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Sunday, 4 August 2013

'DISCIPLESHIP - Part 2'

Rev. Brian Wilkie
By Rev. Brian Wilkie                                                                                    

Pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community
Rockland, Ontario


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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, August 4th, 2013:
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/15014/good_news_064_aug04.mp3 
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Broadcast Notes:
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‘Discipleship’ - Part 2



Welcome to Good News In The Morning a program of words and music bringing a Christian message of hope and courage to those who are looking for an intelligent, meaningful and spirited approach to faith and to life. 

This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0 and this is Brian Wilkie speaking. Thank you to all our listeners. We are grateful for your encouragement and support. Remember that you can always visit our website, GoodNewsChristianMinistries.ca, for materials to encourage and support you in your Christian walk.

Today, I would like to speak to you on the second part of a message about the Great Commission, the call of God to make disciples.  Now the scripture, again from last week, is Matthew 28:16- 20 and I’m going to read it again to keep it fresh in our minds.

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I that have commanded you to do. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  
  
We began last week by just taking a look at the scope of discipleship, how discipleship is woven throughout the whole of scripture, from the old testament through the new. That God is training up people in holiness and service to know him,  to worship him and to carry the message to the world.

We talked last week about how  a “mathetes” , a disciple, is not just a student at a desk compiling information to pass an exam, but a learner, a disciple and someone following and doing, as well learning the important facts.  Again, last week, we had that brief history, this week we’re going to talk about, ”who’s training who?” And as we explore this theme, we’re going to talk about our role in being disciples and our role in making disciples. 

But first let’s listen to the song which reminds us of the great love of God in Jesus Christ, because that’s the root of all our discipleship.

And, so here’s the song, again from the a-cappella singers, This Hope:   Of the Fathers Love Begotten. 
"Of the Father's Love Begotten"
Of the Father’s love begotten                                Oh, that birth forever blessed
Ere the world began to be,                                 When the Virgin, full of grace
He is Alpha and Omega,                                     By the Holy Ghost conceiving
He the source, the Ending He,                             Bare the Savior of our race,
Of the things that are, that have been,                 And the Babe, the world's Redeemer
And that future years shall see                            First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.                                    Evermore and evermore

As we think about Christ’s Great Commission to his people, to his disciples on that mountaintop, what is the commission?  What is he telling us to do? What is the focus of this Commission? The focus really seems to be to make disciples, by teaching them all that Jesus has commanded them to do.  Everything that Jesus taught them to do, they are to do as disciples of disciples.  Now discipleship is described in extremely huge terms in this Commission, because Jesus talks about making disciples from all nations. The disciples are going to come from every nation, every tongue and tribe, all the people of the earth, from every people group and from every place. We see that summed up in the book of Revelation when the culmination of this Great Commission is to see a gathering of a multitude without number that are praising and glorifying God because the Great Commission brought the gospel to them.  

So the work of discipleship is definitely going to include the missionary extension of the gospel into other lands. Into places where it has never been heard, into different languages which we don’t yet understand.  And that work is going on with great effort and great dedication.  Many people making huge sacrifices, laying down their lives daily for Jesus Christ in the mission field.  But most of us are in our own hometowns.  We’re living in our own houses.  We have a place to lay down our heads  unlike some of our missionaries who are going from place to place and not in security. We find ourselves in a familiar place.  But Jesus, in giving us this Great Commission, tells us that wherever we are, we are in a mission field. 
Isn’t that true? Do you have to look very far to find someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ?

Do you have to look far afield to find a young person that is trying to understand what it means to follow Jesus?  Do you even have to look outside of your own age range, your own demographic, to find someone, like you, who is needing to grow more in their faith, needing some help and encouragement, struggling with sin, and trying to find out how God is going to help them along the way.  So let’s remember the missionary call  that is to all the earth. Even the parts of the earth that are right next-door. 

And the Commission is also for baptized disciples.  I’m not about to launch into a debate about the method of baptism, but I do want to touch on part of the meaning of baptism, as expressed in the Great Commission.   God wants his follower to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Doesn’t this point us to the need for the disciples to be immersed, first and foremost, in the reality of who God is? Wouldn’t it be a disaster if we created a bunch of good, well mannered, obedient, citizens, who had no clue about the one true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  If they had general notions about God that were enough to give them guilt if they disobeyed and fear of punishment,  but didn’t give them the capacity to worship the living God in Spirit and truth. 

Disciples are followers of a personal God. Not merely followers of a law of “do or do not”.  Moreover, baptism is a cleansing of sin.  A death to self, and living to God:  To God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we teach one another to do all that Jesus has commanded us to do, we must not neglect the fundamental command.  Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength.
There is a Great Commission to make people aware of the Glory of God.  That they might have the joy, the life and the new birth that Jesus Christ has provided.  To do what Jesus has taught us to do includes worship.  It includes drawing near to Jesus, to God, to draw near in confidence knowing that our sins are forgiven, and that God has an eternal, glorious plan for our life.
Now we’ll get to more about this task of discipling each other and the opportunity to disciple to one another in a few more moments.  But I’d like you to listen with me to another song.  This is a song that speaks of that glorious hope of eternity, which is part of the good news we have to pass on to disciples. It’s a song, an old spiritual, sung this time by Steve and Sara Bell and it’s called “I’ll fly away”.

                                                            I’ll Fly Away by Steve and Sarah Bell


Some glad morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away
I'll fly away O glory
I'll fly away
When I die Halleluiah bye and bye
I’ll fly away
When the shadow of this life is gone
I'll fly away
Like a bird from prison walls are flown
I'll fly away
I'll fly away O glory
I'll fly away
When I die Halleluiah bye and bye
I'll fly away
Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a home where joy will never end
I'll fly away
I'll fly away O glory
I'll fly away
When I die Halleluiah bye and bye
I'll fly away


There are two sides to the Great Commission because we cannot disciple others until we’ve been trained ourselves.  Now the two go together. Part of our training as disciples of God, is found in training others.  I’ll give an example of that: back when I was in high school, a few years ago, the best mark I ever got in high school came from a class where a good friend was repeating the course.  She’d been having a great deal of difficulty with it the first time around and because I was better at science and that sort of thing (which was the course at stake),  I sat with her throughout the year, and while the teacher was teaching the lesson and while we were doing our exercises, I would be constantly helping her to understand, and answering her questions. The teacher gave us a lot of leeway in that, because I was often talking to her while he was talking to the class.  But he knew that there was some real learning going on.  She actually passed the course, I’m glad to say, and I got the best grade I’d ever had, because I learned it so thoroughly as I taught her.

I want to ask a question. Who is teaching you? Who do you have in your life that is speaking into your life about the word of God? Now I know you’re listening to Good News in the Morning, and that’s one set of voices, the four of us: Brent, and George, and Juliet and myself. You’re allowing us to speak the word of God into your life and that’s wonderful.  But we certainly hope and we pray every week that you are going to a church where there’s a pastor that is teaching you as well.  Or perhaps more than one pastor.  In fact, I’m concerned that so many people have only one person giving them discipleship in their life.  One great way to limit your learning is to wait until an over-worked, harried person who is expected to provide discipleship, care, leadership and administrative service to tens, or maybe hundreds of people is ready to give you some time.  The amount of time you can expect from your pastor is always going to be limited.  So, who else are you turning to? Or are you satisfied just to get a little dribble once a week at church, or perhaps another time at a bible study. Are you finding out other ways to learn and to practice and to engage in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ?

Do you read? Do you listen to other radio shows?  Do you take something from other teachers and compare it to the Word of God and thereby learn and grow?  Some people like to say that they have one book, the Bible. And that’s a great position to be in. I have one book, the Bible, but God has shown in the bible how many councillors help to make good disciples.  He shows how his servants like Paul, and Peter, and James and Jude, and all the council of Jerusalem, and the teachers and elders from different churches, all contribute to the discipleship of his people, To their growth and holiness.  And when I read a book, I don’t look at another book as some authority that I must listen to. When I read  C.S. Lewis or Dietrich Bonheoffer, one of the old church fathers, or sermons of Spurgeon or Wesley; whenever I read any of these things, I count them as a brother or a sister who has been learning from God and is passing on what they have learned to me.  Sometimes they have been right so often that they have a certain amount of authority with me. But all the time when you’re reading, you’re learning from another brother or sister.  They might make some mistakes along the way, you pray for discernment, and you compare what they write with scriptures.  But you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water if you find one mistake.
 Do you have other teachers? Do you have  friends that you actually talk to about spiritual things?  People who are at about the same place as you; where there is a kind of “peer to peer” relationship; where you learn from each other, you correct each other, you bless each other, you encourage each other? Do you have such friends? And do you have elders?   

People who you recognize as having gone far into the faith and having wisdom to give and to pass unto you. Do you have prayer partners?  Do you have accountability partners who help you maintain holiness?  There’s so much richness that you can have in your training process with God.  This makes it easier to make progress instead of, as so often we do, pounding our head against the same wall forever and ever.  Progress in the faith is a great gift that God gives us through this discipleship process.  Do you know that as you make this a priority in your life, you’re already setting an example for others?  You’re already giving – without making a show of it –you’re already giving a demonstration of what it is to really put God first in your life.

I’m so privileged that on a weekly basis that I’m able to meet with another group of pastors. A number whom are retired and they’ve been through all the battles of pastoring and all the joys of pastoring, and I feel – though I’m nearly 50 years of age – I feel like a Timothy sitting at the feet of apostles who have experienced so much, and have so much rich wisdom from God to share.

I’m also am able to go to conferences and hear from others that have been in the trenches of sharing the gospel with a world that isn’t always happy to receive it.  I’m learning to be encouraged, and not to give up because I have seen others who have persevered.  There’s so much to learn.  Who is teaching you?

And now to the other question.  Who are you teaching?  It was at a conference recently that I was sort of refreshed in this Great Commission idea by a pastor from Dallas Texas named  Tommy Nelson. He so strongly spoke about the Great Commission, being a commission not to the church as a whole only, but as a Great Commission to each one of the disciples.
How often have you listened to a sermon and you thought, I’m glad the pastor is telling all of them that”, and then you realized that maybe he was talking to you as well.  Do you think any of the disciples up on the mountain, some of whom worshipped and some of whom doubted, were thinking, “Oh! He’s telling them they ought to go and make disciples.” And then perhaps later in the evening, the penny dropped and they asked themselves, “maybe he’s telling me to go and make disciples.”

I can tell you.  Jesus is telling each believer, each follower of him, to go and help other people to follow as well.

Biblically we have examples of leadership in the family, of helping children or your spouse. Even sometimes children setting the example for parents, so that faith can grow in the home.  You also have co-workers. Everyone one of them needs Jesus Christ.  Some of them might already be going to a church somewhere, and you haven’t talked about your faith enough to encourage them to speak about theirs. But you may find that God has placed among your co-workers, people who also want to grow in faith.  Are you pouring some of the wisdom God’s given you, some of the questions and some of the answers into somebody else’s life?  A young Christian? Not just through a program like Sunday School or bible study, but through actually developing a mentoring relationship; a friendship, a teaching friendship with another searching soul. 

There are times when you’re the one being taught.  There are times when people can teach each other, and there are times when you’re the one who’s looked upon as the one who has some experience, some knowledge of scriptures.

God has a great plan and a great command.  This Great Commission is joyful to fulfill. As you obey in the area of training and encouraging others, he will be training and encouraging you.  There comes a point when the only way to continue your growth in holiness is to start to obey this command and help others to grow.

 So who are you teaching?  Who is there around you that you can turn into a person that is able to benefit from something God has taught you? 

Let’s pray to God about this,

“Almighty God, Lord help us to see the opportunities you have given us.  Help us to be discipled, and to disciple others.  Jesus has been given all authority on Heaven and on earth, and he is with us to fulfil this command in us, and so we thank you in his name.  Amen.”

And I want to thank you listeners, for your encouragement, prayers and financial support.  You keep us on the air week by week. So if you can, please continue to pray for us, and if possible make a donation payable to- Good News Christian Ministries, and send it to box 184, Rideau Ferry Ontario, K0G 1W0.

We will send you a receipt at income tax time.  Please also tell others about this program and don’t forget to visit our website. You can find several of our programs available on pod casts, and a series of devotions written by our founding preacher, the Reverend Dr. Allan Churchill.
Be sure to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve.

And now to conclude our program here is a song by Sarah Groves, “Say a Prayer”. 
And I hope that your life will be filled with prayer.  Prayer that is coming close to God, as you have your heart and your mind personally caught up in the love of Jesus Christ. 

May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart and may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.

- Rev. Brian Wilkie
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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