The Church – A Community of Disciples

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Notes on sermon preached 26 July 2009: “The Church – a Community of Disciples”

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We are continuing to look at various aspects of the church. Today we consider the church as a community of disciples. The Greek word translated “disciple” literally means “one who learns”. We are therefore defined as a community as a people who are learners from Jesus, our great teacher. That means that he sets the rules – not us! The text we will consider is Luke 14 verses 15-24. We will look at the passage under three headings:

1. Three Encouragements

(1)    There is an invitation.(v. 15-23) We are amongst those who Jesus has invited to a great feast – the wedding feast of the Lamb. All are invited – including those for whom the world has no time. Have you heard and responded to the invitation of Jesus to come and follow him? If you have you are assured of a place at the great feast at the end of history.

(2)    There is security. (Romans 8 v 28-30). For those who are truly born again into God’s kingdom  there is eternal security. They have come into a plan which can not be changed and which God has promised to bring to a conclusion. If you are God’s child you are safe in His hands!

(3)    There are rewards. (1 Corinthians 3 v.10-15;1 Corinthians  9 v.24-27) Given that we are totally secure in him,  there are opportunities for reward!  The fact is that all believers will take part in a judgement at the end of time not to determine their entrance into heaven (which is already decided) but their reward based on the quality or their service for him in this life. Our response to Jesus’ call to discipleship today , then, has eternal implications.

2. Three Challenges

(1)   The Challenge to put Jesus first.(v 26) To be a disciple of Jesus, everything that is held dear to us, family, friends, even our own lives, comes behind Jesus in order of our priority and commitment.

(2)   The Challenge to Carry Our Cross. (v .27) The people of Jesus knew exactly what it meant when someone was carrying their cross. They were the walking dead. To be a disciple of Jesus means that we constantly die to our own wishes, desires and ambitions, Are we prepared for that?

(3)   The Challenge to give up everything (v 33) When we become Christians everything we have belongs to Jesus. We therefore have no possessions and no rights. Have we given everything to Jesus?

3. Three Pictures

(1)   The Man building the Tower. (v 28-30) How foolish to start a project and then not to finish it because we hadn’t planned properly. We need to regularly count the cost of being a disciple to make sure that we are willing and able to pay it.

(2)   The King Going to War (v 31-32) Similarly a king who goes to war needs to do his “homework” first to see if he is able to win. Have you considered the likely cost of following Jesus, and are you prepared to pay it?

(3)   The Salt with No Flavour.(v.33) Jesus concludes this passage with a parable of salt that has lost the very properties that make it of use. It is utterly useless – it is cast out. The comparison is with the believer who will not pay the price required to be a disciples. He looks and sounds like a Christian – but ultimately he is of no value in God’s kingdom.

What  challenge it is to be a disciple of Jesus! We finish with a major encouragement later in Luke 18 v 28-30:

Peter said to him, We have left all we had to follow you!  I tell you the truth, Jesus said to them, no-one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God  will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.

The great paradox of being a disciple of Jesus is that it costs everything – yet it costs nothing! We give up what we have that means nothing and gain what we do not have which means everything.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What kind of judgement will a believer be subject to?
  2. Is there anything that you find hard to put in its correct place behind Jesus?
  3. What does it means to carry your cross and follow Jesus?
  4. Consider the picture of the salt that has lost its saltiness. How could it apply to us as believers?
Posted Under: Talks

3 replies to “The Church – A Community of Disciples

  1. Marcel Amadi

    Hi John, this is a very encouraging and insightful post, not only on the call to discipleship, but on the life of the disciple. The idea developed on the Church as a community of disciples is akin to the theme of “followership”. Christ is the great leader and teacher and we (Christians) are the disciples and followers. Jesus formed a community of disciples to continue God’s mission in and for the world. Everyone is part of the community of disciples, equal in freedom and dignity. Let us encourage one another through faith, love and care in the spirit of our common baptism. Thanks.
    Marcel Amadi

    Reply

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