I am currently preaching a series of messages on selected parables of Jesus. It's funny how we often read the parables and want to identify ourselves as the hero of the narrative. Instead, we should identify Jesus as the hero. We are often the one that needs to be rescued. This Sunday I will be reading from Matthew 13:44-50 which begins with the "Parable of the Hidden Treasure." It's easy to think of ourselves as the man who found treasure and we are supposed to sacrifice and sell all we have to purchase this treasure (which we would suggest is Christ). There are several problems with this view (which by the way is the traditional view of the passage). For example, salvation or Christ are not something to be purchased. Salvation is a gift that God has offered us. When we understand that Christ is the One that gave up all He had to buy the field, the parable makes more sense. We are the ones who are redeemed (i.e. purchased). Let me encourage you to read through the parables of Jesus, only with a new lens. A lens that is focused on Jesus as the hero. I hope to see you this Sunday!
Click here to watch the Parables sermon series.
At first glance, Luke 14:25-35 is one of the most peculiar passages in all of Scripture. Critics have used this passage to claim the inconsistency and absurdity of the Bible and Christianity. Is Jesus really saying that we must hate our parents in order to follow Him? No, the word we translate as "hate" is intended to be a statement of contrast between our love for the Lord and our love for family. The idea is that our love for God must be supreme. Whatever we love in this world, we must "love less" than God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident. He was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II and was never released. He died in Germany at the Flossenburg concentration camp. One of Bonhoeffer's many books is entitled "The Cost of Discipleship" (1937). Bonhoeffer understood difficult passages such as Luke 14. Authentic discipleship begins with a willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of Christ.
The Parables of Counting the Cost (i.e. the builder, the king, and the salt) provide us with insight into authentic discipleship. Passages such as these confuse the skeptic, but to those who have ears to hear... it helps us understand the Gospel better. It helps us understand the cost of discipleship is sacrificial, transformational, and relational.
Discipleship is Relational
Discipleship cannot occur in isolation from other believers. Followers of Christ must set aside time to be with other Christians for spiritual nourishment and encouragement. There are dozens of “one another” commands found in the New Testament. We cannot “love one another” or “teach one another” or “bear with one another” if we never spend time with “one another.” Therefore, Small Groups play a major role in the discipleship process. Love for God, love for our neighbors, and love for other disciples are a very important part of the value system of a healthy disciple. Ephesians 4:11-16 makes it clear that every part of the body is necessary, “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body.”
Discipleship is Transformational
The healthy disciple understands the purpose of spiritual growth is directed toward becoming like Christ in character (e.g. words, thoughts, attitudes, and actions). As we spend time in both prayer and God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will speak to us as we live out our faith. Therefore, Spiritual HABITS play a major role in the discipleship process. Daily “Hang Time” with the Lord, “Accountability” in a Small Group, “Bible” memorization, “Involvement in ministry and mission, “Tithing” commitment, and “Sermon” notes are all tools the Holy Spirit uses to bring about life-change. The church must be intentional to develop people who genuinely love God, love the lost, and love believers. Discipleship is not a program it’s an intentional pursuit of life transformation.
Discipleship is Sacrificial
The greatest growth takes place when a disciple learns what is commanded in Scripture and then does what it says. The healthy disciple is willing to deny themselves and take up their cross daily to follow Christ. The healthy disciple understands that Christian sacrificial living is not just about self-denial, but sacrifice for the advancement of the Great Commission. Therefore, missional living plays a major role in the ongoing discipleship process. A healthy mark of maturity is taking off the bib and putting on the apron. One of the greatest ways to mature in our faith is helping others understand the Gospel.
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."