Friday, November 11, 2011

Making , Marking and Maturing - An introduction to discipleship.

 This is a summary of a new preaching series started at Word Of Grace Church 
by Colin D Cruz.

How many of you have like reading mystery stories? When we go on holiday, we like to take a fat mystery book along to read. They are often unputdownable. The most frustrating thing would be if the last few pages of the book were missing and you don’t get to know who the murderer is, did the good guy win, what was the outcome? You are left hanging.

Imagine if the gospel of Matthew end at chapter 27. What’s in chapter 27? – It ends with the killing of Jesus and his burial. Luke 24:17 records that after Jesus death the disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus and they faces were downcast and sad, because this Jesus was brutally killed and buried. But we thank God for Matthew 28 which records Jesus triumphant resurrection. He appeared to the ladies at the tomb, he appeared to the disciples and to another 500 people over a period of days. He spent 40 days with the disciples before he ascended into heaven. This is his last time on earth – his last few moments till he comes back. So what he says during this time is of prime importance. What do people say on their death beds? It’s not about paying the milk bill. They will say something really important. Jesus communicated some very important things. This is called the great commission. If this is the last and foremost thing on Jesus mind before he ascended into heaven and after he rose from the dead, it would be good for us to pay attention to what he said. In the last few months I have been preaching on Finance and giving. I want to thank and appreciate you. Expect the Lord to give you back as you have sown a seed.

Today’s message begins a new series and this is an introduction to that series.
The summary of Jesus’ teachings and last words can be summed up in two words: Make Disciples.

 Text :Matt 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1.      Make them: 
You may have read this text many times before. Imagine you are Ratan Tata who is producing all kinds of card and he puts you in charge of the production because he is going away and he tells you “make cars” and he corresponds with you via email, text messages etc. When he comes back after a long time he find the factory covered in dust, the workers and sitting and playing cards having a good time with one another. He asks you whether or not you recovered his email and text messages. And you reply “yes”. We have even framed it, some of us have even studied it by heart, translated it into different languages and some of us have even begun to study deeply the meaning of your letter and what exactly do you mean by a ‘car’”! The mandate was “make cars” not debate about it.

Jesus' mandate is to make disciples. One day we will meet him and he will evaluate our lives. We will enjoy the grace of God but we have a challenge to face as well. Jesus has given 212 commands in the New Testament and they can be summed up in tow words – make disciples. But to do this we have to understand the word ‘disciples’. This is not a short process. It’s a lifelong process – the moment you are born again you are a disciple. But not all disciples are equal – it depends on how you grow. This command “All authority is given.. Therefore go...” – is it only for the mature Christian? It is for everyone. “Go – it’s an assumption. It is actually “as you go make disciples...” so whether you are a housewife, a student, a young Christian you can still make disciples.

The first step is we take the gospel message to the not yet believer – the message is about the death and resurrection of Jesus. You will have the joy of seeing souls saved because of you.
You may be working in the IT, call centre etc, pray and ask the Lord whom you can share the gospel with. Think of someone whom you can begin to pray for and see them come to faith. This is what we will be held accountable for. When one sinner repents heaven rejoices. This is close to Jesus ‘heart – he come to seek and save the lost. Jesus said he will make you a fisher of men not a Bible scholar. How long is it since you are a Christ follower? Are you fishing? Do you have stories of fishing? So, no matter where you go, God can use you to make disciples.

This morning if there is anyone here who have not yet put their faith in Jesus, here is an opportunity to do so.

2.       Mark them.
The second thing Jesus says is “Mark them” – people who own cattle have their own special marking on their cattle so they know which ones belong to them. Our kids mark everything that belongs to them – their pencil box, the pencils, their uniforms etc so that things don’t get mixed up with other people’s stuff. So how did Jesus tell us we should mark them? By baptism. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, son and the Holy spirit” This is how Jesus instituted marking. Baptism is very important in the New Testament. Whenever someone cames to faith they got baptized immediately. They did not wait a long time. The Phillipian Jailer got baptized at midnight. Apostle Paul as soon as he received his sight he got baptized even before he could eat or drink anything.
Marking a disciple is very important. If you are not baptized, Jesus will ask you about it. It is baptism by immersion. It always follows repentance. Its immersion, not sprinkling. It’s like “dip chai”/ tea bag tea.

3.      Mature them.
 Mature: “Teach them to obey” After a disciple is made and marked he needs to be matured. As discipleship is lifelong whether you are 7 or 70 you never stop learning. As disciples each one of us has an “L” plate on our backs all our life. There is so much to learn from the Bible- we go from one degree of glory to another. Being confirmed in to the image of Jesus is the goal. What is the process? Most people think the process is “teaching them”. No. Its teaching them to OBEY. Today there is no shortage of teaching o the TV, internet etc. Teaching is not the issue – obedience is the challenge.
We can increase the knowledge but obedience is the challenge. As someone said “one gram of obedience is better that one ton of knowledge” It is good to know the bible verses that talk about love and forgiveness but when you are offended and you don’t forgive it useless. We need to teach people to obey everything. How can I learn and put into practice. It’s good to memorize but is we don’t put it into practice it’s of no consequence.

There are two things you might ask and two things you need to know.
Why should I obey? Why should I make disciples?
1. All authority had been given to Jesus. Phil 2:9 Jesus  was raised from the dead and God exalted him to the highest place where every knee shall bow and tongues confess. The reason we are commanded to make disciples is because Jesus is the ultimate authority and judge. And He says he is giving us authority to make disciple. The King of the universe has given a command. When a General in an army gives a command a soldier will not question it. How much more when Jesus does? Here is Jesus higher than any commander giving us a command.

2. Jesus gives us a promise “And surely I will be with you...”The context is in the making of disciples – Jesus has promised us success, his grace is upon us.
This is an introduction to a new series we are beginning. Jesus ascended on high and he had given us a command to make disciples and he will take an account from us.
We need to become disciples and we all need to make disciples so that on that day we will hear “Well done good and faithful servant”.

You can listen to the audio version of the sermon by clicking here

Colin D Cruz
Nov 2011

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