Spiritual Reproduction

Description

When Jesus told his twelve men to "go and make disciples," not one of them stood there confused, wondering what He meant by that command.

Let's talk about discipleship this morning. Let's talk about reproducing ourselves. It's interesting, in the Great Commission, Jesus said that we were to make disciples, not converts. He didn't tell us to go out and just have people saved, but he said to make disciples, to reproduce ourselves.

We're going to look this morning at discipleship. In fact, as a pastor of this church, I am constantly aware of two commitments. My job is to do two things: one, to have a congregation that understands discipleship; and number two, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. These are the two things, as a leader, I am accountable for. And growing churches have been able to successfully do both. So let's get started.

Spiritual Reproduction Is What Discipleship Is All About!

Discipleship is not:

1. First of all, discipleship is not just a Christian education.

It's not about implanting information for knowledge's sake.

In other words, it's not just going to Sunday school class. It's not just in imparting information. It's not us just learning things mentally. That is part of discipleship, but that isn't the end result or the end desire.

2. Second, discipleship is not Cookies and punch.

Fellowship is to take place in the church; discipleship in the world.

It's not just coming together to eat. We're good at potlucks. We're good at coming together for food and for fellowship; and we enjoy that, but discipleship is more than that. Fellowship takes place in the church, but discipleship is to take place in our church world to reach out to the people around us.

3. The third thing discipleship is not, is Scripture memorization.

Intellectual exercise is not enough unless there is life change.

It's not just us memorizing scripture so we can go around quoting what God's word says. You see discipleship is more than knowing God's word. Discipleship is living God's word. It's us applying the scriptural truths to our heart.

Now, let me just ask you a question, all right? You don't have to answer it by raising your hand or saying yes or no, but let me ask you this question. What do you do with these sermon notes? Do we take the word and do we apply it? Do we sit down once in a while and say, "You know, this message was for a reason." Do we apply it? The question I'm really asking is, "Are we just learning a lot of stuff up here mentally or are we taking the biblical truths and applying them to our life and our family and our work -- applying it to our life in  so that we are beginning to flesh out the truth?"

You see, discipleship is not just imparting knowledge. What are we doing with what we hear on Sunday, if not in the worship service, then in our Sunday School class? What are we doing with the word of God? Do we take God's word and just read it and say, "Well, you know, I think that's good," or do we look at it and apply it to our heart and life?

Boy, there's a passage of Scripture that just grabs hold of me. It's John 7:17. Listen to these words. "If any man will do my will, then he will know whether my teaching is of God or not." Did you catch the sequence here? Jesus said, now listen to it again, "If any man, (if any woman, if any person) will do my will, then he will know whether my teaching is of God or not." Did you notice that doing God's will comes before understanding God's will?  You know, probably the most popular message I preach here is on knowing God's will. People are always saying, "Pastor, how do I know the will of God for my life?" Do you know how you know the will of God?

You know the will of God not just by thinking, not by just studying, not just by taking out your pen and writing notes; but God's will begins to unfold within us as we utilize it in our life, as we walk in the light, as he is in the light. We become disciples of Christ as we begin to take God's word and do something about it.

At the end of every message that I preach, I usually just scribble two words with a question mark. Those two words are "so what?" That helps me. I'm asking myself every time I'm done preaching, "So what?" "So what, John, you just preached the message. Was there something that needed to be applied? Was there something that needed to be shared? Was there something that needed to be exercised?"

I'm sure, sometimes at the end of my message, you ask the question, "So what? What am I going to do with what I know?" You see, I contend that we are educated as Christians way beyond our level of obedience. What would happen if after I got done preaching on Sunday morning and gave an application, if we didn't have church again until you did something about it? Some of you I wouldn't see 'til Easter. Do we take God's word and really apply it? I remember a few years ago, one of the most fun projects we ever had here at Skyline. It happened to be right at my 40th birthday. We went out and made a video where we compared a football team to a church. And we went out and shot for two days at Mount Miguel High School. 

I'm not going to take you through all the scenes; but scene one is when the kickoff is ready to be received. All the players sit down on the bench and the coach goes out on the football field to receive the kickoff all by himself. And we say to the players, "Hey, players, why don't you run out there?" And the players say, "Well, the coach knows the plays better than us, and besides, he gets paid for it." You know what happens? The coach receives the ball all by himself, and 11 guys come down the field and land on him at the same time, and he goes to see Jesus. And they carry him off on a stretcher.

My favorite scene, though, is scene two. Because here, the players run out on the field, but instead of playing, all they want to do is stay in the holy huddle. They just want to study the plays and discuss what's going to happen in the end times. My favorite part of the whole video is the shot of this huddle taken from the ground up, so all you see are the faces. There's a guy that wants to get into the huddle, and no one will let him in. They just kind of get closer, because it's a "just us four and no more" kind of a deal. And Hazel, one of our elderly members (86 at the time), says, "I've been in this church longer than anyone else, and I don't know him, and I say if I don't know him , let's not let him in."

Discipleship is...

Why do you come to church on Sunday? When I start teaching the word and we get our pens out and we start taking notes, do we just take notes to learn or do we take notes to apply it to our lives? You see, my desire is to make disciples. That's the command that Jesus gives me, to make disciples. Now, let me show you what discipleship is real quick. Three things.

1. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:20).

It's a command, not a suggestion, to imitate what Jesus did with the twelve.  He said, "Make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you."

2. Multiplication through reproduction (II Timothy 2:2).

We must "multiply" as Christians, because addition won't keep up with the population growth. Discipleship is us multiplying ourselves in the lives of others. "And the things that you have received from me in the presence of many witnesses, those entrust to the faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

3. Apprenticeship (I Thessalonians 2:7-8).

Jesus lived with His men, and invested His life in them. Here's what Paul told the Christians. "We choose to be like children or like a mother nursing her baby. We cared so much for you that you became so dear to us that we were willing to give our lives to you when we gave you God's message."

Jesus inspires me in this area of discipleship so much. There are two models of discipleship: the Greek model and the Hebrew model.  The Greek model was teaching. We think of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Alexander the Great. It was more of an enlightenment, or information that pleased the mind. But Jesus discipled according to the Hebrew model. The Hebrew model was on-the-job training. Jesus took his 12 disciples with him and they experienced things together.

 "Disciplemaking involves a developmental relationship where a mature Christian invests and mentors a willing apprentice so that he or she not only matures as well, but also becomes a multiplying Christian."

Question: What do you possess, spiritually, that you can pass on?

Question: Do you know of any people who could benefit from your spiritual maturity?

Question: Although you are not perfect, would you commit to multiplying at least one spiritual discipline or quality in someone else?

When I was a kid preacher, in my second church in Ohio -- how old would I have been?—24, 25. I found out that there were some great churches in America so I decided that I wanted to be a disciple, and began to call the pastors of these great churches. I wanted to learn something from men who had been very successful. I'd call them on the phone, and I would say, "You don't know who I am, but my name is John Maxwell and I'm a pastor and you're a great man of God and you have a great church. I want to learn from the best."

What happened was, for about the first five years of our married life, Margaret and I never could afford a vacation, but we'd take a revival somewhere near a city with one of those great churches. So when I called them up, I would say, " I would like to have 30 minutes of your time." In fact, here's what I would do. Because they didn't know who I was, and I was just a kid, I would say, "I'll give you a hundred dollars if you'll give me 30 minutes of your time." Now, when I said this, I was making $12,800 bucks a year, but I wanted so badly to be a disciple. I wanted so badly to learn. I wanted so badly to sit at the feet of somebody who knew more than I knew.

And I would go to these pastors for my appointment, and walk in with my tape recorder so that I could record the answers. I had a legal pad with me with pages of questions, and I would ask my questions as fast as I could with that tape recorder on,. When the 30 minutes were over, I would turn off the tape recorder, put my stuff back in my briefcase, stand up, reach in my pocket for the hundred dollar check already made out in their name, and I would hand it to them. 

Interestingly enough, in 10 out of 10 cases, those pastors would look at that check, and they'd smile. You know what they saw. They saw a kid who wanted desperately to build a great church for God. And they'd hand my hundred dollars back, and sometimes they'd ask me to go to lunch with them. Did you ever have lunch with your hero? You know, if you have lunch with your hero, you can't eat your food. It only goes to here, just stops right there. And so I wouldn't eat. Usually I would just kind of sit and ask more questions. And sometimes those dear giants of God, when we were done eating, would lay hands on me and pray for me. I'd run back out into my car in the parking lot and get in and close the door, and put my head on the steering wheel and bawl like a baby.

Because for the last hour, I had spent some time with what I would call a great man of God; and a little bit of that spirit, a little bit of that man, a little bit of that sense of God that was in their life had begun to ooze into my life. And I know what that did for me personally. I know how that helped me to grow and develop. I guess this morning, I have a real desire for us, as a Skyline family, to have a real desire to grow and to develop one another and to pour our life out into others.  You know, Peter tell us that the elderly women should pour their life into the younger women, that there ought to be a desire to enhance the body of Christ, where we do become our brother's and our sister's keeper. And those who are more experienced in the word do begin to help those who are younger in the word.

Younger Christians are so much fun. They don't have a clue, but they're fun. I had one come up to me and show me John 3:16. They said, "Look what I found." I said, "Give me that Bible. Let me see that. Wow." It's just so much fun to be around a new Christian because they're so happy; they're so joyful. They're so excited. You know what our problem is? Our problem as older Christians is sometimes, we get to a certain level where we've been there, done that, and we've kind of got our system worked out. All of a sudden we forget that our obligation doesn't stop with our own spiritual development, our growth. But our obligation is to begin to take someone alongside of us and pour ourselves into someone else. Amen.

The Original Blueprint...

I really desire for us, as a body, to begin to pour our lives into one another. Jesus did such a good job of this. Jesus modeled for us a lifestyle of spiritual reproduction. It was "on the job training" in real-life contexts. Note Jesus' IDEA of spiritual reproduction:

I: Instruction in a real-life context.

D: Demonstration in a real-life context. He not only taught them in parables, but he was also always showing them. He was visualizing. He was literally incarnating, fleshing out truth before them. Remember the time the disciples came up to Jesus and they said, "Lord, teach us to pray." Do you know why they asked that question? Because they had watched him pray. They had seen him go up to the mountain. And when he came back after prayer, incredible things happened in his ministry, and it began to make the disciples hungry and thirsty to know what that man knew. So as they watched him, they begin to want to know more about God.

E: Exposure in a real-life context. It's where Jesus would take the disciples and they would go out and they would try it.

A: Accountability or assessment in a real-life context. After they tried it and after they experimented, they came back and they talked about it.

If you understand church history, you know discipleship did real good for the first 300 years. The church grew by Christians reproducing Christians. But in A.D. 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity a state religion. Worse thing that ever happened was when the head honcho officially ordered everybody to do it. When he said that, he allowed people that weren't even believers to be in the Christian church. And all of a sudden, it went from a vibrant body of Jesus Christ, a community thriving with reproduction, to a sterile institution. And we dropped the ball in 313. Since then, the church has tried to come back to this issue of reproducing itself. Think for a moment, what would happen in this church if every one of us this morning would reproduce ourselves one time? Staggering, isn't it? Absolutely staggering.

This strategy worked right to the 4th century. Then we dropped the ball. Why?

1. Human natureWe tend to drift into comfort zones - the path of least resistance.

There's a tendency for all of us to kind of coast, relax, rest, to lay back. That's the truth for every one of us here in this building.

2. Clergy vs. laity distinction. A wide gap grew between "clergy" (church) and the "idiots!"

This distinction basically says that there are professionals that should do all that, and we pay them and that's called the pastoral staff or leadership team. There's a tendency to say, "I sit in the pew and I let the leadership team do that. All we are is laity anyway." The word "laity," by the way, comes from the Latin root word "idiot." Clergy comes from the root word "church."

My desire at Skyline is to cut that clergy/laity stuff completely out. We don't need clergy and laity. At Skyline, we don't have clergy. We have "clayity." Instead, aren't we all a part of the body of Christ and don't we all have spiritual gifts and shouldn't we be all using them for the glory of God and don't you realize you're going to be accountable to God for your spiritual gifts? Just because I happen to be a "pastor" doesn't mean that I'm going to be anymore accountable for my spiritual gifts than you are for your spiritual gifts. You've got to go find out what it is and you got to utilize it for Christ.

We must return to the original blueprint...

As we invest in people, we must be committed to three things:

1. A Person

2. A Process

3. A Purpose

I was so excited the other day. We had 387 people in this church who said they wanted to find out what they're spiritual gift was and get into the ministry, and I said, "Hot dog!" That's Greek for hallelujah.

I want you to get your spiritual reproduction card out of your bulletins right now (contents described below). This is important business now. This is what it's all about right here. You got your pen out? Spiritual reproduction. I want you to print your name and address. Let's go to the boxes for just a second.

"I'm interested in growing spiritually so that I can learn how to pass on my relationship with Christ to others." Is that where you are?

I love this box here. There are many of you that are young in your faith. "I'm interested in attending Firm Foundation's eight-week course to become grounded in the basics of Christianity." If you don't understand the basics of Christianity yet, about the Bible, about prayer, about sharing your faith, I want to encourage you to get in the Firm Foundation class.

The third box: "I'm interested in attending a Sunday School class for fellowship and to learn from other Christians." If you're not plugged into a Sunday School class, we have wonderful classes. Check the box. "I'm interested in attending a Home Group (small Bible study) to develop closer relationships with other Christians."

Here's one I hope a lot of you check. "I'm interested in being discipled one to one." We'll give you information about that.

Or some of you, literally hundreds of you, literally hundreds of you in this church, this last box could apply to you. "I have been discipled, and I desire to disciple someone else."

Let me ask you a question: have you ever sat down with a more mature believer and been discipled one-on-one so that you can just grow in your Christian walk with God? If you've been discipled, have you received enough strength and got your act together enough to turn around and say I want to pour my life into someone else? There are l hundreds of you here who need to take time now and pour your life into someone else.

CONCLUSION:

Let's decide to get involved in the kingdom. Let's pray. Father, I thank you this morning for the wonderful time we've had, a great time of worship and prayer, just the joy that we have. Lord, never allow us to take ourselves so seriously at Skyline that we fail to have joy in our life. Thank you for a body that is so comfortable with one another that we not only cry together, but we laugh together. Thank you for a body that just enjoys not only you, God, and being in your presence, but being in the presence of one another.

Lord, the greatest relocation isn't going to happen out on Hwy 94 in a few years with the building of our new auditorium. That's going to be great, we're excited about it; but the greatest relocation can happen this morning as we begin to change and grow ourselves. The way we grow a church is by growing as individual Christians; and for some, Lord, they filled this card out and checked boxes and what they're really saying is "I'm ready to take the next step." God, help me and all the rest of the mature Christians to be our brother's and sister's keeper and help them take that next step. May your grace abide with us today. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

When Jesus told his twelve men to "go and make disciples," not one of them stood there confused, wondering what He meant by that command.  They each understood that Jesus meant for them to go and reproduce exactly what He had just done with them, in someone else!

Spiritual Reproduction Is What Discipleship Is All About!

Discipleship is not...

1.   _______________________________________________________

      It's not about implanting information for knowledge's sake.

2.   _______________________________________________________

      Fellowship is to take place in the church; discipleship in the world.

3.   ______________________________________________________

      Intellectual exercise is not enough unless there is life change.

Discipleship is...

1.   _________________________________________(Matthew 28:20)

It's a command, not a suggestion, to imitate what Jesus did with the twelve.

2.   _________________________________________ (II Timothy 2:2)

We must "multiply" as Christians, because addition won't keep up with the population growth.

3.   ____________________________________ (I Thessalonians 2:7-8)

      Jesus lived with His men, and invested His life in them.

Disciple making involves a developmental relationship, where a mature Christian invests in (mentors) a willing "apprentice," so that he/she not only matures as well, but also becomes a multiplying Christian.

Question:   What do you possess, spiritually, that you can pass on?

Question:   What do you possess, spiritually, that you can pass on?

Question:   Do you know of any people who could benefit from your spiritual maturity?

Question:   Although you are not perfect, would you commit to multiplying at least one spiritual discipline or quality in someone else?

The Original Blueprint...

Jesus modeled for us a lifestyle of spiritual reproduction.  It was "on the job training" in real life contexts.  Note Jesus' IDEA of spiritual reproduction:

I -  ______________________________________ in a real life context.

D - ______________________________________ in a real life context.

E - ______________________________________ in a real life context.

A - ______________________________________ in a real life context.

This strategy worked right to the 4th century. Then we dropped the ball.  Why?

1.   _______________________________________________________

      We tend to drift into comfort zones - the path of least resistance.

2.   _______________________________________________________

      A wide gap grew between the "clergy" (church) and the "idiots!"

We must return to the original blueprint...

As we invest in people, we must be committed to three things:

1._______________________________________________________

2._______________________________________________________

3._______________________________________________________

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