Disruptive Discipleship | It's Not Optional

Hello, again, everyone today at Chapelhill Church, Church Online, at all four of our locations. Listen, we’re in day seven of 21 Days of Prayer. I hope you’re joining with us to pray for 21 days as we began 2021. Some of you are fasting also and I hope you’re already sensing a new refreshing, a new spiritual life, and I’m believing for new things spiritually for you and your family and for our church. I have a very, very important message today for our church.But before I go there, I have a final overall Kingdom Builder Christmas offering report to share with you. And I’m very excited and happy to share that from Chapelhill Church, all locations, Church Online in the past few weeks, you have given to Kingdom Builder missionaries and projects and local ministry expansion and to next generation leaders a total of $355,143. Come on. Celebrate that. And our 2020 Kingdom Builders grand total is, drum roll please, come on, $1,105,444. Listen, that is amazing. Praise God. Thank you. Thank you.Missionaries around the world are shouting thank you. And we’re going to do so much more in 2021. Listen, this world needs the local church, and we need to continue to give, and we need to continue to send out missionaries and fund ministry projects, because we carry the message of Jesus, the hope of the world. And we’re going to send a team this year to participate in 1DayLA in July. So if you’re interested, let us know. There’s still time for you to get involved in that. Now, as we begin this series, I want you to know spiritual growth is always disruptive.That’s what disruptive discipleship means. New Testament, followers of Jesus, didn’t respond to Jesus’ call to follow him and then just continued business as usual. No, their lives changed and they changed dramatically. It was a disruptive decision to follow Jesus. It always is. It’s a disruptive decision to go all in, because disruptive discipleship disrupts the old life and old sinful patterns. It disrupts previously held mindsets. It disrupts enemy held territory and it breaks strongholds. It’s disruptive because it requires change.True biblical discipleship requires stepping into new things and relinquishing the comfort of the old. I post a question to pastors on our team recently that seemed to strike a chord with them. And I said, “If Jesus is coming back soon, and I believe he is, are we urgently calling people to a deeper kind of relationship, a deeper discipleship? Are we fulfilling the will of the Lord and the work of the church to go and make disciples?”C.S. Lewis once wrote, he said, “If the church is not making disciples, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.” Wow! C.S. Lewis felt strongly about biblical discipleship. And as most of you know, our mission at Chapelhill is, say it with me, we exist to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s our mission and that’s about discipleship.Listen, we have an agenda and our agenda must be his agenda. Together we must make disciples. It’s not optional. Hear me clearly. We are all being discipled by someone or something. You can be discipled by default, or you can be discipled by design. You can let the world and the culture around you mold you and shape you, or you can be shaped and discipled by design by a God who desperately loves you.Author and theologian Eugene Peterson gives us a good working definition of discipleship when he said this, “To be a disciple says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.” Did you hear that? We acquire skills in faith. Discipleship is in part about growing and acquiring faith skills.Now, if I want to acquire skills as a pianist, I’d sit with the pianist. If I want to acquire skills as a plumber, I’d find a plumber. I need one right now, in fact. No. If I wanted to become a great fishermen, you get the idea. To grow with Jesus, we must be with Jesus and with those who follow Jesus. Now, for a few minutes today, I want to show you what happened when Jesus called people to follow him as his disciple. You might be thinking, okay, pastor, I’ve already got this. Pastor, I know what you’re going to say.You’re thinking you need to attend church, or you need to sign up for growth track. Yes. Or you need to be water baptized. For sure. Yeah. And give your tithe. I know that’s what you’re thinking, or a Kingdom Builder offering and attend a small group. And maybe even greet at the door or be an online chat moderator. Get involved in some way. Those are all fantastic things. Don’t get me wrong. We should consider all those things, but that’s not it. That’s not the heart of discipleship. It might involve some of those things.But following Jesus is about this, it’s about becoming disciples or princes of Jesus, to be people who actually do what Jesus did, and who lived and loved like Jesus. And to be clear, this is an essential part of the good news that Jesus preached. It’s not optional. So in this series, we’re going to talk about some important of what it means to follow Jesus. But today, we’re also going to talk about something disciples must know. Don’t miss this. We must know the gospel, and I want you to be able to articulate the gospel.Disciples must do that. If I were to ask you right now to verbalize and explain the gospel, someone right there in the room, would you be able to do that? Could you? Or could you write a paragraph and include the critical elements of what Jesus proclaimed as good news? Listen, if you can’t, you’re not alone. Now, many of you could, but since this is so fundamental and so foundation of following Jesus, I want to teach this today. So right now, we’re just going to kind of shift. We’re going to shift into a classroom setting. I’m putting on my teacher hat today.Now, most pastors have a teacher hat too. Get some note paper or open up your notes app on your phone maybe, and let’s just start with some background on the very first disciples, Jesus’ 12 disciples. They’re also known as the apostles, 12 apostles. Scholars and theologians agree that most of Jesus’ apostles were in their late teens and early twenties. Now think about that. I love this picture. Jesus turned the world aside down with young adults, millennials and gen z’s sort of.I’m convinced there’s no limit to what the next generation can do when they give their lives fully to Jesus. And the next awakening, The Great Awakening and the next great revival, America may very well be led by passionate young men and women. I’m believing. Let it start through Chapelhill Church. But these Jewish young men were products of Orthodox Jewish homes and local synagogues where they had learned the scriptures.They were familiar with the great messianic passages from the prophets, but what they knew of the kingdom came from only what Jesus taught and what Jesus showed them. They were his apprentices, and Jesus spent over three years teaching about the kingdom of God. They heard the kingdom was here and that the kingdom was within them, but also that it was a kingdom that was still to come later in its fullness. But to these young followers, it was now.It was right now that they were on an extended road trip with the son of God and Jesus was their King, and they believed that he was the promised Messiah. And right from the beginning, watch this, right from the beginning, their actions began to align with what he taught and what he advocated. In fact, in the Gospel of Mark 1, this passage includes the call to follow Jesus in his earliest preaching in Galilee. Mark 1:14-15, look at it.Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand or is here; repent and believe in the gospel.” And so these young men took the most logical action possible. They followed him. They repented and followed. Verse 17 in verse 18 of Mark 1 confirms it. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Wow!And when you read each of these apostles’ eye witness accounts in Matthew, in Mark, in Luke and John, you’ll find that Jesus called people to follow him unconditionally and with no excuses, no matter the cost and always to the end. Did you hear me? No matter the cost and always to the end. Jesus never taught that you could be a Christian and not be his disciple. In fact, he warned against such teaching. Look at Luke 6:46 where he said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” And that’s a really sobering question for all of us.And I think it begs for all of us to know what he’s told us so we can do what he tells us. That’s why today is so important. Pastors and preachers should consistently be telling you what Jesus said. And that’s why Bible reading and Bible study is so important, so you can learn yourself, so you can know. We need to know what it means to love Jesus wholeheartedly. We need to know what it means to serve him by serving others. We need to know what it means to forgive others if we want to be forgiven.We need to know that we are to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Come on. To know to give. When we give, it’ll be given back to us good measure, pressed down, shaken together. To know that we live in a different kingdom. And maybe, just maybe, maybe we hold onto this world with much too tight of a grip. Yes. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” And far too often, we want to rationalize, I think. Rationalize why we can’t or why we won’t, rather than just doing what he tells us.It’s impossible to separate belief from action. They are the same thing. I’ve said it this way. Faith is action based upon a belief sustained by a confidence. The ABCs of faith. That what God’s word says is forever settled in heaven. When the disciples followed Jesus, their belief and their actions made them his disciples. They weren’t disciples because they said they were. They were his disciples because of what they were doing. For instance, I can say I’m an NBA basketball player all day long, and you can tell by looking at me, I don’t play in the NBA.There’s a reason I’m not playing. I can say I’m a great chef. But if pouring Raisin Bran qualifies me, if that’s the extent of me being… No, I’m no chef. But these disciples entered into a new realm of who they were when they said yes to Jesus’ call and they began to follow him. And that’s when eternal life began for them and their entire identity changed. They were now identified with Christ, and they put their very lives on the line for him. Why? Why would they do that? Because they recognized they had stepped into a new kingdom with a different King.For instance, Jesus began to teach them how to seek first the kingdom of God and not to worry about anything. Can I just pause right here for a moment? We’ve been through a brutal decisive election season, and it’s time to say this and say it again. We love America and we pray and we sing God bless America, but America is not our home. The Bible says followers of Jesus belonged to another kingdom. We have to understand this. We’re pilgrims. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and not to worry.” That’s what he said and that’s what we must do.You can justify your worrying all you want to, but it doesn’t change what our King told us. Jesus said, he said as his followers, we’re not to worry about all these things that’s going. Like what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Or what direction will America go under a new administration? Jesus said not to worry about these things. Jesus said these things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else.Live righteously and your heavenly Father will give everything that you need. Listen, we got to hold on to that truth. That’s faith. And these early disciples did that. They grew in their faith. It was disruptive to their former lives because Jesus was their everything and they followed him. We’re going to spend the remainder of our time today looking at the elements of the gospel that brought these early followers to this place of followship, not fellowship. That’s important too, but this is about followship or following Jesus.It’s generally accepted that the first written record of Jesus’ life and teachings was by the Disciple Mark or the Apostle Mark. Matthew’s gospel comes first in your New Testament, but Mark’s eye witness account actually was written first. And I want to show you that in two passages, in Mark 1 and in Mark 8, there are seven elements that are essential to Jesus’ gospel. Bill Hull and Ben Sobels in their book, Discipleship Gospel, they say these seven elements lead to biblical discipleship, which transforms lives.And I want to teach it so you can see it, so you can know it, even so you can articulate it. I don’t want there to be any doubt for you. I want you to be able to share it with others. Let’s first look at the first four elements in Mark 1 one as Jesus began his public ministry, and then let’s look here and pay very close attention to what Jesus said. Now after John was arrested, Mark 1:14, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, bridging the gospel, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Verse 14 clearly states here that Jesus was proclaiming the gospel. It couldn’t be clearer. People can say all kinds of things are part of the gospel, and they do. For instance, some emphasized what is sometimes called the forgiveness gospel.They say, “Jesus will forgive your sins, but then how you live after you receive forgiveness doesn’t really matter that much, because the forgiveness gospel gives you a free grace ticket to heaven.” But that’s not what Jesus taught and that’s not what the Bible actually says right here. That’s not the gospel Jesus proclaimed. Follow me here. And then also, you have the prosperity gospel that says, if you are saved, you should be prosperous. If you follow Jesus, you should have a lot of nice things.Well, those things might happen if you live your life well and you honor God and you make good decisions, but neither one of those are what Jesus said was his gospel. Also, in the New Testament days, Paul and others were fighting against the circumcision gospel. Read about it in Galatians. Paul says that’s the wrong gospel. Circumcision is not included in Jesus’ gospel. The gospel that Jesus was proclaiming got the attention of these young adult Hebrew men.And it wasn’t only about forgiveness of sin and it certainly wasn’t about having a nicer donkey to ride or painful circumcision. Oh my goodness! Here are the first four elements that we just read in Mark 1 and I’ll call them the essential gospel elements. Look at them. God’s kingdom is here, number one. Repent of sin. Believe the gospel, and follow Jesus. The first thing we have here is God’s kingdom is here. That’s first and that’s really important, but I think we often leave that out.It seems that if we’re talking about the gospel, but we’re not saying anything about the kingdom of God, that we’re missing an important part of Jesus’ gospel. In fact, we’re missing an attractive part of the gospel, because the Apostle Paul says in Colossians that we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear son. The good news is you don’t have to live in the kingdom of darkness and die in the kingdom of darkness.Jesus says the kingdom is here and he’s calling people to respond by doing three things, repent of sin, believe in him, and follow him. Can you see this? The gospel isn’t just about information. It’s about transformation. It disrupted the lives of these young men, and it changed them forever as they entered the kingdom of God. It’s like you don’t just add Jesus to your life and nothing changes. No. That’s not salvation and it’s certainly not the gospel, because Jesus changes everything. For instance, how many of you know you don’t just add a kid to your life?No. Adding a child is disruptive. They change everything. It’s wonderful, but it’s disruptive. The first one changes everything, and then the second one changes everything. Anybody who says, “Hey, what’s the difference between two and three?” A lot. You can’t even go to Six Flags anymore without taking a friend, so everyone has a writing partner, right? I mean, my youngest son Brett, Pastor Brett at our Bremen location, he and Alicia have six kids, and they’re talking about number seven. And I’m just like, what? I can’t wrap my head around that.I guess maybe when you start getting closer to double digit kids, what’s one more? I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe they can just add another child, but you don’t just add Jesus to your life. The gospel is about transformation and discipleship is about our response to the call. Once again, Mark 1:14-17 reveals these four elements right here. Let me say it again. God’s kingdom is here. The kingdom of God is here. Repent of sin. Believe the gospel, cling to trust in the gospel, and follow Jesus. These are essential elements of the gospel.Disciples of Jesus need to know this. You need to know this. But I want to show you, there’s not just four essential elements. There’s actually seven. We’re going to jump over now to Mark 8. I want to show you three more. A lot happens in Mark 8. It’s all triggered by one thing, the apostle Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. Now, let’s look at this carefully and we’re going to see the other three elements of gospel content that Jesus reveals here. All right? Mark 8:27. And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.I’ve been there. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and to die, and after three days rise again.This passage represents a major moment of revelation. Jesus reveals three more elements of the gospel. Here they are. Look at them. Jesus is the Christ. He died. He was killed. He died for our sins, and he was resurrected. Do you see that? The gospel doesn’t assume this. The Bible tells us clearly Jesus is the Christ. He died for our sins. He was resurrected on the third day. We can’t assume people know this or believe this. Because in the first eight chapters of Mark’s gospel, people, just like we have people today, expressed a lot of various opinions about Jesus.His family even thought he was out of his mind. The scribe said Jesus was possessed by Satan. The people of Capernaum called him a teacher. The people of Nazareth couldn’t think of him as any more than a carpenter. King Herod believed he was John the Baptist raised from the dead, and others said he was Elijah. And still, others just said he was one of the prophets. Many say that today. And surprisingly, Jesus’ disciples hadn’t said anything about who they believed him to be up until this point in Mark 8. But here in Mark 8, Jesus asked the 12 point blank, “who do you say that I am?”And Peter’s response is so powerful. Here it is. “You are the Christ.” This is the first time in Mark’s gospel that someone calls Jesus the Christ. That’s important because to first century Jews, the word Christ was a holy word. It was reserved exclusively for the long awaited Messiah Christ, meaning the anointed one. It’s the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word for Messiah. But because we’re so far removed from that culture, it’s difficult to grasp the full weight of that title or the significance of what Peter has said here.For them, to profess Jesus as Christ was to proclaim Jesus as the one about whom all scripture had been written and the one who fulfills all scripture. This was huge. And right here, right here, it’s as if Peter’s confession trips sort of an alarm wire that goes off. Because as soon as one of his disciples or Peter confesses him as Christ, it was like, here we go, the clock is now ticking. And Jesus immediately begins teaching them about his impending death at the hands of the Jewish religious establishment and his resurrection on the third day.And he now spends his time almost exclusively with these 12, teaching them the true cost of discipleship. For instance, Mark 9:30. It says, they went on from there and pass through the Galilee together. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” He’s telling them the same thing. I am the Christ. I will die for sins, and I will be resurrected.These three essential elements of the gospel. So now we’re going to insert them into our list. We’ve got now a list of seven. I’m going to insert those three at number two, three, and four, so you can kind of see it in a flow, in an order. God’s kingdom is here. Jesus is the Christ. He died for our sins. He was resurrected. Repent of sin. Believe the gospel, and follow Jesus. Leave those up here for a moment. Why have I taken time to unpack all of this for you today? Because the Holy Spirit is calling us to live out a disruptive discipleship, which means we must know this.We must know the gospel of the kingdom, and you have to know. Salvation is more than forgiveness. Being saved by grace is more than a free ticket to heaven, because it always includes followship or following Jesus. We are his disciples as we enter the kingdom of God and as we follow Jesus. Many of you have heard me give a concise version of the gospel that sounds like this. God became man in human flesh. He lived the life that we should have lived and died the death that we should have died in our place.On the third day he rose again, proving that he’s the son of God and offering the gift of salvation to all who would repent and believe and call upon his name. And I love that and that’s wonderful, but it also assumes two very important elements of the gospel though, I just shared with you, and those two are left out of that statement. And I just think we need to add them in, not assuming everyone knows this. I think it probably should sound like this. The kingdom of God is here. He is Jesus. God became man in human flesh.He lived the life that we should have lived and died the death that we should have died in our place. On the third day he rose again, proving that he is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation to all who repent and believe and who will follow him. Following him is everything. I came to tell you today, disciples of Jesus are followers of Jesus. It’s not optional. And his followers do what Jesus did. That’s the beginning of true biblical discipleship. And guess what? It’s very disruptive.I want to close with sobering words of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Look what he said. He said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” I think we can also say it this way, that if you want the living Christ, if you want Jesus, then you must follow him. That’s the gospel and that’s true biblical discipleship. Just coming to church doesn’t cut it. Just tuning in online doesn’t cut it. Our prayer today is still, Lord, search me, grow me, lead me.And if you’ve never said yes to the call of Jesus or maybe you’re just not following him, maybe you’ve asked him to forgive you of sin, but you’re not doing what he says, today, you can repent today. Today, you can turn to Jesus right now and you can accept him as the Christ, as the Lord of your life, and begin to follow with him today. Would you pray with me? Do you want to pray with me right now? Pray with me. Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t want to just add you to my life. I want you to transform my life. Jesus, I believe the kingdom of God is here.Just tell him, I believe. And it’s you, Jesus. And I believe you are the Christ, that you are the Lord. And Lord Jesus, I believe that you died for me. And I believe that as I confess my sin to you, you forgive me and cleanse me. So would you do that, Lord? Cleanse my heart. Cleanse me and wash me. I believe that your blood washes me of all sin, and I believe that you rose again. And today I repent. I repent and I turn and I follow you. Now, I want to know what you say, and I want to live that way, and I want to follow you.Help me to learn. Help me to grow. Search my heart, O, God. Grow me. Grow me as your disciple, as your follower. Lead me, Lord Jesus. Would you be my Lord and my savior, because I will follow you. In Jesus’ name, amen. Praise God. Thank him for what he’s doing in our hearts today. Praise God.