Making & Maturing Disciples of Jesus – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Much of what I’ve been preaching and talking about since I got here has been building up to this point! 

-If you can remember all the way back to when I candidated (almost 2 years, and 1 less kid ago) for those of you who were here then, my candidating message was on the great commission in Matthew 28. When I moved here I met with a friend who said “Welcome to finding new ways to say the same thing over and over again.”

-Mission tends to drift over time, other things become the focus, new ideas come up, new trends emerge. Think of how you dressed in the 80s. What about that thought you looked good? Don’t worry, my generation wasn’t any better! This is also true in the church. A dear pastor in the EFCA is preaching his last sermon today after 36 years of faithful ministry in the same church. He recently shared how discouraging pastors conferences were as he was starting out in the 90s because the entire focus was on how to become a megachurch and church growth (not inherently bad, but took the focus off the primary thing). How many of you, when you’re craving a juicy lucy would go to Chick-fil-a? Or vice versa, if you’re really wanting a chicken sandwich, who’s going to Five Guys? This is where it’s vital to remember what our primary mission is. Why are we here? What are we aiming for?

– I only have 1 life to pull from for illustrations, so I’m going to be repeating myself regularly! Similarly, we stand in a church tradition that traces its lineage all the way back to the first disciples. Have you ever thought of that? People have become obsessed lately with genealogies (I found my great grandma’s signature when she came through Ellis Island in middle school). If you trace the lineage of your faith to its origination point, it’s the first 12 disciples. They were faithful in their mission of making disciples, who trained the next generation to faithful disciple making, and so on through millennia until we’re her today.

-Since Jesus gave every faithful church a mission, I literally don’t think I could improve on what the Son of God gave us! So to that end, I present our new mission, which is the same mission Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago: (drum roll please) making and maturing disciples of Jesus.

-We’re going to look at a few different passages today that talk about this idea, but it’s going to be grounded in the great commission again. So if you weren’t here when I candidated, this will be new! If you were, I’m guessing many of you can’t remember what you had for breakfast, so I think it’s always helpful to be reminded!

READ/PRAY

  1. We Are Commanding to Make Disciples

-Where does he begin? With one of the most important phrases in the Bible.

         -“All authority”

-Doesn’t this strike you as a bit odd? Hasn’t he already HAD all authority? D.A. Carson in his commentary states “It is not Jesus’ authority per se that becomes more absolute. Rather, the spheres in which he now exercise absolute authority are enlarged to include all heaven and earth, i.e., the universe.” (594)

-While He has been authoritative up until this point, we see the domain under his authority has expanded to include EVERYTHING. Col. 1, by him and through him and for him all things were created.

-This is the foundation for everything that comes after it. If Jesus isn’t in charge we have no chance of ever bringing his commands to fruition

-With that foundation, we then get into the command, the great mission, the goal, the focus of every Christian since Christ ascended into heaven.

-In this section, 3 participles, 1 imperative verb. 

         -Don’t fall asleep here! Grammar has a tendency to do that to me too!

-Emphasis is placed on the imperative, that’s the primary focus of this entire section, it’s the phrase: (literally) discipling (1 word in Greek) 

-We tend to place the emphasis at the beginning or end, Greek didn’t always do that! But if we were, it would be something like: DISCIPLING, as you’re going, baptizing and teaching. Everything else is subservient to the discipling.

-So if that’s the emphasis, we should know what discipling is, shouldn’t we? That means we have to ask the question: what is a disciple?

-Google: a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher, 

         -So in this case, the most basic idea behind this is a follower or student of Jesus

-Someone who has surrendered to Jesus and is growing in theology & worship (or in doctrine & devotion)

-Jesus doesn’t say “make converts”

         -This is part of what makes Christianity unique & attractive

         -Muslims look to coerce or force people to convert “convert or die!”

-Christians set an example and invite, there’s pleading, begging, exhorting, not coercion. Christianity is not married to any singular culture.

-This is where we now get to the first word in verse 19: Go. Everyone is called to make disciples. Everyone goes somewhere at some point in your life. This isn’t talking about going from sitting to standing in the pews! Nor is it talking about walking from the sanctuary to the foyer for a cup of coffee. This is going into the world. “Worship through Witness” 

-This is also the first time in this Gospel the disciples have been commanded to go all the places. Matthew 10:5 “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans.” 

         -Jesus is going global!

-Tim Keller describes this as the centrifugal force of the gospel message. I’m not a scientist so I have to make sure I get this right. Centripetal force is a pull to the center. That’s the tendency of any group: pull to the center. 

-The example of asking a group of people to stand in a circle and hold hands. Every time you ask a group to do that which way do you think they’ll face? Toward each other! We, as God’s people, have to be intentional to not just look inward.

-The Great Commission here is God’s command for us to become a centrifugalforce, going OUT into ALL the world

-This gets us to a second point here, notice some of the limits Jesus places on this commission: ALL authority, ALL nations, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded, he is with us always or ALL the days. So what limit is there on any of this? None. That’s a comfort! We’re faithful, we go, we do our best to make disciples, so how do we make disciples?
-Jesus tells us 2 things: baptizing and teaching.  

-First, baptism. As far as the clear commands in the Bible go, this might be the easiest one in there! How many of you love God perfectly with all your heart, mind, soul & strength? How about the next great command, how many of you perfectly love your neighbor just like you love yourself? 

         -As far as difficulty goes, this might be the easiest command in the whole Bible!

-Let’s note here, this is not salvific. Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Baptism is not salvific, but baptism is the first step of obedience

-Carson “The NT can scarcely conceive of a disciple who is not baptized or is not instructed.” So I’d urge you, if you have not been baptized, do it! We’re having a baptism service in just a couple weeks!

-But as that Carson quote just said, there’s a second piece: instruction.

  • We Are Commanded to Mature Disciples 

-To grow as a disciple means to watch your life and doctrine. (1 Tim. 4:16)

-Cannot grow unless you have training, cannot grow unless instructed, cannot grow unless you’re equipped. 

-Tendency to equate discipleship as head knowledge. 

-Jesus doesn’t just say “teach” he says teach “to observe” something, put it into practice

-Theology & Doxology. 

James 2:19 even the demons believe, they’ve got better theology than most of us! Deficient in their doxology.

-So what are we teaching? ALL that Jesus commanded! We’re teaching people how to worship Jesus in and through every area of their life. Worship at home, worship in your car, worship in your sleep, at your work, as you walk, as you run, as you drink coffee, as you eat food. Everything we do is an opportunity to worship God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. And out of the overflow of that worship comes witness to others. 

-This is quite the command/commission you’ve given us Jesus! This feels insurmountable and impossible

-In our own strength, it is. The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be. 

-We need to remember we don’t go in our own power or strength, it is through Jesus being with us that allows us to work with people to grow as a disciple.

-This is what Paul talks about in our second text, 2 Timothy 2

-Paul writing to Timothy, his protégé who was pastoring in Ephesus (don’t worry, we’ll complete this by looking at Ephesians next!) 

-Second and last letter to Timothy

-Also the text for the first sermon I ever preached! (Don’t worry, I went and checked and it was a live 1 time event with no recordings available) The only thing I know is it was NOT a great sermon!

-First thing we see is something done to us: be strengthened.

-Other places where we see how we’re supposed to work, but in this case we can’t do it. The Holy Spirit working in us is the one who strengthens and allows us to remain faithful. I shared this example before, but I think it bears repeating (only have 1 life, sorry!) I used to “help” my dad mow the lawn when I was little. How much work do you think I did? How much work do you think my dad did? Don’t worry, it wasn’t slave labor! Phil. 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 

-Then we see what we’re strengthened IN: grace that is in Christ Jesus.

-Grace is the starting point of our faith. We saw that in the opening chapters of 2 Peter: grace and peace. Grace is the undeserved gift we’ve been given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It’s the foundation by which we’re able to grow from. If we don’t have grace, we can’t be a disciple. 

-In addition to grace strengthening us, vs. 2 says what we have heard can strengthen. What does that mean?

-Christianity is a word-based faith. Actually until very recently, words had always been used to describe reality. What were the things that Paul would have shared with Timothy? If you go back to Matt. 28 the things Jesus commanded. 

-Saw this last week in 2 Peter too: what Peter said is what Paul said is what Jesus said. Here we see that what Timothy says is what Paul says is what Jesus said. All discipling is meant to be transitional.

-Jesus trained/discipled the first disciples. They lived together, ate together, traveled together, went about their daily lives together. But Jesus was planning for His transition where he wouldn’t be living bodily with them anymore.

-Then the early disciples started spreading out: “Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) and they started transition plans where they were discipling people to grow and then would go to a new place and start discipling new people and continue doing this in perpetuity. 

-Paul discipled Timothy the way Jesus said to in Matt. 28, and here reminds Timothy to continue passing that on – and Paul is thinking 4 generations away. From me – you have heard – faithful men – teach others also. This is meant to continue passing on, we’re all meant to serve as transitional pieces in discipleship. But we also see that we need to be looking beyond just us! We need to grow/mature as disciples in order to continue passing that down to others! That’s true individually, but it’s also true corporately, we as a church need to ensure that what we do today lays the foundation for continued gospel faithfulness generations from today.

-I ran into my preaching mentor at a conference in February. He served as the professor of homiletics (preaching) at TEDS for almost 20 years. He shared that he loved coming to this conference because it was a picture of this text! He looks back fondly at his preaching mentor, then he became a preacher for almost 20 years, then he taught faithful men in seminary for 20 years, who are now training others! We all are supposed to do this, continue looking for ways to train others.

-Paul goes on to give us 3 pictures of what this looks like, but the connective tissue is vs. 3: share in suffering. This is the only thing Jesus guaranteed would happen to us (John 16:33). What does it look like to share in the sufferings?

-First like a soldier. Soldiers give up their entire lives to devote to their country. 1st century Rome, sometimes soldiers enlisted for 25 years, vowing to not get married and have 1 focus. If they were divided in what they were doing they wouldn’t last! Everything they do and at times even their very survival is mandated by not losing their focus. Everything they do is meant to be obedient to their superior officer. Think of the infamous Benedict Arnold! That’s NOT a good soldier! Similarly, in faith we’re meant to have the singular focus of obeying Christ. Don’t let anything distract you from that! The church has been guilty of missing this mission, of worrying too much about what the world thinks or using worldly metrics (building, budget butts). What we’re called to is being faithful, the fruit is up to God.

-Second is like an athlete. In order to win, there are specific rules you need to follow. Think of the shame of the steroid scandal in baseball. Cheating to get to the top is shameful! In faith, we need to be obedient to everything God has commanded us to do (teaching them to observe everything).

-Lastly: a hard-working farmer. I don’t know if you know any farmers, but there are times of the year where you won’t see them! Working before the sun is up to after the sun is down. In faith, we need to not rest on our laurels, but instead work diligently in our pursuit of Christ-likeness. 

-Summary: singular focus, obedient, diligent. 

-Last text: Eph. 4 I promise, we’ll get through it quickly!

-God gives everyone a unique gift that is meant to be used for the equipping of the body. We’ll be studying this text in more detail in the Fall, so don’t worry about all the details now! But every role is meant to: equip the saints. We all have a job to do if we want to be a faithful church. No JV, no bench warmers, we’re all in.

-Until: maturity. Won’t completely happen until Christ returns, but that means we continue to have a job to do.

-Finally, this is done to build each other up in love. Assume the best about each other! So much of our world today trains us to be inherently skeptical toward others. That’s the opposite of what’s supposed to happen in the church! As we use our gifts, we bless each other, encourage each other to keep this singular focus in all our lives.

-Everything we do as a church is meant to either make or mature disciples of Jesus. Nothing new! It’s what the church has been doing for 2,000 years! But sometimes we need the reminder!

-One of the ways we’re obedient to everything Jesus commanded us to do is through the celebration of the 2 ordinances, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel message. We saw baptism today, which is a 1 time demonstration of our new life, but then we also are to celebrate communion which is an ongoing reminder of our dependency on the gospel for growth. We’re going to sing a couple songs together, and use them as an opportunity to prepare your heart for this celebratory remembrance of our dependence on Jesus. Bible tells us if you are a faithful believer you are welcome to celebrate with us, but to examine your heart. I’d like to encourage you especially today, to take some time to confess if you’ve experienced “mission drift” away from what Jesus has explicitly commanded us to do.

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