I am currently reading the book Multiply by one of my favorite pastors, Francis Chan. I strongly encourage all to check out this book ($5 at LifeWay) and the Multiply Movement that he is leading (http://www.multiplymovement.com/). The premise of the book is pretty simple, disciple-making. It makes for a great Bible Study, or personal read if you rather. As I go through the book I plan to reiterate points that Chan makes and that I see and are helping me grow.
So what does it mean to be a disciple? Well, to put it as plain as possible it is a follower. Rabbi’s had disciples in this day, men who literally followed them everywhere to learn to be like them. Becoming a disciple of Christ really means to obey His call to follow. Chan makes the point that it is impossible for a disciple to not like end up like the teacher (point is made with the reference of Luke 6:40). What better person to end up like than Jesus Christ, am I right? The whole point of being a disciple of Christ is “to imitate him, carry out His ministry, and become like Him in the process.
Unfortunately, for a lot of churches I feel like they have gotten away from this point. I wrote a blog last Easter about this issue. That so often we hear that if we pray the prayer that we will be saved. Now I don’t know about you, if you tell me that if I repeat a prayer after you then I went spend eternity in a lake of fire, well sign me up! That is not what salvation is at all. It’s faith in Christ, but we will get into that more in a minute. Anyone can call themselves Christian, in fact 73% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. More accurate numbers though portray that it is much more likely that 200 million of America’s 300 million residents are lost. If you look at my previous blog on my upcoming mission trips you can see the even more troubling global statistics. The call for discipleship is urgent fellow believers. It is not a call though, it is a command and I wouldn’t take disobeying God Almighty too lightly.
Chan points out that when we talk about discipleship most of us ultimately jump out to Matthew 4:19. You know the verse, Jesus says “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Now this is a big verse, I mean this guy just walks up to these guys and says follow me and they do. However, we often skip over something very important. Just two verses prior in Matthew 4:17 Jesus tells the very same men “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So before we can even follow we must repent!
What does it mean to repent. Is it to bow are heads and close our eyes, and ask Jesus to forgive us for the same sin we have committed for the thousandth time? To some maybe. However, repent means to literally “to turn” or to go in the opposite direction you are going. To flee from your sins is common church talk. The book has a great illustration of this. If I were to tell you that someone was coming to your house with some guys and going to attack what would you do? You would prepare! Maybe you would arm yourselves, seek shelter, call the police. Regardless you would not sit there and do nothing as someone is coming after you. Jesus is telling the disciples to be prepared for His kingdom is at hand.
Christ makes it very clear that we need to repent. That we are living a life that is in direct contradiction to the Word. We can go down the Romans Road, which tells us we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), that sin leads to death (Romans 6:23), but thankfully while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Repentance then leads to salvation, which is the grace of God. There is nothing you and I can do to save ourselves. No one is good enough, because our good deeds are like filthy rage. Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul tells us that we do nothing but it is a gift from God, and we should not boast in our works. Chan sums it up as “All Salvation requires is faith: Do you believe that Jesus is who He says he is?”
Often we hear that Jesus was a good man, but not God. I have actually had Jewish people tell me they believe he was a good teacher, but not the promised Messiah. Which is a completely ludicrous idea if you ask me. Claiming to be the Son of God was punishable by death in Jewish custom (and in the car of Christ), so how on earth could this make him a “good” man. I believe it was CS Lewis who said “Christ was one of two things: He was either who He said he was in the Son of God, or he was a liar.” So by no means can you think Jesus was a good teacher, but not God.
Faith in Jesus is not easy though although it is simple. Faith in Jesus means that you are declaring that he is Lord. Now that is something that we hear is it not? “Jesus is Lord!” “Jesus is Lord of my life!” or my favorite “Jesus is one of the most important parts of my life.” One of the most important parts? Are you kidding me, Christian? Jesus is life! Apart from him we are dead and slaves to the darkness, never limit Him to a part of your life. What does it mean then for him to be Lord? Lord means that he is the owner and master. So when you say He is the Lord of your life then you are saying He is the master and the owner! Do our lives reflect that? Do you believe you actually belong to Him, and your life is no longer you own but that author and perfecter of our faith?
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with you body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He gave up His life so we could live, He paid for it and if you believe in Him He owns it. You cannot claim to be a Christian but not change your lifestyle. We have watered down salvation to a prayer, but it is so much more. It is a lifetime commitment of change, pursuit of holiness, and love for others. The greatest advice I have ever gotten in my life is “Serve God, serve others. Love God, love others” but do our lives reflect that? That’s what Christ was all about.
“The problem is, many in the church want to ‘confess that Jesus is LOrd’ yet don’t believe that He is their master.” That is impossible for this person to truly be saved. Repeating a prayer that is not even in the Bible will not save anyone. Raising your hand at a convention or rally is not good enough. The only true response to Christ is surrender, repentance, obedience, and following. If Jesus is really Lord of your life, then it belongs to Him. You don’t decide what you do with your life, He does. And that plan is perfect! It may not be prosperity like some preachers promise, you may die young like Jim Elliott. However if you commit your life to following Christ it will be a life of rejection, reward, persecution, and great fulfillment. There is not greater joy than doing life with people. Not just going to church with them, or weekly Bible study. Truly doing life like the disciples did, telling people about Jesus. Not just inviting them to Church, but going out to them and helping them.
I think we need to constantly evaluate out lives and ask, is He Lord? We go through slumps, we sin, and we are in constant need of Grace. We must always repent to new sins that come our way. Are we being a light to others, I think if we challenge to ask ourselves that daily we will be on the right direction. Onward to being a disciple, and making disciples.