A message taken from
“The Culture of Kings Point Series: The Culture of Discipleship”
Pastor Randy Ballard
Text Matthew 28:19,20
Introduction: Last week we introduced the 2016 theme: “By My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
For the next few weeks, I want to build on that by defining what is the Culture of Kings Point. For years our vision values here have been to disciple, serve, and send. Our mission statement going all the way back to the early part of the 2002 has been “Winning Souls, and Making Disciples.” We try to remind you of that from time to time, but more importantly we try to integrate these important values in everything we do. Almost all of our ministries here fall in one of these three areas: Serve, Disciple, or Send.
Today, I want us to talk about the culture of discipleship. If I were to ask you today, are you a Christian or a Disciple, what would you say? If you would have asked me growing up in the church that question, I would have said emphatically “I am Christian.” My thinking at that time was that a Christian was someone that believed in God and a Disciple was someone who was really committed, like on the inner circle of the Christians or someone in the ministry, perhaps.
Over the years, as I have studied the Bible it became clear that my idea of a Christian was not actually based on a Biblical definition, but more of what I had been told or heard from others. Surprised? Go ahead and ask yourself how many times you think the Bible mentions Christians. What is your guess? 100, 500, even 1,000?
Three times in the entire Bible are the people who follow Jesus called Christians. They are much more commonly called Disciples (294 times in the Bible). So when did the Disciples first start getting called Christians?
The first occurrence of His Disciples being called Christians was at Antioch. See in the book of Acts: Acts 11:25-26:
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Christian was the name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach or rebuke, to the followers of Jesus. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the unsaved multitudes who were regular Jews or Gentiles of people who were, the name “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted.
In the Greek, the word CHRISTIAN literally meant “Little Christ” as in “there is that Christian, look at the little Christ over there.” (someone trying to imitate Jesus). This was basically a derogatory term or a put down and it came over 3 years after Jesus’ death on the cross.
Hmmm, that is interesting isn’t it? So let’s think about that for a minute. If a Disciple (or follower of Jesus) is really the only person that would be called a “little Christ” or Christian, is that something that I (or you) would be in danger of being called based on that definition?
People were called Christians because they were following Jesus and living like Christ, not just going to Church or saying they believed in God. Would the way that you live your life outside of church demonstrate the opportunity for others to say “Look at that little Christ?”
To me this was and still is very convicting. Many times we are reminded of John 3:16 where we hear how God gave his only Son and if we believe in Him we will inherit eternal life. Much less have I heard the scripture in the same gospel of John 8:31-32 that says “IF you hold to my teachings THEN you are really my Disciples, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (my emphasis).
So why does the world today use the word Christian instead of Disciple? Why was and is it so “Universally accepted” by the secular world as we read in the Christian definition?
I believe it is a less intimidating word that people are more comfortable with. Disciple denotes things like dedication, commitment, and evangelism.
I hear disciple and I think “that guy is really living out the scriptures”. Christian in the world’s definition today is more that of a believer. Even the Dictionary definition of a Disciple says “One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another,” or “one of the original followers of Jesus including his 12 apostles.”
Sometimes, I will ask people if they are a Christian, they say “Yes, of course, I believe in God and go to church.” But when asked if they are a disciple of Jesus, they are taken off guard and will say “Well I wouldn’t say that, I am more like, just a Christian.” Is this your response? (PAUSE)
But really, as we have already seen in the Bible, people call a disciple a Christian because they see someone who learns from Christ to live like him — someone who, because of God’s awakening grace, conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus. Their “disciplined or discipled” life in Christ. influences the way they live, talk, act, dress, the decisions that they make, the way they spend their money, how they handle their material possessions, etc…that’s the fruit of discipleship and that’s why they should call you a “little Christ” or “Jesus” or a “Jesus Freak” or a “Christian.”
SO REALLY, A true Disciple is a Christian and a true Christian is a Disciple.
The four Gospels give us the definitive portrait of Jesus in his life on earth, and if we really want to know what it means to be his disciple, the Gospels are likely where we start.
So does our church possess a culture of discipleship? Are we in the authority of Christ making disciples?
Well, my answer is we are trying to AND WE CAN ALWAYS DO BETTER!
This is the sole purpose of:
- Sunday School
- Grow (Small) Groups
- Relarional Discipleship Series classes
- Youth Ministry
- Children’s Ministries
- Men’s Ministries
- Women’s Ministries
- Prayer Ministries
- Preaching/Teaching Ministries…
WE ARE TRYING TO CREATE A CULTURE WHERE PEOPLE LOOK LIKE “little Christ’s” … who learn from Christ, to live like him — who conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus.
CREATING AND SUSTAINING A DISCLESHIP CULTURE IN THE CHURCH IS CRUCIAL BECAUSE OF THREE REASONS:
- It’s where faith is nurtured and developed…where else does that happen?
- It can change the course of a life
- It produces eternal fruitfulness