Mark 5:21-6:6 Sermon Manuscript

-Have you ever seen something amazing? Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean, mountains, I still remember the first time I saw the ocean and could hardly fathom how far it stretched! But hands down, the place that amazes me most is the mountains. 

-Got to go backpacking for a week when I first started ministry, sunsets were amazing, and we would see a herd of elk cross on the other side of the valley every night. Caught fresh mountain trout that a couple hours after catching became fish tacos, it was absolutely gorgeous!

-Backyard of our house in CO, front yard of our house, our walking path, Estes Park. Pictures can’t even begin to do it justice! But you know what’s even crazier? The longer you live there the less you start to notice just how beautiful those mountains are. You become so used to it that you forget to take time to just look at them.

-We’re going to look today and what happens when you become so used to something you start to take it for granted, almost like receiving a vaccine where you’re given a small portion of the disease itself so that your body knows how to fight against it in the future. But what happens when you view Jesus that way?


  1. Raising to New Life (21-43)

-Last week, Jesus took a little trip to the primarily Gentile area of the lake. Jesus was so tired from serving that He fell asleep in the front of the boat and slept through a giant storm. Eventually the disciples got so worried that they woke Him up and accused Him of not caring. After stopping the storm, He asked why they still have such little faith. Then he healed a man possessed by a large group of demons, and got run out of town, so they went back to the West side of the lake. Guess who was either there waiting for Him, or came as soon as they got back? There’s the crowd again! Once again, it appears that Jesus is doing what is typical of His ministry: teaching. 

-I was thinking this past week of some of what we’ve learned about the kingdom of God through our study in Mark. Jesus arrival ushers in a new era of human history marked by holistic healing, it’s something that looks tiny and insignificant, but over time completely transforms everything that exists. It comes about by word-based ministry. Have you ever thought of that? The way God’s kingdom spreads is by people who take seriously the word (both the written and living Word), and share that word with everyone they come into contact with. And what made me think of this reality was readying a book about Revelation, because one of the descriptions of Jesus’ return says that a sword will come out of His mouth. That is the means God will slay His enemies: through His Word. 

-Think of how tiny and insignificant we tend to think of words. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Yet words are the means God used to create everything, words are the means God uses to save people today, and we are commanded to be people of the Word! The Word that comes out as a sword at the end of time is the same word that is used to bring comfort to God’s people throughout history, so as we study the Word, let’s remember that it is God’s chosen means to transform us and make us more like Him. While it seems so insignificant (almost like a tiny little seed), we need more and more of it in our lives!

-This is the reason Jesus always brings things back to preaching. The Word is God’s chosen means of transformation in the world. And in the midst of another account of Jesus ministering (preaching) to the crowd, a desperate man falls in front of Jesus. But this isn’t just any old man, this is Jairus, a well-known man who just happened to be the ruler of the synagogue. What exactly is a ruler of the synagogue?

-Remember, the synagogue has been mentioned numerous times already in Mark’s Gospel. It’s the gathering place of the Jews for weekly Sabbath worship. This contained reading of the scroll, comments on the Scriptural reading, prayers, offerings, honestly pretty similar to what we do each week! But who do you think ensured the building was kept up? Who ensured the space was set up to accommodate people coming to meet? Who took care of the scrolls of God’s Word, and ensured the right scroll was pulled out for each week’s reading? That’s right, the rulers of the synagogue! This means these people would have been held in high regard, most likely wealthy, someone the local community would have looked up to. That’s communicated by the Mark recording his name! This was someone people knew! 

-How does Jairus approach Jesus?

-falls at Jesus’ feet right in front of the crowd. The man whom everyone would have known, yet Jairus had no shame or embarrassment! He ignored all the cultural norms, disregarded the entire crowd of people flocking to Jesus, and threw Himself down at Jesus’ feet, and begins begging Him to come and save His child. Now notice what Jairus asks of Jesus: to come touch his daughter. Remember what I said earlier about God using words? That will come up as well! But as we think of Jarius’ response, we also need to ask the question:

-What would you do to take care of your child? We had to take Ellie in for a surgery this week (adenoidectomy and tubes in her ears), don’t worry she’s just fine! In fact, she bounced back FAR quicker than we were expecting, and she made sure she didn’t miss movie night at Awana this week! I’ve had friends lose children and I can’t imagine trying to navigate that space. As a father, I would do anything I possibly could to protect and preserve my children, including bucking any societal norm I needed to.

-Remember, these stories are true! This recounts real people who lived in real time and space who are wrestling with real world issues. This is yet another reason we should trust that the stories contained in here are true, this would be EXACTLY how someone would respond to a sick daughter during the time of Jesus! If Jesus has been healing so many people, surely He could heal Jairus’ daughter! 

-Jesus goes with Jairus. The crowd is still there, but Jesus shifts his focus from the crowd to Jairus (not that they would be deterred), but we’re starting to see some of the ways people would interrupt Jesus’ ministry, yet He would still minister to them! Jesus isn’t trying to build a platform, isn’t seeking fame and recognition, He’s working to bring His Father glory, and the way that happens is by ministering to any and everyone He can! Keep that in mind for a minute, because that will come up again!

-Crowd once again serves as a foil! Pushing in from every side, but the crowd is merely there, the focus is on a woman.

-Some kind of hemorrhage for 12 years, look at all the ways Mark describes her situation: suffered much, spent all she had, grew worse. This would have led to her being a literal outcast, very similar to the leper in Mark 1. A woman’s bleeding rendered her (according to the Levitical code) unclean, and if anyone else touched her they were also viewed as religiously unclean. But if this bleeding never stopped it meant that she was never clean! She couldn’t even think of approaching the temple! On top of that, no one else would want to touch her because it would cause them to become unclean, so she would not only be a religious outcast, but a social outcast as well. How lonely do you think she was? Text doesn’t give us any specific history to this woman, but could have faced divorce, inability to have children, as well as trying to survive on her own for these past 12 years. How desperate do you think she was to get to Jesus? She was willing to risk making the entire crowd unclean just to try to be healed! 

-Let’s not forget where Jesus is going: to help Jairus! Let’s compare this woman to him. We know Jairus’ name, we know his occupation which makes him a leader in the society, well-known, well respected, in the people’s minds if anyone deserved healing or help, it would be Jairus! The woman isn’t even named. She was a cast off, forgotten, left out of anyone’s minds attempting to survive on her own. Isn’t purely sexist (plenty of women named in the Gospels and the demon possessed man doesn’t get named either), but portrays the point that no one is too low for Jesus’ attention  .

-Throughout this Gospel, we’ve seen Jesus’ interactions with both those on the inside, and those on the outside, but not yet in such close proximity to each other! And Mark puts these 2 stories next to each other like this so that we compare them to each other. Jesus goes to help Jairus, but even in his greatest hour of need, Jesus isn’t too busy to care for an unclean woman. 

-Continuing that idea of the difference between these 2 people, note how the woman approaches Jesus: tries to sneak in behind Jesus. 

-This is complete conjecture on my part, but I could very easily see the woman not daring to approach Jesus like Jairus did. She’s so used to being cast off that she doesn’t want to risk Jesus refusing her, so she tries the sneak attack! If I can just grab a piece of his garment, the lowliest thing connected to Jesus. She doesn’t feel the need to talk to Him, doesn’t even want Him to know that she was there! Get as close as possible, touch his clothing, and sneak out. No one will know, no one will dismiss her, but her life will be completely different. And that’s exactly what happened! At first. The instant she touched Jesus, she was changed, but Jesus wasn’t going to let her off that easily! As soon as she touches Jesus, He starts looking for her.

-Imagine the scene: huge crowd pressing in just to get near to Jesus, they’ve been following Him throughout His ministry, potentially waiting days for Him to return from His journey to the other side of the lake. They will not be deterred! The closest I’ve experienced something like this was back in the day when we’d go to Sonshine! Multiple stages, your favorite bands playing for a full week, camping together, eating terrible food, who wouldn’t want to go? But when you’re waiting for the band to start, the moment the first note begins there’s a huge surge of energy, people all around you, you feel like you’re suffocating, and in the midst of a situation like that, Jesus stops everything and asks “who touched me?”

-His disciples would have thought He was crazy! Jesus: everyone is touching you! You’re in the middle of a mob, everyone wants a piece of you, and you want to figure out who touched you? Look around, they’re all still here, AND they’re still touching you! 

-Jesus is undeterred, He continues asking the question, and the woman knows it. How do you think she was feeling as soon as she realized she hadn’t gotten away with it? The whole point was to sneak in and sneak out with no one else being the wiser! Notice how it describes the emotional state of the woman: fear and trembling. Just as she had been cast off for the past 12 years, is Jesus going to cast her off too?

-She realizes Jesus won’t stop until she admits it was her, so she has the same response as Jairus now: falls down before Him. There’s an interesting phrase Mark uses here to describe what the woman tells Jesus: “The whole truth.” She laid everything out for Jesus: the way she’s been bleeding, the abuse she faced at the hands of doctors, and anything else connected to that!

-Jesus doesn’t stop her, doesn’t brush by her to get to the more “important” things, He remains engaged and cares for this woman who had been healed.

-This leads to a question for us: do you believe that Jesus can handle your whole truth? 

-There’s a tendency to try to keep certain things hidden, to not acknowledge the way you’re really feeling, to be afraid that the whole truth will come out and people will dismiss you. Did you know that Jesus can actually handle “the whole truth”? Nothing you’ve ever done has ever surprised Him! Think about this: every sin you’ve ever committed came after Jesus died, and the penalty has already been paid for them! There’s nothing to keep hidden, nothing that Jesus doesn’t already know, why is there a tendency to try to keep “the whole truth” to just ourselves? This is a temptation for everyone! Before you’re saved the temptation is that Jesus couldn’t save someone like you so you’re convinced you need to clean yourself up before you come to Jesus, then when you’re saved you’re tempted to doubt your salvation when you sin so you continue trying to clean yourself up. This story is meant to remind us that we can’t clean ourselves up! We can’t sneak up on Jesus and just try to get the benefits, He wants us completely healed, and that comes about by being in a relationship with Him. Church: stop trying to clean yourself up, and instead fall on your face at the feet of the only one who can completely heal you.

-As Jesus ends his comments to this woman, all it takes is faith, put your entire hope, trust, and confidence in Jesus, and He will restore everything broken by sin. 

-Mark then shift back to Jairus, this unclean woman has been healed, but it led to the death of his daughter. Do you think Jairus was frustrated by the women or by Jesus at this point? He was so close to having his daughter healed, if only Jesus had just set His face forward to what He had agreed to do and not been distracted by this unnamed, unclean woman! 

-Yet God’s timing is always perfect. Nothing is a distraction to God and nothing can thwart God’s perfect timing, which Jairus is about to learn. But I also think it’s something we would do well to learn ourselves! People aren’t a distraction, people aren’t the problem, God has called us to go to people and give them the Words of life! Just as God’s timing is perfect, His plan is also perfect, and His plan involves you and I being faithful to sow the seeds of His word as frequently as we can. 

-Jairus is told that while Jesus was “distracted” by this woman, his daughter has died. But Jesus is right there! The word “overhearing” could also be translated “ignoring.” Jesus has an ulterior motive here, and He takes time to remind Jairus that things are still ok, and once again connects the healing to faith.

-Who’s on the inside this time? Peter, James, and John, the closest 3 to Jesus.

-As they approached they saw a commotion, which included people weeping and wailing. It was customary during the 1st. cent. to hire professional mourners. They served as a sign to the community to what had transpired, it was a reminder that death had visited this house. Yet in this case, the mourning was premature, and Jesus tells them so! 

-At first blush, this seems like a cruel joke from Jesus, doesn’t it? Seems to be flippant towards Jairus’ concern and He calls out the mourners who respond by laughing at Him (everyone seems fairly careless toward the needs of Jairus and his family) So Jesus responds by kicking everyone out (except the mother and father and 3 disciples) and moves toward this little girl.

-Jesus grabs her hand, which would once again make him unclean, then speaks a gentle word: little sheep, wake up. (Jesus spoke Aramaic, that mostly got translated to Greek, which we have now translated into English) We then see another connection to the unnamed woman: she had been bleeding for the same amount of time Jairus’ daughter had been alive! Everyone who saw it was amazed, yet Jesus wouldn’t let them tell, He’s still waiting for His glory to be revealed.

-Both Jairus (the well to do) and the unclean woman (whose name wasn’t even mentioned) were in need of healing from Jesus, healing that only He can provide if there is belief in Him. But this isn’t the only story! Jairus and this woman respond as they should, but then we see a group of people who outright dismiss Jesus:

  • Rejection of True Life (6:1-6)

-Jesus goes home, for what is likely the last time. Brought the whole crew! Nazareth would have been about 30 miles southwest of Capernaum, not too far away. But don’t forget about the last time we saw His family in Mark 3, they were trying to take Him away because they thought He was out of His mind! Can you imagine the tension at family dinner?

-As always, He goes to teach in the synagogue, people are amazed, but differently than after seeing Jairus’ daughter.

-They all knew his family, had seen Him grow up, knew his background, and didn’t believe what He was saying!

-These people have become overly familiar with Jesus without a recognition of who He actually was. Once again, this is a normal thing to happen in the course of human events! How would you respond to that friend from high school claiming to be God? Or imagine being one of His brothers! 

-And this is true of many people today! They grow up learning facts about Jesus, just enough to get inoculated against Him, but they don’t have any understanding who He REALLY is, and how that transforms everything. It’s not enough to just know facts about Him, it’s not enough to memorize every verse of the Bible, it’s not enough to go to church every week, it’s not enough to tithe every penny you own! What matters is your relationship with Jesus.

-And because of their unbelief, Jesus couldn’t do any mighty works, which is slightly ironic, because look at what Mark says next.

-Think of how noteworthy these miracles would have been if we hadn’t just read about all the healings that took place, but for Jesus they’re a footnote. Healing has become so commonplace that healing a few sick people is hardly worth mentioning!

-2 accounts of Jesus marveling: here and Luke 7:9 the Centurion’s faith. The polar opposites cause Jesus to marvel.

-Do we assume things about Jesus, getting just enough to be inoculated against him and force Him to be amazed at our unbelief? Or do we continue to be amazed by Him and fall at His feet in worship of Him?

Mark 3:20-35 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.

-One of Cara’s and my favorite genre of movie to watch is sports movies. Generally leave you inspired, feeling like you can take over the world! One of the best is Remember the Titans. It follows a football team from a recently unsegregated school in Virginia. While tensions are high at the beginning and racial biases are repeatedly brought to the forefront, by the end of the season the guys are all best friends. One of the pivotal scenes in the movie is when one of the white players gets in a pretty serious car accident. His best friend from the team (who happens to be black) comes to visit him. As he walks into the room, the nurse says: “Only kins allowed in here” The player lying on the bed says: “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family resemblance? That’s my brother.”

-In today’s text, we’re going to look at what it means to be family. You may have heard the church referred to as “the family of God,” but what is that? Why would we want to be a part of family that’s as broken and messed up as the church?


  1. Family Opposition, Part 1 (20-21)

-Last week we saw Jesus call the 12 disciples/apostles. He’s constituting a new Israel, a new people of God to represent Him to the world. Remember that they’re represented by: time with, sent by Him, and preaching with authority to fight against the devil. 

-Those are the markers of faithful ministry even down to today. We’re supposed to be marked by time with Jesus, if we’re a disciple we have been sent by Jesus, and our role as being sent is to preach/share the gospel message far and wide! (we’ll look at that idea in more detail next week)

-But what do you think happens if someone misses what it means to follow after God? We’ve seen increasing opposition to Jesus’ ministry throughout the Gospel, but it takes a unique turn in today’s passage, as you should have heard as we read it, because who adds to the opposition today? Let’s look and see:

-Home: back to Capernaum at Peter’s house.

 -Last week Jesus went up to the mountains to get away from the crowds and began his specific ministry to the 12 disciples. Lots of options for where those mountains could have been, Capernaum is basically in the middle of a mountainous region (think more CO than MN)

-I said this a few weeks ago, but keep in mind that Jesus’ early ministry is VERY localized! He hasn’t gone too far outside of Capernaum yet, but the surrounding areas keep flocking to Him, as we see by the return of the character:

-The crowd: once again, getting in Jesus’ way. The crowd keeps showing up again and again and keeps interfering with Jesus’ ministry. A couple notes on this:

-Size does not equal success. Size can be measured a few different ways: ABCs (adults, buildings, cash), today it can by YouTube views (or Insta likes, depending on your social of choice). People I’ve talked to today have tried building a “platform” to expand their following, I talked to some friends at a recent conference who were complaining about someone wanting to plug their book to them (and then someone at the conference told me he wanted to send me his new book!). 

-But there’s also a flip side to this that is just as much a problem in the church: viewing decline as the biggest pursuit because you’re being “persecuted.” Or you see it with someone being antagonistic on the socials actively looking to stir up division. Both of these are over emphasizing numbers and missing what Jesus has actually called us to: faithfulness & fruitfulness (are you a little fruity?) 

-Faithful to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, fruitful in having an eternal impact on those around you. Once again, we have this point of tension that we need to be comfortable in! Speaking the truth in love is hard! 

-This crowd, as we’ve seen multiple times so far want something from Jesus. They’ve seen the miracles, they’ve witnessed the exorcisms, maybe some people are just around for the show! They’ve heard Jesus best the smartest people of the day and they’re hoping for another showdown. But it forces us to ask the question: what do you want from Jesus? Do you just come for the show? Are you expecting Him to magically fix all your problems and you’ll stick around until those are solved? Or do you want Jesus and nothing else? Think of the old spiritual ‘Give Me Jesus’ that said “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.” And to be honest, Jesus won’t stop pushing at you until He’s all you have left! 

-Fame continues to spread, even those in Nazareth are hearing about what Jesus has been doing, which includes His family.

-“seize him” is overly passive, better translation would be “arrest” or “coerce”, one translation put “restrain him.” This wasn’t a friendly visit! 

-What were they saying about Jesus? Out of his mind! But then Mark moves quickly on, leaving us hanging: 

-Markan sandwich, connects another story to it. Throughout this book, Mark will begin one story, stick a different story in the middle of it that is connected thematically, then return to the original story, so we’ll take a look at a similar idea from a different perspective. Not only was His family opposed to Him:

  • Legal Opposition (22-30)

-Scribes from Jerusalem

-Up until this point he would have been a bit of a local nuisance, but as His fame spreads, the news eventually gets to the main office in Jerusalem. This would signify that the highest people would have started seeing it as a legitimate threat to their authority. So not only were regular people coming all the way from Jerusalem, now the authorities are getting involved!

-They’ve seen Jesus’ miracles, the exorcisms, the healings (or at the very least word has reached them) and have come up with a solution: possessed by Beelzebul. No one’s sure where this name came from, could have been a way of referring to the prince of demons (which connects it to the rest of the phrase). A literal translation is the “prince of dung.” Not a kind way of referring to Jesus!

-Once again, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on so He invites them in and welcomes the conversation. 

-I think this is one of those areas we would do well to take note of! Is Jesus too scared to bring up or talk about any issue? Not that I’ve found yet, and I’ve been reading the Bible through for a while at this point! Why do we have a tendency to act like some topics are off limits for the church to talk about? If we believe Jesus is THE way THE truth and THE life, that means that He is the source of all truth, meaning no topic is too taboo, no issue is disconnected, and nothing is too trivial to address and bring it back to the ultimate source of that truth. 

-When I was growing up that issue was sex. As long as it wasn’t brought up kids wouldn’t find out about it, or as long as our kids were sheltered enough they wouldn’t have to deal with certain sins. Hate to break it to you, but I first learned about sex in the church with other kids my age! Whether or not we wanted to admit it, kids were going to be kids and talk about it! Today we’ve got more things we’re not supposed to talk about: race issues (better: ethnic issues), money, and politics. Once again, let me ask: do you think Jesus had any problem talking about any of those issues? In just a couple chapters, Jesus is going to break all sorts of ethnic barriers down and begin ministering to Gentiles. He talks about money more than He talks about heaven, and as I mentioned last week, He intentionally chose 2 of His 12 disciples from the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum (imagine the conversations/debates they had as they walked everywhere!) 

-So if Jesus is willing to engage any and every topic imaginable, what do you think His disciples should be willing to do? Probably engage every issue that comes our way! The reality is: if we’re careful and pay attention to what issue is being address, we’ll find some way it connects to the truth, and use that as a bridge to point someone to Jesus. It’s not hard, it just takes a little bit of intentionality and paying careful attention to what someone is saying! 

-Now, Jesus was a master of this! He knew how to provide the solutions that no one else was anticipating, and how to get to the underlying issues that were actually going on. Which means, the scribes should have brought their A-game to interact with Him! Instead, they just picked 1 dumb argument (as we’ll see) and stuck with it! Made the most sense to them, but didn’t actually make a lick of sense!

-What are parables? We often think of them as connected to the Sermon on the Mount, or short stories that drive home a point, but the original word contains a much wider range of interpretations, from stories, to pithy sayings, to riddles or even illustrations! Almost anything to make a point.

-Jesus basically tells 3 stories, 1 that communicates the absurdity of the logic, the second that communicates what Jesus is ACTUALLY doing, and then lands on what the scribes are doing, which is important to understand what is being said about the unforgivable sin!

-First stories connect to the absurdity of what the scribes are saying. Those who are demon possessed are out of their minds! No control, lashing out at others, and when Jesus comes, He brings compassion, self-control, understanding, and holistic healing. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s the ultimate author or leprosy, of a man having a lame hand, of a cripple being unable to walk! Why in the world would Satan fight against himself? It’s a terrible argument! It’s the same thing with a kingdom divided against itself, and a house, and then again back to Satan. I’ve seen this happen before with sports! Think of the iconic play where Chris Webber is playing for Michigan in the national championship against North Carolina. With seconds left, he called a timeout when the team was out of timeouts, leading to him receiving a technical foul and giving the other team 2 free throws. Or other times where someone completely forgot which basket they were supposed to be shooting at and shoot in the wrong hoop and score for the other team. They’re only hurting themselves, and that’s the exact point Jesus is making in this section! If Jesus is really the “prince of demons” wouldn’t He just be fighting against Himself? It’s a terrible argument! Now I don’t have time to dig into this today, but there are all sorts of examples of this in the world around us today! People using terrible logic to try to argue against Christianity, I’ll be talking about some of them in Sermon Scraps tomorrow, but I’d also be interested in some of the reasons you’ve heard! Email me if you think of some!

-The second story is about a strong man (27). Spent a whole week studying this verse in college! Who is the strong man? Why does he need to be bound up? In context, the strong man is Satan, and Jesus coming to earth has bound Satan for this season. So instead of Satan fighting against Satan, Jesus is the stronger man who came to earth to bind Satan for a season by bringing healings, exorcisms and preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven. That’s what Jesus is accomplishing through His ministry! He’s not in cahoots with Satan, He’s actively fighting against Him! 

-This brings us to the final story, and a passage that has brought no small amount of debate over the centuries: the unpardonable or unforgiveable sin. Jesus even says every other sin will be forgive EXCEPT this one. And why is it worse to blaspheme the HS than Jesus?

-First time we’ve seen Jesus begin a statement with the word “Truly” (lit. Amen) This word is used all over the OT to give validity to what was said, but it’s always at the end of a statement. Jesus beginning a phrase with it signifies that Jesus is speaking with His own authority, and can almost be thought of as saying “Thus says the Lord” 

-As for the unforgiveable sin, notice that Mark adds a descriptive piece in vs. 30. This tells us that this unforgiveable sin is connected to seeing Jesus’ works (which are done by the HS, remember we saw Jesus submit Himself to the Spirit right after His baptism), and attributing them to the devil. One author summarized it by saying “It is deliberately repudiating the truth about Jesus.” (Andy Naselli

-What about someone who is antagonizing over whether that inadvertently said something that they’re convinced was this sin? I’ve talked to multiple people in my time in ministry who have worried about this! Yet here’s the reality: if you are at all worried you have committed this sin, I can almost guarantee you haven’t committed it. Those who have committed this sin don’t care. They remain callous and hard hearted toward the works of the Lord. So instead of living in fear of future condemnation, we need to remember that there is NO condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. So: do you trust Jesus today? And do you trust Him today more than you did yesterday? Great! You haven’t committed this sin!

Yet at the same time, we would do well to view this as a warning: keep short accounts. Keep living a life of repentance and keep in step with the Spirit. 

-As for why it’s worse to blaspheme the HS and not the Father or the Son, I think John Piper has a helpful summary:

-The Holy Spirit is the one who softens our hearts, who awakens our hearts to the realities of the gospel message, and if we refuse to acknowledge Him, we will be condemned.

-Jesus doesn’t say these scribes have committed it, but He’s warning them of the implications of what they’re saying! Be careful of what you say and who you’re accusing of being in league with the devil!

-All that just served to signify the opposition Jesus faces, because then Mark shifts right back to where we cut in vs. 21:

  • Family Opposition, Part 2 (31-35)

-Jesus dealt with the opposition of the scribes, no surprise there, the family tension is much more difficult and acute.

-Notice who’s described here: mother and brothers. Think back to December where we studied Jesus’ birth. How long would it take you to forget the arrival of the angels, the miraculous inception, the crazy shepherds showing up, the Magi from the East? How long does it take you to forget what God has done in your life? 

-Not just Mary, Jesus’ brothers come too! (anti-Catholic idea of perpetual virginity of Mary) Jesus had at least 4 brothers, and an unknown number of sisters (Mark 6:3). Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have struggled with my brother claiming to be God! On top of that, imagine what growing up with Him would have been like!

-Once again, the crowd is playing a role: this time they serve as a buffer between Jesus and His biological family. Just as the crowd wanted something from Him, His family isn’t trying to figure out Jesus’ ultimate aim, they’re trying to save face. Remember, we saw at the beginning of the chapter that Jesus didn’t even have time to eat, the crowd was so thick. So the word would have started in the back, slowly traveled person by person until they reach Jesus, who once again would have been doing what He’d been sent to earth to do: preach! 

-Not completely dismissing of family, but redirects the conversation. This would have been completely unthinkable in the 1st century context! We’re so individualized here today that we can’t fathom this, but in this time family was EVERYTHING. We saw in chapter 6 that people knew His whole family! The Jews were especially conscientious of family lineage. And Jesus wants to take that good idea, and put a new spin on it.

-Just as He was creating a new Israel with the 12 apostles, now He’s creating a new lineage, a new genealogy defined by a spiritual reality instead of a physical reality. God’s family is no longer comprised of ethnic distinctions, but spiritual distinctions, that’s what God wanted at the beginning anyway! Transformed lives, not just external obedience! 

-I shared at the beginning an illustration from Remember the Titans: Jesus is telling us here that our primary allegiances today need to change! If we’re a part of God’s family, our allegiance is to our brothers and sister in the church. Honestly, I don’t know how people survive without the church! We had people come help us clean our house when we moved in, paint every wall, replace toilets, flooring. Even this past week: our van died and next thing I know, Eric Zaske is offering one of his vehicles for me to use and Chris and Ian Wolfgram came over to help me replace the starter on the van!

-Those are small things, but they mean the world to me! But think about what it means that we’re a part of God’s family:

-What religion would allow you to approach God (creator and sustainer of everything that exists) as a family member? Keller tweet. Do you know that Jesus is your perfect Heavenly Father who cares more about you than you could ever realize? That nothing is too trivial to ask, and nothing is left out of His oversight?

-The reality is: we’re all a part of a family, the question is which family are you a part of? The scribes today demonstrated that they’re a part of the wrong family, and joining the right family is so simply a child can do it. Yet it takes a choice, so the question in front of us all today is: do you want to be a part of God’s family? It’s easy! As we saw in today’s text, it’s whoever does the will of God. So repent of your sin, believe in Jesus and you will be saved! 

Sermon Manuscript – Mark 3:7-19

The Famous One

Mark 3:7-19

-Think back to your friend group from High School. What kinds of nicknames did you have? I never had anything that stuck with me (apart from “Mike the Spike” from my aunt that stopped when I was about 5)

-I love giving people nicknames! It was an especially helpful gift when I was a youth pastor, and it drove the High School students NUTS! Maddy became Maddy-line, Clay became Clayton, and I stuck with it until they graduated. But something funny happened after they graduated: every student who claimed they hated their nicknames suddenly started using them as their social media handles TO THIS DAY!

-Our friends help provide a sense of identity and purpose to our lives, yet they also have the potential to hurt us in ways we never would have thought we could be! The same was true of Jesus and his friends. 


-Before we dive into today’s text, I want to take some time to highlight some big picture ideas that we’ve already been seeing in Mark’s Gospel. I’m intentionally going through big sections so we can get through it in a timely manner, but this week’s text gives us a little breathing room and time to contemplate some of the bigger focuses Mark is bringing.

-First, remember how Mark begins, his prologue to the story: The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

-This was very intentional! Shows his whole hand before anyone else has been dealt. The reason Mark wrote this book was to tell people about Jesus, to spread the gospel message as far as he possibly could! 

-This signifies to us us that everything Mark is telling in this story is to communicate to us that specific reality: Jesus is unique among all human history. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. He’s the one that all the law and prophets pointed to, and the only person who perfectly obeyed them all. But He didn’t stop there, He also fulfilled every prophecy God had made, He divides human history (and the human heart!). Everyone will bow the knee to Him, either willingly or by force, and He invites us to join with Him in His mission to seek and save the lost.

-As Jesus’ ministry starts, John the Baptist prepares the way for Him, points to Him, and even sends at least 1 disciple over to Jesus! After this preparation has taken place, Jesus is commissioned by the HS to go into the wilderness to be tempted. Not a fair fight! Not equal in power or authority, but as we’ll see in today’s text, Jesus is making a new Israel. Where the first Israel (and our first parents) failed, Jesus survives temptation, time in the wilderness, and then comes back to begin His ministry

-However, His ministry doesn’t look how people expect it to! Remember the tagline I shared from ‘The Chosen’ (kinda cheesy) “Get used to different”

-Changes expectations about rituals, He heals with a word, and people can’t get enough of it!

  1. Expanding Fame (7-12)

-After the showdown between the Pharisees and Jesus, He runs away. Remember last week we saw the final of 5 confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees. First was the forgiving of the paralytic’s sins (who was lowered into Peter’s home from 4 friends), then hanging out with “scum” like Matthew/Levi, then Jesus is confronted for not fasting on the regular, then His disciples are found picking grain as they walked through a field, and the final straw was the healing of a man with a withered hand at the synagogue on the Sabbath.

-Need to admit: this wasn’t a fair fight to begin with, but Jesus still soundly defeated them. Jesus confronts their hard hearts at each step of the discussion. He calls out their sinful thoughts, He engages their sinful questions, and then is angered over their lack of compassion toward the poor and marginalized.

-As we’ve been working through these various stories, I hope you have been thinking through who these people would be today! Part of the point of these stories is to help us be drawn to someone and repulsed by someone else. That’s really the point of every story! They’re trying to make a bigger point than just an entertaining story (at least good stories!). What ideas has Jesus turned upside down in your life? We so often want to tack Jesus onto what we already want to do instead of submitting everything we have and are to His Lordship in our life. Our aim (assuming you have put your faith in Him), is now to do everything we can to bring Him honor and glory. Part of the way we do that is by working to imitate Him. The reason we’re called “Christians” is because we’re supposed to be “little Christs” (within reason, none of us will be called to atone for the sins of the world!) But we are commissioned, sent by Him to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. This is the greatest adventure anyone could ever be called into! God wants to use you to accomplish an eternal mission! This isn’t just a Sunday morning affair, this is an entire life encompassing journey where God can use normal ordinary people like you and me.

-Back to the text: we are starting to see a pattern emerging for Jesus: major event happens, He isolates Himself. He’s not trying to create a following or build a big crowd, that’s not why He was sent to Earth. His aim is to accomplish His Father’s will, to seek and save the lost. Or as he said in 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Despite regular distractions or shifts from his primary focus, He continues to go back to His primary ministry: preaching. But He can’t do it indefinitely, He needs time to recharge and pray.

-But those crowds once again serve as a foil to Jesus’ plans, He can’t escape them!

-These crowds are coming from all over now. It’s not just Capernaum trying to get to Jesus. Look at all the various places that are listed: Galilee (been there) Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond Jordan, Tyre, and Sidon isn’t even on the map! Jesus thought it was bad after the leper, but it just got worse! Can’t hide, can’t get a moment to Himself (next week we’ll see He doesn’t even have time to eat!), the crowd keeps following Him everywhere He goes.

-What draws them to Jesus? “Heard all that he was doing” (8)

-What does that look like? So desperate to get something from Him that they’re on the verge of crushing Him. This is people who are just using Jesus to achieve their purposes. Not interested in hearing what He has to say, not interested in learning from Him, just want their interests met. 

-The crowd grows so large that He has his disciples create an escape route for Him, but even that may not be enough to get away! People can still swim, at least a little distance. 

-Remember, we’ve already seen that Jesus doesn’t get sidetracked or give into demands, but He still heals many people, such that anyone who was sick is desperate to get to Him.

-Imagine if you had a debilitating disease and had it for years. What would you do to take care of it? How desperate do you think you’d become? Think of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years (we’ll get there in a bit, in Mark 5). The Bible tells us she had been to as many Physicians as she could, to the point that she had spent every penny she had on trying to be healed, but it only got worse. As she hears about the unbelievable number of healings that were taking place because of Jesus how desperate do you think she would have been? How desperate would YOU have been? Imagine if you were struck deaf right now. What would you give to hear again? 

-Every so often there’s a new video that goes viral of something like a child  getting cochlear implantsturned on for the first time. They tug at the heart strings, don’t they? Or maybe you’ve seen similar videos where someone who was colorblind gets special glasses to see color?

-“You guys can see this everyday?” And that’s just with color! Imagine not being able to see, or hear, or walk, and in an instant you’re healed.

-The reason I share a video like that is because it’s easy to leave these stories as text on a page and forget that it’s referring to real people. If you’d been blind your whole life wouldn’t you stop at nothing to get to the healer?

-The difficulty is that everyone needs healing of some sort, but some people are better able to hide it than others. And the spiritual healing everyone needs is often viewed as less important than the physical healing. However, Scripture tells us that the angels in heaven throw a party, get more excited than this guy who saw color for the first time, whenever someone puts their faith in Jesus. 

-But sick people aren’t the only ones taking notice of Jesus. There’s a certain level of irony in vs. 10. Everyone wants something from Jesus EXCEPT the unclean spirits who just want to be left alone.

-Each story we’ve been studying serves to validate Mark’s first verse and is meant to force the reader to answer the question: who is Jesus? The evil spirits already know the answer to that, but they hate it! People have ideas about who Jesus is, but he keeps subverting their expectations, turning them on their head! People are hoping, they’d been anxiously waiting, but is this really Him? The demons don’t question it, but they’re upset about it!

-Why does he continue to silence them? Remember Jesus’ primary mission is to preach, and everything else serves to validate the preaching. It’s not the right time for His glory and identity to be revealed. Not that it’s stopping the news from traveling (once again, a bit of irony here). His fame keeps spreading, there’s nothing He can do to stop it! Which leads Him to this repeated pattern of withdrawing, spending time alone. Well, not always alone, as we see in the next section:

  • Shrinking Focus (13-19)

-Mountains have a special place in God’s story.

-Abraham went up to a mountain to offer Isaac (same mountain where Solomon’s temple would eventually be built)

-Moses goes up to a mountain to meet with the Lord and establish the rules for relationship between God and His people (Exodus)

-Mark is signifying that God through Jesus is re-establishing His people here

-It’s important to note how this is taking place. All God’s work, nothing the people did “called to him those whom he desired” and 14 literally states “he made 12” Not great English (and most of this isn’t great Greek writing either) but Mark is making a point that this is Jesus’ doing, not the apostles.

-Where the first Israel failed, this new Israel will not! Where the first Israel was meant to be a light to the nations (Isa. 49:6), this new Israel will go out into all the nations. Where the first Israel was meant to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6), this new Israel are all priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). 

-Mark makes an additional note about these 12: Jesus calls them apostles. Not used many times in the Bible, but denotes the idea that these are meant to be messengers or representatives. Which makes sense when you look at their mission:

-3 fold mission: be with, sent, preach and have authority (preach with authority like Jesus did)

-Be with: marked by time being close to Jesus. Following His ways, learning His methods, becoming a student of Him. Same call for us today! One author I’ve read states that we are to apprentice ourselves to Jesus.

-Sent. We aren’t meant to live in isolation, Jesus has commissioned us and sent us out to be His ambassadors to the world, representing and pointing to Him. This is why at the end of our service, instead of dismissing, we are sent to go out and represent Jesus to the best of our ability to the world.

-Preach and have authority: we can’t represent Jesus without preaching! “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words” doesn’t fit with what Jesus sends His disciples to do! The authority comes from all the previous things: being with, sent as his representatives, and preaching. One note – in this context it’s not preaching as referring to what I’m doing now. All of us are called to preach the gospel at all times, and it’s necessary to use words! Brothers and sisters, our words are meant to point people to God. Do yours?

-Same 12 throughout all the Gospels. Not everyone who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry (otherwise there would have been no Matthias to replace Judas)

-Simon first, Peter translation of Cephas “rock” Have you ever been given a nickname? That’s what Jesus apparently does with his friends too! Rock is a bit of a misnomer here, because we all know what happens to Peter during the rest of Jesus’ ministry! Denies Jesus 3 times, tends to be the most outspoken one, hardly tempting to call him a “rock.” But Jesus sees something the world doesn’t see in Peter, and he winds up preaching what is probably the most impactful sermon ever done. Just so happened to be his first sermon too, 3,000 people are saved because of his first sermon! It’s all downhill from there.

-James and John, brothers whose nicknames were “sons of Thunder” Either strong reaction, maybe they were big dudes, did something that when we get to heaven we can find out about that got them referred to as “sons of thunder.”

-Peter’s brother Andrew (not sure why Mark has them split up, but Peter, James, and John serve as Jesus’ “inner 3” so that may be why) 

-Don’t know much about the rest of the disciples with the exception of 3: Matthew/Levi, the second Simon and Judas Iscariot.  

-Remember what Levi/Matthew’s occupation was before Jesus called him? Tax collector. The second Simon is described as what? Zealot, actively working to overthrow the Roman rule. How do you think those 2 guys got along? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these 2 men were brought together as part of Jesus’ reformation of the people of God. You couldn’t have 2 more politically diverging groups. And they lived and ministered together for 3+ years! 

-The church offers friendship based on alien standards. The world tries to copy the sense of comradery and depth that Christians have, but it’s built on a fault line and won’t endure the realities of the world. We in the church in America have too closely wedded politics and our faith for too long, and we need to reassess our priorities to remain faithful to the Bible. Dear friends, we need to evaluate people according to God’s standards, not political standards (I’m grateful it’s not another election year!). Politics have become many people’s religion and litmus test for orthodoxy, but it provides overly simplistic solutions to a much bigger and deeper problem. That’s why we need the gospel.

-Keller: “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” 

-Politics only vilifies one side and only commends their side. What happens if you question or doubt? You’re cast aside! Jesus not only welcomes people in, He brings on their questions and draws near when you feel furthest away. Not only that, He doesn’t allow you to continue operating by the worldly standards you used when you first came to Him. All worldly standards fall short in some way, only the gospel is strong enough to endure under the weight of reality. It takes the messiness and brokenness of people and instead of blaming others, it deals with all of it on a cross. And that cross needs to remain true of us today. Jesus says we’re supposed to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him. Do you think it’s supposed to be easy? It’s not easy, but God gives us Himself to help us work through it. But it’s not just Himself, He brings us into a community.

-One of the difficulties in our world today is finding community. The hardest transition point in my life was college to post-college. How do you make friends? And then people add expectations and desires that no group can meet! Enter: the church!

-Tweet from a number of years ago.

-One of the things I’ve learned in ministry is people tend to complain about not being “connected” to a church in August and January. What’s the lead up to those months? And then when you ask: what have you been putting into the church? Oh nothing, people are supposed to pursue me! Yes, up to a point. But if you don’t engage, if you don’t let others in, if you don’t reach out no one is going to engage with you. All relationships are 2 sided (except God towards us, we can’t contribute anything to that)

-And the church is supposed to be a supernatural community that gets along where the world can’t. Where people from different ethnic backgrounds, different generations, different economic realities can gather together because we’re a part of something much bigger than the world we live in. And Jesus has the audacity to use us as his messengers. Isn’t that crazy?

-Friends, even when we get to lists of names in the Bible, they’re important for us to slow and contemplate exactly what’s being said! Jesus intentionally modeled for us what relationships in the church are supposed to look like. They’re not easy, there will be betrayal, we’ll need to get over some of our preferences and ideals, and all of this is good because it’s a reminder that it’s not about us! We’re not supposed to come to church to BE served, we’re supposed to come to church to serve, and everything we do is meant to represent Jesus to those we rub shoulders with.

Christmas Makes Us…

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.

1 John 1:1-4

-What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

-25 years ago I accidently created what has become my parents favorite tradition because I was too creative for my own good. I found a puppet book at church and created an entire Christmas story play with script, backgrounds, and puppets and forced my sister to do the puppet show with me. 

-The problem was I didn’t expect to be forced by my parents to do it into my 30s, nor did I expect to have in-laws roped into the festivities. 

-For about the last 15 of those 25 years I’ve tried unsuccessfully getting out of it, but this year is finally the year. I have produced enough progeny that I get to watch the play I foolishly made a quarter century ago.

-That’s my least favorite, my favorite has become lighting the candles on Christmas Eve.

-We’re not the first generation of Christians to spend time contemplating what Christmas (Jesus’ first coming) does to us. John, described in his Gospel account as the disciples “whom Jesus loved,” also contemplated the implications of the incarnation (try saying that 5 times fast!) in his first Epistle.


  1. Christmas Makes Us Remember (1, 3)

-John is encouraging his readers to think back to what’s really real. This letter was written (as most NT are) to correct an issue, people thinking and believing something untrue about how God has revealed Himself to be. In this case, John is writing because there’s a group of people who didn’t believe Jesus was really God.

-Does that sound like a familiar argument you may have heard before? So many people act as if they’ve uncovered some novel or new idea that no one has thought of before, especially in regards to Jesus. I was recently listening to a podcast that was arguing that modern day atheists are just a repackaged form of Epicurians. I don’t have time to go further on that, so I’ll let you do your own research and thinking on that if you want, but I think it’s an insightful idea! There’s nothing new under the sun, but people will try to come up with new or clever ways of saying the same old thing! I’d rather stick with the true original, God created everything!

-Which is also where John begins. “That which was from the beginning.”

-Do you remember how he begins his Gospel account? “In the beginning was the Word…” This story that we celebrate each year should bring our minds back to the very beginning, before the world was formed, before anyone walked the face of the earth God was. God created everything and it was very good, for 1 page! We know the story of Genesis 3 where sin enters the world, and as Romans reminds us death through sin.

-Some of those realities are the reason Christmas may be difficult for you. Because of sin, because of fractured relationships, because of death Christmas isn’t full of “good cheer.” I know some people in our body have lost loved ones this past year, and Christmas can be difficult when someone who’s supposed to be there isn’t. It’s a reminder that this side of heaven isn’t the way things are supposed to be. We all have a longing for what the Bible calls “shalom,” everything being at peace. That’s far more than the absence of conflict, it’s everything being in its’ proper place. Relationally, in the world, even your tools always being in the right spot!

-John goes on to say that the way we can have that shalom, peace, is because of what they saw with their own 2 eyes.

-Remember, there were people in this congregation who didn’t believe Jesus was truly God. But unlike John, these people weren’t there.

-Think of some significant events in history, the biggest one in my life was 9/11. I wasn’t there, but I watched the news as the planes flew into the WTC. One of my favorite pastors is Timothy Keller who served in NYC for a majority of his ministry. He lived and served in NYC when this event was happening, he saw it. Whose story do you think would be more accurate, his or mine? Similarly here, John saw, touched, heard, and it wasn’t just John, WE, other disciples were there too! There’s a whole group of people you can talk to about what happened!

-Christmas makes us look back, seeing how God has worked in human history, how He sent His one and only Son into the world, which leads us to this second Christmas makes us do:

  • Christmas Makes Us Proclaim (2)

-Christmas is the news that changes everything! Christmas is the reason we can and should proclaim about the realities of what Jesus has done! We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few weeks looking at this! 

-We’re caught up in something far bigger than ourselves, we’re caught up in God’s work of reconciling the world back to Himself. John describes this as “eternal life,” and when we read eternal life we have a tendency to only think about life after our time on earth is done, but when the Bible talks about eternal life it talks about something that starts now, the moment when you’re brought from death into life and put your faith , your hope, your trust, your confidence in Jesus’ work on the cross on your behalf.

-But it’s not enough for you to keep that news to yourself, part of being a Christian means sharing the with everyone else what’s really happening in the world around us. It’s so easy to get distracted or caught up in what Jesus describes as “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.” Those things seem to matter a lot, don’t they? We need to eat, have a house, have a full life. The problem is all those things are wonderful gifts, but if those gifts become the end itself you can’t really enjoy them.

-Think of your favorite food. Mine is a perfectly cooked steak. If steak becomes your entire focus it starts to lose it’s specialness. Even the best steak in the world is only meant to serve as a small taste of the perfect gifts God has given us. When you’re able to use God’s good gifts without excess or as an end in themselves you’re able to live in a way that demonstrates to the world what God does to you, and how He lets you live life to the fullest!

-But this also should make us question: what is it we’re proclaiming? You naturally share the things that you’re most passionate about and most enjoy. 

-I love coffee, reading, and basketball, but my love for those is miniscule compared to the love of my wife, kids, and that’s even less than my love of the Lord! In conversations with people I’m going to be looking for opportunities to talk about the things I love. Cara has even asked me after we’ve spent time with people why I kept bringing some of these things up. I care greatly about people finding and knowing more about the God! And so should you! Anyone who is now in Christ needs to work out best to proclaim the truths about what God has done in you, and how He loves others. John talks about it, and so should we.

-Christmas makes us look back and remember, Christmas makes us proclaim the truths of what Jesus has done, but we don’t do it alone:

  • Christmas Makes Us Relational (3b)

-One of the things we saw last night is that Jesus’ arrival brings peace. The normal state of affairs in the world and in relationships is conflict and turmoil. It’s difficult to be in relationship with others because it means being hurt regularly, and being willing to forgive. On top of that, it also means you’ll hurt someone else regularly, someone that you love. In order to have a real lasting relationship it requires regular repentance and forgiveness. 

-But notice as well that John talks about fellowship connected to the proclamation.

-As we preach the gospel, it allows and finds its’ fulfilment in fellowship. True, lasting open relationship is now possible because of God’s perfect plan coming to fruition. 

-This also means there’s more to fellowship than enjoyment of the same things. Those who denied the reality of the incarnation were breaking fellowship with the believers. This tells us that we can’t have true fellowship with those who deny orthodoxy. This isn’t something that people like to talk about or admit today, but it’s not a new issue. True, lasting fellowship isn’t possible with those who have abandoned Scriptures clear commands and teachings. They need to be brought back into last fellowship with God and others, but it’s only possible by proclaiming/believing the right things. 

-That’s what John goes on to say here, fellowship horizontally is dependent on fellowship vertically. How can you have fellowship with God? By believing in His Son and then living in light of His coming.

-When our relationship with God is right, it is made visible by our relationships with other believers.

-This also shows us the importance of being a part of a local expression of fellowship. When God saves us He makes us a part of a huge family that is made visible by local churches, local expressions of fellowship where we can demonstrate and live out all the requirements of being in relationship with one another (look up the “one anothers” of the NT if you don’t know what I’m talking about!) Summarized as “love one another.” 

-We’ve seen: remember, proclaim, relational, but when those 3 things are true it will lead to the fourth things Christmas makes us:

  • Christmas Makes Us Joyful (4)

-Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is a fleeting feeling that can change in seconds. Joy is a conscious decision that is far more lasting than a fleeting feeling. Remember how John has through this whole section been talking about the implication of the incarnation, or what happens because of salvation. The final marker of salvation in the believer is that they are a joy-filled person. 

-Paul commands believers to be joyful always in 1 Thess. 5, and he is someone who manifested that perfectly. Paul is the guy who had learned the secret to being content in all circumstances. He learned how to be joyful when he had plenty, when he didn’t have enough to eat. He learned how to be joyful when he was mocked and belittled, or when he had an audience with people in high standing. When Christ is in us, we can choose to keep our eyes on what God’s doing and how He’s continuing to work in you. 

-When God saves you, the culmination of that is joy. But notice the pronoun connected to the joy: OUR. It takes a community to be joyful. You can’t do this on your own, nor does God want you to do it on your own. It takes others to help you express your joy. I heard a quote last week that I really like. It’s a Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.”

-Isn’t that true? When you’re celebrating you want others to join with you in that celebration. And when you’re struggling you need others to help encourage you to not give up. It’s another way of saying what Paul reminded us of in Rom. 12: “Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.” By fellowshipping together, we can have that fulfilled joy. 

-All of this is a description of what is true because of the gospel message, author Trevin Wax wrote an article a few years back where he said it this way:

Trevin Wax: “If you excise the gospel community from your thinking about the gospel announcement, you gut the gospel of its purpose. Though the church is not the subject of the gospel announcement (Christ alone is the subject, of course), the church is a necessary object. Christ’s death has a purpose: to save sinners and incorporate them into a community that reflects His glory. . . . I fear that most evangelicals see the church as ‘just an implication of the gospel’ instead of thinking, This is the whole point of the good news—God forming a people for His glory and the good of the world.”

-Christmas changes everything, and causes us to respond by remembering, proclaiming, relating, and being joyful. 

Formally & Informally – 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.

-We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series! Basically, what I’ve tried to do is look at the topic of discipleship from a wide variety of angles.

-Your perspective on things can be deceiving! Remember the gorilla we saw (or maybe missed!) a couple weeks ago? 

-Today I’ve got a different picture to show you to demonstrate just how much your perspective changes things. At first glance it appears that dear Prince William is upset with someone, doesn’t it? What do you think he’s trying to communicate? But wait until your perspective changes, what do you think he’s trying to communicate now?

-Perspective matters! How we view discipleship matters. A good summary has been seen by the 4 Ps we’ve mentioned regularly.

-Summary of the previous weeks:

-Defining Disciple (learner): a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life. 

-The Content of Discipleship: God’s Word spoken in a wide variety of ways and contexts, because God’s Word is always applicable. (the way we move up the arrow is by God’s Word) Need to inwardly digest the Bible more, met people with digestive issues, why do so many Christians today have spiritual digestive issues that go undiagnosed or ignored?

-Imitate Me: God has given us a body of people who all have different strengths and weaknesses, but there will always be someone who is more mature than you in some area that you would do well to spend time with and learn how to imitate them. You become like the people you spend time with. SG a good place to do this! (We look back at people further down the arrow to invite them to imitate us)

-The Assembly: Micah reminded us last week that the gathering is integral to the life of a disciple. God literally baked this idea into the created order, and we need to gather because everything around us disciples us one way, but God’s ways are often the opposite of our worldly training so we need to be retrained and have the compasses of our hearts re-magnetized to true north. Sundays serve as the tuning fork for the rest of our weekly discipleship.

-I was reading an article this week that had a line that stood out to me that I thought was helpful in thinking of what Micah preached on: “The audience for worship is God, not us.” Sunday morning is a beautiful reminder that we exist for someone else, not for ourselves. This is part of the reason I think it’s important that we meet on Christmas Day (debate every time it falls on Sunday)

-This week, we’ll be looking at how we put all these various pieces together and pursuing holistic discipleship in every facet of our lives, or being intentional to disciple others one step closer to Christ informally and formally.

-I think Paul summarizes this idea really well in Phil. 4:8-9. Growing as a disciple (learner) of Jesus is learning how to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), which is focusing on this list of truths (even toward other people). The most difficult thing to disciple is your thought life. Think about it: who is your biggest critic? Who lies to you more than anyone else? We’re coming up to the time of year where we all make big bold commitments that we know we won’t follow through (they’re called New Year’s Resolutions). If you’ve ever had a gym membership you know it’s packed full in January, but usually by about mid-February there’s plenty of room again!

-One more thing before we read, remember what we are caught up in. The greatest story ever told!

-“Storytelling has been central to Christianity from the beginning, because the Gospel is not a body of teaching, but an account of something done.” Colin Morris. That’s literally why Christmas is such a big deal! The eternal unchangeable God entered into time and space to redeem the whole creation. That’s an historical fact that should cause us to ask a question Jesus asked His disciples: who do you say that I am?

-EFCA SOF: “God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.”

READ/PRAY (Deut. 6) 

  1. Formally: Right Theology (4-5)

-Notice where Moses’ announcement begins: with a statement of theology.

-Have a tendency today to view this as an academic pursuit instead of the core of discipleship. It’s just talking about God, which everyone does. The centering point that we’re gathering around together is the Bible, God’s inspired and authoritative Word because that’s the measuring stick that we’re commanded to use in our lives. We will only grow more mature as a disciple as we grow in understanding and application of God’s Word in our lives. If God has told us something, we need to obey. 

-This is why we spent a whole Sunday working on the content of discipleship: if we don’t, we won’t be learning the right things.

-There’s 2 ways to interpret this phrase here, hard to translate because there’s no verb. “The Lord our God the Lord one” could be a statement of identity (who God is) or could be basically a catechism statement: The Lord OUR God” 

-All theology is practical or applicable. Theology isn’t just an endeavor for the your minds, remember what I’ve shared before, it’s meant to make the 18” move from your head to your heart.

-Moses knows this: no transition, he goes straight into “love the Lord your God with everything” Because God is one it means something in all our lives, and Moses immediately jumps to the application of God being one! The last word there is an interesting one, literally could translate it as “muchness” or “abundance.” Just a way of saying everything. Then in the NT Jesus doubled down on this statement!

-This is where we see that we’re supposed to worship God with every single thing we do. What’s left out of “muchness”? Nothing! Moses is reminding God’s people that God’s people must represent Him to the world. Church: we have a job to do!

-That’s just the first application!

  • Informally: Right Living (6-9)

-How do we know how to obey God? What is the method God uses to help people move up the arrow? We need to soak and saturate our lives with His commands/words. We saw that when we looked at the content of discipleship.

-Did you know that boundaries, fences actually help instill a sense of security and protection in people? A study done in 2006 compared the activity of children who were taken to a playground with fences vs. a playground with no fence. Those children who had a fence used every available square inch to explore. The children without a fence stuck really close to the teacher to ensure they didn’t stray too far away. 

-The Bible (rules, stipulations, commands) are meant to allow us to experience freedom in Christ instead of living in fear. Think of how difficult it is to keep up with the moral relativism around us today! How do you know if something you say today won’t get you cancelled in the next 5 years? Friends, God has given us a spirit not of fear, but of freedom! All our sins past, present, and future have been atoned for, they’ve been dealt with, they’ve been cast as far as the East is from the West. Can you measure that? 

-Look where these verses begin: words. Remember, it’s not enough to just have a head knowledge about God, it needs to trickle itself down into the very center of your being and drive, your heart. The only hope we have of maturing as disciples is by letting the truths of God’s Word permeate into your heart, the very center of your being, “on your heart.”

-What is it that drives you? What we just saw in the previous 2 verses is for those of use who are in Christ, the driving force behind everything we do should be loving God perfectly, with all our “muchness.” That is literally the whole point of discipleship: learning to love God more correctly. 

-These commands, these rules are so important, God’s people are commanded to teach them, but not just teach, there’s an adverb here: diligently. I was listening to a podcast recently from a pastor who said: if anyone talks to me for more than 5 minutes, they’re quickly going to learn 2 things about me: I love Jesus, and I love my wife. We talk about the things that we’re most passionate about! Which is where Moses goes next:

-Describes how you diligently teach: talk. Once again, this is Moses assuming that God’s people know enough about God’s rules and commands that they’re able to talk about them diligently. 

-Church: don’t miss this! I keep saying it, but I want to point it out as we walk through all the places Moses says we’re to talk about God’s words. Everything we’ve looked at over the past 5 weeks is only possible if we ourselves are studying God’s Word and are then able to apply it to every context we find ourselves in. This gathering isn’t sufficient for you to let God’s Word soak into you deeply!

-The other thing I want you to be aware of is Moses’ overall point in what he lists here. He’s not limiting the teaching to these 8 areas, instead he’s using a literary device common to Hebrew known as Merism. Example: I searched high and low, meaning I searched everywhere (yet I’ve discovered that there’s something called “husband eyes” that still miss things!). Moses is using 2 examples to cover every aspect of life, yet I think these examples are still worth looking at, as a way of encouraging us to bring God’s Word to bear in our whole lives. 

Sit in your house: what things do you talk about when you’re at home? Vikings historic comeback win yesterday? Weather? Stocks? How long would someone need to talk to you before Jesus comes up? How do you create opportunities in your home to talk about what God is doing in your lives? Once again, this assumes that you know enough of God’s Word to talk about it, but when you’re home, inviting others in, how do you love God with your “muchness” in the home? This idea will come up again, so just wait a minute.

walk by the way: Not enough to talk about God when you’re in the house, there needs to be a PDA: public display of affection that’s geared towards God! Maybe today it should say “drive by the way” How can you drive in a way that shows you love God with your everything? 

-This is one of those areas that I worry we may be neglecting today, our culture has trained us that religion is something private that we leave at home, but for anyone in Christ, we’re supposed to have every area of our lives transformed. Even the act of going for a walk is supposed to be different because Christ is in us. One of the things I try to do when our family goes on walks is look people in the eye and say “hi” it’s an easy way to treat them as another person who carries the image of God. 

-Moses begins with your daily life: home and outside the home, what about with respect to time? 

lie down. What’s the last thing in your mind as you go off to sleep? “Vikings played an amazing second half today” Or maybe what is your nightly routine as you go to bed? What does it mean to love God with your everything at the end of the day? One of the ways Cara and I have built this idea into our daily lives is asking “what are you thankful for today” as we’re getting into bed. It’s an easy to way to reorient our minds to giving thanks to God even when it’s been a terrible day! I’ll be honest, sometimes the only thing I’m thankful for is the bed!

rise. Similarly what’s the first thing you think of when you wake up (other than: do I HAVE to get up?)? Maybe you roll over and check Twitter, the news, or the stock market. What would it look like for you to begin your day loving God with your everything? Maybe it’s thanking God that “his mercies are new every morning.” Maybe it’s giving thanks for God’s sustaining you through the night and that even when we need to sleep, God doesn’t ever get tired. Whatever it is, find some way to begin your day with God at the forefront of your mind. 

-But it’s not just you individually or as a family working through these things, because God gives you to other reminders to keep Him first. So, to ensure you don’t forget them:

Sign on your hand. How often do you use your hand during the day? How do you think your hand could be used to remind you to keep God first? Maybe it’s changing what your hands do on social media. Maybe it’s working harder at your job because it’s a gift from God to be able to work and do what you do.

Frontlets between your eyes. If any of you (like me) need glasses, you know how hard it is to see without your lenses. What would your life look like if you viewed everything through the lens of the God’s Word? What would it mean to view everything you see as God sees it?

Doorpost of your house your house should be different than those who aren’t following Christ. Once again, I have to ask, do you think this is true of you and your family? Are you just chasing the same American dream as your neighbors or can people tell something different about you in how you live and operate in your home? 

-Doesn’t necessarily mean putting a Bible verse on your door, but that may not be a bad idea either! Better than anything else you could read as you walk out of your house!

-What does it mean to be a Christian in the home? Training children, walking with the Lord. Living a life of repentance, prioritizing God over other good things. There needs to be something different about us. I think sometimes we’re guilty of slapping a “Christian” label on something and then continuing to pursue whatever we want instead of understanding the God is seeking to transform you from the inside out.

Gates: We often think about this in terms of our own private houses, but at this time period houses didn’t have gates around them, the gates was referring to the public square, so even in the public square, God’s people were to keep God at the forefront of their minds and act differently than those who didn’t follow the one true God. So for you today: do people at your work, in your interactions at the grocery store, can people see you follow God? What do you think it would look like for you to bring God into all these interactions?

-The summary: nothing is left out! God’s people need to bring God’s commands to fruition in every area of their lives, and we need to encourage each other to love God with our “muchness” and love others as we love ourselves.

-This idea is summarized in a similar way in a NT Epistle, and it’s where I’ve stolen some language when I talk about discipleship:

1 Tim. 4:16 (NIV) “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

-Anyone who has had a failing in ministry has failed in 1 of these 2 areas. Not mutually exclusive, these should be growing together, symmetrically. Think of a train. In order for a train to move forward it needs 2 rails, otherwise disaster strikes! Similarly for our growth as a disciple, we need to grow in both life and doctrine to pursue maturity. 

-How am I hoping we flesh this out in our context? Classes and small groups. Classes are a great environment to learn doctrine, to grow in knowledge of God. Small groups are great environments for living out the truths you’re learning, and accountability to apply those truths on a regular basis. If you ever want a book to read, please come talk to me! I love reading!

  • Perseverance, Step by Step (10-25)

-Remember that Israel here on the verge of entering the Promised Land, the place they’d been waiting years to enter. Living in the desert, eating nothing but manna and quail for 40 years, yet what does God remind His people to do as they look forward to that day? Not forget him! Look at all the things God’s going to provide for them: great cities, houses, cisterns, vineyards, olives trees.

-Dear saints, we have been blessed beyond measure! Christmas is a great time to think about this, Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 4:7 “what do you have that you did not receive?” Everything we have is a gift from God because God sent His Son to Earth to adopt us and make us His children, and then send us on a life of learning (discipleship).

-Moses goes on to say that the reason parents need to know and understand these truths is so that they can answer when your children ask you questions about your faith. How do you answer that question? (20) “Mom, dad: why do we obey God’s rules? Why are we different from my friends? Why do we have to wake up early on the weekend and go to church? Why do we spend our money differently?” 

-First of all, this assumes that you’re living differently. As I’ve said before, I sometimes worry that we’re not!

-I’ve had numerous conversations with some of you here about some of these issues. Why are kids leaving the faith? What hope is there of the church enduring? I listened to a podcast this past week that got my wheels turning on the need for us to live differently. Let me share some thoughts:

-We’re at a unique day in our culture where many of our assumptions are being challenged. One scholar has quipped that the job of apologetics today is not explaining the church to the world, the job of apologetics is explaining the world to the church. Why does it seem like our culture is getting crazier each day? The book of Judges summarizes this well: everyone did what was right in their own eyes. No accountability, no oversight, we live in the day of expressive individualism (def.) Yet the whole point of our faith is to be conformed into someone else’s image, not our own.

-Dear friends, we need each other to help each other grow in life and doctrine. We need each other to make disciples and to help each other mature as disciples. Every single person here is here for a reason and has some area where they can help those around them mature as a disciple. And as parents have questions, they need older people to help encourage them to persevere in their parenting and chasing after God. 

-Defining Disciple (learner): a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life.

-Newbigin quote. The only way of interpreting the gospel. 

-The gospel message isn’t just a mental idea that we check the box with and move on. The gospel leads us to a community of people who will disciple us so that we can in turn disciple others. We need to love each other enough to call out the sins we see in each other, and look for ways to share the gospel in word and in deed until, encouraging people to take one step close to Christ. We’re on an eternal journey of learning Christ more fully, so let’s start today.

-As we wrap up this series, 1 question for you. Where are you at on this arrow? What do you need to do to be or become a better learner? And who do you need to call to imitate you as you’re imitating Christ?

Imitate Me – Sermon Manuscript

-‘Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building’

-“I want to be like Mike”

READ/PRAY (2 Tim. 3:10-17)

-Remember what we saw last week, the 4 Ps of discipleship.

-I got a great question this week from someone: “are we going to be changing our values now?” What’s the point of the 4 Ws? The 4 Ws honestly are communicating the same thing as the 4 Ps, just in a different way. One of the exercises the book gave us was to come up with different ways of communicating the 4 Ps, (4 Ss, SPUR) I chose 5 Ws!

-Proclamation of the Word of God (Word) Prayerful dependence (Worship –> prayer) People (We) Perseverance (Worship – continually)

-Nothing sacred about them, hold on to whichever one makes the most sense to you. It’s a way of trying to summarize the biblical message in a way that makes sense to us today, that’s all it is!

-Last week, we spent most of our time on the first one, today I want us to focus on the third one, and think of it in terms of imitation.

  1. People as God’s Fellow Workers

-God is always at work around us if we have the eyes to see it (One of the words we’ve been talking about recently in our staff meetings is: intentionality. What is it we’re prioritizing in our lives, in our families lives, and in the church? What are we intentional about?)

-Remember, we looked at God’s plan from eternity past, is to have a people gathered around His throne in worship and praise of Him.

-Lewis The Weight of Glory “There are no ordinary people, you have never talked to a mere mortal…All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”

-Do you view your interactions with people in that light? Pushing people one way or another. One of the markers of someone who is moving closer to Christ is that they’re more willing to look for people further down the arrow who they can proclaim the excellencies of Christ to! Humility means you look to other people and their interests over and above yourself

-So often we miss that part of Christian maturity. “I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm” So do I, and it’s a sin I’m trying to rid myself of! We assume that because someone has attended church a long time it makes them more mature, or we equate biblical knowledge with maturity, but if that’s true, the Devil is the most mature being in all of creation! Part of the reason we gather together every week is to remind each other what’s really true.

-If you’ve ever read The Chronicles of Narnia series, when you get to The Silver Chair it gets fairly depressing as Eustace and his friend Jill are whisked back into Narnia to save a Prince who is captured underground. The witch queen of the underworld captures our heroes and slowly convinces them that Narnia isn’t real. Yet Puddleglum (the Eeyore of the story) rouses himself and responds to this wicked witch saying “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

-This is where we all come into play, we need the encouragement of each other, it takes all of us joining together as God’s fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:5-8), which is the amazing thing about being a part of what God has started since before the world was created. This is the story (HIS story) that we’re invited in to.

-A theologian I greatly respect refers to it as “the drama of doctrine.” We each have an integral part to play in God’s master plan for the world, a part that only we can play, but remember what we’ve seen the past couple weeks in 1 Cor. 3: we can plant and water, but who is that causes the growth?

-Ultimately God, God alone saves. We can point, we remind others, but we are not the savior. Think of John the Baptist, who regularly reminded people “I am not the Christ!” We have that same responsibility today, boldly proclaim the gospel message in word and deed, but remind people it’s only because of God’s grace that causes these things to be true.

-Reformation motto: “It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.” I am somewhat worried that our culture today has so ignored the second half of that statement that we don’t think beyond the line of faith. Brothers and sisters, that beautiful moment where a dead sinner is brought from death to life is just the beginning of a whole new way of living! That’s why the great commission doesn’t stop at “go and make disciples” it goes on to say “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.”
-We have a job to do! We now are meant to serve as a visible demonstration of what Jesus looks like to the world, and this happens the moment we’re brought from death to life. We’re caught up into an epic adventure of good vs. evil, we’re in the middle of the greatest story that has ever been written, and is currently being written! The end hasn’t come yet, which means we all need to be Puddleglum to each other (not the negativity part) We need to rouse each other out of the sleep the world lulls us into and remind each other the cosmic realities that we’re a part of every day!

-Really briefly, just because we covered this in Eph. 1, I want to look at the interplay between God’s job and our job

Eph. 1:11-14. Predestined, yet we’re the ones who believe

Acts 13:48 “as many as were appointed believed”

-This is 100% God’s job, and 100% our job. How does that work, don’t dwell on it too much on this side of eternity, because it’ll make your brain hurt!

-What is involved in being faithful disciple? What is required to make more disciples? Col. 3:17: word and deed. You may have heard a quote falsely attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: preach at all times, and if necessary use words. You can’t disciple without words! Words are the currency of relationship.

-Think about is, how do we know who our friends are? They tell us! How do people find out things about you? You tell them! It requires words to build relationships. Same with our discipleship, it requires speaking to others to build them up, to use your interactions, conversations, and anything else you do to build others up (in LOVE)

-Why don’t we easily share what God is doing in our lives with others? At work, share something that stood out to you from the sermon. After church, share a passage you’ve been memorizing with the people you talk to. At a restaurant, pray for your waiter/waitress and be kind. (Culver’s with the student ministry) What opportunities are we missing because we’re not paying attention? What things are we focusing on instead of being attuned to what God is doing around us?

-There was a video I was made aware of in Middle School that made this point really well! If you’ve seen it, don’t give it away! Video of a basketball pass

-How many passes did you count? If you counted 15, way to go! But did you notice the gorilla in the video?

-Unless we’re reminded of the bigger realities of what’s taking place around us, we will miss them. That’s part of the reason we need to tell our stories to other people, remind them of what we’re caught up in.

-Really briefly, have you thought about the way we today get to fulfill some of the OT prophecies?

Numbers 11 (you don’t need to turn there) Moses brings together 70 elders who will be tasked with sharing the leadership role of God’s people. God comes down to share his spirit with the leader, 2 of whom missed the memo and weren’t at the meeting, yet because they were supposed to be there they started prophesying. Joshua comes running up to Moses and says “STOP THEM!” And Moses replies Num. 11:29. Wouldn’t that be a day! When all God’s people were filled with the Holy Spirit speaking God’s Words to each other! Toward the end of the OT, God promises that exact thing to happen in Joel 2, and Acts 2, and 4:31 specifically talk about that idea being fulfilled then.

-If prophesy is speaking God’s Word to others, do you realize we can do that all the time now? The OT people literally dreamed of living in the time period we’re in today, and we forget or neglect it, or even get nervous of what someone would think of us if we start to share God’s Word with each other!

  • Two Pictures of Discipleship

-With all that in mind, of being more intentional to see where God is working and joining with Him in pursuing those realities I want to give us 2 pictures today of what that looks like in our day to day lives: following and imitation.

  1. Following

-When Jesus began his earthly ministry, as he was recruiting His disciples, do you remember the command He gave them? “Follow me.” (Matt. 4) What’s their response? Immediately they left their lives behind to follow Jesus. What is your response when Jesus asks you to do something? Or potentially another way looking at this is what changes has God asked of you to be a disciple of Him? You can’t follow Jesus as a disciple and keep anything else on the side, God will not allow that to be the case!

-There are entire books written on this idea! One by David Platt was called Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. (In our library) This book encourages people to think about those whom Jesus called to follow Him. They didn’t have wealth, didn’t have prestige, didn’t have notoriety, weren’t “influencers,” they were normal, everyday people whose lives intersected with Jesus and then had their entire life trajectory changed.

-But notice as well, what did these early disciples give up to follow Jesus? Everything! They left their vocation, their families, their communities to follow after this new teacher who would go on to teach them a new way to engage everything around them.

-On top of that, look at how Jesus reframed their lives. Where they once were fishermen, Jesus was going to teach them how to fish for men. (Even Jesus enjoyed a good dad joke, very punny!)

-This tells us a few things about discipleship:

-First, it’s a call to follow Jesus and only Jesus. You don’t need anything else, in fact most other things will get in the way of you pursuing Jesus alone!

-Second, God will take our natural talents, gifts, wirings, and reframe/refocus them in a new direction. I’ve said this before, but it is no accident that you’re in the job you’re in. It’s no accident you’re in the family you’re in. It’s no accident you’re in the home you’re in. It’s no accident you have the hobbies and interests you have, God needs you to use them for His glory. He needs you to demonstrate Him in those contexts, so do it! Start praying about what it would look like for you to represent Jesus wherever you go!

-The next passage I want us to think about in relation to following Jesus is Mark 8:34-38. This passage doubles down on the idea that discipleship is a call to die to your old way of living in order to live for Christ.

-At times the things Jesus calls us to isn’t the easy way or the way we want to go, but it’s the right way. Jesus regularly tells people to count the cost of following Him. Have you ever done that? Or maybe a different way of asking it is what has it cost to follow after Jesus? Honestly, for most of us it hasn’t cost much, but it seems that the time is coming where it will (or is starting to) count a little more.

-I’ve talked to some of you about some of these things before, pronouns, rainbow pins, life altering surgeries. How do you engage these issues with the truth when the truth is liable to punishment in your jobs? Dear saints, that is counting the cost of discipleship! (Heard of a guy at Mayo yesterday wrestling through this very thing!) That is being willing to identify with Christ while here on earth, and I am at times worried that we’re not willing to do that, nor are we willing to do that together. I talked before about casting your cares on the Lord because He cares for you, but one way we can do that today is by casting our cares on each other, because we’re here to represent Christ to each other!

-The last passage I want to look at in connection with following is Luke 9:57-62

-One of the biggest problems I have with today’s Christian culture is the idea that Jesus just wants to take all your favorite desires and bless them and move them to the next level. Think of things you’ve seen with the #blessed on the socials. New car, new job, new house. But what happens when life doesn’t go the way you want, when you don’t get to just keep doing whatever you want? God wants us to realize that we live #blessed all the time, regardless of life’s circumstances because we have a new life in Christ! God wants to make us new people, not leave us to wallow in our tiny ideas of what constitute the best life!

-What we’ve seen abut following through these 3 passages is it requires dying to ourselves, it reorients our whole lives around a new person, and it requires sacrifice. It’s both the easiest and hardest thing you’ll ever do. Easiest because it doesn’t depend on you! Hardest because it requires you to die.

-Let’s now turn our attention to the second picture:

  • Imitation

-What does it mean to imitate someone else? To copy them, to model yourself after. I think we live in the most imitation heavy culture out there! Instagram influencers, how many followers someone has. Social contagion of tics because kids are watching Tik Tok videos from influencers who have facial tics that they’re emulating. Whether you realize it or not, you become like those you spend time with, you imitate them. There are 2 passages from Paul that I want us to think of in relation to imitation (even though the first one says follow!)

-Timothy was Paul’s protégé. Just as Jesus’ followers had other people follow them, so Paul continued the tradition with Timothy. There was imitation that was taking place, so much so that unlike the false teachers, Timothy was to follow Paul in his: (2 Tim. 3:10-11)

-Teaching: that which corresponds to the great tradition handed down from Jesus to the first disciples all the way down to today!

-conduct: the way Paul lived his day to day life

-aim in life: what is it we’re all aiming for? Maturity in Christ! (Eph. 4)

-faith: that moment where our lives radically change, we’re brought from death to life.

-patience: do you remain patient when things (bad or good!) are happening to you?

-love: the new Christian ethic where we love everyone!

-steadfastness: endurance, perseverance step by step, not giving up!

-persecutions: wait, even these?

-suffering: AND suffering? Paul goes on to say anyone who wants to live a godly life will face persecutions. All of us are guaranteed that in some capacity. Yet if even Jesus suffered, why would we expect anything different?

-Finally, the last passage we’ll look at today: 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1.

-Remember our definition of a disciple: a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life. So Paul starts with worship. Do everything to bring God glory, even something as mundane and trivial as eating or drinking! And use things as an opportunity to point others to Christ, not causing them to stumble (different topic for a different day!)

-But where does Paul land? Imitation. Friends, do you invite people to imitate you? If someone were to imitate you, what would that do to their spiritual development? Would it bring them closer to or further away from Christ?

-Notice that there are limits to this imitation, we imitate ONLY IN SO FAR AS the imitation is like Christ. What areas of your life are worthy of imitation? This week, today, take stock of your life, what areas should you be inviting others to come imitate you in? And as you do that, what areas of your life do you need to find someone you can imitate?

-I shared at the beginning of this message my desire when I was growing up was to be like Mike, but I’ll encourage you here at the end with that same message: Look at me, imitate me insofar as I imitate Christ. I’ll keep my eyes fixed on Him, I’ll keep striving after Him, and when and where you see me doing that, join with me in pursuing the same thing!

-This week, find 1 person that you can encourage (maybe it’s starting by praying for this) to imitate you, and then encourage them to find someone else who can imitate them, and pretty soon we have an entire church full of people who are disciples looking for every opportunity they have to make and mature more disciples. We plant, we water, and we trust the growth to God.

The Content of Discipleship – 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.

-God’s plan in human history is to redeem people, moving them from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Son. This looks like God’s people, in God’s place, serving under God’s rule and blessing. 

-A disciple is: a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life. Summarized by an arrow picture

-Today we’re going to look at the idea summarized in the movie Pay it Forward. Don’t recommend watching it, I haven’t even seen it myself, but the storyline is brilliant (feature a young Haley Joel Osment coming off his smash hit The Sixth Sense). His teacher challenges his class to come up with a way to make the world a better place. He says he’ll find 3 people to help, with something big that they can’t do for themselves, who are asked to do the same for 3 more people, and so on and so forth, until pretty soon you’ve helped a literal country’s worth of people.

-You may have seen or heard of this happening on a smaller scale in a drive through, but there always ends up being someone who stops the chain!

-This concept is a good summary of discipleship: each person reach 1 other person with the gospel message, who will reach 1 more person until it literally takes over the world! Paul summarizes this idea in 2 Tim. 2:2“what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful people, who will be able to teach others also.”

READ/PRAY – Col. 3:12-17 (573)

What is the Bible?

-Great place to look is a dictionary! Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms

-Really brief summary: God’s Word.

-Inspired: summarized as “God-breathed” These are God’s very words that are being spoken to us as we hear, read, think about them. That means it is authoritative, the final say in all our lives and the means by which we understand what holiness is. We wouldn’t know who God is apart from His revelation in His Word.

-Because it is God’s very Word, it is also truthful. Everything it says is true and corresponds to reality. The difficulty with this is sometimes we’ll get our interpretation or understanding wrong. The problem isn’t with the Bible, it’s with us! Our tendency is to look at the Bible as the problem instead of looking at ourselves. 

-Next, we see that the Bible is sufficient. If you want to know how to grow in holiness, what God is like, how we got here, the purpose of human existence, look to the Bible! Other things based on the Bible can be helpful, but the Bible is the only one that is completely true. 

-Because it is sufficient, that also means it’s necessary for us. If the Bible is the only place we can truthfully and perfectly know God, we need it like a fish needs water, or a human needs food. We can’t survive without it!

-We also praise God that His Word it clear. It is able to be understood, however, it can’t be understood completely, and it requires the proper tools (and the HS). 

-Finally, and most importantly for our topic today: the Bible is powerful! I have lost count of the number of testimonies I’ve heard where someone picked up the Bible and started reading, and suddenly were confronted with who Jesus is and put their faith in Him! 

-A few weeks ago I heard another story of someone who was intrigued enough to start reading the Gospel of John, only to get to John 8 and stop because they were scared of how Jesus would respond to the woman caught in adultery. Months later, their curiosity got the best of them and they returned to John 8 and seeing Jesus’ response was enough for them to believe in Him.

-But the Bible isn’t just powerful for salvation, notice the other effect: transformation. As disciples, we’re called to pursue transformational learning. It’s not enough to be a bunch of eggheads walking around with more biblical knowledge (trivia) than anyone else, we need to live it out.

-This is summarized by 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Do you want to know how to be complete? Know, live, breath God’s Word, and then live it out by your good works.

-Do you realize how powerful God’s Word is? We read it in a place like Rom. 1:16, but do we actually believe that? God’s Word has toppled tyrannical dictators, literally changed the course of western civilization, and was the tool used to save everyone in this room who believes in Jesus as their Savior.

-Many people miss heaven by 18”, the space between the head and the heart.

-How do we ensure that we’re not one of those people? What is it that we need to help others grow as a disciple, and ensure we’re growing as disciples?

-I gave it away last week: the proclamation of the Word of God, done by the people of God with prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God, and this can only come about by persevering step by step, moment by moment and day by day. The 4 Ps, hold on to those, because those are the focus of our series! I even gave you blanks this week to fill out because they’re that important! (I don’t like giving you blanks because it causes your brain to listen for just those things instead of the whole message)

  1. Proclamation of the Word of God

-This is why we began with a question. If the Bible is God’s chosen means of revealing Himself to us then we need to make that the focus of our lives. Jesus summarizes this idea well when He’s being tempted by the devil: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

-Brothers and sisters, think about that reality. If we’re not spending time with God in His chosen means of revealing Himself to us we are killing ourselves, cutting ourselves off from the source of life He’s given to us.

-I’ve shared this example before, but it has stuck with me. We as Evangelicals claim to be people of the book, but how early in our worship services is God’s Word opened? Go look at some other churches, see when the Bible is finally opened! Usually it’s when it’s time for the sermon. If you just attend a RCC service every week for 3 years the whole Bible will be read to you, yet it’s not always applied, lived out, or trusted to be enough.

-Similarly, the fact that you’re sitting here tells me that over the course of your life, you’ve eaten food. Yet how many of those meals can you remember? A couple, but those are literally lifegiving to your body! Spiritually, you need to be ingesting God’s Word, even though it can at times feel completely plain, ordinary, and boring (like eating kale). It’s giving us life, it’s transforming our minds, and conforming us (SLOWLY) into God’s image.

-Think of a cup of tea (tried it, came back to coffee!). Tea is water that has been transformed. Takes on the smell, flavor, color of the tea literally transforming the water. We need to steep ourselves in God’s Word so that we are transformed, so that what comes off us is the small, the flavor, the color of God instead of us.

-Let’s look at 1 passage in connection with this idea. Col. 3:12-17

-Just as we saw in Eph. We see another reminder to put off the old sinful ways, and put on God’s characteristics/traits.

-Love is the new ethic and standard of living for believers. Peace is possible in and through Christ. “And be thankful” Good week to have that reminder! If we are “In Christ” than gratefulness should be our MO. No room for Eeyore’s in God’s house!

-How does this take place? By letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly. How can Christ’s word dwell in you unless you’re spending regular time in it? Richly, not just haphazardly or a little bit. A rich cup of coffee has a ton of flavor in it, our lives should be so steeped in God’s words that that’s all we know! I have heard it said that the gospel is a well that we need to keep come back to again and again and again. We’ll grow deeper and deeper, but it’s never a new well. Same place, same person, same methods, but we become changed.

-This dwelling in Christ’s words isn’t just for us, we’re to use it to “teach and admonish” each other. Do you let God’s Word teach and admonish each other? There is nothing more powerful and encouraging than speaking God’s Word to each other. We can even do that with singing!

-On top of all those things is “whatever you do.” Everything you do (word or deed, life encompassing) should be done as an act of worship to God. Are your words and actions representative of Him? Is your life matching your talk, and is your talk matching God’s Word?

-Think of how the book of Acts talks about the spreading of the early church.

-As God’s Word spreads, disciples are made or matured. It doesn’t happen apart from God’s Word going out!

-Think of what we saw over the past 3 months in Ephesians! (a brief overview of the entire book here:

-The book begins by praising God for his work before the dawn of time to call a people to Himself. A people who heard “the word of truth” and then believed, leading to the third person of the Godhead living in you.

-Then Paul gives thanks for the church’s “faith and love toward all the saints.” The Word is planting itself in people’s lives and being made visible through their actions. 

-These new actions leads to a new life that is completely dependent on God, because we were/are dead without Him, but now because of His grace in us, we can live transformed lives.

-This transformation is seen by 2 very different people becoming 1 new person under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, making us citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. 

-This proclamation continues in chapter 3 where Paul shares how he preached this message of God’s plan from eternity past for all people, leading to Paul praying for the church be strengthened in Christ so that He will dwell in them.

-As they’re strengthened, Paul urges them to “live worthily,” which is accomplished through God’s people using their gifts in service of each other so that everyone will become mature.

-This is the opposite of the way the world works, they have not “learned Christ,” they haven’t put off their old selves which means they have no hope of putting on the new self! The rest of the book is an explanation of how they show they’ve “learned Christ” in all the areas of their lives (marriage, children and parents, slaves and masters). 

-Paul ends this wonderful book by asking for prayer to boldly proclaim the gospel, just like we should be doing to the world and each other on a regular basis, in order to encourage each other to move 1 step closer to Christ.

-So what does it look like to proclaim the word of Christ to each other? Is it only singing? Is it only preaching? Do we have to walk around with the Bible app open on our phone to look for the best verse for every conversation we’re having? (that would be funny) 

-Think of all the examples the Bible gives us of how we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (taken from The Vine Project, 86):

-You could write a letter. Most of the NT is letters! Letters mean a lot more today than they did 15 years ago, much more encouraging than a text!

-You could invite a group of people to your house for a late night get together. Share stories, share a meal, and talk about what God has been doing in your life [Acts 20:7-9 Eutychus] 

-You could talk about the sermon from that day as you go out and grocery shop after church on a Sunday. I ran into a couple people at Sam’s Club at about 1 PM last week! [Acts 17:17-18] 

-You could look for opportunities to encourage the barista at Caribou when it’s so early you’re just grumpy (it worked for Paul in Acts 16:13-14)

-You could find the local meeting place (I think in MN that’s Target!) and look for opportunities to share with others about why God makes sense in this crazy world we live in [Acts 19:9] 

-You could read Scripture in here or in class or even if you think God has given you a gift to preach, to let me know and have you preach here! [1 Tim. 4:13] 

-Or you could talk about it during your commute, in an Uber, on the train, it worked for Philip when he was going about his daily life! [Acts 8:29-35]

-There is no area in your life that is left out of the need for God’s Word to speak truth into. But here’s the other part about it. You don’t even need to open the Bible to proclaim the Word of God to someone else.

-Imagine sitting down with a child who is afraid of beginning school for the first time. You can encourage them to trust in God, that God is always with them, that God will never leave them alone. You could open the Bible to Phil. 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” You could take the child to 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Or you could summarize those ideas for him. 

-But this assumes that you know enough of God’s Word to be able to proclaim it in any situation you find yourself in. This is how you demonstrate that you’re letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly! If you know God’s Word, love God’s Word, and are letting God’s Word soak into every pore of your being, that’s what will come out.

-But that’s only the first P! Don’t worry, we’ll walk through the next 3 much quicker, because we’ll be looking at them in more detail in future weeks!

  • Prayerful dependance on the Spirit of God

-We saw this verse last week, but it bears repeating this week 1 Thess. 4:17. We’re commanded to pray without ceasing. Pray for the people you come into contact with, pray that God will bring to mind the truths of His Word in every situation and circumstance. 

-Maybe you’ve had a situation where someone is sharing something going on in their life, and you’re reminded of a verse that you’d been meditating on the week before, and you share it. Isn’t that a wonderful way to let Christ’s Word dwell in you richly? 

-I have a friend who’s been praying for opportunities to share the gospel with his boss. They were meeting to talk about a big project that was due soon and he said “I hope we can get it done!” The boss said “hope isn’t real,” and my friend took the opening!

-Once again, this assumes you know it well enough to be able to bring it back to mind when those situations arise. And what better things to be praying back to God than the very Words He inspired! (Read the Bible and pray those truths!)

-“Prayerlessness, like Wordlessness, is a classic symptom of a sick disciple-making culture.” (TVP, 90)

  • People are God’s fellow workers

-I read a quote last from Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, but I only shared 1 line from it. I wanted to read the whole thing this week. 

-We cannot do this alone, we desperately need each other. Yet how often do we try to do it alone, in our own strength, in our own power? Jesus never meant for us to work on discipleship in isolation, but we often miss this until we’re at our breaking point, and then we start to open up to others! If we let others in at the front end, if we open up to others and both encourage and are encouraged by them, we’ll have people ready to speak truth to us when we’re weak.

-Is this God’s job, or ours? Yes! Paul calls us the body of Christ today. We’re supposed to represent Him to those we contact. Think of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:6-9. We can plant, we can water, but we can’t force anyone to grow. We plant and water indiscriminately! We spread God’s Word far and wide, anywhere we go and with anyone we come into contact with! We are God’s chosen means of spreading the gospel message today, in word and deed.

  • Perseverance, step by step

-One of my favorite verses of all time is Gal. 6:9.

-Notice the key to reaping: not giving up. Perseverance is expected in the Christian life! That doesn’t mean it’s easy, doesn’t mean it always comes naturally, but a verse like this gives us hope to NOT give up! No matter how hard it gets, keep doing good.

-Paul talks about this all over his letters! Think of all the putting off and putting on we studied in Ephesians! In between Christ’s 2 comings we positionally are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies, but we still strain and groan and grow while we’re here on earth. Think of how Paul summarizes this in Phil. 3:12-14

-We continue pressing on! We continue straining forward! We keep our eyes on the prize: the upward call (discipleship)

-How do we put this all together? The 4 Ps: Proclamation, Prayerful, People, Perseverance. We, Word, Worship, Witness.

-None of us are in the same spot, none of us have the same temperament, none of us approach problems exactly the same. We need each other to speak God’s Word to each other and continually encourage us to take 1 step closer to Christ. But remember, the message for believers is the same message an unbeliever needs. Wherever anyone is on this arrow, what they need is encouragement from God’s Word. We’re not trying to make clones, we’re trying to become what God has uniquely created and wired us to be.

-Discipleship isn’t systematic or programmatic. That’s part of why there’s so much confusion about it! It’s the same tools, but leading to a different result. 

-No 2 snowflakes are the same, just as no 2 Christians are the same. God has chosen a wide assortment of people to demonstrate Him, it requires a wide assortment of people to demonstrate Him to others.

-This week, who is 1 person you can intentionally “pay it forward” to, and find a way to encourage them to take 1 stop closer to Christ.

Defining Discipleship – Sermon Manuscript

-Humans are hardwired to want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. 

-I’ve been talking to a friend recently about what makes a story “epic.” (stirs the soul, captures the imagination, sense of longing) Think of the appeal of LOTR or Narnia.

-I think all of us long for this. Civilizations since the dawn of time have had stories to help us understand our place in the world. Beowolf, Epic of Gilgamesh. Jews had Noah and his ark, the crossing of the Red Sea. Rome had the raising of the twins by wolves. Americans have the midnight ride of Paul Revere. 

-This past week, I went to a conference in Denver where I ran into a friend from seminary who is planning to pursue PhD work in New Zealand, AKA Middle Earth. As soon as I heard that I said that to him, and he agreed that’s why he wanted to go there! We LONG to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

-Yet that’s exactly what God invites us into. But this invitation is to something even more epic than a fantasy story full of talking animals. God’s story is true, and allows us to get caught up in the most epic story that is taking place around us every moment of every day, yet we need to retune our minds so that we can better see and understand what is taking place around us all the time. We need a Gandalf to rouse us from our complacency, and jump off the couch and go on this wonderful adventure!

READ/PRAY (Titus 2:11-14, 579)

  1. God’s Purpose in Human History

-How do you summarize the story of the Bible? Creation, fall, redemption, consummation? The revealing of God’s eternal plan? The establishment of God’s people? 

-Establishment of the kingdom of God: God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing. We studied 1 Peter together, that book was a reminder of how to live as holy exiles, remembering that our kingdom is not of this world. We’re citizens of a new country where Jesus sits on his throne, and the best part is he can’t be outvoted!

-God’s people are those who seek to worship (obey) God in every facet of their lives, imaging Him and obeying His mandates to fill the earth and subdue it.

-God’s place is everything! Since God created everything there is nothing outside His realm. Kuyper: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

-God’s rule and blessing comes about as His people (the church) preach and practically live out the gospel in every area of their lives. God’s purpose, from eternity past, was to have a people who demonstrate Him by what they say and how they live, distinct from the world around them. 

-Let’s look at some passages that talk about what this looks like:

Titus 2:11-14 (579)

-“Grace of God appeared” that’s talking about Jesus. This brings about salvation, which is available to everyone. Then when we are saved, it leads to godly lives today, as we anxiously wait for God’s return.

-“Purify for himself” holiness/sanctification, means we are “zealous for good works.” Those who are saved are looking for opportunities to do good works. Do you look for those opportunities? Are you “zealous” working your hardest, to do these good works? 

Col. 1:13-14 (572)

-Delivered from the domain of darkness, in a new kingdom, gives us redemption. We can summarize this idea with a diagram.

-We are called to live out good works, to live out the truths of the gospel, and we are called to do that together, in community during “this present age.” But this isn’t just an NT idea, we see another picture of this in the OT

-Picture of this using an arrow.

-Jer. 29:5-7 life in exile for God’s people (382)

-Notice how normal this is! Live a holy life in the normal everyday life, we’ll look like we’re doing the same things as everyone else, but with a different focus, aim, and goal. We’re supposed to actively look for ways to be a blessing to our communities (don’t have time for this now, but I’ll talk about it some during Scraps tomorrow, how do we pursue the blessing of our community when the culture emphasizes the opposite of what we’ve been called to do/be, and calls our attempts at blessing intolerance. Separate issue than we have time for today, but I think it warrants conversation)

-Before we get to “discipleship” I think we need to understand what a disciple is, so let’s begin defining what a disciple is before we get to the activity of discipleship (or, spoiler alert, “discipling”)

  • What is a disciple?

Luke 6:40 (503)

-At it’s most basic level, it is a “learner” Saw this in Eph. 4:20 “learned Christ” All of us are supposed to be learning from Christ, remembering that we aren’t above our teacher (Jesus) but the aim, direction, purpose, is to “learn Christ” that is to be like Him, to follow after Him, to represent Him to others, to help teach others what He’s like.

-So we can take our arrow picture and add the idea of them becoming a “learner” by putting an “L” above those who are learning Christ.

-What are some pictures of this? Baptism & yoke

John 4:1 (518)

-What does baptism signify? Dying to your old ways of living, washing the old self off and putting on the new. We see in other places in the NT that baptism serves as a visible demonstration of our death to ourselves and the new life we’ve been given in Christ. In 1st Cent. Served as a physical, visible identification with a new teacher. John had quite the following, if Jesus comes and baptizes even more, his notoriety would have spread quickly! Therefore, baptism serves as the visible demonstration that you are publicly identifying with Christ and dying to your old ways of living. 

-Have you been baptized?

Matt 11:27-30 (476)

-This is where it becomes fun! Jesus invites us into the epic story of cosmic, universal renewal. It doesn’t make sense in our minds, because it’s both the easiest and the most difficult thing you’ll ever do.

-Yoke is easy and light (which is only true because Jesus is pulling with you, but it’s still a yoke, which means you need to put in all your effort. Is this God’s doing or ours? Yes! 100% our job, 100% God’s job. Our work is light and easy compared to trying to do it by ourselves, but we need to do the work if we want to join with God in this epic story we’re called into. 

-Another way of summarizing this idea is: “Transformative learning” Doesn’t just stay in the theoretical (it can’t) it must lead to transformation and conformation (conforming into the image of God)

-The last text I want us to look at is Jesus’ last recorded words in Matthew’s Gospel, the great commission 

Matt. 28:18-20 (487)

-Preached on this text before (when I candidated) but that was over 2 years ago now, and that was meant to serve as the starting point for this series now! What is the significance of this passage to being a disciple? It’s the last recorded words from Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, meant to be the final/lasting thought for us of the story of Jesus, and it’s significant because it’s how Jesus’ ministry is meant to continue. So really briefly, what does this look like: 

-Dependent on Jesus’ authority. If He’s not in control, why would we obey Him?

-“As you’re going,” This is not mean to be a completely different thing, nor is it supposed to be unique. Everyone lives a life somewhere (job, house, hobbies, favorite restaurant – Applebees) 

-Jesus answers HOW we make disciples: BY baptizing & teaching (baptizing is the entry point, teaching is the continual training) another way of saying this is making and maturing

-The way you know this is working is the outworking of this in “observe all that I have commanded you.” So let’s ask: how well are you obeying everything Jesus commanded? Let’s start with a basic one: do you love God completely with everything you have? That’s the first and most important commandment! The second most important is how are you loving your neighbor?

-With this big emphasis we’ve seen on making disciples, you’d think it would be prevalent throughout the rest of the NT, right? The funny this is, the last time the word “disciple” appears in the NT is Acts 21:16 “Some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us…” and then it disappears. So am I just making a mountain out of a molehill, emphasizing something that should be ignored of forgotten? Do you think that maybe the disciples forgot about it, or moved on from making disciples to the REAL work of the ministry?

-Shift from “disciple” to “learner”

Rom. 16:17 “contrary to the doctrine you have been taught” (learned)

1 Cor. 14:31 “So that all may learn and be encouraged”

Phil. 4:9, Phil. 4:11 “what you have learned, practice them” “I have learned to be content.”

Col. 1:5-7 “You heard and understood…just as you learned from…”

Eph. 4:19-24 “learned Christ”

Titus 3:14 “learn to devote themselves to good works.”

-Using the previous diagram, we could summarize these ideas by adding an “L” to the top of those who have moved from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son.

-How, then do we define what a disciple is? 

            TVP: “A forgiven sinner who is learning Christ in repentance and faith” (74)

GW: “A disciple is someone who learns the way of Jesus, which is both cognitive and behavioral, knowing and doing.” (213)

Mine: A redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life. (A good summary/litmus test of this is Gal. 5 the fruit of the Spirit) What’s left out of this? Nothing! Fruit of the Spirit is meant to be demonstrated in every circumstance/area of our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

The key is someone who is learning. I onetime heard someone say that the road to Christian maturity is paved with Christian books, you can’t grow in learning of Christ unless you’re reading about Him! But it’s also not enough to do this individually, because as we’ll see next, transitioning from disciple to discipleship is a community endeavor. 

“whereas we often think of learning in terms of our own personal growth and advancement—of becoming a better me in some way—to learn Christ is to be increasingly focused on others rather than ourselves.” (TVP)

-James talks about this in James 1:22 the need to be hearers AND doers, not enough to just think right, you also need to live right, which is where this learning must be transformative. 

  • What is discipleship?

-Moving on to the next step of this, to be a disciple is to be a learner, so discipleship is helping people become better learners. Some potential definitions: 

-While listening to Dr Hendricks speak, I sensed that discipleship might be something I could do, unlike more public types of ministry because you didn’t have to preach or do anything public.[Dennis McCallum and Jessica Lowery, Organic Discipleship: Mentoring Others into Spiritual Maturity and Leadership]

-What would happen to the church of Jesus Christ if a majority of those who claim to follow Christ were nurtured to maturity through intimate, accountable relationships centered on the essentials of God’s word? Self-initiating, reproducing disciples of Jesus would be the result.[Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ

-Discipleship is all about living life together rather than just one structured meeting per week.[Francis Chan with Mark Beuving, Multiply]

-Many churches have used various types of small groups as part of their discipleship strategy (home groups, life groups, fellowship groups, community groups, etc.).[Randy Pope with Kitti Murray, Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church]

-Mark calls the Church to abandon its imperialistic dreams on the one hand, and its passive noninvolvement on the other, and to become for the world what Jesus was for the world. That is what discipleship, following Jesus, really means. [NT Wright, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship

-We need more of the engine that Jesus used to change the world, the engine he instructs us to use. This engine will not create perfect churches, but it will create effective churches. It’s relational discipleship. [Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington with Robert E Coleman, DiscipleShift]

-Anything that helps someone take 1 step closer to God in their life aka worship 

-This demands both making and maturing, as well as doing and being. I at times worry that we’ve segmented discipleship as a tack on for only the “mature” Christians, when the reality is that discipleship is inherent to the Christian faith! To practice discipleship is to be a Christian, however, there are both good and bad ways to do this, we’ll look more fully at this idea next week, as there’s something that needs to be the foundation of all our discipleship, spoiler alert: it’s God’s Word. This means discipleship can even take place with unbelievers, where we live in a unique way, ask unique questions, and encourage them to bring their lives closer to Christ. 

-Now remember, this cannot be done alone. It takes others to teach and demonstrate to you “a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31)

-Anyone who is married can testify to this reality! Can’t hide your sin anymore! Don’t realize how selfish you are until someone else sees/calls you on your sinful tendencies. And then when you throw kids in, they both start to imitate and then call you on any negative traits! Our kids have learned about kind/unkindness, great thing to learn, not as great when they start to tell you your discipline is being unkind! That’s ok, it’s an opportunity to disciple them!

-Examples of this abound in the NT, but I want to take some time to look at 1, especially as it was reminded to me a couple months ago by a fellow pastor of mine in how we should engage each other.

1 Thess. 5:13-22 (574)

[13] Be at peace among yourselves. [14] And we urge you (y’all), brothers, admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. [15] See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. [16] Rejoice always, [17] praywithout ceasing, [18] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. [19] Do not quench the Spirit. [20] Do not despise prophecies, [21] but test everything; hold fast what is good. [22] Abstain from every form of evil.

-Look at all these various commands: 

-Explain the text. This is all done in the context of community, discipleship cannot happen alone.

-Bonhoeffer in Life Together “The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”

-We need each other, we need God’s Word to be spoken to each other, and we need the church to hold us accountable, which is what we’ll be looking at together over the coming weeks. I love the way The Vine Project summarizes this idea.

TVP: “the persevering proclamation of the word of God by the people of God in prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God, otherwise known as the four Ps: 

  1. Proclamation of the word in multiple ways 
  2. Prayerful dependence on the Spirit 
  3. People are God’s fellow workers 
  4. Perseverance, step by step”

-So what does all this look like? A couple ideas as we wrap up:

  1. Take what you’re already doing, and refocus it toward growth/holiness. Matt 4:19 (472). Jesus took fisherman and refocused them to become fishers of men.
  2. We do this because we are sent & commissioned by God John 20:21 (529). Do you view your life as sent by God, to actively work at moving people 1 step closer to God with your interactions? Because that’s exactly what God has called us to do and be: a disciple who pursue discipleship by our daily interactions with each other. 

-Even this week! Take some time during Thanksgiving to think about how you can intentionally make and mature those you’re interacting with!

Ephesians 6:1-9 – 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.

-Playing a game, gotta learn the rules! Frustrating playing with someone who keeps changing them or twisting them to their own advantage.

-Game of life is similar! Need to obey the rules to get it right. Who do you think made the rules for our lives? God! 


-“Household code” rules that we all obey. Because you are a Strand, you must ___ 

-Remember Paul has been explaining what it means to “walk worthily,” which means your whole life now is meant to look different. 

-We’ve found other “household codes” from the 1st century, Aritstotle: “almost all things rule and are ruled according to nature. But the kind of rule differs; the freeman rules over the slave after another manner from that in which the male rules over the female, or the man over the child; although the parts of the soul are present in an of them, they are present in different degrees. For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authority, and the child has, but it is immature.”

-Do you see the difference? Where in Eph. 6 do you see “ruling”? Paul is taking a commonly understood idea (house codes) and turning them on their head, and this is significant, because these house codes are what lead to the flourishing of society. Remember throughout the OT God’s people live in a theocracy, under the NT we no longer live that way, instead we attempt to be the best citizens we can possibly be, we do everything in love, we celebrate where our culture believes in (as Francis Schaeffer said) “true truth,” and we order our alien society differently than the country in which we find ourselves. There are some other great resources out there that will help you with ordering your house, but only in so far as they help you live out the biblical principles. 

-Spurgeon: “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”

-One of the most unique aspects of Paul’s rules for the household is who gets addressed. Generally limited to those in positions of power, those who weren’t were only mentioned for how the powerful person should engage with them. So kids would be mentioned only in reference to the Father, how he keeps them in line, etc. Paul begins with those why are “the least of these”

-Jesus in Matt. 25:40 “As you did to the one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Jesus takes what we think of as common knowledge and flips it on its’ head! So the fact that we see children, slaves, wives brought up as the focal point would have been radically counter-cultural! Don’t miss that looking at this text through 21st cent. Eyes. 

-We’ll see in this text some explicit commands for the people mentioned, let’s dig in!

  1. Children: Obey (1-3)

-Obedience isn’t limited here. Obey your parents when it makes sense, obey your parents when you want to, obey your parents when you feel like it, no, it’s an explicit command. That being said, we’ll see how parents are to live in a minute!

-So kids, when your parents are talking to you, what does the Bible say to do? Obey! This is meant to come in the context of a relationship, so you can ask clarifying questions, can try to better understand why your parents are telling you to do something, but at the end of the day, what does the Bible command? Obedience. Why do you think that is?

-Parents are meant to serve as a picture/illustration of God, so we demonstrate our obedience to God by obeying our earthly parents. Gen. 1-3 teaches us that God began creation by creating the family. Adam & Eve were commanded to image God to the rest of creation by ordering and bringing structure to what He had created. Part of what that means is creating the various civilizations we see around us! But the basic building block of every civilization is: the family! As the family goes, that’s where the rest of society will go, which is why families matter so greatly to God! 

-That being said, because we’re humans, we have a tendency to ask the next logical question: Is there any room to disobey? Yes, but that shouldn’t be a regular part of your life. If obedience is the expectation, there should only be rare exceptions where you disobey, and the only time & place to disobey is when your parents are telling you something that is contrary to the Bible. One example I’ve seen some parents do is lying about your kids age to get discount food or entrance admissions to parks! There was a video that went viral a few weeks ago about a family sneaking a child into Disney World in a stroller dressed like a baby, and then as soon as they walked in the child came out! God’s rule is even higher than your parents rules, so help your parents obey God’s rules! That’s what Paul says next anyway:

-“In the Lord”

-Isn’t limiting to only believing parents, instead a reminder that children are indwelled by the Holy Spirit too.

-Remember, this letter was meant to be read in the gathering on Sunday morning for the entire church, which means because children are addressed, Paul is assuming they’ll sitting next to their parents! We are meant to be a multi-generational gathering! 

-It’s also important that Paul is rooting this command in previous writings, not something he came up with, it’s in both OT and NT (quoting Ex. 20:12 & Deut. 5:16)

-Proverb, generally true, but unfortunately nothing is guaranteed. Some of this means families are meant to serve as a preserving function in society, if you want your society to function well, families must be given prominence and helped to flourish, how do you do that: connect to a local church.

-But kids: pay attention to what this says about your parents too! Paul isn’t singling you out, your parents also have a job to do, and they’re going to be held responsible by God for how they raised you!

  • Fathers: Teach (4)

-Fathers in the 1st cent. had complete control, could conduct infanticide, sell into slavery, beating was seen as the best form of training. Remember what we saw from Aristotle! There was a literal hierarchy in society, and men, specifically free men, were the pinnacle, everyone else served the men.

-This command is hard! Part of it means in order to discipline your kids correctly, you need to be discipling yourself, not respond in anger because then you’re setting a bad example. When we read of God being described as our Father, it should give us pause, because we need to ask how well we’re doing at representing God to our children. Father’s we serve an incredibly important role in our family, and it begins by not provoking, not belittling, not demeaning them.

-Read a story of an incredibly accomplished theologian who was asked how he was able to write as much as he did, his response was that he sacrificed his kids. Far too many kids bear the brunt of the parents’ insecurities and issues, which perpetuates family wounds and struggles through generations. So dads: be intentional about what kind life you’re building, as well as what example you’re setting.

-Paul uses “bring them up” ektrephete in Eph. 5:29 “nourishes” his wife. Dads, instead of antagonizing your kids, nourish them, feed them, help them understand who God is, what He’s like, and how we should live with Him as our Lord. Paul uses 2 words to describe this:

-Discipline and instruction

-Not just “because I said so” (As often as that turns out to be appropriate I’ve learned, much to the dismay of my 7 year old self!) Instead, this training is supposed to be “Of the Lord” If you limit your correction and training to what God has commanded you’ll be doing well! If you keep your training rooted in God’s Word, not only will you be setting them up for success, but you’ll give them a holistic way of approaching the world and life. Legalism won’t accomplish that, it only leads to either fear of being outside the lines, or rebellion for not being able to measure up.

-“Legalism will prove to be a bankrupt basis for behavior and ethics. Parents need to help their children transition to intrinsic motivations for good behavior.” (Arnold, 430) Another way of thinking about this is teaching them God’s Word, what it means, how to study it, and then taking God’s Word seriously yourself! Share with them how God’s teaching you, share with them about times you mess up, apologize when you’re leaning on legalism instead of God’s Word!

-Obviously this isn’t only for dads, moms play a huge role in raising children, but notice the ultimate responsibility and accountability God has given to Fathers. Take this job seriously! The kids you have are a beautiful gift from God that have been entrusted to you for this season of their lives!

-Practically, what does this look like? (Richard Coekin, pg. 184)

1. It takes a church to raise a kid – so show up! 

2. It takes the gospel to raise kids – so speak up!

3. It takes God to raise kids – so pray up! 

-If your relationship with your parents is strained, if they weren’t believers, thank God that you have a church! Get connected here, we’d love to walk alongside you! Paul in other cases encourages us to treat each other in the church like a family, and all that comes along with that!

  • Slaves: Obey (5-8)

-Need to talk about slavery. Often what comes to mind when we see slavery in the Bible is the chattel slavery that is an abominable reality of our nation’s history. Slavery was different at this time, I found this summary to be helpful:

1) Racial factors played no role. In the US that was the determining factor! How much melatonin in your skin served as the only factor for your role in society. In the 1st century, slaves could be any race, any background, and people even sold themselves into slavery as a payment for debts. 

2) Many slaves could expect emancipation in their lifetime. Slavery was for life here. No hope of freedom, no way to get out, suffer and bear it. Many people in the 1st century were worried about how many people were becoming freed, and started advocating that there should be an age minimum given so there weren’t too many former slaves in the world!

3) Slaves worked in a variety of specialized and responsible positions. Were far more than hired hands to pick the fields. Slaves could be household managers, doctors, and even:

4) Slaves received education and training this was seen as a way to get more value from the slaves. They would become better and better at their craft until they finally were freed.

5) Freed slaves often became Roman citizens and worked with their former masters Eventually given a privileged status and then a job to continue working in! Since they were trained, they became very valuable!

-While you won’t find a verse that says “slavery is sin” you have all the implications that land there. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor not own them, and treat others as we would want to be treated. 

-Paul in 1 Tim. 1:10 lists “enslavers” as living contrary to how God has commanded. As I’ve said before, remember that this text was read in the church, where both slave and free met in the same congregation, sitting right next to each other. 

Philemon is another example of this reality, this new way God wants us to live! Paul wrote the entire letter asking Philemon to free his former slave Onesimus, who ran away than was saved under Paul’s ministry! 

-Obey them like you obey Christ. Not as a lap dog, but as the position God had placed them in.

-Paul doesn’t ground slavery in either the OT or in a theological position. We’ll see next week husband & wives is grounded in both a theological truth and the OT, and so is the command for children. The reality that slavery isn’t grounded in God’s design for the world or with theological reason is significant! It’s demonstrating to us that there’s something different about slavery than there is wives and children.

-And this obedience should come about because of the transformed heard. It’s easy to work hard when you want recognition or attention, that’s normal! But what God has called us to is so far beyond our own power that it can only come about because of His Spirit at work in us! 

-Lorence’s berry farm throwing rotten berries.

-What would it mean to do your work in such a way that you behave like your boss is watching over your shoulder? (He is) That’s the point of vs. 8, God sees everything we do (and think) and wants complete obedience. Do you obey? Do you work hard? Do you view your work as an act of worship, obedience, and service to the Lord, or is it just a means to a paycheck? Remember God has wired you in a specific way, so even your vocation can be a ministry.

-Roots and fruit, doing and being, God cares about our internal motivations and wants to sanctify even our desires.

-Once again, unlike other household rules, Paul turns the idea upside down:

  • Masters: Honor (9)

-Same as slaves? This is radically counter-cultural! What is the same? Treat them as fellow image bearers. Don’t just worry about what other people think (people-pleasers) do good to them because God is watching.

-Threatening seen as the primary way to motivate slaves. We have a document from 61 AD (about the same time Ephesians was written) where someone talking about slavery writes “The only way to keep down this scum is by intimidation.” That’s not how Christians should serve as masters! Don’t threaten, we’re now commanded to do everything we do in love, according to how God has loved us. 

-And then to heap on the expectations, there’s an even higher master than the earthly master. Remember back to Aristotle’s idea, the master who is a male is the highest power, but for anyone in Christ that’s no longer true! Our true master is in heaven, and in his eyes we’re all the same. This last part is the final nail in the coffin for slavery.

-No partiality, we are all one in Christ. Col. 3. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, so live like it! Treat other people how you want to be treated, no matter your position, no matter your power, the way the world uses these things is corrupted, we’re to use them for good.

-Takeaways for us today, despite not living in the same culture. We no longer live in a culture where slavery is the norm (which should lead us to praise God for the common grace of that reality! So while we’re not slaves, all of us have some place we work. Some of us even have people who report to us in our jobs. So how should this passage change the way you approach your work?

-Whenever you work, do your best, work hard, and remember who you’re doing it for. I share regularly 1 Cor. 10:30 “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” which means you can add work in there! When you are at your job God is watching your interactions, He’s watching how you’re using your gifts, and He’s seeing if you’re representing Him well. I don’t say that to heap guilt (he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake) but instead to “make the best use of the time,” to live as Christ has called us to live.

-But this also cuts back the other way, if you have people reporting to you at work, are you honoring them as a human being creating in God’s image, or do you belittle, undermine, and use them to advance your own aims? Don’t threaten them (obviously there needs to be accountability), represent Christ to them.

-God has given us a pretty high bar to follow! Children are to obey, Father’s are to teach and train those children, servants are to obey like they obey Christ, and master’s are honor their slaves as fellow human beings. And all this is only possible through the same power at work in us that rose Jesus from the dead. As we pursue Christ-likeness, as we’re conformed into His image, He will give us the strength we need to be this faithful family.

Ephesians 4:1-16 – 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.

-Played basketball in HS, remains my favorite sport (go Warriors!), yet there was something that still bothers me about the “team” aspect of it. All had to wear the same color shoes, couldn’t do headbands or arm bands, couldn’t grow facial hair, had to look as similar as we could, even wearing similar outfits on game day.

-All that disappeared as soon as practice started. 15 guys made the squad, only 5 guys play. For every 5 man drill, guess the breakup of the teams! The cherry on top was whoever won didn’t have to run suicides, so guess who just despised the starting 5 – everyone else! Anytime I’m with my basketball friends from high school and this comes up I can feel myself starting to get worked up again, I’ve mostly worked through it by now

-It’s one thing to have these external standards of conformity that we tend to view as unity. They look alike, they must therefore think and act alike. It’s a completely different ball game (pun intended) to actually be a unified people, despite the differences about us. Look around, we are not the same! Yet we’ve seen through the book of Ephesians these truths that we’re one people. So how can that work despite all our differences? 


  1. Unity Means We’re the Same (1-6)

-Paul continues all the thoughts he’s been building up until this point with “therefore” 

-One of the easiest ways to study the Bible is to trace the flow of thought. When you see a “therefore” in the text ask what it’s there for. It’s those silly little tricks like that that will help you better study the Bible!

-Paul’s been continually building on a single flow of thought through this book: apart from Christ Jew & Gentile (really everyone) are divided, once they’re brought from death into life now they’re a new people who can’t be divided. Last week I said the prayer served as the hinge point to transition from the theological exposition to the implementation of those beliefs (indicative to the imperative)

-A good way of summarizing what the implication of those beliefs are is vs. 1 “walk worthily” Remember, I shared back in Eph. 2, walk refers to your whole way of life. What do you think it means to walk worthily? Up until this point, what kinds of things has Paul said?

-“Love toward all the saints” (1:15) “Might reconcile us both to God in one body” (2:16) The church is where the manifold wisdom of God is seen (3:10)

-Unity in the church (explicit in vs. 3)

-It’s also important to note that this unity, this transformed way of living isn’t optional, because Paul goes on “of the calling to which you have been called.” God has called us to live our lives in such a way that it is worthy of Him. Paul has already said this earlier in 2:10 “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” How are you doing at this task of living out good works that are worthy of God? 

-Paul doesn’t just stop there though, and even my asking of that question should make you ask the next question: what does that look like, in practice? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a summary: 2-3

-Humility wasn’t held up as a virtue in the 1st century. It was seen as unbecoming of a man, unless it was a demonstration of someone’s lower class. It would be the same today as someone encouraging you to be prideful. How would you receive that? Then along comes Jesus who flips the world upside down. Matt. 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” When Paul tells us to be lowly/humble he’s telling us to be like Jesus! 

-Not just humility, gentleness too! What a counter-cultural idea today. I preached a whole sermon on this idea last fall from Phil. 4:5 “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.” Are you known as a gentle person in your responses, or are you known as an angry person? Have you ever felt yourself getting worked up in a conversation, only the have the temperature drop immediately by someone’s gentle response? Prov. 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” If all of us pursued gentleness first in our responses to each other, we wouldn’t even need some of the other reminders in this text!

-But almost as if to remind us that this task really is impossible in our own efforts, he adds patience! I remember joking with people that you need to be careful when you ask for patience, because God will provide the training grounds in short order! There have been seasons in my life where this idea has been pressed on me (I tend to get busy and keep pushing). I had one of those seasons in seminary where I would intentionally get in the longest line in the grocery store (I prefer self-checkout), I was commuting to seminary straight through the heart of Denver (mountains means there’s only 1 way) and would intentionally stay in the right lane (anyone that’s commuted knows how painful that is!). As I’ve shared before, I’m still not a patient person, but I’ve seen God continuing to beat some of that impatience out of me!

-Then, once you’ve got those first 3 down perfectly, you can do the next one easily: bear with one another. If only he stopped there! IN LOVE! We saw this idea last week in 3:17 “rooted and grounded in love.” It starts back there as a prayer, but then finds it’s necessary implication here. There’s a tendency among all of us to look down at other people who aren’t gifted the same way as us. I remember as I was growing up being baffled by people who weren’t musical, because it came so easily to me! Or having conversations with people who view themselves are more mature than they actually are, and then looking down on other people for not being at their level. Dear friends, the more mature we get, the lower the level we’ll be willing to go to “bear with each other.” 

-And Paul continues: “eager to maintain”, others: “Making every effort” What are you willing to do for us to stay united together? The two most important words in the English language: I’m sorry. This unity isn’t optional, it’s not a nice tag on, it’s a command. Jesus says this when he prays for us in John 17“that they may be one.” Yet how quickly have you seen people leave a church for a perceived slight, instead of making every effort to keep unity and peace?

-There’s a lot more that could be said about these first 3 verses, but we need to keep going! Paul continues to ground these traits in the same idea that he had been emphasizing in the first 3 chapters, look at this long list of ones: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God. We don’t get to determine who is a part of this body, God does. Just like you don’t get to choose the family you’re born to, God does. 

-Despite the reality that we are now a part of the same body, this doesn’t mean we’re all clones. Think of the Star Wars prequels (which, let’s be honest, were still largely better than the ones Disney made where they just copied everything from the originals!) This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but it’s kind of given away in the title: The Clone Wars. Bad guys have created an army of clones to fight their battle, everyone is exactly the same. That’s not how it works with God! We saw a hint of this 2 weeks ago in 2:10 “through the church the manifold (multifaceted) wisdom of God might be made known” So the way we demonstrate our unity seems counterintuitive: by using our differences.

  • Unity Means We’re Different (7-12)

-Vs. 7 Paul is saying when we’re brought from death to life, the Spirit gives us grace (a gift) that comes from Christ.

-Paul uses a quote from Psalm 68 next, which I’ll talk about more in sermon scraps tomorrow since there’s some debate about what Paul means here, so consider this the preview! This quote comes up as a way for Paul to talk about how Jesus fills us with His gifts. The means by which He fills all things is by His body (the church) using these gifts together.

-In order to fill all things, God provides specific order and structure to his church. That’s where, in vs. 11 he describes the various church offices as: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Let’s take a look at each of these offices.

-Apostles. Literally translated it means messenger, used by God to explain and bring God’s good news of salvation found in Christ (the gospel)

-prophets: at times predicted future things that would happen, usually would explain what the gospel meant and how to be obedient to God’s will

-Evangelist: share the gospel with any and everyone, some people are uniquely gifted at this! I knew someone who was unbelievably gifted at this, who onetime stopped by a shoe store between meetings and led the salesperson to Christ!

-Some debate on this last one, whether it’s 1 or 2 offices. There is a different conjunction between these two offices. All the previous are “the,” this one is “and.” Some have even translated this as “teaching shepherds.” Most people argue that this 2 separate offices (all pastors teach, not all teachers are pastors) Explain how “pastor” and “shepherd” connect 

-But these specific offices don’t exist for themselves. Instead, these specific offices are given from God for 1 purpose: vs. 12. So often we look to people with charismatic personalities, or leadership abilities when God tells us that unless they’re equipping the saints, they’re failing at their job. 

-Brothers and sisters let me be as explicit as I can be: if I as your pastor, if we as your staff fail at equipping this body, you need to call into question whether or not we’re doing our job. In a little bit, we’ll get to what equipping looks like, but I feel like there’s profound misunderstanding of what those who are called to ministry are supposed to do. 

-Story of Jake with small groups being asked to pray.

-Equipping the saints for the work of “service” 3:7 “I was made a minister/ servant” Friends, we are all called to serve one another. We don’t get the option to tap out of that service. Since we’re all part of the body, we all need to do our part! If we’re not doing our part, we won’t build up the body of Christ.

-One thing to talk about in relation to this is the competition game we all play. We get upset that we’re not gifted the same way as someone else, or even start to look down on someone else who is wired differently from you (like I did with music!). But that’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing here!

-AIO story of Mr Foot, Ms Lips

-“Since Christ is the giver of the spiritual gifts and spiritual functions, there is no place for human pride, as if the gifts were self-generated or in some way earned. Similarly there is no place for envy since Christ has gifted all and that in various and different ways.” (John Vooys)

-Yet even these various services have an expiration date to them:

  • Unity Means We Grow Up (13-16)

-The word “until” means there comes a time where the body of Christ won’t need to be built up anymore. However, as long as we’re on this side of eternity that moment won’t arrive! This also is meant to comfort us, because this means it will happen! 

-3 things about this maturity: communal, unity, the standard we’re aiming for

-Communal: “we all” We’re only as strong as our weakest link, which means we all need to be pouring into each other to grow into maturity. This is yet another reminder that we can’t just look down at other people who aren’t wired the same way, don’t have the same training or experiences, and instead we’re urged to bring them along with us (1 Cor. 11:1 “imitate me as I imitate Christ”) But this also should remind us that we all individually need to ensure we’re maturing, not for ourselves, but for the sake of those around us. Individually we all need to grow, so that communally our body can continue to grow. 

-Unity “unity of the faith” Our growth/ maturation is meant to lead us to unity, so why does it seem like those who claim to be the most mature are the most willing to separate? Or even a more intense question, if God has called us to unity, why are there so many denominations around the world? A really quick answer: unity does not mean uniformity. Since God is so great, He cannot be completely understood by 1 person or group of people, so each denomination emphasizes certain characteristics of God better than others. Second, don’t discount the work of sin, even in the lives of believers. It never fails to surprise me the reasons people will use as an excuse to leave a church, without being faithful to what Scripture has called and commanded in our lives. Friends, let me plead with you: don’t let sin have a hold in your life, don’t be easily offendable, and be quick to seek reconciliation. That’s a marker of maturity! Christians shouldn’t be a part of cancel culture, we’re called to be a part of reconciliation culture!

-One brief note on this unity, it comes through the knowledge of the Son of God. You’re not going to mature without growing in knowledge of Jesus, that’s impossible. And where/ how has Jesus revealed Himself to us? Through His Word. This means growing in maturity is growing in understanding of His Word, together.

-The standard we’re aiming for: “to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Scholar FF Bruce helpfully summarizes this idea: “The glorified Christ provides the standard at which his people are to aim: the corporate Christ cannot be content to fall short of the perfection of the personal Christ.” We’re supposed to represent Christ fully. No excuses, no other options. I had a prof. in seminary who asked why we often miss this idea. We have the same Spirit in us that raised Jesus Christ, we have access to the same power that Jesus did, why do we tend to be unaware of that reality, or forget to pray that that power would be demonstrated in our lives?

-I sometimes wonder if we’re too quick to jump to “that’s impossible.” Think of what Jesus commanded in Matt. 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s the standard! That’s the definition of maturity, which means until Jesus comes back, we still have work to do. 

-This 3-fold aspect to maturity all combines together to land us in vs. 14 “so that” the maturity aims for…”no longer children” a natural byproduct of “mature manhood” in 13

-“Tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about” If or when we are not mature, we are susceptible to following false teaching. 

-Paul specifically mentions 3 things that lead people astray: doctrine (what about doctrine that doesn’t make sense or need emphasizes the wrong things “pisseth against the wall”), human cunning (People tend to be far too clever with their biblical studies, making weird connections that don’t need to be there. I had a member at one church who claimed to know the day Jesus was coming back from numerology and astrology), craftiness in deceitful schemes (good description of Mormons or JWs, or I would even argue people who are legalists). 

-Instead of being children who are repeatedly led astray, what does Paul say we should do? “speak the truth in love.” Friends, this is so hard to do! It’s easy to speak the truth, it’s nearly impossible to do it “in love,” especially over matters of doctrine, of beliefs that are essential to the faith. Yet how do we live in an understanding way with people who are at different stages of maturity in their walk with the Lord? John Stott understood this tension well: (long quote, but worthwhile)

-“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ‘the Spirit of truth’, and his firstfruit is ‘love’. There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.”

-Speaking the truth in love is the way God uses to help the church grow up into Him. He is the one who is joining and holding the various members together, but then all those individual members are called to work properly together. Do you see the interplay between the individual and the body here? Overemphasizing one at the expense of the other will lead to disfunction and unhealth. Another commentary helpful summarized this idea:

-“The church is not an assembly of self-sufficient individuals convening to discuss their similar experiences. Instead, it is an organism that grows as each part performs the task allotted to it.” (Mars Hill thing)

-As the organism called the church continues to grow/ mature, it is building itself up in, what’s the last phrase? “In love” Paul is reminding us that the single mark of maturity in the believer is love. Do you want to see how well you’re doing at maturing as a disciple? Take stock of how you’re growing in your love. Do you want to see how well we’re growing as a church? Looks at how we’re growing in our love. Again, not like the world defines it, love as God defines it in 1 Cor. 13

-Paul reminds us here that we must by united in Christ to grow in maturity. This unity is demonstrated in our diverse gifts, which all of us need to use to grow into maturity under the headship of Christ, which is all done under the ethic of love.