THE GLORY OF GOD ON CAPE COD

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Every Christian a Disciple

by Myron Heckman on January 14, 2016
Every Christian a Disciple
  Myron Heckman
  Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church
 
Every believer in Jesus Christ should think of himself or herself as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
 
There was an iconic recruiting poster for military service as WWI began, where Uncle Sam says "I want you for the US Army!" With his resolute, commanding gaze, and finger-pointing directly at you in a time of crisis, who could refuse him?
   There's another person who has an infinitely greater commanding presence: Jesus Christ, who says "I want you to be my disciple."Can we refuse Him? 
 
As the Gospel of Matthew ends Jesus gives what is called the Great Commission.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
 
I) Vs 18 is an astounding claim: All authority has been given to me.
All authority - over everything in this world, in this universe.
Carl Sagan's famous introduction to each episode of the PBS "Cosmos" was:
"The cosmos is all that is or was or that ever will be." It is a statement of faith, a creed for the atheist.  And yet in vs 18 we hear this:" I interrupt this program to announce that I, Jesus Christ, have authority over all the cosmos."
 
Based on that authority Jesus says "Go therefore and make disciples..
Note the reasoning. We go because Jesus has all authority. Who are we to go to other cultures and persuade people to e reconciled to God through Jesus Christ? we do it on the basis of Jesus' authority  - we take our marching orders from the King of kings.
At the end He promises: "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So we do this in Jesus authority and presence.
 
II) In v 19 Jesus expresses His mission assignment to us - 
       A) He wants us to make disciples
       There is a twofold  program: 19 b - 20
  1) Baptism - baptizing them in the name - this is our initiation into Jesus Christ, this is our identity - to take on this Name of the Triune God. We have a new story we live in, a new life, a new destiny, a new purpose. 
2)   Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you - this is our ongoing process - to obey  everything. Observe here doesn't mean look at and make notes on, and analyze - it means obey.
 
Another way to think of this is that we are to make student followers of Jesus who above all want to be like Him. "It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master."(Matthew 10:25a) The baptism and teaching is to make us like Jesus in His humanity - nothing less and nothing more.
 
B)He wants us to make disciples of all the nations 
  Every local church can be a world mission center. However small we may be compared to the overwhelming demographics of the world's population, we are world-changers. "Nations" is in the Greek "ethnos", from which we get ethnic, so the command is not so much to look at political boundaries as to see and reach the people groups, the ethnic groups of the world. 
 
III) We as individuals and as a church have a local and worldwide mission from Jesus Christ.
  No church should have to think very hard about what their mission is - it was given to us by Jesus Christ and to think up a different mission is an ultimate disrespect of Christ, and prideful. Here we have Jesus telling us what to do and would we turn and do surveys and studies and research other churches to determine our mission? How ironic to turn so blatantly from Jesus clear command to obey what He teaches, as He just commanded clearly to us our mission. 
  Churches may have different emphases, different ministries, different personalities,  but we our business is making disciples of Jesus Christ.
  We aren't about making good citizens, or academics, or entrepreneurs, or hard workers. We're happy to see all those things and disciples may be one or more of those things, but that is not what we are about.
 
IV) As we have a mission to make disciples, so we also have a call upon us to be disciples. Jesus call is always "Follow me." (Matthew 4:19)
Here's a question - is it possible to be a Christian and not be a disciple?
Is a disciple a higher level of Christian, a status that some Christians will choose to enter into?
 
Consider Acts 11:26   And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Note what came first - the book of Acts identified believers as disciples first, who were then called Christians. The name “Christian,” meaning “belonging to Christ,”  appears to have been invented by those outside of the church, which the Church happily accepted. According to Acts 11:26, every believer was a disciple.
 
A Christian who is not a disciple is what is called a nominal Christian - it means a Christian in name, but not in practice. Not in reality.
  Nominalism is always an issue for the Church - there are surveys where, given a choice, perhaps 70% of the United States population would check off a box called Christian. But for many faith has no apparent impact on their lives - so the question is: are they truly Christian? Could they be Christians without being a disciple?
  Not by any biblical standards.  Jesus didn't say:
Go and make people who will recognize my birth with some kind of celebration, or make people who will live in a civilization influenced by me, or make people who will honor my teachings as they see fit.
 
He said, in effect, go and make believers  
who have embraced my cross and celebrate my resurrection,
who love me with all their being,
who trust me,
who gladly obey my teachings,
and want to be like me,
and who help others to be like Me.
 
Here's the question for every Christian from this text:
Do you think of yourself as a disciple?
1)   Have you been baptized? it is Christ's will for His every follower. It is a sign that you have received God's saving grace by faith.
2) Are You are seeking to obey Christ gladly in everything?
   "Well, I am in many things!"    That is not the same is it?
   "OK, then, in most things!"
It is obedience in all things. It is a life surrendered to Jesus Christ.
 
The Danish philosopher Soren Kirkegaard told a parable-like story that goes like this:
Once upon a time there was a small town with a Fire Chief well loved by the residents.  They all knew the Fire Chief well – their children had climbed over his fire engines during excursions to the fire station, and the friendliness of the Fire Chief made him a popular man.
  One day there was a fire. The fire brigade rushed to the scene but the firemen were unable to get through to the burning building. The problem was the crowd of people who had gathered to help put out the fire. When the fire broke out the people had  rushed out to help their beloved Fire Chief. Unfortunately the townsfolk were seeking to extinguish this raging inferno with water pistols!  They’d all stand there, from time to time squirting their pistol into the fire while making casual conversation.
The Fire Chief couldn’t contain himself. He screamed to the townsfolk.
 “What are you doing?  What on earth do you think you’re going to achieve with those water pistols?!”
The people quickly grasped the urgency of the situation. How they wanted to help the Fire Chief. So they started squirting more. “Come on” they encouraged each other, “We can all do better, can’t we?” Squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt.
Exasperated the Fire Chief yelled again. “Get out of the way. You're achieving nothing except hindering us from doing what needs to be done. We need firemen who are ready to give everything they’ve got to put out this fire, people willing even to lay their lives on the line. This is not the place for casual efforts”
  The stories meaning for us?
In a world aflame we don't want to be using water pistols. Discipleship to Christ means much more than casual levels of involvement in the Church and God’s mission in the world. It calls for a wholehearted lifetime commitment.
We want the fire hose of God's truth and grace and power to be at work through us for Cape Cod and the world.
 
Every believer in Jesus Christ should think of himself or herself as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

 
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