The Blessed Man--a Disciple-making Disciple of Jesus (2/5)

  • Written by Pastor James
  • Published: 12 November 2012

Today's passage (Matt. 28:18-20) is what is referred to as the Great Commission. It is a commission: a commission a mission Jesus entrusted to His church. It is called the Great Commission 1) because it is a commission issued by the great King of heaven and earth ("All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me"); 2) because it is of primary importance to the reason for the church's existence and being; 3) because it addresses the redemption of the whole world.

What does the Great Commission actually command the church to do? It is commanded to "make disciples of all nations." Notice, the mission of the church is not just to offer the free grace of God's redemption. It is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the Great Commission, our Lord provides us with a clear and dynamic portrait of His disciple: he is, first of all, someone who is baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, thus identifying himself with the triune God; he is also someone who are committed to learning all that Christ has taught, not just to understand them intellectually but to observe them practically; and, finally, a disciple is someone who himself participates in the making of disciples in obedience to our Lord's Great Commission--in the going and baptizing and teaching ministry of the church of Jesus Christ.

In some circles of Christianity, a distinction is made between "Christians" and "disciples". According to this distinction, "disciples" are the more committed, seriously-minded Christians. However, the Bible does not distinguish these terms--Christian and disciple--as two different levels of Christian commitment. In the New Testament, "disciples of Jesus" is the synonym of "Christians" (Acts 11:26). Every Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ: one cannot be a Christian without being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Discipleship--being a Christian--requires personal, decisive commitment and many sacrifices that go along with it (Luke 14:27; Matt. 8:20). The following is what Bon Hoeffer, the famed German pastor during the Nazi regime, said about discipleship in his book, The Cost of Discipleship:

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

[True] grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son…. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God."

The Blessed Man--a Disciple-making Disciple of Jesus (1/5)

  • Written by Pastor James
  • Published: 12 November 2012

Last week's message was that we are all members of the body of Christ and as such indispensable to the life of the church. But none of us will be here forever, even if we all stayed on. When our days are full and our journey is finished, we will have to go home. So, we will have to live in preparation for our departure. That means, we must cherish one another as long as God gives us time together, knowing that we will not be together forever in this church.

But there is another dimension and it is this: as an indispensable member of this local body of Christ, each of us should train up someone else to replace us, should the time come for us to leave, so that the church of Christ may continue on and thrive. That is what happens in our body every day, isn't it? At the cellular level, there is a constant process of reproduction and replacement.

What do you think about our church? More particularly, how important is it that we exist and go on? Is there any reason for our church to continue on beyond my tenure as the founding and first senior pastor? Is our church's mission bigger and more important than one pastor's ministry? Is there enough cohesion and unity and bond among us as a body to continue the work into the next generation? I hope our desire is to see this church remain faithful to the gospel and continue on through many generations, to have our children grow up and be leaders of this congregation and have them hand down the ministry to the next generation and so on.

Of course, local churches come and go. Even the churches planted by the Apostles are no more. But a church closing its doors is invariably a sad occasion. We would love to see every church thrive for a long time, each successive generation adding more to the ministry. This does not have to be just a wishful thinking. For Christ promised that He would be with His church to the end of the age and build it up. As long as the world continues, the church will remain to bear witness to glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission has this in view. And in it, our Lord provides how the church is to continue and thrive to the end of the age. So then, let us take a brief look at the Great Commission and Jesus' prescription for the ministry of our church.

The Blessed Man--a Member of the Body of Christ (5/5)

  • Written by Pastor James
  • Published: 04 November 2012

The fact that Christ is the Head and we are His body means that no one can say, "I am a Christian!" and say, "I don't want to be a member of the church!" The body cannot exist without the head, can it? In the same way, a member of the body cannot exist outside the body. Can a heart live by itself without the body? Of course not! Even if it can, what's the use? You all have beautiful eyes. But how beautiful those eyes would be if they were taken out of your face? They wouldn't be beautiful, would they? I think they would be pretty disgusting and grotesque. So it would be a Christian, who doesn't want to be a part of the church.

I hope you would grow to love the church more and more. Because Jesus loves the church so much. We cannot live without Jesus. Does Jesus need us to live? No. As the eternal Son of God, He lived even before the world was created and we came into being. But when Jesus saved us and made us His body, Jesus was saying, "I don't want to live without My people. I'd rather die than to live without them!" And that is why Jesus went all the way to the cross and died to save us! If Jesus loves the church so much, how can we not? Let us love Jesus and, because we love Jesus, let us love His church and serve one another well. Christ will grow us into His glorious body!

The Blessed Man--a Member of the Body of Christ (4/5)

  • Written by Pastor James
  • Published: 04 November 2012

There is glory when each member of the body does his/her job in cooperation with the other members. Just think about your breathing. On average, a child breathes around 25 times per minute. That means we breathe 1,500 times an hour and 36,000 times in a day. Every time your breathe in the air, it goes through your nose and mouth and the windpipe into the lungs. The oxygen gets into the tiny air sacs (and there are over 300 million of these!), and then into blood vessels (called capillaries). Our blood cells pick up the oxygen and travel to the heart, which pumps these oxygen-rich blood cells to all the parts of our body. As the blood cells deliver the oxygen, they pick up the carbon dioxide, which has been produced by the cells using the oxygen, and deliver it back to the lungs. There, the carbon dioxide, which is harmful to our body, is unloaded into the lungs and breathed out of our body when we exhale. Isn't that amazing, isn't it glorious how our body works together? That's just one of many systems. And we haven't talked about all the amazing things that happen within each cell with its own parts working together in a microscopic level.

So it is with the church, the body of Jesus Christ. As members of the body of Christ, each of us is given a unique task. Each member is necessary. Each member must do its work well. When we get injured, other parts of our body surrounding the injury must work harder to compensate. When the injury lasts long, it can cause other parts to get hurt by overworking. But how glorious it is when all the members do their share and help the church to grow and thrive! So I hope you can all practice thinking this way when you come to church on the Lord's day: how can I be a blessing to others and in what ways can I serve them?

To that end, you need to discover your gifts and abilities and cultivate them. But do not lose sight of the most important training you need. In our passage, Paul highlights certain gifts: "And [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry…" (vv. 11-12). What is common among all these people? They are all ministers of the Word, who teaches God's Word to His people. This list shows how foundational the Word of God is for the work of ministry (that is, service). The goal, the reason, the method, the motive, and the strength for doing the work of ministry all come from the Word of God. We should be thankful for all those who teach God's Word to us--from our parents to our Sunday school teachers to our pastors--and pray for them.

The Blessed Man--a Member of the Body of Christ (3/5)

  • Written by Pastor James
  • Published: 04 November 2012

What is so great about being a Christian, being a member of the body of Christ? Consider the second meaning. When Paul says that Jesus is the Head and we are His body, it also means that Jesus and we cannot be separated. What would happen if our head and our body were separated? We would die, of course! In a similar way, we could not live as true Christians if we did not believe in Jesus and did not love Him. We can be healthy and wealthy and smart and famous without believing in Jesus. But we cannot be true Christians without believing in Jesus. And if we were not true Christians, we would be enemies of God. And if we were enemies of God, we would have to face His punishment and judgment.

But there is more. When we become Christians, we do not just escape from God's judgment; we also receive many great blessings. This is because Jesus did not just die for our sins. He also lived a perfectly righteous life for us. That means all the rewards He earned with His perfect obedience are ours because we are His body!

Glory is a wonderful thing. Glory is what we get when we excel in something. It is glorious to see a runner run so fast, a swimmer swim so effortlessly, a gymnast tumble so fast and high, a soccer player dribble so deftly and score so beautifully. It is glorious to listen to someone sing so touchingly and play the violin so movingly. Jesus is the most glorious and majestic and wonderful Man. And He made us members of His body to share His glory with us. Do you remember how Jesus' body glowed with blinding brightness on the Mount of Transfiguration? 

That is a picture of how glorious we will be as members of the body of Christ! Someone named C.S. Lewis said that, if any of us should be changed now like we will be on the day of our resurrection, we would feel compelled to bow down before him because his glory would be so awesome and breathtaking! And imagine how glorious it will be when we are all changed into the glory of Jesus, our Head!

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