This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “The Church”.
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Over the last few weeks in our discussion on the church we have said that the church is ultimately about relationships. Relationship with God, relationship with the people of God, and relationship with those who do not yet know Jesus. These relationships are developed in the context of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. Last week we talked about the importance of prayer. This week we are going to start discussing discipleship.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Verse 42 could also be rendered as they persisted in the apostles’ teaching or they persevered in the apostles’ teaching. The idea is that as the people were learning to live out the teachings. It was not about a build up of knowledge, but about their lives being impacted by the teaching. The apostles were following the instructions that Jesus had given them in Matthew 28:19-20:
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The apostles’ were teaching the people to do the things that Jesus told them to do.
Helping them to become disciples.
Discipleship is the process by which disciples grow and mature Jesus. As His disciples we are to respond the leading of the Holy Spirit to live in Him by doing the next right thing. As part of this process we are also to help other disciples on their journey to live and grow in Him.
1. What is a disciple?
The dictionary defines a disciple like this:
: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as
a : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts
b : a convinced adherent of a school or individual
We have a tendency to try and define a disciple as a person who does certain things or understands certain things. While that is true, it is only a part of what it means to be a disciple. The heart of being a disciple is about loving God all in.
God wants us to be in a passionate love relationship with Him. That is what the Good News is all about. That is the heart and soul of being a disciple. Because of our all in love for Him we do certain things and we understand certain things, but that doing and understanding is born out of our love for Him.
With that in mind, we are going to look at some verses where Jesus talks specifically about being His disciple.
2. If you hold to my teaching
John 8:31-32 (NIV)
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To hold to Jesus teachings means that as His disciple we are trying to put His teaching into practice in our daily lives. Beyond head knowledge, we are trying to live out what He teaches as we live by trying to do the next right thing.
3. If you love one another
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As His disciples, we are to be living examples of God’s love. Wow.
Love is patient, love is kind…
4. If you remain in me
John 15:5-8 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
If we remain or abide in Him, we will bear much fruit which will show that we are His disciples.
Remaining in Him is believing that he is God’s Son.
1 John 4:15 (NIV)
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
Remaining in Him is doing what God says.
1 John 3:24 (NIV)
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.