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Reality check about discipleship

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1 Peter 2:19-25

You’re not coming to hear me you’re coming to hear what God says through me, from His Word.  I believe that when God’s Word is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit that something happens that is certainly beyond the human instrument.  I believe that God shows up, powerfully, and penetrates the heart of the listener through His own commitment to His Word.  God says in Isaiah that; so shall my Word be that goes fourth from my mouth it will not return to me, empty, but will accomplish the purposes for which I send it forth.  So we pray that every opportunity given the purposes for which God’s Word is being sent fourth will be accomplished in people’s lives. 

 1 Peter, chapter 2, we’re going to only look at a little portion.  The title of the message is Reality check about Discipleship.  Starting at verse 19, it says; 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  (And speaking of Jesus, it says) 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

 

Verse 24-25

Notice, especially then, verses 24 and 25; 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  The subject is the very subject matter that is on the very center of the heart of Christ for His church.  And we’re going to get a reality check about Discipleship as that’s what is really being called for in the closing verses of 1 Peter, Chapter 2.

Jesus says; follow me…Disciple

Reality Check about Discipleship; do you realize that from the very first moments of Jesus ministry, discipleship was on His mind?  Do you remember when he went to those fishermen; do you remember what His words were?  He said to them; follow me, follow me.  Then he went to a tax collector; follow me.  In fact that’s the essence of what it means to be a mathetes (ma-thae-tase) a disciple; it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is what we are called to do, 19 times in the New Testament, we see this words; follow me,  follow me, follow me…Jesus said for example in Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  This is what we’re called to do; to be the followers, the disciples of Jesus Christ.  Well, it really doesn’t really matter what else you’re getting done, if your not getting that thing done you’re not getting the thing done that Christ has called us to be.  His Disciples, His followers, those who imitate Christ and live like Christ. 

 

5 things Christians do instead of following Christ

Well, you say to me, well, aren’t all Christians doing that?   I made this list; five things Christians do instead of following Christ.  OK, see if you recognize yourself on this list.  It’s easy to get caught up and lose the main thing and isn’t it important that the main thing remains the main thing?  Someone said; that is the main thing that the main thing remains the main thing.  The main thing is discipleship, discipleship…following Jesus Christ.  Five things Christians do instead of following Christ;

1 They critique the world…That’s all I do, man, it stinks out there and these people in this world are lame, and they are evil and it’s wrong what they are doing and Christians spend there whole life, as it were, just sort of lamenting and critiquing the world.  Now listen, God has not called us to shout at the darkness, God has called us to shine as the light.  And those two things are not the same things.  Yet, so many Christians are sidetracked into critiquing the world.  Oh, here’s another one.  Some Christians, not critiquing the world, but….

2 Exposing error in the church.  Some Christians that’s their whole thing and they just go from church to church to church and this is wrong and that’s wrong and no one is doing it right and, boy if more Christians were more like me, and what’s wrong with that church over there and now you’re here and you like us for a while and you’ll figure out that we’re stupid too and on you’re going to go to something else and just critiquing everything, all the time, church stinks!  Some people do that instead of following Christ. 

 

Theodore Roosevelt at dedication of the Panama Canal

I read this recently and it blessed me and I want to share it with you.  This is what Theodore Roosevelt said at the dedication of the Panama Canal about critics, apparently that work was put through.   The canal was built at great cost of life and great criticism.  Roosevelt said this; Why gentlemen, there has never been a great feat done yet that there were not some evil men, small enough and foolish enough to wish to try to interfere with it and sneer at those who were actually doing the work. From time to time, little men will come along to find fault with you, what you have done, what you have said, something could have been done better, there’s been some mistake, some short coming, things are not are really managed in the best of all ways, in the best of all worlds; they will have their say and they will go down stream like little bubbles.  They will vanish but the work you have done will remain for the ages.  It is the man who does the job that counts - not the little scolding critics who thinks how it ought to have been done.  What a good word that is. 

That’s not living the Christian life, just critiquing everything else.  Nothing will be perfect this side of heaven…amen.  All right, critiquing the world, some who are exposing error in the church…now watch this because we say that being a disciple is worshipping Christ, walking with Christ and working with Christ.  Amen.  Those are the three things, we’re tying to get those three things done, are you trying to get those three things done?  I’m trying to get those three things done.  But here’s what happens when you leave one of them out; some people they’re all about worshipping Christ.  Five things Christians do instead of following Christ;

3  Number three; some are just experiencing God.  I’m just experiencing God, that’s all I’m doing, I’m living Him, I’m just reveling in His love as I’m so blessed by His grace…I’m just worshipping God.  Now listen; worshipping is important all right, but self is not the focus of the Christian life, it’s not me and my experience with God, that’s not discipleship; it’s not the whole thing.  Some people, forth answer…five things Christians do instead of following Christ…

4  They want to relieve human suffering by working with Christ…they want to work for Christ.  Now that’s important, that’s very important, that’s on Jesus heart that we would work to feed the poor and relieve the suffering of the world.  But listen, the Christian life is not all about working for Christ and your discipleship is insufficient if that’s all you do; just work, work, work, work, work for Christ. 

5  All about their walk.  Fifth thing Christians do instead of following Christ; these are the ones that focus exclusively, not on worship or on work, some people are just all about that walk…my walk with God so the fifth thing I wrote down is simply; Learning the Bible.  I’m all about learning the Bible, I’m mastering this book, I’m learning this book, I’m going to learn everything there for me to know in this book.  But listen, I don’t think it’s exactly a news flash that I’m about learning the Bible, amen?  All right, but listen, learning the Bible, as an end in itself, is not discipleship.  We want to learn things so that we can do the things the Word of God says.  This is what we’re called to, as Disciples. 

All right, back to 1 Peter then and let’s see the three thought that Peter shares with us about what Discipleship really is. 

 

Cost of dicpleship #1 Redemption…Jesus on the Cross Pain for our sins

The first thing he talks about is the cost of discipleship.  The cost of discipleship was redemption and it’s just important for you to know that Jesus Christ wants you to be his follower.  Now I came all the way over here just to tell you that Jesus Christ wants you to be His follower.  He wants that and He wants that so much.  And listen, you need to know that there’s been an incredible price that has been paid so that you can be a follower of the King of the universe.  All right, and that cost is called redemption.  Notice what he says; first of all…24 He himself… bore our sins…I’m just taking it a word at a time, are you with me?  All right, He Himself…the Greek there is an emphatic personalization, Jesus did this willingly. 

Jesus went to the cross willingly

Do you know that when Jesus went to the cross he didn’t go under coercion, no one pressured Him, things didn’t get out of control, this wasn’t a train wreck…Oh He’s on the cross, what are we going to do now?  All right; He Himself, Peter says, under the inspiration of the Spirit, He Himself bore our sins.  He willed it; He wanted it…in fact Matthew 1:21 says; call his name Jesus, why?  Because He’ll save His people from their sins.  I mean this was in the mouths of the angels before He ever came to the earth. Call His name Jesus, He’ll go to the cross, He’ll die as a substitutionary payment for the sins of the world. 

Bore

Notice then; 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins…that word, bore there is the idea of carrying a heavy weight.  It’s a picture of  the Old Testament sacrifice, actually, and it’s a picture of when the priest would come up to the alter and they would carry the animal sacrifice up and lay it up on the alter and take out a knife and kill the lamb and spill the blood as payment of sin.  The idea is that Jesus carried our sin, the weight of our sin, unto the cross. 

Substitutionary atonement

Time for some doctrine…if you don’t know these two words, you ought to know them.  Your very eternity hangs on these two words, jot them down; substitutionary, atonement.  This is the central message of the New Testament and this is what Liberal churches do not understand, this is what the world scoffs at, this is what false religions don’t grasp; the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.  Do you know what it is?  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, He became sins for us, who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in HimColossians 2:13 says the very same thing; And you were dead in your trespasses but God made you alive in Him and having forgiven all of our trespasses, canceling out the debt that stood against us.  This He set aside, nailing it to the tree, nailing it to the crossThis is the Gospel in two words; Substitutionary Atonement…this is the Gospel in four words; Jesus…in… my… place.  Jesus died for me, I should have gone to the cross, I should have died and paid the penalty for my sins, why did He do that?  Romans 5:8 -  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Died for us, died in our place…back to 1 Peter 2:24, He himself bore our sins…you might just write in the margin there of your Bible; substitutionary atonement.  If your not sure just put (s-u-b-t-period) we’ll know what you meant.  Substitutionary Atonement, He Himself bore our sin, bore our sins, do you see the gospel there? 

In His body…on the tree

And then notice in his body, in his own body…his betrayal, his false condemnation, his scourging, His road to the cross, on the cross itself as he says there; in his body on the tree.  On the tree, the cross was made of wood, it’s sort of a poetic way of saying that.  It’s an amazing thing; the cost of redemption.  Do you know what redemption means?  It’s the idea of buying back.  You’re like; buy me back from where?  Buy you back from sin, man.  You belonged to sin, you were sold into sin, you were a slave to sin and Jesus was like; if I don’t and get him he’s going to go to hell to pay for his own sin.  And the Lord reached out to you, didn’t he?  And He drew you to himself and He redeemed you. 

He redeemed us

But why did he redeem you, and how did he redeem you?  Listen, listen, not with perishable things, the Bible says, but with imperishable things….the blood of Christ, the payment that was made so that our sins could be forgiven.  Now, that’s the cost of discipleship…that’s the message of the gospel….that’s the good news of Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  Do you understand that?  But listen, it’s not enough to just have it in your head, you have to come to a crisis of belief.  I want to talk about that second thing because that’s what he talks about here.  Not just the cost of discipleship, redemption but now the crisis of discipleship.  (The cost of discipleship is redemption)

Crisis of discipleship…we need a crisis

Being a follower of Jesus Christ begins with a crisis, it begins with a crisis…begins with a turning point as you don’t’ just sort of get into it.  If I figure out that I need to lose a few pounds….maybe some of you have even been praying in that direction…it won’t happen without me coming to a crisis and saying, I’m not going in this direction anymore and there will have to be a stopping and a turning.  If you’re not happy with where your career is going and maybe you feel like you need a little more education; you won’t get that thing fixed without a crisis.  You’ll have to stop and say; I’m not going to keep working here anymore and I’m going to take some steps….you understand?  It’s going to take a crisis, isn’t it? 

How without a crisis?   Not religion but crisis

Now, if little human redirections take a crisis, do you think that you can be reconciled with the God of the universe without a crisis?  Do you think you can just start trying harder and, “Oh I don’t know when I changed exactly, I just sort of changed.”  No you didn’t; that’s religion and what you need is a crisis where you turn from trying to earn favor with God and have a crisis where you understand, I can’t win this thing, I can’t earn this thing, I don’t deserve this thing, I had a crisis and I changed the way that I was thinking and realized that Jesus had done it all for me and I exercised my faith in Him so that I could be forgiven. 

Crisis explained…stray like sheep

Notice how he described that here, that crisis; look at verse 25.  He says, For you were straying like sheep…you were straying like sheep.  What an amazing statement to make as everyone must come to this crisis point where they realize; you know what I was doing; I was straying like a sheep.  Do you know anything sheep?  Do you know anything at all about them? 

Here’s three things about sheep;

1  They’re stubborn…baaaaaaah…stubborn, want to do what I want to do.  Don’t want a crisis, don’t want to be told that I’m not going in the right direction…you were straying like sheep.  And I put myself in this group because we’re all like sheep, right?  We’re all like sheep, all of us, and we’re not just stubborn,

2  We’re stupid, ok.  The reason why we’re not just stubborn, we don’t even know what we don’t know and we think we know a lot more than we really know.  And we think we know the way to God.  You go and ask the average person on the street, how do you get to heaven and they will say; oh by being a good person.  And the Bible makes it very clear that you can’t get to heaven by being a good person.  And it’s like; baaaaaaah….your straying like the sheep and your stubborn and you’re....I don’t want to say it again….you say it….you’re what?  (stupid)  Wow, that hurts, but it’s true…you were straying like sheep; stubborn and stupid and

3  Selfish.  That’s what sheep are…sheep don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the other sheep need, sheep don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the shepherd wants and you put those three things together….not very bright, not very teachable, and not very considerate of others; that’s a huge problem. 

Will not change without a crisis

And I’m here to tell you; that’s not changing without a crisis.  Listen up; that’s not changing in your life without a crisis.  You must be able to say; I was straying like sheep but have now… what does it say, what’s the word?  But have now… returned.  Returned, don’t you love that picture?  This pictures us as eternally belonging to God as members of the human race.  Some people are never coming back to God…have you come back to God?  Listen, the One who loves you, the One who made you…maybe this message is only for one person sitting in here, so far from God and resisting God and not loving God and not living for God as you’ve been living for yourself, stubbornly and foolishly.  You have to return, you have to return to the very purpose for which you were made.  God loves you, ok, and an incredible price was paid for your discipleship.  But you have to have a crisis, come back to your shepherd.  Do you see it there?  And then return to the shepherd, sheep need a shepherd, amen?  Who’s the shepherd, who’s the shepherd…Jesus is the shepherd.  I love that picture.  Jesus said in John 10; my sheep here my voice and I know them and they follow me.  Notice that he says; 25b you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer…that’s the idea of protecting and providing and keeping watch. 

We don’t return to anything but the person of Jesus Christ

Now notice…look at verse 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Notice, by the way, we don’t return to a person, we don’t return to a human being…not first.  You don’t come back to your husband, you don’t come back to your parents….and, and, you don’t come back to a church either.  We don’t return to a church.  You don’t return to a human being, we don’t return to a church, we don’t return to a book, we don’t come back…well, who do we come back to?  WE come back the person of Jesus Christ.  You turn back to Jesus Christ.  You return to Him, you come back and say, well, Lord, I’ve made a mess of my life, I’m a sinner, I’ve not done the things that I want to do with my life but I believe that you have died for me and will you forgive me?  I’m trusting you to do that.  That’s the crisis, that’s the crisis….every person in the universe is not prepared to meet God without that crisis.  Have you had it? 

You say, well I think I might of.  No, no you haven’t.  You can’t think you’ve had it.  I often say to people; are you married?  How sure are you?  What was the date you got married?  Are you wearing a ring on your finger to show us that you’re married?  Are you, are you….are you living with this person that you say you are married?  And you say; those are all silly questions, like; don’t you think I know if I’m married or not?  Yes, here’s the point; if a person can be so sure of a human relationship wouldn’t it make sense that you would be that much more sure about an eternal relationship?  Listen, it doesn’t happen when you’re sleeping and it’s got nothing to do with you momma, ok?  It has to do with you.  And have you made a decision, in your life to turn; to turn and return and come back to the shepherd and overseer of your soul.  You say, well I think I’ve done that. 

We must confess Him with our mouths

Well, the Bible says if you’ve made that decision in your heart, you need to speak it out with your mouth.  In fact, some scripture; Matthew 10:32 Jesus said, if you will confess me before men, I will confess you before my father.  The same thing in Luke 12:8; If you confess me before men I will confess you before my father. 

 

How do we confess Jesus….1st thing; by being baptized

You say, well, how am I supposed to do that?  Do you want me just to stand up in church and do it?  No, no, listen; you don’t confess Jesus Christ by walking an isle, you don’t do it by raising your hand, you don’t do it by signing a card….ok?  You confess Jesus Christ, Biblically speaking by being baptized.  It doesn’t make you a Christian but it’s the first thing a Christian does.  Wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make you married but it shows you’re not ashamed to be.  Wearing a sheriff’s badge doesn’t make you a sheriff but it does show that you’re willing to step out, publicly and say; this is who I am.  And being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian but it does show that you’re willing to fly the flag and say; I’m a card carrying member of the family of God and I want everyone to know.  When Jesus said; if you confess me before men, I’ll confess you before my father; that’s what He was talking about.  In fact, so important is this….Romans 10:9 says; if you will confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you’ll be saved.  I’m not concerned that we are getting these things too closely together, I’m concerned that they are too far separated for so many people.

Jesus ask us to do two thing….baptized and remember Him at the Lord’s table

I often say; you know Jesus really only ask us to do two things; get baptized and remember Him at the Lord’s table.  I mean, I so don’t want to be in the “only got one of them done” line in heaven.  OK, all right…just like two…you say, we’ve got two things, two things, man. Well, I did one of them; what…you what?  All right.  In fact, Jesus said to His disciples, do you remember in Matthew 28; Go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them….Jesus said; I don’t need a bunch of secret servants.  I need public, flag at the top of the pole, followers.  The way you make it public is through baptism. 

Scriptures about baptism

Turn over in your bibles to the book of Acts.  You might want to underline some of these references as I read them to you.  Staring in

Acts 2:36…Peter is preaching and said; 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, baptism doesn’t save you but do you see how it’s so logically follows and how tightly linked they are there?  It’s not to be neglected.

Turn over to Acts, chapter 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized….how clear is that? 

Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”  38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 

And finally, Acts 18:8  It says that….Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, you see even religious people need this so badly…….Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed… and were…what?  Baptized.

 

Now, if we’re going to follow Christ and be His Disciples, according to His Word, this is something you got to get done.  Let’s be obedient to Christ.  Here’s the third part…the cost of discipleship is redemption, the crisis of discipleship is returning…everyone must come to this crisis.  Now here this;

The process of Discipleship…die to sin and live to righteousness

The process of discipleship is righteousness.  Did you know that?  Did you know that God didn’t just want to get you into heaven?  Did you know that God didn’t just want to just establish (asittle?) your eternal relationship with him?    Did you know that God wanted to change you too?  It’s not just so much about what happens after you die, it’s about what happens right here and now.  God wants to show His transforming power through you.  God doesn’t want you to be some C version of Jesus. God want to totally change and transform you and me and show His power through us.  That’s what he talks about at the end of verse 24; He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Notice the, “that” there; the “that” is very important as it’s like the reason.  So why did Jesus do that stuff again?  So I could go to heaven?  Well, that’s part of it but it’s not mentioned here.  Now, why did Jesus do that again; so I could sleep at night and not be afraid of dying?  Well, that’s certainly a blessing but that’s not what he mentions here.  Why did Jesus do what He did?  Here it is; 24; He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  That word; die there, is very interesting.  It actually means to depart, to cease, to be away from sin.  That’s the first part of discipleship.  Less sin.  All in favor of less sin?  Sin just causes suffering, sin just disgraces the God who made us, sin just destroys the fabric of the person he made.  There’s nothing good about sin; in action or attitude, it only makes things bad.  Anybody here want to share a testimony of how sin has immeasurably improved your life?  Right.  So, less sin, less sin…Why did Jesus did?  So that we might die to sin, be done with it.  That word for die, there, is only used in the New Testament as I said; it means to put away or to be done with.  That’s the first part of it. 

Live to righteousness

So, that’s the whole thing; that’s the whole Christian life?  Just no more sinning?  No there‘s a really good part too.  You get something to take its place.  that we might die to sin and what?  Live to righteousness.  Every right decision that honors God; each and every obedience to scripture brings blessing into my life.  Every right decision to what God has commanded me just brings blessing and fulfillment and joy to my life.  Every time I choose to do what is right, God honors that.  Why did Jesus die? So that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that’s discipleship.  That’s the purpose of our church; is to help you and I, along the process of dying to sin and living to righteousness.  You’re like; well, I thought the church was here to get people saved.  Well, in the sense that that’s the first step of discipleship.  Sadly, too many churches, that’s their whole thing.  Just getting people to take that first step.  And you’re like; well, is there really anything else?  Yes, there’s a lot more.  Again, Matthew 28 says; that we are called to go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.  There’s the Biblical  foundation for Discipleship…Go therefore, Jesus says, and make disciples.  How clear could that be?  How many people understand that?  Jesus was like; go and make disciples, go and make disciples.  What do you want me to do God?  Go and make disciples, ok, teach people to follow me, all right, because in like, ten more minutes we’re going to be standing before Jesus Christ and He’s going to be like; look, I laid the whole thing out for you.  What did you do with that?  And I so don’t want to be; well, we were just playing church, wasn’t that good?  NO, that wasn’t good.  Well, we were just trying to help a few people.  Well, couldn’t you have been more intentional about it?  Everyone of those people mattered to me.  Do you think that they just showed up at your church by some random coincidence, I brought those people there.  I wanted you to reach out to them and challenge them and show them everything that I can be in their life.  Why didn’t you call them for me, why didn’t you challenge them more?

It’s not easy but it’s worth it

Listen, listen, it’s not easy to do this…playing church, that’s easy.  Growing a crowd, that’s easy but making disciples, that’s worth it.  I really do.  All of the effort and all of the energy extended to grow people up in their faith so that Jesus gets glory for His power, don’t you think it’s going to be worth it?   Just in a few minutes we’re going to be with him and he’s going to say; well done, good and faithful servant.  Oh how I want to hear those words. 

Last words on radio

A life of following God; studying Him and living for Him, that’s the heart of the disciple. 

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