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Thistletown Baptist Church
March 15, 2009
You Shall Be My Witnesses II – Real Faith, A Heart for God
We began considering, last week, the matter of making disciples. Jesus said, in Matthew 28:19 that the church is to make disciples. A disciple is one who follows Christ. We are in the business of developing people into being followers of Jesus Christ. There is no greater thing that we can do to bring glory to God as a church and as individuals than this.
But making disciples is much different than getting decisions. There is no command anywhere that even remotely could be considered to be telling us to get people to make decisions. There is a verse that suggests that getting decisions out of people is precisely what we should not be doing. There is only one way people are going to see what being a Christian is all about and that is by watching those who are. And isn’t that what is wrong with the world in many ways? The church is not very able to say – look at us – we are following Christ.
This does not mean that in order to lead people to be followers of Christ one must have the Christian life mastered. No one can master the Christian life, at least not on this side of glory. But a huge part of following Christ is responding to our failures and sins like Christians should. When we sin we repent and we restore where we have hurt others. We say we are sorry. We get ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back on the horse and go at it again. And we say to the young new Christian on the horse behind us – follow me like this when you sin.
II Marks of a Disciple Maker/Witness
1. A Real, Growing, Faith – Acts 1:8
a. That means, at the very least, that the world sees something to follow that is also following Jesus Christ. A real faith in Jesus Christ will not lead people astray.
b. It means that we have the real marks of faith that all real Christians have. Real faith is faith that has the marks of saving faith that the New Testament says will be upon all who truly know Christ.
We find such indicators in
i. I John 1:6, 1:8-9, 2:4, 9, 15, 19, 22; 3:3, 6, 14, 17, 24; 4:13, 15; 5:1-5, 12.
ii. Acts 2:42 – the marks here are of what real Christianity is because these
Christians are brand new. They are not super saints. They are not mature in the faith. This devotion is not something they have developed over the years. It did not come about through
iii. Galatians 5:22 – the fruit of the Spirit
iv. Romans 8:16-17 – suffering for Christ
c. Witness – martus (martyr) – The word “martyr” as one who dies for what he believes came into the English language, to the best of my knowledge, because of the tendency for Christians to be put to death for their faith for just trying to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. How unfortunate is it that we have turned a word tat simply means someone who testifies of his faith in to something that only super saints do?
But the word simply means one who affirms what he has seen, heard or knows. See Acts 4:20 (ESV) “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” This is what Jesus is saying to the disciples just before He ascends to heaven in Acts 1:8. Tell the world about what you have witnessed. “But Ken” you say “we have not seen what they did …” Not physically. But will you deny that what you have is real, and soul satisfying, and …
d. A non-Christian cannot make a disciple. He may be able to recite the essential elements of the Gospel. He may be able to preach (Remember Matthew 7:21-23). He may have all kinds of verses memorized. He may be active in a church. He may say and do a lot of things that real Christians say and do. But the one thing he cannot do is make a disciple of Jesus Christ. Because making disciples is about living for Jesus Christ. Making disciples is about I Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
We need to remember what Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day in Matthew 23:15 (ESV)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
e. Dear ones, we have a mandate from God to make disciples. This church does and each individual Christian as a part of this church does. Everyone who truly knows Jesus Christ is given this mandate and is expected by God to be growing in his faith, obedient to the Scriptures, and delivering the Gospel to other who need it. The ministries of this church that teach the Word of God, exist for the purpose of helping Christians grow in their faith. The Bible studies, the church services, the prayer meetings, the leadership development things that are underway and new ones that are being considered. Even church discipline is a part of discipleship. It is an attempt to wake unrepentant people up who are showing signs of not being Christian, to embrace the crucial elements of Christianity. The English word “discipline” comes form the word “disciple”.
f. Every believer in this church is part of the disciple making process. When you go home, go to work, go to the gym, go shopping, go to community events … whatever it is you are involved in you are a Christian, a lover of God through faith in Jesus Christ, one who has the Good News in his heart and has it to be delivered to those who will listen to you and demonstrated to those who interact with you. Remember Jesus’ words to His followers in Acts 1:8 – you shall be my disciples. This is not a promise. It is simply a statement of fact. A believer is a witness. There is no such thing as a Christian who is not a witness. The only question is – “What kind of witness are you?”
2 A Heart for the Glory of God – I Thessalonians 2:1-6 –
What a thing to say to a group of people. We were not trying to please you. We were not trying to impress you. We were trying to please God. Dear ones – do you long for people to come to our church? Do you long for them to come to a saving knowledge of Christ? Do you want this church to be a place where people can really come to know the forgiveness of sin? Know God better. Get into a Bible study. Host one in your home. Set aside a time of extended prayer once a week. Pray in a deeper knowledge of God. Be a Hebrews 12:1-2 Christian. Be a II Cor. 5:9, Psalm 42:1, Phil 3:10, Eph. 3:10 … Christian.
a. The key to giving the Gospel to people is not first of all a burden for the lost. That is part of it and in a few weeks we will consider it. It is important. But it is not where we begin. No. The crucial element is a heart that longs for God to be glorified. A heart that is smitten with God. See the text I just referred you to – I Thess 2:1-6. A heart that has been stirred by the Holy Spirit to put Jesus Christ first in everything, that aches over sin because sin is a running from God.
b. The key to being a Christian who is a biblical witness is keeping the greatest commandment. Love God with all your heart. A burden for the lost is necessary if we are going to witness the way we should. But it simply cannot be the first priority.
c. Giving the Gospel is not something that can be forced out of unwilling participants. People who want to obey the Great Commission are people who want others to be a God saturated, God infatuated, God centered, God focussed, God filtered people. We want people to have shone in their hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ – 2 Cor. 4:6. Then see verse 7 “We have this treasure…” Dear ones, how do you think Paul felt when he wrote that phrase “we have this treasure”. Can’t you hear his heart bursting. Can’t you see him reflecting about the treasure that is his that has given him eternal life and has brought him into a relationship with the King of Glory. “WE HAVE THIS TREASURE!!” Doesn’t that verse remind you of Matthew 13:44? …
d. This is why it is not a waste of time what we do here every week when we meet to worship God and see what the Scriptures say about Him. This is why it is not a waste of time to gather in our Bible study groups to learn the Scriptures and discover more about a great, marvelous, awesome God. Because if He is great and marvelous and awesome to us then that is going to show.
e. We are not trying to make notches for our belt. We want people to know the only God who is because He is worth knowing. We want them to be smitten with Him because we are. We want them to know what it means to be smitten by God. We want them to see a people who are smitten by God. And what will that look like?
f. Hearts for the glory of God:
i. Will not bend when there is pressure to for the sake of safety or popularity or money …
Consider the lives of the early church – Hebrews 10:34
ii. Will want others to know what it is that thrills them so.
iii. Will make sure that nothing enters their lives to make something else more thrilling than
Him. The Col. 2:8, I Peter 5:8, Mt. 6:19-21
iv. Will focus on God, Jesus and the Gospel – not themselves. Their lights will shine so that
people will glorify God, not us.
g. How do we develop such hearts?
i. Christian, do you not want to love God more? Do you not want to live for the praise
of His glory? Does your heart not resonate with Paul in Philippians 3:7-11?
ii. We develop this by using what God has given us.
(1) The Word of God, the fellowship of the saints, prayer and the Lord’s Table.
Neglect these and you are not serious in your claims to want to be more smitten with the God of grace.
iii. Self examination – Psalm 119:59 (ESV)
When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
(1) Dear ones – are you growing in your faith?
(2) How do you spend your leisure time?
(3) What are you filling your head with?
(4) What goals have you set for yourself?
These and other questions we need to ask ourselves and be brutally honest in answering them. Because we are smitten with a great God and we want to know Him better, love Him more and demonstrate Him to the world effectively.
So that He might be praised through us and others are coming to know Him too.