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“What Is a Disciple? Part 2”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

I remember when I was in 8th grade, I signed up to be part of the JV football team at Mulberry High School. That summer, we had football camp, and I learned a lot about playing football. You see, I had watched the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Gators play. I had played a lot of sandlot football with my cousins and friends, but this was a different situation.

Part of what I learned that summer was what it looked and felt like to be a football player at Mulberry High School. I learned what it looked like and felt like to wear a heavy helmet, a bunch of well-used pads, and a well-used uniform. I learned what it looked like and felt like to run drills and have a team meeting. I learned how we didn’t have many water breaks, and when we did, we drank out of a PVC pipe. I learned that it’s very hot in the summer, especially when you are wearing full football gear. I learned what it meant to get knocked down and lose. I learned that Mulberry High School was more of a soccer and basketball school than a football school. I learned a lot about what it meant to be a part of the Mulberry High School Fighting Panther football team.

We’re in the middle of a short series called “What Is a Disciple?” Today, we’re on the second of three sermons. This is “What Is a Disciple? Part 2.”

The question that we’re seeking to answer is, “What is a disciple?” We want to know what it looks like and feels like to be a disciple at First Baptist Church Bartow.

So, that is the question before us.

Before we go any further, let’s pray together and ask God to speak to us through this time.


Ok, so what does it look like to be a disciple at this church?

Well, here’s what we learned so far in part 1:

A disciple experiences spiritual growth.

A disciple is part of a big group.

A disciple is part of a small group.

But wait, there’s more! There’s more to being a disciple than these three traits. In fact, you have a card that has seven traits. So, let’s keep learning.

The next trait of a disciple is . . .

‌I. A disciple participates in Christian fellowship.

Fellowship is sort of a Christianese word that people sometimes can’t really define (You know what Christianese is, right? It’s a word that Christians use that others don’t really know what it means).

Well, to fellowship basically means to hang out in a friendly way.

So, a disciple is someone who spends time in a friendly way with other Christians. A disciple participates in Christian fellowship.

Fellowship may include eating together, visiting each other’s homes, or simply spending time together at church.

So, as we consider Christian fellowship, consider first that . . . A disciple is integrated into the lives of others who follow Jesus.

Listen, church: we are a family, and we are part of a body that is united together with other Christians.

1 Corinthians 12:27 tells us, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”

Just as a body is integrated together, so also we are integrated together. An eye does not work independently from the body, nor do the feet work independently from the rest of the body. Our bodies work together. We need our entire bodies to function at our best. After all, a lot of us can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time. We need our entire body to function properly so we can function properly.

So also, we need each other in the body of Christ; we need each other in the church.

In fact, Paul warns us elsewhere about being too closely aligned with those who are not a part of the church.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?”

You see, God designed us to thrive in our faith and to thrive as disciples. When we are yoked together with those who are not chasing after Jesus, we do not thrive as disciples. But, when we are joined together with those who are a part of the church and are also chasing after Jesus, we can do better as we follow Jesus.

A yoke helps tie two animals together to make them better fulfill their purpose. So also, Christians must be tied together through fellowship to fulfill their purposes as followers of Jesus.

Now, you might ask me, “Pastor Matt, how can I be integrated with someone who may be different than I am?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. The book of Ephesians addresses this question.

Ephesians 2:14–22 says, “For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.”

You see, in this passage, Paul is addressing how Jewish and non-Jewish people can come together to be integrated into one people.

This beautiful truth applies not only to Jewish and non-Jewish people but to any perceived barrier. No matter our family background, our ethnicity, our financial situation, where we grew up, our political party, our nationality, or whatever else; when we are in Jesus, we share the closest bond in all the universe, and we should be integrated into the lives of each other.

To bring further clarity to this trait, we must realize that . . . A disciple is not in isolation.

Proverbs 27:17 teaches us that “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.”

We need each other to make each other better. Christianity is not a lone ranger religion.

The apostle Paul realized how important Christian brothers and sisters were to him. He said of the Philippians, in Philippians 1:3, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you.”

We need to have other Christians with whom we share fellowship, and for whom we can say, “I give thanks to God for you.”

This sentiment is what it means to be part of a church; this is what it means to be a disciple.

As I often say, we are a body that is made up of individuals in relationship with one another.

By the way, I didn’t come up with that concept.

Romans 12:5 says, “. . . in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.”

We are individuals who should not be isolated from one another. We should be unified as a body; the body of Christ.

Now, you might desire a few practical ideas of how you can fellowship with other people. Here are a few suggestions:

If you’re in a small group, suggest that your small group schedule a quarterly get-together.

Come on Wednesdays at 5:15 for dinner and fellowship.

Plan to have someone from church over to your house a few times per year.

Come early to worship service and talk to folks.

Call a homebound member of our church, simply to talk on the phone.

Come to some of our activities, like our Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat, and serve alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Come to our Men’s Breakfast, come to LLL, or come to one of our several ladies’ events.

Become a disciple who participates in Christian fellowship.

Also, . . .

‌II. A disciple will serve others.

I can say this emphatically from the Bible: if you don’t know how to serve others, you don’t know how to be a healthy Christian.

Being a disciple is nothing less than serving others.

We see this, first, in that A disciple is humble and generous.

I believe that humility and generosity go hand in hand. You see, humility means thinking of yourself less and thinking of others more. As we think of others more, we’re naturally going to want to show them kindness, leading to us having a generous spirit towards them.

Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:1–2 “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”

To be worthy of the calling of being a disciple means that we walk with humility, patience, and gentleness. It also means that we bear with one another in love.

If you haven’t been part of a church for very long, you will soon learn that we need to bear with one another in love. People in churches will do stupid things, they will do sinful things, and they will do hurtful things. By the way, that includes you and I. We are imperfect, which is why we must bear with one another in love.

Serving others also means that we are willing to meet the needs of each other.

John says in 1 John 3:17, “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him?”

If we have the love of God, that love will be displayed by showing humility and generosity to others, particularly those who are our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

That’s why we try to meet the needs of those in our church family, and we meet a lot of needs of those outside of our church family.

Being a disciple means that we, as individuals, and we as a church, serve other people by being generous towards them.

We serve others by being humble and generous towards others.

Also, A disciple is like Jesus by putting the needs of others first.

Some of you know I do some side teaching, consulting, and other work with an organization called Church Answers. At Church Answers, we see a lot of struggling churches, and even some dying churches. I will tell you one sure way to kill a church. If you want to kill a church, then develop a selfish spirit in that church. Having an inward-focused spirit will surely kill a church.

You see, disciples of Jesus should be selfless. They should put the needs of others first.

This truth is displayed powerfully in a passage that I refer to often. In Philippians 2:3–7, Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant . . .”

In short, Jesus put others first, so if we are disciples of Jesus, we should also put others first.

In humility, we should consider others as more important than ourselves.

Continuing the thought from earlier about bearing with one another, Paul goes on to say in Colossians 3:12–14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

We must put others first. We must forgive one another. We must put on love. We must be bound together in unity.

Listen to how radical this type of devotion to others can be. We’ll get into this passage in our study in Acts in the coming weeks, but just listen to Acts 4:32 “Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.”

One heart. One mind. Sharing everything in common. This is the radical result of disciples of Jesus Christ serving one another and putting the needs of others first.

Here are just a few practical ways that you can serve others:

Help meet physical needs.

Pray for people and let them know that you are doing so.

Defer to others’ preferences.

Save a good parking spot or a good seat for someone else.

Think about how we can reach people in the church who are different than you.

Learn how to apologize.

Being a disciple means serving others.

We have the same bottom line that we had last week, and it captures well what we need to remember as a church.

‌Bottom Line: Discipleship is intentional and important.

We must choose to fellowship with other Christians. We must choose to serve others.

We must realize how important it is to live as a disciple, and we must choose to do so.

Challenge yourself this week in the following one way:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Consider where you stand as a disciple.

Again, this is the same weekly challenge as last week. However, it is an important weekly challenge.

Evaluate yourself. Where do you stand as a disciple?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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