Ethos: Church

Church

KDSC

If the kingdom makes disciples who seek the transformation of domains of society and the transformation of people in domains of society and from there the church is supernaturally birthed, then what is the church.

There is some confusion on this issue. In the west, when people get hurt they separate themselves from the fellowship mostly, attend a bible study of some kind and call that their church or at least justify failure to attend a church with their bible study attendance.

What is the church? What are the critical parts that actually make an organization the church?

  1. What the church is – A local church is a gathering of baptized, born-again Christians who covenant together in love to meet regularly under the authority of the Scriptures and the leadership of the elders to worship God, be a visible image of the gospel, and, ultimately, to give God glory (John 3:1-8; 13:34-35; Acts 2:41; 14:23; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 10:24-25)[1]
  1. What the church does – A church must do only a few things to be a church: the people regularly gather in gospel love to hear the Word preached, sing, pray, give and practice the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Members, those who have covenanted together, lovingly care for one another (1 Cor. 12:12-26), even through the practice of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-17).[2]
  1. What the church’s mission is – The church is God’s strategic plan for evangelism with one overarching mission: to go to all peoples to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything Christ has commanded – including forming new churches (Matt. 28:18-20).

The church, properly defined, consists of all true believers in Jesus Christ throughout all time.

Notice that the church’s manifestation is not prescribed in any passage of the New Testament. The church is intended to take the shape necessary to continue to be like yeast in dough until the whole lump of dough is leavened (using Jesus’ parable).

The Scriptures tell us what a church is and does not how it is to look on the outside.

We often hinder the work of the church by unnecessarily prescribing or assuming external necessities rather than majoring on inherent function.

The kingdom manifests itself through the church.

Experientially, the church provides a foretaste of the future reign of Jesus Christ.

The church exists only because of Jesus and is mandated with extending his mission to all nations.

For the glory of God we will build the church both local and global by being and producing radical followers of Jesus Christ.

Why do we want to build the church? Why is the church so important?

Matthew 16:18

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The church is what Jesus is building as the community of the kingdom.

TRCC Statement of belief (Kingdom):

Therefore, “we believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.” (TRCC Statement of belief)

The good news of the kingdom makes disciples in domains of society and establishes a new community of human life together under Jesus Christ as King.

  1. We are now new citizens of a new kingdom and a new community that

determines our practice.

  1. The church is not a building, but the people of God who live by the values of his

kingdom.

  1. The church gathered, equipped, and mobilized is the fruit of the gospel of the

kingdom.


 

Some Facts About the Church:

The church is Father’s agent of transformation

Some examples from Scripture:

  1. In the community of the kingdom we become great by being the least

Mark 10:35-45

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

These kingdom values are only rightly lived out inside the community of the kingdom with those who share that system of kingdom values.

  1. In the community of the kingdom we are being built into a spiritual house as a

holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Father through Jesus

and we serve one another in the gifting he has given us

1 Peter 2:4-5; 4:10

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”

The church is an expression of Father’s Trinitarian nature

“Professor Colin Gunton, in his seminal work, The One, The Three and the Many, points to the secular search for an ideology that can protect the individual while promoting community. Recent history, he suggests, had been ruled by two competing regimes. In the west, we are products of a world driven by the individual. An increasingly privatized worldview has promoted the rights of the individual above all else. In the east, communism exalted the many. What mattered most was the common good, the people and the nation. The result, Gunton declares, has been two equally oppressive and totalitarian regimes. The answer lies in the discovery of a worldview capable of honoring the one and the many, without either being at the expense of the other. The doctrine of the Trinity presents such an ideology. The God who is Father, Son and Spirit models this unity amidst diversity, and this community of equality. The church, through its relationship with the Triune God, is called to model this for the world.”_

The existence of the church is not arbitrary but reflects the nature of the God who is its source.

Scripture defines the church in relation to the Father (his family – Eph. 2:18; 3:15).

Scripture defines the church in relation to the Son (his body and bride – Eph. 1:22-23; 5:25-28).

Scripture defines the church in relation to the Spirit (his temple – 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:22; Ezek. 40-48).

  1. This Trinitarian reality shows off the glory of the church.
  1. This Trinitarian glory makes the church a non-negotiable.
  1. The church must be married not dated, and the church must be discipled into

Christ.

The church is Father’s dwelling place

1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22

1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you (plural) are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?”

We often read this passage and read the “you” as singular and make application as if it’s singular, and that then makes our application off.

Illustration: If I want to take off from RMG and fly to KCHA (Lovell field in Chattanooga) and I’m off by just 2 degrees in my heading, will I hit Lovell field? No. 2 degrees is not a lot off, but 2 degrees off over that distance will put me many miles off course and I’ll miss my target.

When applying Scripture we can’t make it say what we want it to say. And we can’t apply it rightly when we’ve missed it’s meaning.

However, this “you” is plural. This means that the whole church is God’s temple. Does that mean that the Holy Spirit does not reside in us individually? No. He does. But it does mean that his residence in us individually is not intended to keep us isolated. Rather his presence in us is to draw us together.

Therefore, if we harm the body of Christ or neglect the body of Christ we will fall under the condemnation of verse 17 that says, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

  1. We, together, are Christ’s dwelling, so the gathered body matters.
  1. We dare not neglect or damage the church.
  1. Jesus will not stand for his church being hurt.
  1. The church is bigger than the Radical Life group, the Sunday gathering and our

little denominations. She is the universal bride of Christ that must be cherished and

fought for.

The church displays Father’s manifold wisdom

Eph. 3:8-11

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold (varied, diverse, multi-colored)_ wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,…”

  1. The church is the vehicle through which the manifold / multi-colored wisdom of

God is made known.

There are other organizations that have purposes to do great and good deeds on our planet for people and for nations, but only the church contains the special presence of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 1).

This is not to say that we don’t experience the presence of the Lord daily when not gathered. We do.

But being covenanted to the body of Christ is special and carries with it supernatural realities that church discipline removes, which is why Paul says to remove the unrepentant sinner from the fellowship.

The disciplined sinner, once removed, no longer has access to the supernatural protection and presence of the Lord.

Therefore, the “Christian” who does not covenant with a body but refuses to covenant with a body refuses, in a real way, to come under the influence of the Chief Shepherd and his supernatural shepherding.

  1. God’s manifold wisdom is made known to the rulers and authorities in the

heavenly places through the church.

Note that this is probably the whole host of heavenly beings; not merely angels or evil powers, but both (see 6:12). These heavenly beings, fallen and faithful alike, are assembled witnesses before whom God vindicates his wisdom (D.A. Carson, NBC). God vindicates his wisdom through the church, which is the expression of his wisdom. And even deeper, verse 11 affirms that this is according to his eternal purpose that was realized in Christ. According to 1:9-10 and 2:11-22 the eternal purpose realized in Christ that vindicates God’s wisdom and shows it to be so glorious as to call it manifold / multi-colored is the unity of all things in Christ (1:9-11) and this unity is brought to expression in a local / global church where Jew and Gentile live and worship as one body in harmony with God and with each other in Christ. And this unity emphasized in chapters 4-6, to Paul, is the central witness to the powerful gospel. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 emphasized this unity under God purchased by Christ as the powerful witness to the work Jesus was about to accomplish on the cross. All this through the church!

  1. The glorious church is realized through Jesus.

The church is not realized through created means.

How do we live this out locally?

  1. As the family of God we grow in our love for and fellowship with each other

1 Timothy 5:1-2

  1. Attend regularly to encourage one another and grow together across demographic lines (Hebrews 10:25)
  2. Attend a RL group with members who share the DNA and multiply that DNA

in others who can impact others (Vision / Relationships / Collaboration / Family)

  1. It’s hard to have deep fellowship with people who don’t share the vision.

You just end up arguing over the vision or circling in the wilderness without

ever multiplying until the darn thing dies.

  1. A TRCC Application: We value the kingdom, and the kingdom multiplies.

If you are in a group of people from various churches who just want a bible

study, what are they going to do when you start talking about multiplication?

So, in order to stay part of that group you have to sacrifice a value you say

you are covenanted to.

  1. As the bride of Christ we seek greater love for Jesus and submission to him

2 Corinthians 11:2-3

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

  1. As Father’s new temple we increase awareness of his presence among us

1 Peter 2:4-8

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

  1. As the body of Christ we increase interdependence on each other’s gifts

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

  1. As a priesthood we have an increasing sense of Father’s joy in our praise and good works

1 Peter 2:5

“…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Mack Stiles, Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), p. 71.

[2] Ibid. p. 71.

Christian Responses to Atrocities

Historically, Christians have had to make decisions on social issues and their level of activism. Sometimes we’ve done well. Sometimes we have not done so well. Two times in which we did not do so well are slavery and the Nazi regime in Germany. I’m sure there are more examples, but these two come to mind first.

Slavery was justified using Scripture. No doubt the Scriptures were misused and abused. With deconstruction as a worldview one can make anything mean whatever they want it to mean. But William Wilberforce used his life for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire fighting against the ingrained socially accepted practice. He won that battle at the end of his life. But it took a lifetime to win.

The Lutheran Church of Germany capitulated to the Nazis and the Confessing Church sought to stand up to the Nazis. No doubt Hitler used the church to his advantage and those who were against his evil system were sought out and destroyed, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Confessing Church pastor, who was also part of the Abwher, who sought the assassination of Hitler.

In both instances there were Christians who were on the right side of history and those who were not. Some sought silence on issues because they were afraid. Some were silent because they just didn’t want to rock the boat. Some were silent because they were socially Christian and not transformed by the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

A minority fought and fought and died and fought and died and gave up their reputation and lost their fortunes to stand for what was right. They did not love their own lives even unto death.

It seems Satan’s tactics are to wind an issue so tightly around straw men woven inside social assumptions so as to deceive even the elect. Once such issue in our day is the for profit industry of abortion.

If the abortion industry were so noble, why are qualified doctors not doing it pro bono? Why do organizations like Planned Parenthood need our tax dollars to work? Can’t they simply survive off of private donations? No. Why? Because the majority of their clients are people who can’t fund them. So, they weave the genocidal practice of murdering babies into the straw man of “choice”. They insult the intelligence of women with the suggestion that they can’t control their sexuality so they need to be free to “choose” or to practice “safe sex”. Never mind the idea that they could choose to NOT have sex or that sex is only safe if had with one spouse for life because sex is spiritual as much, if not more, than physical.

And yet many Christians stay silent on the issue because of “love” or “showing grace” or fear of loosing their social standing or whatever reason (hard not to use some colorful language here).

Let me be clear. If it’s human and we allow it to be killed it’s murder. Humans make humans. It’s the law of biogenesis. When that murder happens to come from minority populations as the majority of murders its called genocide. When it’s funded by our tax dollars its called government-funded genocide. It’s slavery disguised as “choice”.

It’s not love or grace to be silent on this issue. It’s cowardice.

However, dear Christians, it’s also cowardice to not be lining up to take the babies as foster and adoptive homes.

How will history judge us Christians for our response to this issue. I do not want to be looked back on as not doing what is right. I want to be on the side of stamping out evil even if I go over a line. I want to stomp a mud hole in evil’s back side.

I’d rather reign in stallions that have to stick a prod up the back side of a nag. I’d rather cross a line of boldness on the right side than never cross any line on the wrong side and be considered not a man.

Stand up. Make your voice heard. Refuse to vote for any candidate that does not abolish the practice. Foster children. Adopt children. But don’t be silent and don’t do nothing.

Ethos: Society

Society

Quick Review and Connection: The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples who fill the domains of society and from the domains of society the church emerges as the community of the kingdom.

Kingdom

“The kingdom is the renewal of the whole world through entrance of supernatural forces. As things are brought back under Christ’s rule and authority, they are restored to health, beauty and freedom.” – Tim Keller

“The kingdom of God is the reign of God. It is Jesus’ Christ, the Lord over all things in action. Wherever the will of God is being done, that’s where the kingdom is being manifested. In a very real sense Jesus is the kingdom in person.” – Bob Roberts

Disciple

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In keeping with the mandate given in the Great Commission a disciple is someone who has been made a disciple, baptized and is learning to obey everything Jesus taught.

Disciples of Jesus Christ hear and obey Jesus.

Disciples of Jesus Christ live radical life (John 15)

  1. Up: Communion with God

Jesus is the essence of transformation

  1. In: Community (community of the kingdom)

Community is the context for transformation

  1. Out: Collision

Serving one’s domain in society is the catalyst for transformation

The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples who fill domains of society and from domains of society the church emerges as the community of the kingdom of Jesus Christ until the great commission is completed and Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead and completely establish his kingdom in a new heaven and an new earth.

Why is society so important?

Society is composed of groups of people who work within their own areas of expertise or “domains”. These core structures of society do not change. These domains are part of the created order. The people working within these domains meet the basic needs of society and keep it functioning.

The domains of society become crucial in the gospel’s transformation of a city. Those who assume leadership in these spheres of influence have the potential to completely reshape their city, its values, priorities, and practices

The Scriptures teach that domain leaders, people put in charge of governing / leading / bearing the authority to punish or reward / have delegated authority from God (Romans 13). Father is sovereign over his domains in society. In engaging God’s assigned domains of society, we have the powerful good news of the kingdom and indwelling Holy Spirit to see the kingdom come to people and entire domains of society in bringing all things under the rule of Jesus Christ.

There are multiple worldviews that are competing for the hearts and minds of people in all domains of society.

  1. Pagan / Pantheistic (everything is god and everything is spiritually good and we are trying to escape the bad cycle of life and get in touch with our inner self)
  2. Islamic (the whole world comes under sharia law)
  3. Institutional Church formed by Christendom (the church should have it’s own place for itself, be inward focused and the rest of the world is secular)
  4. Modernist / Humanist (everything is about man and the advancement of humanity’s betterment through the evolution of man and society)
  5. Biblical Christian (Father, Son and Spirit made all things good and there was a rebellion and this God set out to redeem all things for his glory and the rescue of his people and finally restore all thing in a new heaven and new earth where sin is forever banished and we live with God in creation regained)

Look at the original creation mandate: Genesis 1:26-28

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  1. Man was made to have dominion over the whole earth (every sphere of society).
  1. The fall made man more of a casualty of creation’s brokenness rather than a “subduer” of creation and society as a whole.
  1. When Jesus came, he broke the curse of the fall and began bringing all things back under his reign (Ephesians 1:7-10).
  1. Jesus has given us the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:15-20), so we have the powerful good news to bring salvation and restoration to all nations.

Thinking about Jesus’ followers engaging every domain of society creates 4 key shifts.

 

  1. From needs to assets

This shift is one of mindset. This is not an organizational change or shift in processes, rather this is a shift in how we see each other as members of the community of the kingdom.

We move from asking what we need to evaluating assets to be given away in serving our individual and collective domains.

We move from asking: “what did you get out of the service today?” to “how can I engage my domain of society with the gospel of the kingdom?”

  1. From programs to domain engagement

This shift has organizational implications. This changes how we organize for work and what work is undertaken.

This is more Spirit-led as members of the community of the kingdom take ownership and responsibility for action.

You begin to ask questions like:

“What is my domain?”

“How can I begin to mobilize people in my domain who are in the kingdom to take this domain for the kingdom?”

“How can I partner with others to make changes in this domain?”

  1. From working for the city to working with the city or from simply funding the cross-cultural worker to partnering with the cross-cultural worker to get glocal resources in the work

 

This shift is one of relationships and expectations. This changes how we interact with the community. Here the church becomes more of a partner to help create solutions rather than simply a provider of a check or other resources.

It becomes a flesh in the game mentality.

We begin to realize that Father has placed valuable people resources in the community of the kingdom and those people are valuable glocally.

We begin to interact with other religions in the engagement of our society’s domains and get to make disciples!

Evangelism and great commission work begins to become natural (as well as part of the culture of a church) as we engage like this.

This multiplies the great commission work force because now everyone is a great commission disciple that can have impact locally and globally.

  1. From managing ministries to leading members

This shift impacts decision-making. The decision is not what ministries are the pastors going to run, but what will the pastors do in releasing the body to supply it’s part in the kingdom.

Ephesians 4:11-16

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry (teaching, praying, engaging domains as examples), for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

The power of the kingdom is NOT contained in a few talented men, rather it is the apostolic genius contained in every follower of Jesus walking in step with the Spirit bringing the rule of Jesus to their domain.

4 keys to begin engaging domains

 

  1. We must believe Jesus came to bring redemption and deliverance to all dimensions of life and to restore the original intention of Genesis 1:26, “…and let them have dominion…”
  1. We must believe the role of serving and giving our lives for the sake of the kingdom in our domain is worth it. We must believe there is treasure in the kingdom of heaven for bypassing temporal gains here and now.
  1. We must have a passion to see Jesus as Lord over all domains of society. (Ephesians 1:10)
  1. We must actually begin to engage all domains of society

Jesus has given us a mission. That mission’s success and completion is guaranteed. Let’s worship Jesus for that.

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

Ethos: Disciple

 

Disciple (KDSC)

The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples.

This good news of Jesus’ and his kingdom rule is:

Creation:

There is one God who is the creator of all things, including man created in God’s image. This Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is holy, just and the definition of love.

Fall:

Though we were once in fellowship with God, we are now cut off from him because of the rebellion started by our parents in the garden. The root of that rebellion was their choice not to believe God and to try and make themselves God instead. This treasonous act failed and the judgment was eternal death.

Terribly, this rebellion is passed on from generation to generation as a curse, the curse of sin and brokenness and death and all things wrong in created order. Even the dirt was cursed.

All people inherit both the sin and the judgment. Our sin makes it impossible for us to earn our way back to Father.

Redemption:

Since we can’t earn our way back to Father and out of the curse, God the Father, being rich in mercy and eternal purpose began the work of redeeming us from the curse through revealing himself to man who once knew him face to face. The entire bible records and explains the culmination of that work of redemption in the coming of the ultimate missionary, Jesus, to break the curse and redeem us back to Father and establish his kingdom rule.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived perfectly and revealed Father clearly.

In the fullness of time he went to death on Roman cross as the perfect sacrifice to ransom us from the curse of the fall. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin and rose from the grave conquering death and proving what all he said and did was true. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection all those who will repent of our sin, believe this good news and follow Jesus have their sin debt cancelled and the very perfection of Jesus accounted to us so that we are adopted as Father’s children.

Restoration:

But that is not the end of the story. All those who repent and believe are given a mission to engage in taking this good news of Jesus’ rule to all nations and telling the good news that Jesus kingdom is being spread over all things and that Jesus is taking back all things from the curse of the fall, including people who will repent and believe, and he is going to return and complete the establishment of his rule in a redone and sin free created order where his people will have Eden regained and face to face fellowship fully restored forever.

That’s our message of the kingdom.

That powerful message makes disciples. We are not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who’ll believe.

So, what is a disciple?

Matthew 28:16-20

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In keeping with the mandate given in the Great Commission a disciple is someone who has been made a disciple, baptized and is learning to obey everything Jesus taught.

“been made a disciple” – through the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of Jesus Christ through the verbal proclamation of a disciple of Jesus Christ through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the powerful gospel, a dead and counter-gospel enemy of God is reconciled to Father and given the Holy Spirit and thus birthed to new life in the kingdom of God.

“baptized” – baptism is a post-conversion activity in which the transformation of the gospel is recognized by the community of the kingdom (church) by entering into the water to be immersed and brought back up from the water thus putting on display for the public the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that has been made effective the death of the candidate’s bond to the curse, the removal of the guilt of sin and their resurrection to new life in Christ.

“learning to obey everything Jesus taught” – the baptized follower of Jesus Christ now begins the journey of life in the community of the kingdom, as a student of the Manual in community (private and public), working out the reality of their salvation and membership in the kingdom of God by engaging their domain of society as salt and light with the powerful gospel among all nations

What kills discipleship?

  1. Seeing salvation as a result of a prayer prayed rather than a process of people being drawn to Christ through the proclamation of the good news (you can’t help a person who is dead in sin to obey Christ, but you can help a person who is being awakened to life to see, believe and obey Christ).
  1. Seeing discipleship as a transfer of information rather than hearing and obeying Jesus
  1. Thinking the kingdom advances through training and mobilizing pastors

The pastor’s job is Ephesians 4:12.

  1. Thinking discipleship is complicated and unattainable
  1. Thinking discipleship can be done outside of community
  1. Thinking discipleship can be done without personal transformation in the process
  1. Thinking discipleship is a time stamped, linear course that is completed upon memorization of the information
  1. Thinking discipleship can be done without the influence of all nations (we have things to learn from the global church)

The Metanarrative of the Gospel is key in understanding discipleship.

Creation – Man and God in relationship with no barrier

Fall – Rebellion breaks fellowship with God and introduces the curse into all of creation

Redemption – God pursues, wins and restores mankind and all of creation to himself in the establishing of the kingdom and the king, Jesus

Restoration – God completely and fully establishes the kingdom, the king returns and rules his people forever in the new heaven and the new earth

We are currently in the stage of redemption. God is reconciling all things to himself, including us as persons and us as the church.

In Acts we see this worked out in the 1. Holy Spirit being sent by Jesus to fill his individual followers and walk with them in relationship, 2. Those disciples were enabled to and did bind together into the church and that church began to be diverse (Cornelius and other Gentiles), and 3. That body began to affect domains of society as they made disciples and proclaimed the good news leading all to way to Rome.

This working out of redemption can be seen in three parts in Acts, and they can be summed up like this:

 

Up: Reconciliation between God and man making children who hear and obey

 

In: Community of the kingdom is forged and bound by indwelling Holy Spirit in each disciple

 

Out: Making disciples in one’s domain of society that has global impact

What does discipleship look like at TRCC?

We call it the Radical Life (John 15).

Radical – of or going to the root or origin; fundamental.

Radical is abiding in and rising from the root to bear fruit.

Discipleship is ongoing and never a completed course.

Discipleship is affirmed through the production of fruit.

Discipleship is affirmed through the painful, necessary and joyous pruning of the Vinedresser.

Discipleship is engaged in through continually abiding in Christ Jesus.

Discipleship is evidenced, as one keeps the commandments of God’s kingdom, namely love of God and love of neighbor as oneself.

So, what does this Radical Life look like at Three Rivers Community Church?

The Radical Life is:

Up: Communion with God (Hear and Obey)

Jesus is the essence of transformation

Galatians 4:4-7

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

  1. We have been reconciled to the Father
  1. We have been transformed from slaves to sons and daughters!
  1. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit as our built in Counselor / Guide / Helper
  1. We can now hear and obey

Illustration:

  1. How do transformed followers of Jesus hear Jesus?

– Righteous promptings deep in your soul

– Righteous desires in your soul (Psalm 37:4)

– Thoughts that are louder than thoughts but maybe not quite audible

– The audible voice of the Holy Spirit

– A prophetic word from a brother or sister in the Lord (tested and found

to be right)

  • Consistent and disciplined study of Scripture

Statistics are continuing to show that very few people in the evangelical world are consistently reading Scripture and thus there is a famine of knowing God and his word.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/july/epidemic-of-bible-illiteracy-in-our-churches.html

45% of those surveyed say they read the bible more than once per week!

1 in 5 say they never read their bible.

If that is all that are reading Scripture then don’t be surprised if our existence in the faith is dry and devoid of the voice of the Lord.

  1. How do transformed followers of Jesus obey Jesus?

– Do what he says regardless

– Don’t expect immediate results. Obey and trust our obedience is part of the

master tapestry of Father’s good and providential work.

So, we are in communion with God. What does this produce?

In: Community (Community of the Kingdom)

Community is the context for transformation

Ephesians 2:19-22

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

“There is a church because there is a mission not the other way around.” – Ed Stetzer

The church as a whole is vital for the Christian not merely some off and on small group meetings.

Church membership is right and biblical:

  1. The Garden of Eden had an inside and an outside (Gen. 2:8, 3:24).
  2. Noah’s ark had an inside and an outside (Gen. 7:16).
  3. The people of God in the wilderness had to be ceremonially clean to remain inside the camp and not to be cast outside (Lev. 13:46, Num. 5:3).
  4. The nation of Israel was to have an inside and an outside, as represented by food laws, festivals, political boundaries, places of worship, and even strong provisions against inter-marriage (Lev. 11, Lev. 23, Josh. 14-21, 1 Kings 8, Deut. 7:3).
  5. In the New Testament, the ethnic and cultural boundary markers of the Old Testament are exploded. But a clear, bright line remains between those who are God’s people and those who are not, as indicated by their profession of faith and the visible fruit of their lives, as well as by the practices of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Rom. 6:3-4, 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Gal. 3:27). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are what give substance and shape to a church’s membership. There is an inside (those who have been baptized and are welcomed to the Lord’s table) and an outside (those who are not).
  6. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 Paul challenges the Corinthian church to judge those who are inside the church and leave judging outsiders to God. How did the Corinthians know who was in and who was out? They knew whom Paul was talking about because some people had formally, publicly identified themselves with the church in Corinth while the rest of the city had not. Those who had were inside the church. They were the church’s members. Those who hadn’t were not.

Engagement in the corporate and scattered body of Christ through covenant membership is essential is being a follower of Jesus Christ.

  1. People reconciled to the Father can now be reconciled to each other from all nations and live life together.
  1. People in community can and must love each other. (John 15:12)
  1. People in community can hear and obey together.

If all we did were to gather together and love each other we would be missing the full scope of the mission.

The last part of the Radical Life is…

Out: Collision (Impact your domain of society by making disciples)

Serving one’s domain is the catalyst for transformation

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

  1. Father has given to us the message of reconciliation
  1. Father has given us the message of reconciliation, and it’s a message to the world. So the whole church is glocally relevant.
  1. Father has made us all “ambassadors”
  1. Father’s mission demands his values come into transformational collision with the values of the curse. So, we expect collision.

Conclusion

Disciples of Jesus Christ worship Jesus Christ. He is our reward and our goal.

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”