Membership #4 – Our Priorities (The 4 G’s)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
Sermon Series: Membership

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The Pull of Priorities

What FBC emphasizes in all they do–Membership #4

 

You remember Larry Walters, don’t you?  He was a 33-year-old truck driver who lived in L.A.  Every Saturday, Larry did the same thing–he’d get a six-pack from the fridge, go into his back yard with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and just sit there, week after week after week.  One day, probably after a couple of six-packs, Larry came up with an idea.  He decided he’d put some balloons on his lawn chair, let them lift him up about 100 feet in the air, and float over his L.A. sub-division so he could wave to his neighbors.

You may have heard about this, because Larry Walters went out and bought 45 weather balloons (very large weather balloons) and filled them with helium, and brought them back to his backyard.  His plan was to take his BB gun, and as he rose out of the backyard, shoot down enough balloons to be able to hover at about 100 feet over the neighborhood.  He got his friends to come over, and they tied 45 weather balloons to his lawn chair.  They held it down and he got in with his peanut butter sandwiches, an extra six-pack, and his BB gun for his 100-foot fun float.

When they let go, he yelled, “Let go!”  But he didn’t go 100 feet in the air–he shot up to 11,000 feet in the air, directly into the landing pattern at LAX airport.  He couldn’t shoot at any of his weather balloons, because he was gripping too hard to his lawn chair.  A Continental Airlines DC-10 pilot was the first to report him.  He called into the tower, saying, “I have just passed a man floating in a lawn chair.”  The pilot was ordered to land immediately, and report to the tower.

Within a matter of minutes, all traffic in and out of LAX was suspended while helicopters and police airplanes went up to try and help bring Larry down, still gripping onto his lawn chair.  When they finally got him down, the camera crews were there, the television crew, the police, a lot of lights–it was a big show, and Larry was a bit shaken.  In spite of that, a television reporter went up to him, stuck a microphone in his face and asked Larry, “Were you scared?”

“Yup.”

“Would you do it again?”

“Nope.”

“What in the world made you do it in the first place?”

And Larry’s words of wisdom for us all were these:  “Well, you can’t just sit there.”

That’s a message to the Church today–you can’t just sit there.  We’ve got a mission to fulfill, and a strategy to accomplish it.  At FBC, we have direction.

Have you ever wondered why . . .

we make a list of needs before we go shopping?

we write dates on our calendars?

we plan out our classes in college each semester?

we think through what tools we’ll use before we tackle the repair job?

Because we want to save time, get the job done, not forget what to do, measure our success and know where we’re going.  That’s why our church not only has a doctrinal statement, we have a directional statement.  We’re in the midst of a 5-week series that defines FBC.  This is what it means to be a functioning member.  This is what it looks like to move ahead one heart and one mind.

In week one, we examined some of the basic commitments of every Christian.  Then week two we defined the Gospel we preach.  Last week, the approach to the Word of God we take, and now this week the direction we take from the priorities we hold.  Why is knowing direction important?  It builds morale when everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction–no one has time to rock it.  It reduces frustration–it defines what we do, and also what we don’t do.  The church doesn’t have time to do everything, God doesn’t expect us to, and only a few things are worth doing anyway.

Following priorities allows for concentration.  It will keep us from majoring on the minors, for the church that forgets the ultimate becomes a slave to the immediate.  Priorities attract cooperation–more people will want to get on board when they know the destination.  Priorities assist evaluation–it will help us know if we are on track.  Sadly, too many churches have no strategy, or don’t follow them.  At FBC, we have a passion to be pursuing God’s priorities.

Every church is driven by some force–you know this.  How about your old church?  For some, it’s by tradition—“We always do it this way.”  You know what the seven last words of the church are, don’t you?  “We’ve never done it that way before.”

Other churches are driven by personalities–what’s the key leader think?  By finances–how much will it cost?  By programs, by buildings, by events, by issues, by people–but the key to a great church is to not do what you want, nor to do what the elders want, and especially not do what I want, but to do what Christ wants–to fulfill His priorities for this church.

This is not as easy as it sounds–the reason is, everyone has a different idea of what a church should be.  Listen–which one is your favorite?  Some churches want to be the soul winning church, where the pastor is an evangelist and the people bring the lost to get saved.  Other churches want to be the experiential church, where the platform is a stage and the people are the audience, and the main goal is to feel good through the Spirit.  Other churches want to be a family reunion church, where everybody knows everybody else, tradition and loyalty are the highest values, and pastor’s main job is to visit the hospital.  Some churches want to be a classroom church, where the pastor is an instructor and the congregation the students–only the committed attend and Bible knowledge is the highest value.  Other churches want to be the social conscience church where everyone is a mini-activist–justice and mercy are the highest values and petitions and politics are a way of life.

So what is FBC?  Our desire is to follow the Bible–to obey the biblical principles found in all those type of churches.  But simply stated, at FBC we want to be like Christ, period.  Whatever He did is what we want to do, and whatever were His priorities, by God’s grace, will become our priorities.  We want to be the church that thinks less about itself than any other church, and thinks most of Christ and what He wants.

We want to be driven by that which Christ has determined is the most important, and that is to bring God glory.  And how do we do that?  We bring God glory when we are most like His Son, meaning we give our energies to the two messages of the Church, and only two–salvation for the non-Christian to turn to Christ, and sanctification for Christians to become more like Christ.  This is why you hear that every Sunday–come to Christ, or be more like Christ.  We mean it–that’s our drive.

But in order to fulfill that, we have to stay focused and not drift or get pulled away by lesser things.  We must remain consumed with the things that Christ was consumed with.  Along with our commitment to the true Gospel of grace (week 2), and authorial intent, expositional preaching of the Word (week 3—today), what are the priorities that drive us to Christ-likeness?  What is the pull behind everything we do?

I love the beach, bodysurfing, bodyboarding and snorkeling.  If there were a place that refreshes my heart most, it’s the beach.  Having said that, I have had my share of scares underwater, body slams by waves, washing machine tumbles in the surf, and being exhausted by riptides.  A riptide is a current that moves away from shore, often pulling you out to sea.  The secret is to swim not against the current, but parallel to the shore until you leave the rip, then head for shore.

The last rip I was in, it was so strong that two kids were actually floating quickly out to sea in a panic.  I saw one float by really fast about 50 feet away.  By the time I realized what was happening, I saw another kid coming toward me, so I grabbed him.  A second later, the lifeguard swam by me and asked, “Do you have him?”  I said, “Yes,” as he went after the second one, already 120 feet away from me.

There are undercurrents in the ocean you need to be aware of.  And there are undercurrents in a church you must be aware of–good ones.  The ones that drive FBC, that push underneath all we do, are the four G’s–four intense priorities Jesus and the New Testament emphasize.  They are the why’s of our ministry–why we do what we do.  Sadly, they are overlooked and underemphasized in most places.  But they are the rip underneath the Lord’s ministry, so we passionately want them to be the rip underneath all we do at FBC.  And friends, they’re not merely for our church, but for your life, and your family, and your ministry, and your relationships.  These are your priorities–this is what we do.  You can’t just sit there–we are to be about these four essentials.  What are they?

#1  God’s Glory

359 times, the bible refers to glory.  God’s glory is all of who God is–the summation of His character, and the attributes of God all at once.  If you were to see His glory as we are now, it would extinguish you, for God is the blazing sun, and you are meant to be His moon.  Like the moon has no light of its own but only reflects the sun, so you were created by God to reflect the light of another, to show off the character of another–to reflect God’s glory.

That’s why 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  We are not even to lift a glass of water to our lips unless it makes God look good, shows Him off and reflects His character.  The New Testament tells us we actually bring God glory when we confess our sin, live by faith, produce fruit, share the Gospel, live holy lives, get to know Him deeply and exalt Jesus Christ.  In fact, we most glorify God as we grow to be more like Christ.

This is why Paul agonized in Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you”–the heart of every Godly parent.  Your greatest joy in life is to know Christ personally–and your main purpose in life is to show others what Christ is like.  The only problem with that is . . .

First  You can’t glorify God

Only God can glorify God, as Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Christ must live through me; God himself must show through my conversations, behavior, relationships, labors and attitudes.

Because only God can glorify God, only Christ can live the Christian life, and only the Spirit can produce the fruit of God’s character through us–it is no longer I who live.  That is why we must be filled with the Spirit.  Sadly, reformed churches mostly focus on the Father, dispensational churches mostly focus on the Son, and charismatic churches mostly focus on the Spirit.  But at FBC, we worship the triune God–therefore, we emphasize the desperate, dependent need for every Christian and church to be filled with the Spirit.

Look at Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”  The verb “filled” is an imperative command that must be obeyed.  “Filled” is a plural verb meaning everyone—it’s present tense continual action, meaning “be filled 24/7”, and the shocker is, filled is passive.  Passive means filling has to happen to you–you can’t do it.  How do you like that?  God gives you a command to obey, but you can’t do it–why?  He wants you to be dependent upon the Spirit.

Further study will show you the filling of the Spirit means you will live saturated with God’s Word, aware of your inability to obey God’s Word in your own strength, continually confessing and repenting of all known sin, and serving Christ as you serve others in the Body and share the Gospel in the world.  When you live filled with the Spirit, the context following Ephesians 5:18 tell us you will and we will live with thankful, submissive, joyful hearts–less complaining and more gratitude, less resisting and more submission, less boredom and more joy.

So at FBC, we don’t tell people to DO the Christian life–we call our family to D.O., to Depend and Obey.  The only way we can fulfill our purpose on this planet in bringing God glory by becoming like Christ is to depend moment-by-moment on God’s Spirit, seeking to obey His Word.  That’s the current flowing through our church family.  But bringing God glory also means . . .

Second  You are all in

Too many church attendees dabble in Christianity.  It’s like they date God once or twice a month on Sunday, then live for themselves the rest of the month.  Others act like they’re going steady with Christ, but just won’t commit to marriage.  But to live for God’s glory truly means you are all in–you are married to Christ, committed to the relationship.   In fact, you live a life of worship.  We have ruined the word worship–worship is not music and singing, worship is offering yourself to God.

Turn to John 4 where Jesus speaks to a woman who’s been married and divorced several times, and is currently living with a man.  Yet Jesus doesn’t say join the divorce recovery group or attend the sexual addiction seminar.  No, Jesus says in verse 22 and 23, “You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  [You’re not worshipping the God explained in the Bible, the right God, you’re worshipping a God invented by people] 23 But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

Jesus says the answer for this messed up Samaritan woman is to live a life of worship.  What is that?  The word for worship in the New Testament means to bow down, kiss the hand, to prostrate oneself and pay homage.  Jesus says true worshipers are not necessarily those who attend a worship service once a week–true worshipers are those who bow down before Jesus and offer themselves fully to Him.

You see, the most important thing about worship is not the effect it has upon the one who worships (upon you or me), but the effect it has on God, the one we worship.  As Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name, worship the Lord in holy array.”  Get it?  Jesus says this messed up woman needs to turn her focus from her own needs to the Lord–to get her eyes off of herself, her self-styled religion and immoral lifestyle, and fix her eyes on Jesus through true, biblical worship.

The New Testament teaches us we worship through song, commitment, prayer, obeying the Word of God, giving, communion, being baptized all the parts of a worship service.  But more–in simplest terms, it is living life as a living sacrifice, offering ourselves fully, completely and repeatedly to Christ.  We are committed to giving all of us for all of Him–that’s worship.  And we’re not a church that will gently prod you to do this or that for the Lord.  We are going to call you to worship your only Savior with all of you, holding nothing back.  We want to think nothing of ourselves and everything about Him.

We are going to worship the Father, which tends to lead to a respectful fear.  We’ll worship the Son, who makes us His intimate friend.  And worship the Spirit, which results in joy and fruit.  All three persons deserve our Worship.  And true Worship is 24/7, every waking moment, with every task–our prayer is to be able to say, “Lord, this vacuuming is for you, this working is for you, this baseball game is for you.”  And even though your driving looks like it is offered to Satan–even that is supposed to be for Christ too.

Worship is not a place and time, but moment-by-moment, John 4.  Look at what the Lord says to the women at the well in verse 21, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father.”  Now look at verse 24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth.”

Worship, even on Sunday, is not  limited to music and preaching.  Worship is a heart seeking to express to God His worthiness in the power of the Spirit, and in complete harmony with the truth.  Worship is far deeper and far more important than a discussion on style and preference, song choices and volume, instruments and singers, chorus or verses.  Worship is your life given in offering to the Savior who did everything for you.

Then as we gather together each Sunday, we seek to give Him our best, arrive on time, get to bed early on Saturday.  We hope to celebrate Him through praise in song, clapping, giving gifts, prayer, reflection, obedience to His Word, repentance, confession, prayer, meditation, silence, community, remembering the cross–our unity and self-examination at the communion table as we seek to be completely God-centered and undistracted in our worship of Him together for His glory.  We are all in–we can’t just sit there.  That’s the riptide of our church.  #1 G is God’s glory.

#2  Gospel

We defined the message of the Gospel two weeks ago–but listen as Paul describes the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3 to 4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Bad news–we’re rebellious sinners under condemnation for our sinfulness.  Good news, Christ took our condemnation by dying for our sins, being buried, then raised from the dead.  God saves sinners is the good news.  And why is it good news?  God did the work–God did it all for us, from start to finish.  Instead of having to earn His favor, work really hard, do all kinds of religious acts–God accomplished what we could never do for ourselves.  God made a way for sinful man to be forgiven, cleansed and ready for heaven now.

God loved you so much, He made a way to deal with your sin and rescue you at the same time–but He did so at the price of His only Son!  His Son had to die so that you might live.  And when we have been saved, that kind of love changes us.  Read 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 15, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

The good news, the Gospel defines us.  The Gospel is not merely the message that brought us to salvation–it is a transformation that continually affects every single day.  This is why the apostle Paul writes the majority of His letters extolling our position in Christ, before He calls us to our practice for Christ.  It is our salvation which is the motivation, the ability, and the drive to live for Christ–it is the Gospel.

Have you thought about how the Gospel changes the way we live now?

God granted us forgiveness for our sins so we forgive others.

God gave us the gift of faith at salvation, and that gift continues so instead of living by fear, we can depend upon Him by faith.

God gave us a new heart that wants to obey, so we walk obediently.

God overwhelmed us with His mercy, not giving us what we deserve, so we treat others with kindness and compassion, often overlooking offences and hurts, not giving others what they deserve.

Christ shocked us with His gracious underserved gift, so we seek to shock others with graciousness and undeserved gifts.

God granted us the gift of repentance to hate our sin and turn from it, so with increasing intensity we seek to turn from our sin and passionately pursue Christ.

God loved us first, so we now seek to love Him and others.

Christ assures us He will bring us home to heaven, which frees us from being caught up in living for things, possessions, the approval of others or worldly pleasures.

God freed us from sin’s power, so now we can live uniquely/holy like Him and not have to follow our flesh or pressure from others.

God rescued us from living eternal torment in Hell, so now we start each day, even when sick, suffering under relationship disaster, or physically dying, thankful–why?  Because any day we are not in Hell is a pretty good day.  And because God did this for us who deserved Hell, we have a strong passion to share this same truth with others who need it.  Christians are the starving beggars who found so much bread, we want to share it with those who are still starving.  The Gospel, the good news of what God did for us, defines us.  It is in the current of Faith Bible Church—it is the pull of the Gospel.  Glory, Gospel and . . .

#3  Great Commandment

Turn to Matthew 22:34.  These verses describe an interaction during the Passion week.  Sunday was the triumphal entry–now Tuesday begins an attack to discredit Christ.  But Jesus pitches a perfect game:  strike one = the Herodians, strike two = the Sadducees, and strike three = to the Pharisees, and they are all out.

They’re trying to trick Jesus into conflict with the Law of Moses, so now a lawyer/scribe/PhD, an expert in the Law of Moses, asks Jesus a hairy question.  Out of the 613 commands in the law–248 positive, 365 negative–which is the most important?  They want Jesus to contradict the Law.  Mark says the lawyer is anxious, since God was at work in His heart, as he has watched Christ.  Jesus says to him in Mark 12:34, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  Matthew 22:36 to 40, “’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ 37 And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”

Their test failed.  Jesus quotes the most familiar Old Testament command, the Shema.  Doesn’t that sound like a 50’s song to you?  “Shema shema, do do do do the law law law law Shema shema.”  This is the same Scripture every Jew had on his doorpost, in the Mezuzah, and sometimes on his forehead on his phylactery.

But Christ’s answer is direct, and really crucial to you.  The answer is, the most important commandment is love–love is your lifestyle.  Love summarizes all the commandments.  Verse 38 says, “This is the great and foremost commandment.”  Great is mega–foremost is protos, meaning first.  Verse 40 says, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Depend is hang (everything in the law hinges on this command)–meaning this is it.  If you miss this, you miss everything.  We must love, which is the commitment to live in total trust of God, shown in self-sacrificing action toward Him and others.  John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”  It’s so important that, 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I …do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Without love for God and others means you’re just a lot of noise, telling us . . .

First  Love means Christ is first in everything

We love because He first loved us, but when we are loved by Christ He will be our first love.  John confronted the church at Ephesus about losing their first love in Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”  This is not about feelings–next to Christ, Jean is my love.  But I don’t have valentine feelings for her if she wakes me at 3 am.  When Christ is not your first love, three things are true.

1 God is not our first priority anymore

Left your first love–the Greek word “first” means first in priority (all else is secondary).  Christ becomes one goal, not the only goal.  Christ becomes one priority, not the center of every priority.

2 The person is replaced by a program, relationship is replaced by the routine

For example, did you think of Christ this morning before church?

3 When God’s love is absent in your dealings with others

Literally, the Greek word order is your love, the first one your love (is emphatic).  Romans 5:5 says His love is shed abroad in your hearts.  God’s love is in you, so when sacrificial love action is missing in your dealings with others, you’ve lost your first love for Christ.  Love means Christ is first.

Second  Love means you serve others

Every member is a minister.  God has gifted you so you can show off Christ in a special way.  And like Eric Liddle said, “When I run I feel His pleasure,” when you function the way God gifted you in faithful service to this local church, you will sense His pleasure and you will express His love.

Where is the great love chapter in the bible–anyone?  First Corinthians 13.  Don’t ever forget, friends, that 1 Corinthians 13 is between chapters 12 and 14, which is the section on spiritual gifts.  Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities for service in the church.   And Paul writes the love chapter to remind the Corinthians that service to His body is to be an expression of love.  Do not say you love this church and not serve here.  All Christians demonstrate love through service.

Third  Love means you show compassion to the needy

What is God’s heart toward the ministry to the needy?  James 1:27, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress.”  If we have God’s heart, then we’ll show a genuine concern for the needy, the poor, the orphan and widow.  We’re to be compassionate first toward our brothers and sisters, but we’re also commanded to express kindness and good deeds to those who are without Christ in the name of Christ.

What did Paul say in Galatians 6:9 and 10, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  The ideal woman of Proverbs 31 shows compassion and empathy, verse 20, “She extends her hand to the poor; and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”

Poor here means afflicted, humble, lowly and oppressed.  The godly woman has so much love to give, it doesn’t stop with her family.  Her hands are continually outstretched to anyone in need.  Dorcas showed her concern for the needy by making garments for them.  Barnabas sold a tract of land and gave it to the apostles for the needs of the Early Church.

Jesus reminded us in Matthew 25, when we minister to the prisoner, the poor, the sick and hungry, we’re ministering to Him.  To love our neighbor not only means Christians, but those without Christ so they may see Christ through our actions and words.  The great riptide pull of FBC is the great commandment–to love Christ first, love others in service, even love the lost with compassionate deeds.  You can’t just sit there, we are to love.

Four G’s = Glory, Gospel, Great Commandment and . . .

#4  Great Commission

Read Matthew 28:19 to 20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  The main command here is make disciples.  We are to be making learners and followers of Jesus Christ.  We’re to be used of God to make as many people like Jesus Christ in the shortest time possible.  The three participles in these verses–go, baptize and teaching them–tell us how to make disciples.  How do we make disciples?

First  Going

Literally as you are going, refers to your witness in the world.  As you go about life, as you work, go to school, see neighbors, you’re to be making disciples; you’re to share the good news of the Gospel as you go.  You’re not responsible for anyone’s salvation, God must save them, but you are responsible to share the Gospel and show off Christ so that it might lead someone to salvation. So speech and conduct like Colossians 4:5 and 6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

Once you become a Christian, why does He leave us here?  This world is evil–even as a Christian I sin, and there’s suffering here.  My purpose for existence is to glorify God.  And you will glorify God better in heaven when you’re perfect than on earth–so why leave us here?  Answer:  to do on earth what we can’t do in heaven?  What can’t we do in heaven that we can do on earth?  Sin and share–which one do you think He’s left us here to do?  He left you here to share the Gospel of salvation as you go through life.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “You will be My witnesses.”  There are two ways we communicate God’s Word–with our lives and our lips.  That’s why God wants audio-visual Christians who walk the walk and talk the talk–share the Gospel and show the Gospel.  As a church, we’ll always be pulling you toward sharing the Gospel.  We will always want to train you in sharing the Gospel, and I’m committed that every sermon I preach will explain the Gospel, even if it’s in closing, because we want people to know Jesus Christ.

And the Holy Spirit wants us to spread the Gospel to every place we can, by training and sending out missionaries, and training pastors in order to establish churches, planting new churches in areas where God’s Word is not taught and the Gospel is not clear.  As you are going, and next . . .

Second  Baptizing

The public proclamation of identification with Christ and incorporation into his Body.  In our introduction to the membership series, we reminded you that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality, and is the symbol of commitment and allegiance to Christ and His Bride the Church.  Like choosing up teams, you publicly declare Christ is your captain, and the Church is the team you now exclusively play for.

Early Jewish converts could become Christians with no consequence, but once they were baptized, they were cut off from their families and inheritance.  Like a wedding ring, baptism is a public declaration you belong to Christ and His Bride.  No true discipleship is divorced from baptism by immersion in water, as you identify with Christ’s burial under the water and resurrection coming out of the water.

There are no secret Christians–all true believers will be baptized as a public declaration that they belong to Christ.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:32 and 33, “’Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.’”  Going, baptizing, and finally . . .

Third  Teaching them to obey

Obedience training–discipleship includes teaching, but a particular kind of teaching.  It is teaching them to obey/observe/guard all I have commanded you–to bring them under the authority of God’s Word in every area.  The discipleship process is not a one-on-one meeting at Denny’s.  Discipleship is a group of relationships seeking to intentionally invest in each other for the purpose of becoming like Christ.  Discipleship is training each other how to follow God’s Word in all things.

Just like I took my dog to obedience school, discipleship is the obedience school of the Christian life, and that is the reason so few adults pursue it and stick with it.  Obedience is difficult, and discipleship relationships are messy.  Yet a mature Christian is one who’s come under the authority of the Word of God in more and more areas of life—and lastly the tongue.

Mature Christians don’t live perfectly, but progressively–not self-righteously, but living by Christ’s righteousness–not becoming smarter sinners, but becoming more like Christ.  Discipleship is [an] intentional relationship[s] to mold you to become like Christ.  The word disciple disappears after the book of Acts–it is not in any New Testament epistle, simply because it is the body of Christ, the people of the Church who’re to be committed to the process of discipleship.

In large gatherings like this, through God’s Word, we are to be pursuing becoming like Christ together.  In RMG’s and all our ministries, we are to shape one another through relationships that encourage, counsel, share wisdom, confront, hold each other accountable, and love each other to pursue becoming like Christ.  And sometimes through intense groups of 2 or 3 or 4, we can pursue becoming like Christ, man to men and woman to women.  But all of it is to bring God glory by becoming like Christ.  That is the riptide current of FBC—discipleship.

You say, “Chris, not many people will want to be a part of our church with that kind of commitment.”  That is true, and why we say, “We want to be a healthy church more than being a huge church.”  So what are you to live for?  What should be your priorities, and what are we striving for as a church body?  The four G’s–GLORY, GOSPEL, GREAT COMMANDMENT, GREAT COMMISSION . . . so today, may I ask you pointedly?

ONE Do you know God?

Salvation is knowing Christ intimately.  Do you know Him, love Him, worship Him, and seek to obey Christ?  If not, cry out to Him today to open your eyes–He died and now lives.

TWO Are you filled with the Spirit?

Dependent upon God’s Word, relying upon His power, desiring to manifest His fruit through you.

THREE Do you love Christ first in all things?

And does it show in how you serve others in the church, and show compassion in the world?

FOUR Are you interconnected with others in the church?

So that they might intentionally assist you in becoming like Christ?

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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