DISCIPLESHIP

                                           Bible Reading: Matthew 4:18-25
 

INTRODUCTION

 
    (*) One night in a pub, a rather  drunk man told me he was a Christian!
    I put him in a bit of a  tizzy, by asking  him,  what  he  thought,  in
    his  estimations,  a Christian is! He  told  me that  although  he  was
    a  member  of  the  Church  of Scotland, he didn't bother to attend!
    Well as you can guess, I left the  man  in no doubt, that the only true
    Christian, according to Scripture, is the  person  who is BORN AGAIN OF
    THE  SPIRIT  OF  GOD, AND HAS CHRIST DWELLING IN THEIR HEART!
    (a) Last Tuesday at the  Bible  Study,  in  the  first  of  our  series
    dealing with counselling classes, we  recognised the importance of  the
    seeker,  not only becoming  a  Christian  but  going  on  the be a true
    disciple of the Lord.
    (b) This morning however, we will be  looking at what makes a Christian
    a TRUE DISCIPLE!
    (c)Maybe you always thought that  every  Christian, was automatically a
    disciple!
    (d) I'm afraid as you will see, this is very far from the truth as  far
    as  the teaching of the Bible  is  concerned, and there is little point
    in  professing  to   be  a  "CHRISTIAN",  which  means  "A  FOLLOWER OF
    CHRIST", if we are NOT  WILLING  to  follow Him and His Word within the
    Scripture, thus becoming a TRUE DISCIPLE!
 
 

POINT 1 WHAT DO WE MEAN BY 'DISCIPLE'?

 
    (a) The word "DISCIPLE" comes from  a Latin word "DISIPULUS", meaning a
    "A PUPIL" and  of  course  the  word  brings  to  mind  the  thought of
    "DISCIPLINE", which  is  so essential if  a  pupil in any subject is to
    be successful!
    (b) We can see immediately, that the  DISCIPLE is someone who is TAUGHT
    BY CHRIST one who will  accept  ALL  OF  HIS  TEACHING! AND PUT IT INTO
    PRACTICE!!
    Lets face it, a school  pupil  will  never  be  successful or amount to
    anything,  if they REFUSE TO BE TAUGHT!
    William Barclay tells of someone  who  once  spoke  to a great scholar,
    concerning a person who had professed  to  be  one of his students. The
    teacher said,  "He  may have attended  my  lectures, but he was not one
    of my students!"
    He further says, "It is one of the supreme handicaps of the Church that
    in  the Church there are so many distant followers of Jesus, and so few
    real disciples."
 
    (c) We CANNOT profess to  be  DISCIPLES  of  Christ, if  we  REFUSE  to
    accept  His teaching and will not obey His commands!
    (d) We must of necessity take  an  honest searching look at our hearts,
    and locate  the HUB AROUND WHICH EVERYTHING ELSE REVOLVES!
    In our hearts, there  IS  ONLY  ROOM  FOR  -ONE CENTRAL DESIRE_, which,
    because it is cherished, will govern all that we do!
    (e) We must make sure  that  our  eyes  are  focused upon Christ alone,
    because  the eye is rather like the lamp,  for it can give light to the
    whole darkened  region within us, or it  can leave us in that darkness,
    which will continually get worse as  time  goes on - depending on WHERE
    WE FIX OUR GAZE, AND WHAT WE FOCUS ON!
 
 
 

POINT 2 THE DESIRE FOR PROSPERITY

 
    (a) If we have a strong  DESIRE  FOR  PHYSICAL PROSPERITY, it will PULL
    AGAINST and WEAKEN OUR DESIRE FOR SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY!
    (b) It is impossible for us to  give  ourselves to  both  worlds  -  as
    one often must succeed at the expense of the other!
    (c) The teaching of the Lord very  clearly  is that we must be  willing
    to  throw away our own existence, the  primary driving force of our own
    welfare, if we  are to be successful disciples! WE MUST DIE TO SELF!
    (d) The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 2:20,   puts it this  way,  that  we
    must  be "CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST"
    (e) No earthly gain, could make up for the spiritual loss we experience
    when  we don't give Christ His rightful place in our lives.
    (f) It is He Who must hold the  supreme place  in  our  heart,  and  we
    must  be willing to disregard all else  in  the light of the calling of
    He  Who  has  said, "COME FOLLOW ME!"
    (g) The clear teaching of Scripture is that He must come before family,
    friends, and  even  ourselves!  Even  our  own  LIVES  are unimportant,
    because  OUR  REWARD  IS ETERNAL!
 
 

POINT 3 SERVICE IN THE PRESENT!

 
    (a) We must not be side-tracked, by   looking  back  at  what  we  feel
    we  have LEFT BEHIND, OR MISSED by following Christ!
    THE DISCIPLE MUST KEEP BELIEVING  EYES  ON  THE  FUTURE, INSTEAD OF THE
    PAST!
    (b) You will  remember  the  illustration  which  Jesus  gives  of  the
    ploughman  who mustn't look back,  or  he  will drive a crooked furrow.
    Common sense will tell us   that  we  cannot  follow  anyone, if we are
    looking backwards instead  of  forwards!
    IT IS ESSENTIAL TO KEEP OUR EYES FIXED ON CHRIST!
    When our family was small, we, on  one  occasion, did our shopping at a
    large supermarket, and our son  Phillip,  who has Down Syndrome, didn't
    keep his eyes on us, with the  result that we got a little announcement
    that  said,  "Will  the parents of Phillip  Ross please go to the Sauce
    and Pickles department!"
    [c] The more we allow our ATTENTION  to  be taken up with THE  SAVIOUR,
    the  more like Him we will become! The more of HIS NATURE we will show.
    i. We will become MORE HUMBLE, and self will take a back seat!
    ii. We will become MORE SUBMISSIVE, before  God, and seek to FULFIL HIS
    WILL  in all things.
    iii. We will HUNGER  AFTER  RIGHTEOUSNESS,  and  God  will satisfy that
    hunger!
    iv. We will BEGIN TO  SHOW  MORE  MERCY  and understanding to those who
    have wronged us.
    v. Where  there  is  DISHARMONY,  and  UNREST,  we  will  NOT  FEED  IT
    BY  OUR PARTICIPATION & INVOLVEMENT, but  will seek in every situation,
    to be a  MINISTER OF PEACE.
    vi. CLOSE HARMONY between the Lord  and  ourselves will mean our HEARTS
    BECOMING PURER, our THINKING becoming HOLIER, and the resulting ACTIONS
    becoming  MORE  CHRISTLIKE!
 

POINT 4 THE DISCIPLE'S PERSECUTION

 
    (a) Let us make no mistake, if we are  LIVING  THE  DEDICATED  LIFE  OF
    A  TRUE DISCIPLE, we are  becoming  a  GREAT  DANGER  TO THE KINGDOM OF
    SATAN!
    (b)  This  will  mean   PLENTY   OF   PERSECUTION,  from  WITHOUT,  and
    unfortunately,  from  the DEVIL'S "007's" who are planted amongst God's
    people, within the Church.
    (c) The Devil will seek to WEAR  US DOWN with  FALSE  ACCUSATIONS,  AND
    INSULTS!
    We will be HATED AND MISTREATED!
    (d) But the Bible teaches that we should treat it as JOY when we SUFFER
    for  the  Lord's sake!! After all, we  are  through  these  experiences
    building  up  our ETERNAL REWARD!
    (e) We may NOT always FEEL  IT  EASY,  but  the TRUE DISCIPLE learns to
    ACCEPT  ALL THAT HAPPENS TO US, as  being in some way within GOD'S PLAN
    of  things  for  our  lives. (Romans 8:28)
    (f) Not only that, but the work  we  are  doing down here for the Lord,
    will  bear  fruit that will last for all eternity! As disciples, we are
    God's agents in this world, entrusted  by  Him with the eternal welfare
    of the souls around us!!
 
 

POINT 5 THE DISCIPLE AND PEOPLE!

 
    (a) Whilst we are here living in  this  world, we are not really a part
    of it!
    Let us always bear in mind that we belong to the family of Heaven.
    (b) In the eyes of the world,  the Christian Disciple is in many ways a
    strange conundrum!
    i. In a world that is  SEETHING  WITH  HATRED,  we  are  told  to  love
    absolutely everyone - even our enemies!!
    ii. In a world of WAR, we are to BRING PEACE!!
    iii. In a world of SIN, we are to be HOLY!!
    iv. In a  world  that  is  OBSESSED  WITH  SELF-CENTREDNESS,  we are to
    consider  the WELFARE OF OTHERS FIRST!!
    (c) When we truly look at the  people of this  world  through  Christ's
    eyes  of love, then we  will  feel  as  He  does, that they are "FIELDS
    WHITE UNTO HARVEST!" (John 4:35)
    In other words, people are  READY  to  be  saved  NOW! Each disciple of
    Christ,  must do their utmost  to  urgently  bring men, women, boys and
    girls into the Kingdom!
    (d) Maybe you think that is a job for ministers and missionaries!
    A young woman puzzled about the  call  of  God once asked Ron Davies, a
    missionary home on furlough, "Please Mr  Davies,  what is a call?"  His
    face  lit  up.  He beamed at  her  and  took  up his Bible. Turning the
    pages  of  it,  he  found  Mark 16:15, showed it to her, and read aloud
    the words, "Go into all  the   world   and  preach  the gospel to every
    creature!" "The call! That is the  call,"  he  said.
    "God expects every Christian to go  somewhere  with the Gospel. All you
    have to do is to find out just where He wants you to go. It may be here
    in your  own   home town, or it may be He wants you to go to Africa, to
    China or Kashmir. If you are  a   Christian,  you  must  preach  Christ
    somewhere!"
 
    (e) May the words  of  this  little  poem,  express  the  desire of our
    hearts:-
    Use me God in Thy great harvest field,
    Which stretcheth far and wide like a wide sea;
    The gatherers are so few; I fear the precious yield
    Will suffer loss. Oh, find a place for me!
    A place where best the strength I have will tell;
    It may be one the older toilers shun;
    Be it wide or narrow place, 'tis well,
    So that the work it holds be only done.
                                       - Christina Rossetti.
    (Both quotes from The Christian's Daily Challenge p.298)
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
    (a) The TRUE DISCIPLE  OF  CHRIST,  has  no  time  to  PLAY at being  a
    CHRISTIAN,  by  gathering  in  their  MEETING,  SINGING   their  songs,
    perhaps  even   giving   their   TESTIMONY  -  and  then  feeling SELF-
    SATISFIED at the end of it, and  believing  they have DONE ALL THAT GOD
    REQUIRES OF THEM.
    DEAR FRIENDS, THERE IS MORE, MUCH MORE TO DISCIPLESHIP!!!
    (b) Perhaps, they even feel head and shoulders above their fellow  man,
    because they are Christians. They should  step down for a  minute,  off
    their  pedestal, and  remember  in  the  words  of  a quaint  localism,
    "We're  all  Jock  Thomson's bairns!"  (A Scottish term meaning, "We're
    all part of the human family")
    In their self satisfaction, they can so  easily forget that we are  ALL
    sinners in this world,  and  the  only  thing  that makes the Christian
    different, is that they have been saved  from their sin by the Grace of
    God!!
    (c) Every Christian,  without  exception,  has  the  same  calling - to
    discipleship!
    (d) God has a specific work for each one of us to do! Are we doing it??
    (e) Remember, what I said at  the  beginning, as to the disciple  being
    a  PUPIL, continually learning of the Saviour!!
    ARE WE THE DISCIPLES THE LORD EXPECTS US TO BE??
 
    SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK
 
    SONG               TUNE
    811                598
    490                685
    488                 22
    TAKE UP THY CROSS AND FOLLOW ME.