Speaking of discipleship there is a question I am asked when meeting with colleagues in ministry. ‘How many members do you have in your church?’ After answering the question I ask them, ‘How many disciples do you have in your church?’ Not to the offense, but most of the time my question knocks their brains out. Statistics are important. Still, they aren’t as important as discipleship because discipleship is the heart of any church. I know that discipleship is far more complicated than what I can discuss in a sermon. This is why I choose to cover the 3 most basic requirements as Jesus laid them out in Luke 9:23.
1. Discipleship means Self Denial
A. Self-denial was the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. Evident in the incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8) and the death of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:7).
B. Two biblical methods. First by living for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and serving others (Mark 10:45).
C. Secondly in how we relate to others, (Matthew 5:39-42). Healthy relationships were Jesus’ main ministerial strategy.
2. A Disciple must carry his Cross
A. Jesus was sought after to kill for who he was, (Matthew 26:62-68) and the crowds rejected him for his actions, (John 6:66).
B. We also will be persecuted for who we are (John 1:12) and be ridiculed for our lifestyle, (John 16:33). That is the cross.
C. Resist pressure and stand firm to the end regardless of what the world will say or do unto us, (Matthew 24:13). That is how we shall carry the cross.
3. A Disciple follows Jesus every day
A. Discipleship is a painful, lifelong, daily process of transformation, (Philippians 3:13-14).
B. Our willpower, determination, and strength can’t help us meet the challenges in discipleship. Therefore we need to do exactly as Jesus did.
C. First he was led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1), Second, he had an intimate relationship with God (John 5:19-20), and third, he depended on God’s grace (Luke 22:43).
Why is discipleship so important? If Jesus’ death and resurrection were the brains of God’s salvation plan discipleship is the heartbeat. It is the sacrificial lifestyle of true disciples that inspires the world to leave everything behind and follow Christ exclusively. God sent his son to set the captives free. It’s the disciples who shall go forth and ring the bell, in every possible way.
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