Disciples-Teach about God ~ 20110109 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
01/09 Make Disciples: Teach about God
Jesus made some astonishing claims. He claimed that everything was all about him. He claimed to be the fulfillment of all prophetic scripture, that all history revolved around him. He claimed an unique relationship to God as one of a kind Son of the Father. He claimed a kind of authority that only God could possess. He claimed to be distinct from the rest of humanity, in a class absolutely by himself
And he demanded unquestioning allegiance from his followers. He demanded that we put him in first place far above every other priority or responsibility. He demanded to be loved and honored as God. And he entrusted to us the great privilege and responsibility of calling others to follow him. He puts it this way:
We – all of us who claim to follow Jesus – are called by Jesus to be disciple-making disciples. What does that mean? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? According to Jesus, a disciple is one who is immersed into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and taught to obey everything Jesus commanded. If I am to be a disciple-making disciple of our Lord Jesus, then I am to pass on information, character and passion that will translate into a transformed life. So here's the question: What exactly am I to pass on? What is the information, what is the character, what is the passion that I am to have and to pass on to other would-be followers of Jesus? What is the conviction, the character and the content that needs to be contagious in my life? Today we will focus on the bedrock foundation in the life of a disciple of Jesus that will provide the unshakeable basis for everything else that we will build on it.
So what did Jesus command his disciples? What is the content of the teaching that we are to pass on to future generations of disciples?
A Word to Superficial Religious People
Much of what Jesus taught was to correct distorted views of God. The religious people of his day thought they understood God and related to him in a proper way. They thought the were following the scriptures, but Jesus challenged their thinking and confronted their hypocrisy. He said:
Jesus then proceeded to tell the people in what ways the religious leaders fell short. Keeping the letter of the outward commands like 'thou shalt not murder' and 'thou shalt not commit adultery' was not enough; these commands were not merely prohibiting the external act, but had implications on the heart – the thoughts and intents like hatred and lust. Jesus demands that we love not only our neighbor, but even our enemy and those who persecute us because it is the character of God to extend his common grace to both the good and the wicked. Jesus cautions about practicing righteousness publicly – giving and praying and fasting in such a way that we seek to impress those around us. He warns about the spiritual dangers of treasuring anything outside of God and having divided affections. He warns us not to point out flaws in others while overlooking our own character defects. He invites us to ask because God is good and loves to give good gifts to whoever asks. Jesus warns that the way to destruction is wide and easy and many go there. The way to life is hard and narrow and few go there. He warns of the diseased fruit of false teachers who pretend at outward religion but have no heart transformation. He warns that many who claim the name of Jesus and do great deeds in his name have no real relationship with him and will be told 'I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.' (Matt.7:23). In fact, Jesus not only warned his followers of the dangers of superficial religion, but he confronted those who were involved in it. He said some severe things like:
Harsh, huh? That's Jesus. He had some severe things to say to those who pretended to be religious leaders and didn't have any real relationship with God. The stakes were too high to be soft with them. They misrepresented God for their own personal gain and led others down the path to destruction. So Jesus frankly tells them where they are headed and calls them to repent and warns us not to be deceived by them. Jesus steers us back to the path by telling us what God is really like. He is not impressed with outward show. He sees the heart. Jesus tells us that a real relationship – knowing the only true God – is the only path to eternal life.
So if knowing God is the definition of eternal life, then it is critical that we have a true understanding of who God is. And Jesus has a lot to say about his Father. In fact, Jesus claims exclusive right to tell us what the Father is like.
Here are some of the things that Jesus tells us about his Father. Jesus said that God is the Creator (Mk.10:6; 13:19). God is the one who controls the solar system and the weather (Mt.5:45). God is the giver of life (Jn.5:21, 26). God deserves all the glory and worship (Mt.4;10; 5:16; 6:9; Lk.4:8; 11:2; Jn.4:21-23, 5:23; 12:28; 13:31-32; 14:13; 15:8; 17:1). He is to be loved with all the heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27). God is eternal (Jn.17:5, 24). God is spirit and by nature invisible (Jn.1:18; 4:24; 5:37; 6:46). He sees everything – even what is done in secret (Mt.6:4-6, 18). He knows everything (Mt.6:8, 32; Lk.12:30 16:15). He is Lord of heaven and earth (Mt.11:25, Lk.10:21). He commands all the angels (Mt.26:53). God owns everything (Mt.22:21). He is able to do everything (Mk.14:36; Lk.3:8). He is all-powerful (Mt.22:29; Lk.1:37; 18:27). He is even concerned with little birds (Mt.10:29; Lk.12:6, 24). God is true (Jn.3:33). He is righteous and just (Mt.6:33; Lk.7:29). He is perfect (Mt.5:48). He is merciful (Lk.6:36). He is the giver of all good things (Lk.11:13; 12:32; Jn.4:10; 6:32;). He is full of compassion and forgiveness (Lk.15:20-22). God is love (Jn.3:16; 5:20; 15:9; 16:27; 17:24). God alone is good (Mk.10:18; Lk.18:19).
These are some of the things Jesus said about his Father. If eternal life is all about knowing God, and Jesus claims to be the exclusive authority on God, then we should listen to what he says.
What Jesus Says About Himself
The stunning thing here is Jesus includes himself. Eternal life is knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ. For any mere man to put himself on that level would sound absurd. If I were to say 'This is what eternal life is all about – you need to know the only true God, and you need to know me, Rodney, the anointed one, sent by God' – I hope you would do more than squirm in your seats. I hope you wouldn't all nod politely and drift off back to sleep. To put yourself in the same sentence with God is startling, offensive and blasphemous. But that's what Jesus did. You need to know God and you need to know me.
But Jesus goes even farther than this. He identifies himself completely with the Father.
In fact he went so far as to say:
The Jews perceived in John 5:18 that he was 'making himself equal with God'. In verse 23 He demanded the same honor that was to be given to God.
Jesus put himself on the same level with God, he claimed to be equal with God, he demanded the same honor as God, and he demanded that we believe that he is all that.
What Jesus Says About The Holy Spirit:
If we stopped here, the picture we have of what Jesus taught us about God would be incomplete. Jesus talked much about his Father. He talked much about himself. And he talked much about the Spirit of God. Jesus was said to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt.1:18-20; Lk.1:35 ). John said Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit (Mt.3:11; Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33). God's Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism (Mt.3:16, 12:18; Mk.1:10; Lk.3:22; Jn.1:32). Jesus was led by the Spirit (Mt.4:1; Mk.1:12; Lk.4:1, 14, 18) and claimed to do miracles by the Spirit of God (Mt.12:28) and he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit (Lk.10:21).
Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be God. Speaking against the Holy Spirit was blasphemy (Mt.12:31-32; Mk.3:29; Lk.12:10). Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be the one who authored the Scriptures (Mk.12:36), and he would be the one to speak through the apostles (Mk.13:11; Lk.12:12). Jesus taught that the Spirit would give new birth. (Jn.3:5-8, 6:63). Jesus said that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who asked (Lk.11:13; Jn.7:39, 20:22)
When Jesus told his disciples that he would not be with them much longer, they were grieved. He encouraged them by pointing them to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be the one who would equip his disciples with the ability to make disciples.
Jesus Taught that there is only One God
Jesus clearly taught that there is only one God. When asked what is the first and greatest commandment, Jesus answered:
When Jesus claimed to be God, we don't hear him say 'I and the Father are the two'. Rather, he says 'I and the Father are one' (Jn.10:30)
Jesus commanded that we immerse in the one Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mt.28:19)
If we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, and we want to teach others to follow Jesus, then we need to understand what Jesus taught, especially about God. Jesus taught that God is by nature spirit – invisible. He taught that God is eternal, that he is the Creator and life-giver, that he has all power, is present everywhere, knows everything, that he is worthy of all our affections and all our worship. Jesus taught that there is only one God, and that God exists in the person of the Father, the person of the Son, and the person of the Holy Spirit.