is doing. Our mission is his mission – and that is to make fishers of men. To make disciples who will make disciple who will make disciples.

And so if we are a disciple of Jesus – those three things are happening. We are following Jesus, we are being changed by Jesus, and we are committed to the mission of Jesus.

Now I realize that I’ve pretty much just given you an entire sermon super condensed into one minute – I probably should have taken a whole message to work through all that – but I wanted to give you that definition as we begin to look at the next context of discipleship.

If you’re just joining us today, are a mid-way through a series of messages called “Discipleship that Fits”. We recognize that Jesus has called us to be disciples and to make disciples, but we’re not always sure exactly how to do that. And because our world and our culture and our circumstances are different from Jesus’ – we can’t mimic Jesus exactly in how he made disciples. We sure can’t walk on water or raise people from the dead or have 12 men follow us around everywhere. But we can certainly learn the patterns and and principles that Jesus used in the discipleship process and apply to them to our own unique situations today.

And so we’ve been looking at the five contexts where Jesus made disciples. These are the five kinds of relationships that Jesus had where discipleship happened.

So far we’ve looked a the public context and the social context. And now today, we’re going to look at the personal context.

So just to give you a quick recap – the public context is typically when we are gathered in groups of 100 or more. Examples of Jesus making disciples in this context would be when he preached to the crowds, or did miracles in the marketplaces or on the mountainside – or all the parables that Jesus told. Certainly that played a part in helping many people trust and follow Jesus. A good example of our modern equivalent would be the Sunday morning worship service where we gather to hear preaching and teaching as well as to share stories with one another of how God is at work in our lives. That too, helps people in a significant way to trust and follow Jesus.

Then last week we looked the social context – that’s more like a group of 20-70. We were reminded of all the dinner parties that Jesus attended and how he used that social context to live out the lessons that he wanted people to learn. If the public context is where Christianity is taught – the social context is where Christianity is caught. We’re not just hearing how to be a disciple – we’re seeing an example right in front of us – we might even be participating in that example. And so for a church, the social context includes everything from kids clubs to potlucks to helping at the Fall Festival to Survivor Parties – And in all these gatherings, we (and everyone else there) gets the opportunity to see how Christians live. We get to live out all those one another commandments – like “serve one another”, “have compassion on one another”, “forgive one another” – “encourage one another.” All of this helps us learn to do by doing. We get to participate in the lesson.

And now today, we’re going to take that one step further – one level deeper – as we look at the personal context.

Leave a Comment

Discipleship in Community

For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at our mission as followers of Jesus Christ to be and to make disciples. And I know this isn’t the first time most of us have looked at this issue of discipleship. I think most of us understand that one of our main goals as his followers, is to help people trust and follow Jesus. I mean, Jesus’ command to his original followers makes our objective pretty clear. Matthew 28:18 says…

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

So the objective is pretty clear, but what’s not as clear, is exactly how we are supposed to do that. The end goal is pretty obvious – the “how to get there” is not so specific.

And so to find the “how”, we’ve been looking at the Biblical patterns and the models for discipleship. How did Jesus do it? How did the early church do it? How did Paul & Timothy and all those guys do it? How did they do it back in the Old Testament? And how can we do it today?

How do we help people trust and follow Jesus?

Well, we’ve found that discipleship happens in five different contexts. There are five types of relationships that all contribute to the disciple-making process.

We’ve identified these contexts as the public context, the social context, the personal context, the transparent context, and the divine context. And of course, we’re not going to find a verse that lists these five contexts for making disciple – but throughout the Bible we can see that God uses these 5 different contexts to help people trust and follow Him.

And so our goal for these next few weeks is to understand how God works in these contexts so that we can maximize our efforts in our own discipleship and in the discipleship of others.

Last week we looked at the public context. And the public context is defined as 100s of people gathering together around a shared resource – this could be thousands of fans at football game or a hundred people on a flight to Edmonton, or a youtube video seen by millions or what the church is most commonly known for – a bunch of people gathering for the Sunday morning worship service.

And we discovered that the public context really isn’t well suited for building personal relationships, but it is well suited to conveying information and sharing stories with large groups of people. Jesus certainly made use of this context as he preached to the crowds and did miracles and told parables. That was all done in groups of 100s or 1000s and it was certainly significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And so following that pattern, we determined that the Sunday morning service can be a place where people experience inspiration to keep serving Jesus – We are motivated, persuaded, encouraged, influenced, moved, stirred, spurred on, energized, and awakened. We also get a sense of movementum (That’s movement and momentum jammed together) as we see that God is at work all around us. And then, through preaching and teaching, we are reminded that everything revolves around God – this is ultimately His story and we get to be a part of it.

And so certainly the public context can be very significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus. But of course, that can’t be the only context. We would miss out on so much if that was the only place where we were discipled. And as we are going to discover today, we would have a really hard time making new disciples if that was the only context where we contributed to the discipleship of others.

And so on that note, today we are going to look at the social context.

Leave a Comment

Discipleship in a Crowd

“Helping People Trust & Follow Jesus”

That was one of our main lessons from last week and it was based on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We summed up the main ideas in this passage and ended up with this easy-to-remember statement about what discipleship is all about: helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And we brought up this whole topic of discipleship, not because this is some crazy, new idea that we should make disciples. I think most of us are well aware that Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. That’s one of our main purposes in this life as Christians. To be a disciple of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus – or as we’ve defined discipleship here, to help people trust and follow Jesus.

And so we’re not bringing this up because we didn’t know that we’re supposed to make disciples. But rather, we’re bring this up because I think a lot of us don’t know how to make disciples. I think we want to make disciples – we want to help people trust and follow Jesus – but we’re just not sure how.

Obviously being a disciple of Jesus means doing what Jesus did – but we can’t replicate everything that Jesus did. We can’t walk on water, we can’t give sight to the blind or bring people back to life. And even if we leave out the miracles, I’m not sure we’re in a position where we can have 12 grown men following us around everywhere – living life with us. All that stuff seemed to work really well for Jesus as he made disciples, but I don’t think that’s what he expects of us today.

So somehow, we’ve got to learn the principles behind what Jesus did so that we can live out those principles in our current context. We’ve got to find a discipleship model that fits.

Leave a Comment

What is Discipleship?

This video was certainly made to make a point – but I like it mostly because it asks a really good question. They frame it in different ways, but really, the bottom line of what they’re asking is “What does it look like to make disciples?”

Does it look like a big building and lots of programs? Does it look like a soup kitchen or a Bible study? Are disciples made in a Sunday morning service or over coffee at Tim Hortons?

And furthermore, how are you and I supposed to be involved in the whole process? What is our own discipleship look like? Is it faithfully attending church every Sunday? Is it signing up for a small group Bible study? Is it going for coffee with a mentor every second Wednesday?

What does it look like to be a disciple? And what does it look like to make disciples?

Because that really is the core of what Jesus has called us to do. I think that’s the main reason why we are still on this planet. We are called both to be disciples and to make disciples.

So exactly what does that look like?

Two Sundays ago, we baptized Allison and Lisa – and they declared in front of all of us by being baptized, that they desire to be a disciple of Jesus. And I know that many of you have made that same declaration – either through public baptism or through just your own personal resolution.

So what do we need to do? What do Lisa and Allison need to do now – to be disciples of Jesus Christ? How does that actually play out in their lives? How does that all play out in our lives?

Well, it’s those questions that are exactly I want to explore in the next few weeks as we look at “Discipleship that Fits”. 

I think most of us would agree that Jesus calls us to make disciples. I think we’ve heard that often enough. But I think we struggle with figuring out exactly how we do that. In fact, I’d argue that many of us struggle just to understand what it really means to be a disciple.

So to help us work through all this, here’s my plan for the next several weeks. First of all, I want to bring some clarity to what it means to be a disciple – that’ll be my main focus for this week. But then, in the weeks to follow, I want to look at some practical ways for us to be discipled and to make disciples within five different contexts of life.

And I’ll explain all that a little later – but my framework for these messages is coming from a book I read some time ago called ‘Discipleship that Fits’ and I’ll be borrowing quite a bit of my content from those pages. Don’t worry – the Bible is still very much the foundation for everything I’m going to say, but this book has just helped me organize my presentation of those Biblical truths. You’re welcome to read the book yourself – it’s a pretty easy read and of course, is very Biblically based.

So in order to clarify exactly, what is a disciple, I think perhaps the best place to start is with the great commission. This is the passage where Jesus’ original disciples are directly commanded to go and make disciples. It’s found in Matthew 28 – starting at verse 18. To give you the context of this passage, Jesus has just risen from the dead, he has appeared to his disciples, and he’s about to return to his Father in Heaven. And so Matthew is about to conclude his whole account of Jesus’ life on earth with these final sentences from Jesus. This is what it says:

Leave a Comment