PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Disciple-Making Disciples; Jesus Preached the Good News!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110130_teach_about_good_news.mp3

01/30 What did Jesus teach – about the good news that he brought?

Intro:

We’ve been looking at Jesus’ final command to his followers before he returned to the glory of his Father. He commanded that we all be disciple-making disciples.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We are to be followers of Jesus, and we are to make others into followers of Jesus by immersing into the one name of the triune God and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. We are taking some time to equip ourselves with what it is that Jesus commanded so that we can effectively obey him in carrying out his final command. We looked at what Jesus taught about God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We looked at what he taught about the Bible, Old and New Testaments. We looked at what he taught about the origin, character, nature, and destiny of humanity. So far, these are big sweeping world-view shaping questions. What is God like? What is the source of truth and authority? Where did we come from, what is our nature, and where are we headed?

Summary

We have seen the belief that there is only one God, eternally existent in the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit comes from the teaching of Jesus. We found that Jesus looked to the Scriptures of the Old Testament as his final authority on issues of faith and life. He himself followed the Scriptures carefully, and he promised that not even the least stroke of a pen would pass away until all was fulfilled. He claimed that his own teaching carried the same authority – he he spoke what he received from his Father. He paved the way for his followers to write the New Testament, promising them the presence of the Holy Spirit as their Teacher who would ensure they remembered everything he had said. We saw Jesus teach that mankind, male and female, are the greatest expression of God’s creative genius, made in his very image, given authority over the rest of creation, but because we rebelled against God, we have become evil and corrupt to our very core, and we have earned the holy and righteous wrath of God. Jesus graphically describes what awaits us in the most horrific terms, as worse than non-existence, worse than maiming, worse than drowning, as unquenchable fire, outer darkness, a place where there is incessant weeping and gnashing of teeth, as torment, anguish and unquenchable thirst. And he makes it very clear that there will be no end to the punishment.

So this is the world-view of Jesus. He took the Scriptures to be absolutely true and trustworthy, breathed out by the Spirit of God. He believed in one good and sovereign, just and loving God, who sent his only Son, who was himself God in the flesh, into this world to rescue a humanity that had rebelliously chosen to destroy itself and was running headlong into the pit of a horrific hell.

Jesus holds out to us hopeless and helpless sinners the hope of life, eternal life. This he describes as entering into the joy of our Master, satisfaction of our deepest longings, life and life abundant, intimacy of relationship with him, being in his presence to enjoy his glory. This is good news indeed for hopeless sinful man.

Today I want to look at this good news message of hope for sinners that Jesus preached.

Jesus Preached The Gospel

Jesus saw preaching as primary in his own ministry. At the very beginning of the Gospel of Mark, the first words of Jesus are introduced this way:

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus proclaims the gospel of God. The word ‘proclaim’ or ‘preach’ (khrussw) means to publish, announce, or herald. This is an official public proclamation. The word ‘gospel’ (euaggelion) simply means good news, glad tidings, a good message. What Jesus preached is described simply as ‘the gospel of God’ or ‘the good news of God’. This phrase ‘of God’ could be understood in different ways. It could be descriptive, as in ‘a cup of water’ – in that case ‘God’ would describe the contents of the good news message – it is good news about God. Or it could be possessive, as in ‘the front door of the building’ – in that case, ‘God’ would be the owner and source of the good news message – it is God’s good news. So Jesus comes heralding good news from God or good news about God.

Do you often think of Jesus primarily as a preacher? When we think of Jesus, we often think of a man of action, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, calming the storm, cleansing the temple, engaging the religious hypocrites, delivering the oppressed. But Jesus thought of himself primarily as a messenger with a message to proclaim.

Just a few verses down in this first chapter of Mark, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum when he was interrupted by a man with an unclean spirit. He delivered the man and his reputation spread so that the whole city brought him their sick and those who were oppressed by demons, and he healed and delivered many. The next morning he got up very early and went out alone to pray. When his disciples found him and told him that everyone was looking for him, this is what he said:

Mark 1:38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (cf. Lk.4:43)

Jesus saw his role primarily as a messenger – one who is sent with an official proclamation to declare to all people.

What was the content of Jesus’ message? We already saw that it was good news from God or good news about God. Let’s look at the words Jesus spoke in Mark 1:15:

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

There are two main parts to this declaration. Something momentous has happened, and there is an appropriate response that is demanded.

Something Momentous

Jesus tells us in two ways that something momentous has happened. He says ‘the time is fulfilled’ and ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’. ‘The time is fulfilled’ means time is filled up, the time is complete, the fulfillment of the ages has come. The climax of all history is upon us. ‘The kingdom of God is at hand’ means that God’s rule and reign is right here, namely because the coming King has come indeed. Jesus saw himself as both the fulfillment of all prophetic Scriptures and as the coming King, God in the flesh. Jesus heralded the good news about himself, the fulfillment of the promises, God with us, God come near.

Demanded Response

The King is here! This demands a response from us. There are two parts of our required response that are described here. ‘Repent and believe in the gospel’. Repent (metanoew) is a compound word made up of the words (meta) movement or change and (noew) the mind with its perception, thoughts and purposes. It points to an internal change of mind and heart. Jesus commanded that we:

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (cf. Luke 10:27)

And Jesus says we think evil in our hearts (Mt.9:4, 15:9; Mk.7:21; Lk.1:51); we speak evil out of the abundance of our hearts (Mt.12:34; 15:18; Lk.6:45); our hearts have grown dull (Mt.13:15); our hearts follow what we treasure (Mt.6:21; Lk.12:34); our hearts become weighed down (Lk.21:34); and are troubled (Jn.14:1, 27); we have hard hearts (Mt.19:8; Mk.3:5; 6:52; 8:17; 10:5; Jn.12:40); we have slow hearts (Lk.24:25); we question in our hearts (Mk.2:8; Lk.5:22); we doubt in our hearts (Mk.11:23; Lk.24:38); we reason in our hearts (Lk.9:47); our hearts are far from him (Mt.15:8; Mk.7:6); but God knows our hearts (Lk.16:15)

Repentance is a call for heart transformation. The other part of our required response is to ‘believe the gospel’. Believe (pisteuw) means to have strong conviction, to put your trust or confidence in. It is the verb form of the root (pistiv) faith.

So the good news that Jesus preached was that something momentous has happened, the King himself has come to fulfill all prophetic Scripture. He demands that we respond with heart transformation and place our trust and confidence in the good news that he brings.

Mark 1:15 …“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

We are to ‘make disciples of all nations’, Jesus said ‘teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt.28:19-20). What Jesus commands is that we repent and believe in the gospel.

This is filled out when we look at how Luke records our commission to the nations. Luke’s account of Jesus’ final command to his followers reads like this:

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

So, where Matthew has ‘repent and believe in the gospel’, Luke tells us to proclaim ‘repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name’. Jesus claimed to have authority to forgive sins:

Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”––he then said to the paralytic––“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Mk.2:10; Lk.5:24, 7:48)

Jesus connected the source of this forgiveness to his own blood poured out:

Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

So Jesus in Luke points us to the promise in the Scriptures that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead as a basis for the proclamation of the good news of forgiveness of sins in his name. When we put this together we have what Paul summarizes as the gospel he preached:

1 Corinthians 15:3 … that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Something momentous has happened. God came in the flesh. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. A response is demanded from us. Repent and believe the good news. The good news is that forgiveness of sins is found in the name of Jesus.

Gospel in Action: a tax collector

To help us get the implications of this, let’s look at repentance and the good news of forgiveness in action in the evangelism of Jesus. We’ll start in Luke 5 with the story of a tax collector named Levi. To feel the force of this encounter, we need to understand the social and political backdrop. Israel is under Roman occupation. Rome brought along their many gods, their idolatrous emperor worship, their materialism and immorality. Jewish zealots thought they were doing God a service by stabbing a Roman official in the back. Tax collectors would buy franchises from Rome giving them the right to collect taxes in a certain town or district. Tax collectors were despised as the lowest scum of human refuse imaginable. They were allowed by Rome to charge exorbitant taxes of their own countrymen to line their own pockets. These were traitors, liars and cheats, consumed with greed. They were considered as swine, on the level with murderers. They were viewed as unclean and beyond repentance. They were excluded from the synagogues. Enter Jesus.

Luke 5:27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus stuns everyone, including his first three disciples, Simon, James and John, local fishermen who had certainly been ripped off repeatedly by this Levi. I wonder if they were excited as Jesus approached the tax booth, thinking he would surely overturn this tax collector’s tables. Jesus, the great teacher, walks right up to the tax booth and says to this filthy human swine who is beyond hope of repentance ‘follow me’. Let’s imagine what is going on in the heart of this man. He was aware of the amazing things going on in the area. Jesus was healing the sick and the lame and freeing men from demonic oppression. Jesus said:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

I am a captive. I am a slave to my greed. I am riddled with guilt. I am despised. I am the worst of the worst. There is no hope for me. But this teacher Jesus is bringing hope to many we viewed as beyond hope. I wonder… could it be…? Imagine the guilty conscience when this man’s eyes met the penetrating gaze of the Master. And then he spoke. Two simple words. ‘Follow me.’ That was all it took. He abandoned everything and went after Jesus. He threw a feast and invited the only people who were willing to associate with him. Other tax collectors and sinners.

28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The religious elite were disgusted that this great teacher would associate with such scum. Jesus answer is powerful. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Levi was a sinner. Everyone knew it. He knew it. The religious leaders were sinners too, but they refused to admit it. In their self-righteousness, it was impossible for them to repent.

A parable

Jesus did not come for the righteous. Later, Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector to confront the self-righteous.

Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The difference lie in what they trusted in. Jesus said they ‘trusted in themselves that they were righteous’. The so-called prayer of the Pharisee is filled with the first person pronoun. I, I, I, I, I. The tax collector, in his distance, in his posture, in his desperation, and in his words, demonstrated that he was genuinely broken and repentant. He has nothing to trust in but throws himself on the mercy of God. In humble helpless dependence, he cries out ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner’. It is to him Jesus says ‘Yes!’

Receive Like a Child

The next thing Luke records is this:

Luke 18:15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Jesus uses this opportunity to illustrate what is required for entry of his kingdom. He says we must receive the kingdom like a child. It must be received. It cannot be earned. Receive like a child – in simple trust, helpless dependence, shameless asking, eager delight.

What good must I do?

One more ilustration. Luke continues.

Luke 18:18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”’ 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

When Jesus called Levi at the tax booth, he didn’t demand that he leave everything. That’s what Levi (or Matthew) was already eager to do. When this eager seeker comes and wants to know what he can do to get eternal life, Jesus points him to the character of God and to the commandments. God alone is good. You are not. But this man was righteous in his own opinion. “All these I have kept from my youth.” So Jesus confronts the treasure of his life and extends the invitation. Let go of what you are trusting in and follow me. He came asking for eternal life, and Jesus turned him away because he came with his hands full. He was unwilling to empty them, acknowledge his sinfulness and need, and receive like a child.

Luke 18:24 Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Jesus, with sadness, tells us that it is impossible for someone with their hands full to repent and believe the gospel. His followers ask with incredulity “Then who can be saved?” They are right. It is impossible. We all have our hands full. But Jesus points us to the true source. “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Salvation comes from the Lord. Only God can birth new life in the heart of a Levi so that he sees following Jesus as greater worth than the piles of money he is wallowing in. Only God can birth in the heart of a Pharisee like Nicodemus that his righteous deeds are like filthy rags in the sight of God and that he needs to repent of his righteous deeds and turn and look to the Son of Man lifted up on a cross, bearing sin and purchasing forgiveness, to put his trust in him and receive like a child the gift of eternal life. “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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January 30, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What did Jesus Teach about Us?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110123_teach_about_man.mp3

01/23 What did Jesus teach – about humanity?

We’ve been looking at Jesus’ final command to his followers before he ascended into heaven. He commanded that we all be disciple-making disciples.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We are to follow Jesus.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We are to abide in the truth that Jesus spoke, and to be set free by it. We are to pass on information, character and passion that results in a transformed life. We are to have content, character and conviction that is contagious to those around us. We’ve been looking at what that means. We looked at what Jesus taught about God. We looked at how Jesus taught – and his view of the Scriptures.

Today I want to look at what Jesus taught about humanity, where we came from, what we are like, and where we are going.

Where we came from

Jesus is very clear about where we came from. We are the special creation of God, unique and distinct from all his other creation, created with dignity and worth in the sight of God, made in the very image of God.

-created by God:

In Jesus’ teaching against divorce, Jesus points us back to the created order.

Matthew 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

Jesus is very clear that we are the creation of God. We were formed or made or created by God. From the very beginning of creation God has made mankind as distinctly male or distinctly female.

Look at how Jesus talks to the hypocritical Pharisees:

Luke 11:39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?

Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and he calls them fools, but he argues from the fact that even they were made by God inside and out. Jesus believed and taught that each of us are the special creation of God. As the Psalmist says:

Psalms 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (c.f. Job 10:11)

-most valuable of creation:

Jesus teaches not only that we are the special creation of God, but that we are the most valuable of his creation. Jesus says:

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 10:31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 12:12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! …

Luke 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

So according to Jesus, we are the special creation of God, unique and distinct from the rest of his creation, and we are of greater worth to God than his other creatures.

-the image of God

Jesus gives us another clue as to what he believed about the nature of man when he was asked about paying taxes to Caesar. The Pharisees and Herodians were attempting to entangle him in his talk by asking him a question about Jews paying taxes to the Roman government. They thought they had him no matter which way he answered. But his answer amazed them all. He said:

Luke 20:24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness (eikwna) and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus careful answer is using the language of Genesis:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Jesus is saying that the coins that bear Caesar’s image can be given to Caesar, but because you bear the image of God, you must give yourselves to God.

-children of God?

Does it follow from this unique place we hold among God’s creatures, as bearing the very image of God, that we are by default God’s children? This is a more complex question. When we studied what Jesus taught about himself, we saw that he claimed a totally unique position as the only Son of the Father. Consider John 3:16

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (cf. Mt.10:32; 11:27; Jn.1:14; 3:35; 5:18, 22-23; 10:30; 17:5; et al.)

Jesus claimed to have a totally unique and distinct relationship to his Father. He claimed to be the only Son of God. But he also taught his followers to pray “Our Father in heaven” (Mt.6:9). Over and over in his teaching in Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus refers to God as ‘your Father’ or ‘your heavenly Father’. So how do we put this together? How does Jesus claim to be the only son of God and then tell us to call God ‘Our Father’?

-who is your father?

In John 8, Jesus had a dispute with the religious leaders of his day over the issue of ancestry and descent.

John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father––even God.”

(Here they stoop to slinging mud. It was common knowledge that Mary was pregnant with Jesus before the relationship between her and Joseph was consummated. Of course the religious leaders didn’t buy the ‘Holy Spirit conception in the womb of the virgin’ story, so they implied that Jesus was a bastard – an illegitimate child – born of sexual immorality. Look at how Jesus answers them – full of grace and truth)

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

So in this passage Jesus flatly denies the claim of the religious leaders that they were children of God. He says, no, God is not your Father. I came from God. You are of your father the devil.

Jesus tells the religious leaders who rejected him that they cannot call themselves children of God, but instead they are children of the devil. Jesus claims to be the only Son of God, and then he invites us, his followers, to address God as Father. How do we put this all together?

-becoming children of God

If we go back to the context of John 3, where Jesus makes the clear statement that he is the only Son of God, we find some help. John 3:16 is toward the end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, also a Pharisee. Nicodemus has concluded that Jesus must be from God because of the signs he had done.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus points Nicodemus to his need for the new birth. He had been born of flesh. He needed to be born of the Spirit – born from above – in order to have spiritual or eternal life. This, Jesus said, comes from believing in Jesus crucified for sinners. John has already pointed to this at the prologue to his gospel.

John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus gives believers in him the right to become children of God. So we are not naturally children of God, but whoever believes in Jesus becomes a child of God by virtue of being born of God.

Paul appropriately uses the concept of adoption to describe our status as sons of God.

Galatians 4:4 …God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (cf. Romans 8:15)

So in Jesus’ teaching, we see that we are created by God, created as distinct from the rest of creation with great value in God’s sight, made in the very image of God. We are created image-bearers by nature, but not sons. We become God’s children only through the new birth.

What We are Like

What does Jesus say about our present condition?

John 2:24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

That doesn’t sound very good. People were believing in Jesus but he wouldn’t entrust himself to them, because he knew what was in man. What was that? Jesus doesn’t leave us wondering.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Jesus here flat out assumes that we are all evil. He gets fired up when he sees people who he knows are evil putting on airs that they are good and righteous and holy. Jesus says:

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I don’t know about you, but that settles it for me. If our hearts are judged by what comes out of our mouths, specifically every careless word, then I’m in trouble. Now don’t sit there thinking ‘I don’t use profanity, so I must be pretty good’. What do you talk about most? Imagine seeing a pie chart that details everything that comes out of your mouth in a week. How much of that pie would be giving glory and thanks to God? [pie chart] Jesus describes it pretty well:

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person…

When a rich young man came to Jesus thinking he was pretty good, but feeling that he still lacked something, Jesus made it clear:

Mark 10:18 …No one is good except God alone. (cf. Mt.19:17; Lk.18:19)

No one is good except God alone. The question is not if you are better than… The question is if you are in the good category or the evil category. We all find ourselves in the evil category. God alone is in the good category. Jesus said

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

You don’t hunger and thirst for something you have. Jesus calls those blessed who acknowledge they have a need and long for it to be filled.

So Jesus says that although we are the special creation of God, with great worth in his sight, bearing his image, we are basically evil, rotten to the core and empty.

Where We are Going

We’ve looked at who we are according to Jesus – where we come from and what we are like. Now let’s look at what Jesus says about where we are headed. If we look through John 3:16 and following, we see two options. There is either perishing or eternal life; being condemned or being saved; either loving darkness or coming to the light. At the end of John 3, we hear John the baptizer saying this:

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So there is eternal life or the wrath of God. Lets look at how Jesus describes each of these.

-the wrath of God

-worse than non-existence or maiming or drowning

Jesus says of his betrayer

Matthew 26:24 …woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (cf. Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22)

So according to Jesus, his punishment is worse than non-existence. But is he a special case? In Matthew 5, Jesus deals with the sins of lust and anger.

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus feels that it would be better to experience life maimed than to be thrown into hell. In Matthew 18 he uses similar language when he describes the danger of causing a young person to sin. He says

Matthew 18:6 … it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

-eternal fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth

And he warns of being ‘thrown into the eternal fire’ (18:8) and ‘into the hell of fire’ (18:9); ‘to hell, to the unquenchable fire (Mk.9:43). He describes hell as a place ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mk.9:48). He describes a tree that does not bear good fruit being cut down and thrown into the fire (Mt.7:19). He speaks of tasteless salt being thrown out and trampled under people’s feet (Mt.5:13). Six times he describes it as a place where ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Mt.8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). He describes it as ‘the outer darkness (Mt.8:12; 22:13; 25:20), and ‘the fiery furnace (Mt.13:42, 50). He says they

Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He says it is a place of torment, anguish, and unquenchable thirst (Lk.16:23-25). Much of what Jesus says about condemnation or perishing or the wrath of God is in parables or stories. Jesus is quite graphic and vivid in his description of the horrors of hell.

-the final judgment

Jesus describes the final judgment in Matthew 25:

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. … 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. … 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

According to Jesus, he will separate all people into two categories. There will be separation; ‘depart from me’, they will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, it will last as long as the reward for the righteous; ‘eternal punishment’ or ‘eternal life’.

-eternal life

Let’s look for a minute at what Jesus says about the alternative. It is interesting that Jesus is not as graphic and vivid with his description of eternal life.

He describes it as entering into the joy of your Master

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ … 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

It is described as fullness of joy and unquenchable joy.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (Jn.16:20-24; 17:13)

John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

It is described as a satisfying of our deepest longings

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It is described as incomparable treasure (Mt.13:44-46), a wedding feast (Mt.22:2-4; 25:10), reward (Mt.5:12; 6:4,6,18,20; 10:42; 19:21 ), honor (Mt.24:45-47), ‘inherit[ing] the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Mt.25:34); we will shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father (Mt.13:43). It is permanent (Jn.10:28). It is described in terms of fellowship (Mt.8:11).

Most often Jesus describes it as eternal life or simply life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Eternal life is defined in terms of relationship.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

We will be with Jesus and we will see his glory! Jesus prayed:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 23, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disciple-Making Disciples; How Did Jesus Teach?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110116_how_did_jesus_teach.mp3

01/16 What did Jesus teach – about the Scriptures? (how did Jesus teach?)

We’ve been looking at Jesus’ final command to his followers before he left the planet, with a view to how we can carry it out.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus commanded that we all be disciple-making disciples of him. We are to pass on information, character and passion that results in a transformed life. We are to have content, character and conviction that is contagious to those around us. We’ve been looking at what that means. We’ve looked a little at what some of the content is. We looked at what Jesus taught us about God. We examined some of the things Jesus told us about his Father. We looked at what Jesus taught us about himself. And we looked at what Jesus had to say about the Holy Spirit. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we must embrace everything he taught. If we are going to make disciples of all nations, we need to know what to teach them about God.

All Disciples are called to Teach

But we also need to know how to teach. If the primary method of disciple-making is teaching, and if we are all called to be disciple-making disciples, then we all need to be equipped by Jesus to teach. I want you to feel the weight of this. I come over to you this morning during the last song and lean over and whisper in your ear ‘I’m feeling really sick and I need to leave. Will you teach God’s people this morning?’ What are you feeling? What’s going through your head? Now some of you might be secretly thinking ‘oh, I wish that would happen! I would love to have the opportunity to get up in front…’ Those of you who think that way – you scare me. You’re probably the ones I would not ask – for that very reason. Most of you however, would probably be thinking ‘I’m not feeling too well either. Where’s the nearest exit?’. That may not be a very plausible illustration. So lets get more down to earth.

*A member of a religious organization comes to your door wanting to indoctrinate you with their religious beliefs. How do you talk to them?

*A co-worker has been observing your character for the last 10 years and they come to you and say ‘okay, you’ve earned the right to speak. Tell me about this Jesus stuff’. Where do you start?

*A friend from church is facing some painful circumstances and they call you and ask ‘why is God letting this happen in my life?’ What do you say?

*Or one of your kids comes to you and says ‘Dad, I’ve been talking to some of my friends at school. How can we be so sure that what we believe is right?’. How do you instruct them?

Those are all real examples that I have faced personally, and I expect that you could add to the list of daily opportunities we are all given to teach and to make disciples. In Colossians 3:16, we are instructed to:

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Whether we have a specific role that requires teaching or not, we are all called to teach one another. I take the time to say this, because I don’t want anyone tuning out at this point saying ‘this is about teaching and I’m not a teacher so it doesn’t apply to me.’ Every follower of Jesus is to be a disciple-making disciple, and teaching is essential to the disciple-making process.

How Did Jesus Teach?

So this morning I want to look at how Jesus taught. My focus today is not on the content of what Jesus taught, but his method of teaching. Now we might be tempted to look at Jesus’ use of parables and stories, object lessons and illustrations, probing questions and in your face rebuke and confrontation, and that might be helpful and instructive, but I want to go even deeper than method. I want to try to get behind how he taught. I want to try to get inside his head and his heart and see how he thought that motivated how he taught. Or to ask it another way, what was the foundation of his teaching?

Scripture the final authority in personal moral decisions

To give us some help seeing what was foundational to his life and teaching, we’ll start with his private conversation with the devil at the outset of his public ministry. Turn in your bibles with me to Matthew.

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’ 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Although Jesus was not intending to disciple the devil and make him his follower, this passage has huge implications for teaching. Disciple making is training in making life decisions as well as training in truth and doctrine. In fact the two must be one. Our life choices must flow naturally from the truth we embrace. And we see this in Jesus’ personal life as he faced temptation from the devil. He was faced with moral decisions and he made those in light of the written word of God. Three times in this passage, Jesus replies with the phrase ‘it is written’, and he quotes the Old Testament Scriptures. In fact, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, he articulates our utter dependence on God’s words in all of life. “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus based his every life decision on God’s word.

Now I may be making an assumption, but I don’t think that when he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness he stopped by the local synagogue to grab a Torah scroll. In the moment of temptation he didn’t whip out his pocket scroll and start spinning through it to find where it was written. This seems to indicate that he was deeply familiar with the words of scripture, that he had listened intently to God’s words read in synagogue each week, that he had studied and meditated on God’s words, that he had followed the advice of the Psalmist, when he says:

Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

There are implications we could draw from this passage about memorization and church attendance and personal study, but we will leave that for another time. It is clear from the way our Lord responded to the devil, that he appealed to the written word of God as his final authority in his own moral decision making.

Every little Word

Because of Jesus’ radical new teaching, many thought that he contradicted and discarded the scriptures, but he made it clear that this was not so. He says in Matthew 5:17:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

In Jesus’ day ‘the Law’ or ‘the Law and the Prophets’ were ways of referring to what we now know as the Old Testament. Jesus explicitly states that he does not intend to abolish the Scriptures, but to fulfill them. He points us to the least stroke of a pen and says that it will not pass from the written word until all is accomplished. Jesus tells us that even the smallest parts of the letters that make up the words are significant. Not one part of God’s written word is trivial or unimportant. If God bothered to say it and have it written down and preserved for us, then every bit of it deserves our careful attention and study. Jesus tells us there are deep consequences for disregarding God’s word, but there is great reward for all who obey it and teach others to do the same.

Scripture the foundation of his own teaching.

Jesus then goes on to base his moral teaching on the precepts of the Old Testament Law, pointing us beyond the external keeping of the letter of the law, to the true goal of transformation of heart and desires. Six times in this passage on issues of anger and insult, lust, divorce, taking oaths, retribution and hatred, Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to those of old… But I say to you…” (Matt.5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43)

So we see that Jesus used the scriptures as the basis for his own moral decisions and as the foundation of his moral teaching. He explicitly says that he did not come to do away with the written word, but rather to bring it to fruition.

Scripture the final authority in controversy with religious leaders

Let’s look at how Jesus handled the scriptures when he was in conflict with the religious leaders of his day.

Matthew 15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”’

Jesus held up the commandment of God over against the tradition of men. He quotes the scriptures and says ‘God commanded… but you say’. He accuses them of making void the word of God for the sake of human tradition and he says their worship is worthless.

Listen to how Jesus talks. Jesus said things like:

Matthew 12:3 … “Have you not read …

Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the Law …

Matthew 19:4 …“Have you not read …

Matthew 21:16 … have you never read,

Matthew 21:42 …“Have you never read in the Scriptures…

Matthew 22:29 … “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Matthew 22:31 … have you not read what was said to you by God:

Mark 12:26 …have you not read in the book of Moses,

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures …and it is they that bear witness about me,

John 7:38 …as the Scripture has said, …

John 10:35 …––and Scripture cannot be broken––

John 13:18 …But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘…

Luke 11:28 …Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

John 8:55 … I keep his word.

John 17:14 I have given them your word,…

John 17:17 …your word is truth.

Mark 2:2 …And he was preaching the word to them.

Mark 4:33 …he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,…

Jesus appealed to the scriptures as the final authority in his controversy with the religious leaders of his day.

Scripture is historically reliable

I think it’s appropriate to ask a question here. We’ve seen that Jesus used the Scriptures as his rule for faith and practice. He anchored his own moral decisions and his teaching in the Scripture. He argued from the scriptures with the religious leaders of his day. But did he believe the scriptures? Let me clarify what I mean by the question: Did he view the bible accounts as true history, or as religious myth and fable designed to teach a spiritual truth? Jesus himself spoke sometimes in parables – fictitious stories that he used to communicate a moral or spiritual truth. In what category did Jesus place the Old Testament? Let’s look at a few examples.

Jesus refers to the Genesis account of the creation of mankind by God and the first marriage and assumes that it is true and factual (Matt.19:4-6). He refers to the prophet Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, (Mat.12:38-41) and to the wisdom of Solomon (Mat.12:41-42). He refers to Noah and the ark and the destruction of the world by the flood (Lk.17:26-27) and to Lot and his wife who turned into a pillar of salt and the fire and sulfur that God rained down in judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Lk.17:28-29, 32) as if they were real people and actual historical accounts. Jesus anchored his arguments on the historical events.

So Jesus took the bible to be true history, he took it as the final authority in religious controversy, as the basis for his teaching and as the compass to guide moral decisions.

Scripture a guide to Jesus’ Messianic office

Jesus also claimed the prophetic scriptures must be fulfilled, and that they were fulfilled in him.

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures …and it is they that bear witness about me,

Luke 4:21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’

Joh 12:14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

Mr 14:27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

Mt 26:24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him,…

Matthew 26:54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Matthew 26:56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.

Mark 14:49 … But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

Luke 22:37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

John 10:35 …––and Scripture cannot be broken––

John 13:18 But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’

John 15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

John 17:12 … not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

Jesus believed himself to be the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures. He took the bible not only as a guide in his moral decisions, but also as a guide in his Messianic role.

Jesus’ view of his own teaching

So Jesus believed the stories of the bible to be true and factual, and that it was the final authority in moral and religious issues. But Jesus’ bible was what we know as the Old Testament. Can we say anything about what Jesus thought about the New Testament?

We do know what Jesus said about his own teaching, and that he claimed to speak God’s words. He claimed that his teaching was absolutely true. He frequently said things like:

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

Those who heard him were amazed at his teaching.

Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

Luke 4:36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

Matthew 7:28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus even claimed the same kid of Old Testament permanence for his own teaching.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Jesus’ view of the New Testament

But Jesus didn’t write any books. How do we know that his followers got it right? We know from any honest historian that the four gospels are considered to be accurate and reliable historical documents. But does Jesus have anything to say about what his apostles would write? Jesus told his disciples that they would bear witness because they had been with him.

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

He promised them supernatural power to be his witnesses, in fact he promised the Holy Spirit to be their constant teacher and to remind them of what he had taught.

John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

So Jesus believed that the Old Testament was reliable and authoritative, and he believed his own teaching was on the same level, and he ensured by the power of the Holy Spirit that his disciples would accurately bear witness of him and speak with his authority.

If we want to be followers of Jesus, we will embrace what he taught us about the bible. We will embrace the bible as true and trustworthy, as the authority for life and faith, and what we speak and teach will be rooted in and saturated by the very words of God. As Paul said to Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 16, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disciple-Making Disciples: Teach about God

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110109_teach_about_god

01/09 Make Disciples: Teach about God

Jesus made some astonishing claims. He claimed that everything was all about him. He claimed to be the fulfillment of all prophetic scripture, that all history revolved around him. He claimed an unique relationship to God as one of a kind Son of the Father. He claimed a kind of authority that only God could possess. He claimed to be distinct from the rest of humanity, in a class absolutely by himself

And he demanded unquestioning allegiance from his followers. He demanded that we put him in first place far above every other priority or responsibility. He demanded to be loved and honored as God. And he entrusted to us the great privilege and responsibility of calling others to follow him. He puts it this way:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We – all of us who claim to follow Jesus – are called by Jesus to be disciple-making disciples. What does that mean? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? According to Jesus, a disciple is one who is immersed into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and taught to obey everything Jesus commanded. If I am to be a disciple-making disciple of our Lord Jesus, then I am to pass on information, character and passion that will translate into a transformed life. So here’s the question: What exactly am I to pass on? What is the information, what is the character, what is the passion that I am to have and to pass on to other would-be followers of Jesus? What is the conviction, the character and the content that needs to be contagious in my life? Today we will focus on the bedrock foundation in the life of a disciple of Jesus that will provide the unshakeable basis for everything else that we will build on it.

So what did Jesus command his disciples? What is the content of the teaching that we are to pass on to future generations of disciples?

A Word to Superficial Religious People

Much of what Jesus taught was to correct distorted views of God. The religious people of his day thought they understood God and related to him in a proper way. They thought the were following the scriptures, but Jesus challenged their thinking and confronted their hypocrisy. He said:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus then proceeded to tell the people in what ways the religious leaders fell short. Keeping the letter of the outward commands like ‘thou shalt not murder’ and ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’ was not enough; these commands were not merely prohibiting the external act, but had implications on the heart – the thoughts and intents like hatred and lust. Jesus demands that we love not only our neighbor, but even our enemy and those who persecute us because it is the character of God to extend his common grace to both the good and the wicked. Jesus cautions about practicing righteousness publicly – giving and praying and fasting in such a way that we seek to impress those around us. He warns about the spiritual dangers of treasuring anything outside of God and having divided affections. He warns us not to point out flaws in others while overlooking our own character defects. He invites us to ask because God is good and loves to give good gifts to whoever asks. Jesus warns that the way to destruction is wide and easy and many go there. The way to life is hard and narrow and few go there. He warns of the diseased fruit of false teachers who pretend at outward religion but have no heart transformation. He warns that many who claim the name of Jesus and do great deeds in his name have no real relationship with him and will be told ‘I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt.7:23). In fact, Jesus not only warned his followers of the dangers of superficial religion, but he confronted those who were involved in it. He said some severe things like:

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, … 17 You blind fools! … 19 You blind men! … 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self–indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. … 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Harsh, huh? That’s Jesus. He had some severe things to say to those who pretended to be religious leaders and didn’t have any real relationship with God. The stakes were too high to be soft with them. They misrepresented God for their own personal gain and led others down the path to destruction. So Jesus frankly tells them where they are headed and calls them to repent and warns us not to be deceived by them. Jesus steers us back to the path by telling us what God is really like. He is not impressed with outward show. He sees the heart. Jesus tells us that a real relationship – knowing the only true God – is the only path to eternal life.

Knowing God

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

So if knowing God is the definition of eternal life, then it is critical that we have a true understanding of who God is. And Jesus has a lot to say about his Father. In fact, Jesus claims exclusive right to tell us what the Father is like.

Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Luke 10:22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father‘s side, he has made him known.

John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

John 6:46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Here are some of the things that Jesus tells us about his Father. Jesus said that God is the Creator (Mk.10:6; 13:19). God is the one who controls the solar system and the weather (Mt.5:45). God is the giver of life (Jn.5:21, 26). God deserves all the glory and worship (Mt.4;10; 5:16; 6:9; Lk.4:8; 11:2; Jn.4:21-23, 5:23; 12:28; 13:31-32; 14:13; 15:8; 17:1). He is to be loved with all the heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27). God is eternal (Jn.17:5, 24). God is spirit and by nature invisible (Jn.1:18; 4:24; 5:37; 6:46). He sees everything – even what is done in secret (Mt.6:4-6, 18). He knows everything (Mt.6:8, 32; Lk.12:30 16:15). He is Lord of heaven and earth (Mt.11:25, Lk.10:21). He commands all the angels (Mt.26:53). God owns everything (Mt.22:21). He is able to do everything (Mk.14:36; Lk.3:8). He is all-powerful (Mt.22:29; Lk.1:37; 18:27). He is even concerned with little birds (Mt.10:29; Lk.12:6, 24). God is true (Jn.3:33). He is righteous and just (Mt.6:33; Lk.7:29). He is perfect (Mt.5:48). He is merciful (Lk.6:36). He is the giver of all good things (Lk.11:13; 12:32; Jn.4:10; 6:32;). He is full of compassion and forgiveness (Lk.15:20-22). God is love (Jn.3:16; 5:20; 15:9; 16:27; 17:24). God alone is good (Mk.10:18; Lk.18:19).

These are some of the things Jesus said about his Father. If eternal life is all about knowing God, and Jesus claims to be the exclusive authority on God, then we should listen to what he says.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

What Jesus Says About Himself

The stunning thing here is Jesus includes himself. Eternal life is knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ. For any mere man to put himself on that level would sound absurd. If I were to say ‘This is what eternal life is all about – you need to know the only true God, and you need to know me, Rodney, the anointed one, sent by God’ – I hope you would do more than squirm in your seats. I hope you wouldn’t all nod politely and drift off back to sleep. To put yourself in the same sentence with God is startling, offensive and blasphemous. But that’s what Jesus did. You need to know God and you need to know me.

But Jesus goes even farther than this. He identifies himself completely with the Father.

John 14:7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? …11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

In fact he went so far as to say:

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

The Jews perceived in John 5:18 that he was ‘making himself equal with God’. In verse 23 He demanded the same honor that was to be given to God.

John 5:23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Jesus put himself on the same level with God, he claimed to be equal with God, he demanded the same honor as God, and he demanded that we believe that he is all that.

John 8:23 He said to them, “… I am from above. … I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

What Jesus Says About The Holy Spirit:

If we stopped here, the picture we have of what Jesus taught us about God would be incomplete. Jesus talked much about his Father. He talked much about himself. And he talked much about the Spirit of God. Jesus was said to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt.1:18-20; Lk.1:35 ). John said Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit (Mt.3:11; Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33). God’s Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism (Mt.3:16, 12:18; Mk.1:10; Lk.3:22; Jn.1:32). Jesus was led by the Spirit (Mt.4:1; Mk.1:12; Lk.4:1, 14, 18) and claimed to do miracles by the Spirit of God (Mt.12:28) and he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit (Lk.10:21).

Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be God. Speaking against the Holy Spirit was blasphemy (Mt.12:31-32; Mk.3:29; Lk.12:10). Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be the one who authored the Scriptures (Mk.12:36), and he would be the one to speak through the apostles (Mk.13:11; Lk.12:12). Jesus taught that the Spirit would give new birth. (Jn.3:5-8, 6:63). Jesus said that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who asked (Lk.11:13; Jn.7:39, 20:22)

When Jesus told his disciples that he would not be with them much longer, they were grieved. He encouraged them by pointing them to the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be the one who would equip his disciples with the ability to make disciples.

Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” …8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus Taught that there is only One God

Jesus clearly taught that there is only one God. When asked what is the first and greatest commandment, Jesus answered:

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

When Jesus claimed to be God, we don’t hear him say ‘I and the Father are the two’. Rather, he says ‘I and the Father are one’ (Jn.10:30)

Jesus commanded that we immerse in the one Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mt.28:19)

Conclusion

If we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, and we want to teach others to follow Jesus, then we need to understand what Jesus taught, especially about God. Jesus taught that God is by nature spirit – invisible. He taught that God is eternal, that he is the Creator and life-giver, that he has all power, is present everywhere, knows everything, that he is worthy of all our affections and all our worship. Jesus taught that there is only one God, and that God exists in the person of the Father, the person of the Son, and the person of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org


January 9, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matthew 28:18-20; Disciple-Making Disciples

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110102_make_disciples.mp3

01/02 Make Disciples by Immersing and Teaching

Introduction:

Last time we took a good hard look at who Jesus made himself out to be and some of the amazing claims that he made. If he really is who he says he is, then we would do well to pay careful attention to what he says. Today I want to look at Jesus’ final command to his disciples before he left the planet.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In this passage, Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of a passage we looked at briefly last week. Jesus claimed to be the ‘Son of Man’. We find that title in Daniel:

Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed

Jesus, after his crucifixion and resurrection, claimed that this prophecy in Daniel had been fulfilled in him. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The Ancient of Days had given to the Son of Man “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him”.

Jesus himself connected his title ‘Son of Man’ with an authority that he possessed:

Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”––he then said to the paralytic––“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (cf. Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24)

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, has always been and will always be God, and retains the authority of God. But he became human so that he could bear our sins and become the Savior of the world. In Peter’s preaching recorded for us in the book of Acts, he pointed to this new role as Savior

Acts 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth, specifically to be the savior and judge.

John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father… 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

When Jesus prayed as he anticipated the cross, he said:

John 17:1 … “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

So Jesus, in claiming that he has been given all authority, authority to be the savior and judge, was fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy, that he “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.”

Who?

And he was claiming this authority as a basis for the command that he would give to his followers in Matthew 28. Before we look at what Jesus commanded, let’s look at who he was talking to. It says ‘Jesus came and said to them‘. We have to look back a few verses to see who the ‘them‘ is. If we drop back to verse 16, we see:

Matthew 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them,

So what Jesus said was addressed to the eleven disciples. But we learn more about them if we are paying attention to the details. These are the twelve, the disciples whom Jesus had selected after praying all night, minus Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. And we see these are disciples who are still following Jesus; still obeying him. Verse 16 tells us that they went to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. So they were still obeying Jesus, still doing whatever he commanded. That is what a disciple is. We learn something else about these disciples. They were worshipers of Jesus. When they saw their resurrected Lord, they bowed the knee. They paid homage to him as their king. They acknowledged that he is the one who is in charge, in control. They declared that he is most valuable, of the highest worth. But some doubted. They had questions. They worshiped and they obeyed, but they didn’t have all the answers. Some doubted. But Jesus spoke to all of them.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Another thing we can say about who it was that Jesus addressed is although it was primarily addressed to his eleven obedient worshiping doubting followers, it was not limited to only those eleven. We know this for several reasons. First, the command to baptize and teach was carried out by a much wider circle than just the eleven. We see, for instance, in the book of Acts, Philip the evangelist, who was not one of the eleven, teaching and baptizing. (Acts 6:5; 8:38). Throughout the history of the church after the eleven apostles, we see teaching and baptizing going on, and this is just what Jesus intended, because he instructs his disciples to make disciples and teach them to obey all that he has commanded. That must at least include his command to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. So his disciples were to make disciple making disciples.

And his concluding promise indicates that his purpose is exponentially bigger than this initial group of eleven. Jesus says ‘Look, I am with you always, to the end of the age’. Jesus’ promise is for successive generations of disciples. Jesus is about to leave the planet. He is about to ascend into heaven and disappear from sight. But his promise is that he would be with us always, to the end of the age. His presence was not limited to the original eleven. That promise is for us today! “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Although Jesus is not physically or visibly with us, he is truly with us in a real authentic way. We have his promise on that!

We can also see that Jesus purpose reaches far beyond his original disciples when we see how he prays for those disciples. Look at John 17:

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 … so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus is praying here specifically for us – for those who will believe in him through their word – through the word of the original eleven. I’d like to come back around to this passage in a few minutes to reinforce what we are seeing here.

So far we have established who Jesus was addressing when he gave his great commission command – doubting but worshiping disciples who would follow him and do what he commands – including us! And we have established what kind of authority Jesus was given by his Father – specifically authority to save and authority to judge all flesh – people of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Now let’s turn our attention to what it is that Jesus commands them and us.

What Jesus Commands

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our English translation can be somewhat misleading here. ‘Go’ is not the focus of the text. The imperative verb in the sentence is ‘make disciples’, and it is modified by three participles. Going is simply a necessary part of discipling all nations. Make disciples is the central command Jesus gives to his disciples. A disciple is one who accepts and follows a teacher or a doctrine.

Every disciple was called to leave everything.

Matthew 4:19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 8:21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Matthew 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

Matthew 10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus doesn’t have weekend disciples – those who have other priorities but follow Jesus in their spare time. Jesus demands to be first in everything. That doesn’t mean that if you follow Jesus you will automatically quit your job.

The primary objective for every disciple of Jesus is to disciple others. We follow Jesus and we want everyone else to follow Jesus. The two participles that come next give us the ‘how’ of discipling. Disciple making happens through immersion and teaching.

Immersion

I use the word ‘immersion’ because that is the translation of the Greek word ‘baptizo’. Make disciples of all nations, immersing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The immersion of a convert into water was a symbolic statement that they were leaving their old belief system behind and were turning from it to follow a new path. That is what the bible word ‘repent’ means – to have a change of heart and mind. Being immersed in water was the public declaration to family and friends and the community that a radical change had taken place.

And this is at its core a trinitarian commission. Jesus commands that we immerse disciples into the one Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A name in the bible stands for the character and reputation and authority of the person. So we are to immerse followers of Jesus in the one authority of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are to be immersed into the character and personality of the one triune God. We are to be saturated, drenched with the Name.

Teaching

One part of the disciple-making process is the public proclamation that a person is abandoning self to become immersed as a follower of Jesus. The other part of disciple-making is teaching. The disciples referred to Jesus as their rabbi or teacher, and they were to pass on his teaching to the coming generations of Jesus’ disciples. There is a content that is to be communicated. The apostles refer to it as ‘the teaching’ or ‘the doctrine’ (Acts 2:42; Rom. 16:17; Eph.4:11-15; 1 Tim.4:6, 16, 6:1-3; Titus 1:9, 2:1, 10; 2 Jn.1:9-10). This is why the bible is written with words. There is concrete objective historically anchored truth that is to be kept pure from error and can be communicated to others. There is content to the teaching that we can lay on the table and evaluate biblically to determine if it is true or false. But teaching encompasses more than just the passing on of accurate information. A disciple was to imitate his rabbi. Discipling is relational and passes on not only truth but also character and passion. This presupposes that God’s words are true and that they are transformational. Jesus said:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. …68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So teaching is not merely passing on information. Teaching in the disciple-making process is bringing a person into interaction with the words of Jesus in such a way that they are personally transformed. Making disciples should transform the thinking, the feeling, and the acting of the disciple. Teaching must convey information, character and passion and translate into a changed life.

Disciple-making requires that we ‘teach them to observe all that Jesus has commanded us.’ This is more than subscribing to a particular belief system or reciting a prayer. To be a disciple is to be a follower of Jesus, to submit to him as Lord and to do everything he tells us to do.

Matthew 28:And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

John 17

Let’s look back at John 17 and see what we can learn from how Jesus prays for his disciples. Jesus claims that those eleven had been given to him by the Father, and he had kept and guarded them in his name. Jesus says:

John 17:6 …they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

So they have been given specific content: God’s words; they have received, believed and kept them. He says again in verse 14:

John 17:14 I have given them your word,

And Jesus asks that the Father would sanctify them with the word of truth.

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

The disciples are to receive, believe and keep Gods word, to be sanctified by it, and Jesus sends them into the world just as the Father sent Jesus into the world. The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the disciples equipped with and transformed by his word, and then he prays for those who would believe in Jesus through their word – for us.

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus prays with the ultimate purpose that the world may believe in Jesus through his word spoken by future disciples.

Summary:

So we see that Jesus has been given all authority. As a result of this he commands his disciples to make disciples of all nations. We are to make disciples by immersing them in the trinitarian Name of Father, Son and Spirit. We are to make disciples by teaching – conveying information, character and passion that will translate into a transformed life. Every Christian is to be a disciple-making disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are no exceptions. Jesus doesn’t say that we should convert everyone and disciple some of them. He doesn’t say that some Christians will make disciples and others will warm the benches. This is a command. It is from Jesus and it is to each one of us who claims the name of Christ. We all must be disciple-making disciples of our Lord Jesus.

Practical Illustration:

So what does this look like? We can gain some insight from Luke’s version of the great commission:

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

So the Scriptures are foundational. And the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is central. The message to be proclaimed is repentance and forgiveness of sins. And discipling is to be done not with human wisdom or ingenuity, but empowered by the Holy Spirit. So we need to be bible-saturated, Spirit-filled, and gospel-centered as we point all people to Jesus.

Let’s look at some bible examples of disciple-making in action.

Philippians 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me––practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 3:10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings…

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So be a disciple-making disciple. Saturate yourself in God’s word, follow Jesus completely, and humbly, prayerfully, empowered by the Spirit, you teach and admonish one another, use God’s word to encourage one another, set the example in your attitude of gratitude toward God. Make disciples of all nations! This comes back around to Jesus as the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision.

Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed

To Jesus is given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. We, his disciple-making disciples are given the privilege of inviting men and women into this indestructible kingdom; into relationship with the King!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 2, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment