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About this series
The Four Great Invitations
Lessons from My First 50 Years with Jesus
Do you have a mentor? That one person with lots of life know-how you completely trust for sound wisdom and guidance? Well, if not, in this series, Chip will be that mentor for us as he shares some insightful experiences he’s learned from - through 5 decades of walking with Jesus. He’ll unpack how these lessons are rooted in 4 essential invitations Jesus challenged His disciples with throughout the Gospels. Don’t miss how these biblical insights can encourage, motivate and comfort you through all aspects of life.More from this series
The final invitation is to go and make disciples.
And I thought to myself as we get ready to wrap this up, maybe we should take just a moment and remember who is making these four great invitations. Speaking of the Father it says, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption for the forgiveness of sins.” And then it describes who has given us the invitation to come, to follow, and to abide.
Right after the resurrection, I love this line. He said to His disciples, even before the ascension and all the rest, He says, “As the Father has sent Me, I’m sending you.” Think of that.
When the Triune God saw all the world and all the needs, in His heart of love, He sent Jesus. And now Jesus says to us, “Just as the Father sent Me to bring light and love and to care and to rescue, I’m sending you.” And then we get the formal invitation in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 to 20. The context here is that He has already appeared to five hundred eyewitnesses. And in verse 18, He says, “All power and authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth.” In your notes just write the word “power.”
When we say we are going to go make disciples, everything you need, all the resources – that word for “power” or “authorities” – circle it. We get our word “dynamite.”
Everything you need to be and to do all He wants you to do, is available. And then here’s the invitation, actually, a command. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” how? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” in order that they could watch online, in order that they could agree with what Jesus…wait a second, I think I read that wrong. “Teaching them to observe, to live out, everything that I taught you… And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Everything you need, all the resources, as you say, “I have come to Jesus. I really am following Him, I am learning and abiding, okay, I want to be a part of the team that does for others what You did for me. I have got all the power I need, and I’ll never do this alone.”
And after Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount what it meant to be a genuine follower and how different it was from how people were thinking. In the next little section, I actually, it comes out of Luke chapter 6, verses 39. Because it raises the question, like, how do you do that, right? I mean, how do you make disciples and what are we supposed to do and what does it look like and how do you know if you’re successful?
In verse 39, He says, “And Jesus gave this parable. He said, ‘If a blind man is leading a blind man, they’ll both fall into the ditch.’” And then He went on to say, verse 40, “If a student, when he is fully grown, or a disciple when you’re fully trained, you become just like your teacher.” And then the last part was, “You hypocrites. Why are you seeing the speck in other people’s eyes? Stop it. Quit judging other people. Take the plank out of your eye,” and then we often forget, “then go back and take the speck out of theirs.”
And as I have thought about that passage, I have thought about probably what I have learned the most over the years in terms of, “Go and make disciples,” is you can’t impart what you don’t possess. That’s the picture. If you’re blind, if you don’t know what a disciple is, if you’re not on that path, you can’t take anyone with you.
And then I love the second line, “More is caught than taught.” You know, if you’re a parent, by the way, this is – big memo – if you have small kids, listen really carefully. If you have older ones, pray hard and do as much repair as you can. Your kids are never going to do what you say. They’re going to catch who you really are. Your values are not what you profess, your values are not what you intellectually believe, your values aren’t even your very best intentions.
Your kids are going to catch what really matters to you. How you think about time, how you think about money, how you think about different people, how you think about different races, how you think about all the issues of life. They just catch it. And so, when you want to go on discipleship, we have to – the last one – we have to be what we want those that we are leading to become.
And so, that’s always the first step. And where I would get stuck on this, I was probably, I don’t know how many years, I was a pastor way over ten years, boy, maybe closer to fifteen or twenty. And I would meet with other pastors, and I would say, “You know, I’m trying to learn and grow, and Jesus said, ‘Go make disciples,’ what, so, how do you define a disciple?” And we’d get a bunch of pastors around and we’d say, “Well, you know,” in some circles, “well, they come to a morning service, an evening service, they give ten percent, and they kind of help out at the church.” Okay. Other people it’s, “Well, they have had this experience or that experience and…” Okay.
And what I realized was I literally had the chance in one of my former lives to go all around the world and meet pastors all around the world. And I said, “Just tell me, if someone walked up to you and said, ‘I prayed, Jesus lives in me now, I have got the next three to five years marked off, I will do whatever you want me to do. I will come to whatever meetings, I’ll learn whatever, would you give me the clear pathway, and could you tell me what it is and when I’m a mature disciple of Christ? I really want to do it.”
And I’d like to say that they just would pull out, like, their phone or something and say, “Oh, yeah, this is our plan.” About ninety-eight out of a hundred pastors said, “Well, we invite them to church, and we’ve got some programs and we tell them, ‘Here are some next steps.’” I said, “Well, how do you know when they’re mature?”
And so, it was about, I don’t know, a little over fifteen years ago, I was in another life, and I was training pastors in Nigeria. It was really hard, because they speak English but not my English. Well, and when Nasim was giving the announcements, I thought to myself, Someone finally speaks almost as fast as me. You know? And I thought, I love this, you know? And they said, “No, this is Nigeria. You need to speak very slowly.”
And so, I tried to speak very slowly, and I had twelve sessions on how to grow a high-impact church. And I’m in session number one and it’s a really mixed group. So, on the front row there’s a guy with an iPad and on the front row, a guy who is barefooted. And they have come from all over, lots of them.
And the first one was on: The purpose of the Church is to make disciples. And so, I went for this definition, and it was like, you have all had a conversation with either a small group or another person or maybe a bit larger group? And you’re thinking, They don’t get it. I’m not getting through. And I thought, Oh my, I’m speaking slow, which is killing me. And I’m going to have to do this eleven more times? If we don’t get on the same page, I’m going to go nuts and this is worthless. And I thought, Oh, what am I going to do?
And so, I said, “Stop.” This is one of, maybe the second or third most mystic experience I have ever had with Jesus. I said, “Do you see that brother right there on the front row?”
I said, “If he went online and there was a server in heaven and he went: heaven.com/disciple, do you know what would come right on his computer so we would know?” And, like, three thousand pastors go…
And I’m thinking, I wonder what I’m going to say next. Because none of this is in my notes. And I heard out of my mouth say, “Becoming a Romans 12 Christian.” Now, to be fair, the Holy Spirit, I had memorized that chapter, I had actually taught it before, but never…
I said, “Well, open…forget those notes I gave you. Open your Bible.” And so, I will say to you, open your notes in the middle, and all of Romans 12 is right there. And I’m going to tell you why I want to share it with you. Because what I realized was a disciple is not someone who does spiritual activities. I mean, the people that fasted, prayed – right? Down to the herbs and spices, they gave, they were super religious. The harshest words that ever came out of Jesus’ mouth was to religious people. And we are no different.
Chapter 1 is here, right? 1 through 3, the problem of man. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Chapter 4 and 5, the solution. Christ died in our place, and we receive Him by faith. Chapters 6 through 8, how do you live this life? It’s the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Chapters 9 through 11, sort of a little parentheses that says, “If you’re a Jew that has believed in Jesus, I just want you to know that as a nation, God took you out of the game because you fumbled the ball.” I’m over spiritualizing a bit here. “And He’s got a plan for you to get back in the game later, but I want you to understand what is happening.” He’s a sovereign God whose purposes will be fulfilled for the land and all the promises He made to David.
And now we are at chapter 12, “Therefore.” And in chapter 12, what he does, he gives an executive summary of what a disciple is. Will Durant describes the apostle Paul as the most brilliant mind in the first century. And we know he had some special relationship with Jesus after he came to Christ. We know he had an intellect that was unbelievable.
And I believe chapter 12, he took the Sermon on the Mount and all he learned and all this, and for a, sort of, Greek mindset like us, he said, “Okay, let me give you the profile of a disciple.” So, are you ready? Eleven chapters are all about – what? Grace. It’s the gospel. Based on grace, totally what God does, and then you’ll notice, look in your notes.
Discipleship is always relational; it’s not about performance.
First relationship, there are five. Go down through. Circle the word “God” – right? In your notes. Go down, circle the word “world”. Go down one more time, circle the word “yourself”. Then circle “believers”, then circle “non-believers”. All I want you to know is it’s about grace and it’s about relationships. I can’t go through it all. But what I want to do is just give you a quick postcard that you could say, “Okay, I’ve come, I’m following Jesus, I’m abiding and learning, and He says, ‘Go make disciples.’”
I want you to say, “Oh, this is what a disciple is.” Notice what it says. Relationship with God is surrender to God. “Therefore I urge you my brothers and sisters, in view of God’s great mercy,” those eleven chapters, the work of Christ, the resurrection, “offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. This is your spiritual service of worship.”
And so what he’s saying is for normal followers making disciples, you have to be one before you can help others.
The word “offer”, put a little box around “offer” in your notes. It’s in a tense in the Greek that is, it’s punctiliar. It happens in a point of time. You have already come to know Christ and at a certain day at a certain time, you say, “Lord, I surrender all that I am and all that I have: my family, my money, my career, my location, my future. You fill in the top of the purchase order and You say, ‘This is what I want you to do. I have already signed my name at the bottom.’ I may struggle with that; it may be difficult for me. But I want You to know I am fully surrendered to You.”
And here’s the question that it answers: How do you give God what He wants the most? Do you remember who He is? All the fullness of deity dwells. God is inviting you and He says, “This is what I want.” More than your religiosity, way more than your money, more than this, more than that, He wants you. All of you. That’s your spiritual service of worship.
But your spiritual service of worship and mine has some big competition. And so, the next he says, “What does a disciple look like in relationship to the world?” And this isn’t the physical world, this is that – the world system.
Notice it says, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you,” just a regular, ordinary person, you, me, “you could test, approve, experience, demonstrate what God’s will looks like,” in a normal human being. “His will is good, acceptable, and perfect.”
And so, the fact of the matter is, remember we talked about those things that are barriers to abiding? Distractions, disoriented desires, all those kind of things? Do you remember when Jesus was tempted by the enemy, and he quoted God’s Word? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride of life. Or in our language, “Sex, status, salary.” Or, “Pleasure, power, possessions.”
There is a world system that pops up on my phone, every commercial, most every movie. And it says, “Significance and meaning is when I get enough money or when I’m prettier or more handsome or I run this company, or I go public,” you fill it in, but it promises that. And the world system is a mistress, seeking to seduce you away from the love of God.
1 John would take this and say, “If any man loves the world, any woman loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them.
So, we are in a battle that is always tugging. And he says, “You know, you are separate.” By the way, progressively. Three steps forward, two steps backwards, but progressively, you are doing two things. You’re saying no to that value system and yes to your mind gets renewed. Remember of abiding? And you start to renew your mind. And instead of your life being conformed to what this is, your life, little by little, gets conformed to what God says.
The third relationship is our relationship with ourselves. And here, a disciple isn’t just surrendered to God or progressively separate from the world’s values. You have a sober self-assessment. He says, “For by the grace of God I say to every one of you, don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but rather, think of yourself with a sober…” Literally, it means to not be drunk.
Have an accurate perception of yourself. How? “According to the measure of your faith.” It’s that word in this particular case is the measure – what God says about you. Do you grasp the identity issues that people struggle with today? And it’s not people out there, I mean, it’s us. I mean, do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what your weaknesses are? Are you comfortable realizing that you don’t have it all together? That I’m insecure, you’re insecure, everyone struggles.
The apostle Paul is saying – here’s the deal. Most all of us, in many opportunities, will pose. And we will either try to be someone else or we will try to reflect that we know more or act more. And we do it because we are insecure. And he says, “A disciple gets it.” You understand, you know, These are the strengths that I gave you.
And then you don’t have to be embarrassed. These are weaknesses that you have. And then he goes on to say that, you know, just as we have many members in a physical body, so we are one body in Christ. We are individually members of one another. And he says, “I want you to just have an accurate view of yourself.” Here’s the measure of my faith. On this day, at this moment, I am deeply loved by God. I have been sealed by the Spirit. He has deposited gifts in me. My eternity is absolutely sealed. I know where I’m going, and I know why based on what Christ did. And I have received that by faith.
God has a tremendous plan for my life, and He knows that I will struggle and He is patient and He is loving. But here he says you need to know what your strengths and gifts are because there are other people, their strengths, interdependently connect with yours. And there’s this amazing joy that comes when you belong and where you fit.
If verse 1 tells us how in the world do we give God what He wants the most, verse 2 tells us: how do we get the very best from God? And verses 3 through 8 answers this question: how do you ever come to grips with the real you? How do you get where, instead of: If I was only taller, if I was only prettier, if I was only more this, if I was only smarter, if I… People spend their life chasing phantoms. I am telling you, one of the most liberating things that ever happens in your life – and you know when you start sharing: “These are my strengths, but these are my weaknesses, it doesn’t repel people.
Most of us live with what I call a hologram mentality. And, by the way, I have done this in spades. I call it a hologram. And if you’re really, really good at it, here’s the tragedy, people start loving the persona. And what you realize, they don’t really know you.
The most human experience of the greatest power I have ever experienced in my life is to sit across the table, first and foremost with my wife, and then with some very, very close friends where they have seen the good, the bad, and some really, really ugly and accept and love me just for who I am.
That’s being a follower. And so, the apostle Paul wants these disciples to understand that this is normative. This is what a disciple looks like: heaven.com/disciple. You’re surrendered to God; you are separate from the world’s values. And, by the way, that’s three steps forward, again, and a couple backward, sometimes four backwards like we all mess up. And then you get this sober self-assessment and then you say, “Well, where do I fit in the body?” He goes, “Well…” He lists seven specific gifts.
And he says, “These are your core motivations.” We are told to obey all those things in verses 6 through 8. But he says, “If it’s teaching,” man, focus on that. “If it’s exhortation,” man, do that counseling, encouragement. “If it’s leader, be diligent. If it’s giving, be generous. If it’s merciful, do it with compassion. If it’s proclaiming God’s Word,” hey, go for it!
You know what it’s like to be – some of you do – to be in a church, to be in a small group, to feel like, “I’m accepted for me. I belong.” And as you bring what you bring and others bring what they bring, God does something really beautiful through us.