Follow Me: The Command to Disciple

This is the third of three lessons in the “Follow Me” discipleship series from the 2014 Harvard Avenue College/Career Ministry Spring Retreat.

In this series, we’ve explored what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We looked at Jesus calling His first disciples and saw that the call of discipleship is initiated by God towards rebels dead in sin unto adoption as sons. This involves both belief and repentance. Next, we saw that the cost of discipleship requires loving family less than Jesus, bearing our cross, and relinquishing everything. Even though this cost seems high, what we get in return is infinitely more valuable: the righteousness of Christ.

We’re going to wrap up our “Follow Me” study by looking at one of the first and last things Jesus gave to His disciples while on the earth: the command to make disciples. True disciples of Jesus Christ are supernaturally compelled to make more disciples.

Commanded and Accompanied

READ Matthew 4:19; 28:18-20

Notice in these two passages that Jesus doesn’t suggest that His followers make disciples. He doesn’t highly recommend it. He didn’t teach them the latest evangelism technique or instruct them on how to be a role model. No, Jesus gave them a clear command: “Go and make”. From the very beginning, Jesus intended for every disciples to make more disciples.

It is also important to note that He doesn’t give them this command and leave them to figure it out on their own. On our own, we are destined to fail. That’s what’s great about being a follower of Christ: He doesn’t leave us alone! The commands that Jesus gives His disciples can only be accomplished by the work that He does in them. In Matthew 4, He promises to make them fishers of men while in Matthew 28, Jesus tells His followers that He may be leaving them physically, but He will always be with them in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit continues to mold and shape us into the image of the ultimate Disciplemaker.

The Motivation for Disciple-making

What then is our motivation to make disciples? Should we do it because we feel guilty if we don’t? Should we do it to check off that box on our Heaven Admission Form? Not at all! Look at the Apostles: they were supernaturally compelled to tell others about Jesus. As a result, not even death could stop them from obeying this command.

When we think of the things that motivate us to make disciples, Colossians 3:1-13 shows us six reasons we should be compelled towards gospel multiplication:

  1. We are dead to sin and given a new life in Christ (v 1-3)
    The correct mindset is essential to the discipleship journey. That’s why Paul begins this section encouraging us to “seek the things that are above” and “set your minds on things that are above.” When we are saved, our focus is changed. Before Christ raised us, we are consumed with gaining more wealth, power, and pleasure. However, after we have died to sin and been raised with Christ, the goal of our life is completely changed. Instead of seeking our glory, our aim is to glorify God. This is our new life purpose. Discipleship is the means to accomplishing this goal. The more we learn about the one who has hidden our life with himself, the more satisfied we are. The more satisfied we are in him, the more glorified he is in us.
  2. We have a certain hope of glory with Christ (v 4; Hebrews 10:32-39)
    In addition to the new life we’ve been given, discipleship is motivated by future glory with Christ. Now we face trials, difficulties, and struggles. This is to be expected. As Jesus said in John 17:14-15: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Though life on earth has its share of suffering, the promise of future glory motivates disciples to endure temporary discomfort.
  3. God hates sin and will punish it (v 5-8; Genesis 19:15-17, 23-26)
    As we look forward to this future glory, we must remember that we are currently at war. Paul makes that very clear by telling us to “put to death” our sin. Notice Paul doesn’t say “suppress sin” or “get sin under control.” God wants us to actively and vigorously kill it. The process of discipleship helps us to identify and war against the sin in our lives. Like God commanded the Israelites to wipe out entire people groups as they were conquering the Promised Land, we are commanded to completely destroy the sin that reigns in our life. Anything short of extermination is a dangerous compromise. We cannot look back to the sinful desires we once enjoyed, lest we become like Lot’s wife. Like her, we were once living in our sin. However, when she was told to leave it all behind, she didn’t take her sin or God’s hate for it seriously and chose her earthly desires over the salvation offered to her if she would turn in faith and flee. As a result, God’s just wrath was shown against her sin and she was punished. The same call is offered to us today: turn from the sin God hates and put it to death, resulting in new life in Christ, or remain in our sin and endure the just punishment for it.
  4. We have a new nature in Christ (v 9-11; Galatians 3:27-29)
    Disciples of Christ have been given a new nature with new desires. The imagery Paul uses here is that of taking off a muddy, sweaty, dirty shirt and putting on a clean one. A change in identity has occurred. The ongoing discipleship process brings our behaviors into line with this new identity that we have in Christ. This new identity isn’t rooted in cultural, economic, or legal distinctions, but in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
  5. God’s electing love for us (v 12)
    All Christians have been chosen by God to be the heirs of salvation. God could have justly left every single person to face the eternal consequences of their sins; however, he showed mercy to some in order that they might be redeemed. Talk about motivation! As those who have been adopted as sons of God, we are to pursue him wholeheartedly, seeking to know and honor our Savior while making him known to everyone around us.
  6. God’s forgiveness of our sins (v 13; Matthew 18:21-35)
    The final motivation for discipleship found in this passage is the forgiveness we have been offered. As we grow in our relationship, we realize what an enormous debt we have been forgiven of by our Father. Like the king in Matthew 18, God has paid the wages of sin on our behalf in order that we might be freed to pursue him. This realization enables us to be patient with our friends and family and point them to Christ and the forgiveness found only in him.

For 2000 years, Jesus has been calling out to men and women all over the globe: “Follow me.” This isn’t a call to a comfortable, carefree lifestyle or to tread a path of superficial religion. It’s a call to taste a pleasure that can be found only in a supernatural relationship with Christ that compels us to leave everything to follow Him and make more disciples.

For more on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, check out David Platt’s book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. 

BONUS: Pictures from the 2014 HACM Spring Retreat

Advertisements

Follow Me: The Cost of Discipleship

This is the second of three lessons in the “Follow Me” discipleship series from the 2014 Harvard Avenue College/Career Ministry Spring Retreat.

How would you respond if someone asked you: “How do I become a Christian”?

There are two ways to reply when asked this question: 1) Tell someone how easy it is: just acknowledge a few truths about God and then pray a prayer and you’re set! 2) Tell the person that the call to discipleship is a call to die so that they can live.

So, which of these is correct? What does it mean to truly, biblically follow Christ? Does it look different in a third world country as opposed to America? What does it mean to know Jesus and identify your life with His? In other words, what does it mean to be a Christian?

The first lesson outlined the two elements of the call to discipleship (repentance and belief) and then defined the call to discipleship as initiated by God towards rebels dead in sin unto adoption as sons. This lesson will focus on answering the question “What does it mean to follow Christ?”

Three Costs of Discipleship
In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus addresses three costs associated with being a disciple:  Continue reading

Follow Me: The Call to Discipleship

This is the first of three lessons in the “Follow Me” discipleship series from the 2014 Harvard Avenue College/Career Ministry Spring Retreat.

What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

Jesus first spoke the words, “Follow me” to twelve ordinary men two thousand years ago. They answered the call, leaving behind their families, friends, and jobs, to follow a Man who would give them a new family, new friends, and a new mission.

Ever since that time, Jesus has called out to millions with the same two words: “Follow me.” Men and women, rich and poor, young and old, red, yellow, black, and white have responded to this summons.

But what is Jesus asking us to do when he says “Follow me”? Is it simply to “pray and ask Jesus into your heart”?  Do we just have to gain an understanding of who Jesus is and what He did? Or is it something more?

This series will be looking at three components of Jesus’ call to “Follow me”: the call to discipleship, the cost of discipleship, and the command to disciple. Along the way, we will see not only the gravity of what we must forsake in this world but also the greatness of the One we follow in this world. In Him is found indescribable joy, deep satisfaction, and an eternal purpose.  Continue reading

Missional Living [Member Post]

[HACM member post courtesy of Rebekah Hinkle. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about Rebekah]

A few weeks ago returned from a trip to Los Angeles where I attended the Strange Fire conference.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and it was a blessed privilege to listen to the Word delivered.  The uniqueness of being able to sit at a table with complete strangers and have sweet fellowship was such an incredible experience (behold the communion of the Spirit!).

While I loved my time spent at the actual conference, I was not so impressed with LA.  My friend Lara and I landed at the LAX airport around six in the evening and then navigated about 30 minutes to Van Nuy our hotel was located.  By the time we had gotten our bags and picked up the rental car, it was dark.  Our first look in the city took me back to my international travels; I felt like I was in a far off land with lights, cars, and surprisingly short buildings.  Once near the hotel, we began to question whether our choice of lodging was wise.  The neighborhood was dirty with plenty of bars on windows and doors.   In the daylight we found that things weren’t as scary as they seemed.  Yet, both in day and night, I determined, “I do not want to live here…ever”.

Just like every good little Christian girl who says such a thing, I quickly followed the thought with “Well, LORD, if you want me to be a missionary to this pagan place, I would obey.”     And I meant it.  The city is full of lost people.  I would serve there if He showed me I was to go. I then began to consider how I would live my life as a missionary in LA. I would find a job, partner with believers there, and seek to make connections with those who need Jesus.  I soon realized anything that I would do there as a missionary, I can do where I live. Not only that, I should be doing here. Right here in my town.

Of all the things that I learned at the conference, this concept of missional living, which was not one of the conference lecture topics, is what I took home.  I must live missionally in my town because there are lost people here too.  It begins at home in Jerusalem.   I must strive to be useful and faithful here if I am to be useful elsewhere.

The call is the same for all of us. No matter what your location or station in life, if you are indeed a believer, you are to be living missionally. It is not an afterthought. We are ambassadors for Christ, empowered by the Spirit to preach the message of reconciliation!  You may be a college student who seems confined by the four walls of your dorm room or the lab. Ask the LORD to show you how to reach out and touch the community where you live with the Gospel .

What this looks like is different for every person.   I don’t play sports at all which means I will never be coaching girl’s club basketball.   I do like to sew thus joining a sewing club or taking a class to improve my skill might be an option.  Maybe you are flat broke.  Something like reaching out to the neighborhood kids only takes time.  When brainstorming for ways to reach out, I came up with the following short list of ideas and reminders.

  • Do not confine your ministry to solely church related things
  • be intentional in conversations at work and play
  • build relationships in you neighborhood
  • join a fitness class in order to rub shoulders with unbelievers
  • get involved in community activities (5ks, fundraisers, tutoring)
  • Volunteer at local food-bank,  nursing home,  crisis center
  • Join a city league sports team
  • Coach a boys/girls club team
  • Join an local club like photography or sewing

How will you reach into your community and share the Gospel?

____________________________________________________________

About the Author: Thanks to her mother’s insistence, Rebekah Hinkle went to college and earned a degree that married her love of people and science. Dental Hygiene has proved to be a fantastic platform for sharing the Gospel. As it turns out, she doesn’t hate school as much as she thought and is currently plugging away towards a bachelors in Biblical and Theological studies from Boyce College. Rebekah loves dishes, books, junkin’, and all things homemaker-y. You can read more results of random fits of inspiration on her blog Picken’s Place

Want to write your own guest post on the HACM blog? Send an email to college@habc.net with a topic your passionate about.