- First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi - https://fpcjackson.org -

To Make Disciples: Living for the Spread of His Glorious Grace

The Lord’s Day Evening


February 24, 2013


“To Make Disciples:
Living for the Spread of His Glorious Grace”


Luke 9:1-6

The Reverend Mr. Nathan D. Shurden

My heart is already encouraged tonight by hearing the report from Rex and from
Gateway Rescue Mission. I trust that
your heart is encouraged as well. It
was one of my privileges in seminary, Rex, to be able to go and volunteer at the
Gateway Rescue Mission on a regular occasion to teach at the chapel service that
you regularly have there. And I have
some of the greatest memories of that season of seeing God at work, both through
His Word and through deed, which was happening right there in the ministry of
Gateway Rescue Mission, so I pray your blessings on your ministry and continued
growth to that important work. In
fact, we’re going to be talking about why that’s so important, even as the Lord
Jesus Christ instructs us this night from His Word, given to us in Luke chapter
9 verses 1 to 6. Before we read
God’s Word, let’s once again pray and ask for His blessing.


Our Father in heaven, we come now before Your
presence leaning into Your Word this night.
We come asking You to once again feed us as You have fed us this morning.
We are a people who are needy and who are hungry, but we need to feed on
the bread that is more necessary than physical bread, even the bread of Your
Word. In the Lord Jesus Christ, You
tell us that You are the Bread of Life, indeed You are the manna that comes down
from heaven. And this night we ask
You to make Yourself known as we lean into Your Word.
As we listen intently to Your instruction we ask that You would open up
our ears to hear and our eyes to see, our hearts to believe and our wills to
obey all that You would teach us from Your Word.
Clear away from us this night any distraction and bind the evil one from
this place who would want to snatch away the seed of the Gospel.
We ask, Lord, that You would keep us centered, attentive upon everything
that You would say, that we would hang on Your very words.
So we now submit ourselves to You and we ask You to come and do exactly
what Your will is and to accomplish it in the life of us Your people.
We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

It was just a couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit Colombia, South
America. The Lord, through His
Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, the national presbytery of which I
am a part, was invited to participate in a twelve day tour in three cities in
Colombia — Bogota, Santa Marta, and Riohacha — to spend twelve days there in the
country, three of which would be spent in Bogota, three in Santa Marta, and
three in Riohacha, for teaching conferences at local Reformed and Presbyterian
and Independent congregations there.
And it was a tremendous opportunity in large part by what the Lord did in my own
life while I was there. Isn’t that
always the case? Those of you who
have been on mission trips, you go to bless, you go to serve, and you come back
having your own life and heart totally reoriented and transformed and turned
upside-down in all of the right and good and appropriate ways?
And that’s exactly the case for me.

I was told when I went to Latin America, I’d been before but it had been a
while, and as many of you in this room I am true, blue American, and North
American at that, and I’m used to a very certain schedule and very particular
things and I was told that I needed to be flexible when I went to South America,
that it was going to operate a little bit differently, and I needed to be
prepared to be surprised. I don’t
know how you prepare to be surprised because surprised, by its nature, is you’re
not prepared for it! And that was
definitely the case when I was in Latin America.
And I am pleased to say that planes arrived on time and people were
prepared for us and they remembered that we were coming and things were in
place, but I remember coming back from northern Bogota into a district called
Suba where one of my brothers that I was with, a Latino brother who was
translating for me while I was there, who was scheduled to preach that night in
that congregation, all of a sudden turned to me because the pastor of that
congregation was also in the car with us and we were an hour away from services
starting and he says, “Why don’t we let Nate preach tonight?”
Now I’m going to be honest with you, these sermons don’t just appear in
my mind over night! (laughter)
I’m just going to be honest with you.
I know preachers like that; they frustrate me, they really frustrate me.
This is hard work for guys like me.

And as we were coming into Bogota I said, “You know, Lord, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid. I’ve said
everything I know in the last twelve days.
I don’t have anything else to offer.
You’re going to have to show up in some amazing way.”
But of course I smiled and I asked the butterflies to fly in formation as
we were making our way into Bogota!
And I turned to a passage and that night preached the Gospel, and by God’s grace
a young lady who sat on the front row came to know the Lord.
And you know it’s in that moment that you’re reminded, “It’s not about
me. It’s not about gifts, it’s not
about abilities, it’s about the Spirit of God using the truth of God to
transform lives.” That’s the story
of the Gospel. It’s the story of
what discipleship is all about. As
we lean into Luke chapter 9 and these first six verses here in this chapter we
learn that it’s not about the disciples, but it’s about who the disciples are
following. But He’s called them into
that work just as He’s called you and me.
So let’s look at this passage together.

Luke chapter 9 verses 1 to 6:

“And he called the twelve
together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag,
nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.
And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off
the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’
And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and
healing everywhere.”

What an amazing passage that is, deceptively in some ways amazing, that God is
leading His disciples whom He has just spent the last year making His way to the
completion of His own mission, He has spent hours and hours in training these
disciples and now it’s time for them to go and do the work that He has been
training them to do. That’s a scary
moment. That a moment when you
realize you’re in over your head.
You know, it’s sort of like church planting, when you realize that you think you
know what it is that you’re doing and then you’re put in places where it becomes
very clear that you have no idea what you’re doing.
By the way, don’t tell my congregation that I don’t know what I’m doing,
but I don’t know what I’m doing! And
yet I’ve seen God show up, time and time again, in many ways, almost always,
despite me.


THE PRIORITY OF
DISCIPLE-MAKING

We see in this passage that there is a priority in disciple-making.
The Lord Jesus Christ, as He has begun His ministry back in Luke chapter
4 in earnest, after the baptism and temptation, He then immediately in Luke
chapter 5 calls these disciples into action and then in chapters 6 to 8 we see
Him pouring His life into these disciples and preparing them for the ministry
that is ahead. And here in chapter 9
and again in chapter 10, we see that it’s time to get the birds out of the nest;
it’s time to go do the work that I’ve actually called you to do.
And it’s the very last thing, as we said this morning, that’s on the lips
of Jesus as He ascends into the heavenly places, and it’s the pattern of the
book of Acts, for the continued multiplication for those who are followers of
Christ.

And you know who He used? Fishermen,
carpenters, tax collectors. I want
you to see who’s not there — not M.Div. graduates.
Just noting who’s not there.
Not those who have a PhD in Systematic Theology or Biblical Theology or those
who have sat in Sunday school studiously for ten years and now feel like they’re
totally prepared for what’s ahead.
That’s not who He’s sending out, which means that most of us in this room are in
good company. We’re just the kind of
people the Lord uses.
Disciple-making is a priority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The priority is that as He goes and makes disciples of the disciples He’s
called them to go make other disciples and thus the story of the church is
written. This is God’s plan and
there’s not an alternate. This is
what He does; this is who He is. T
is the message and the Word that He has entrusted us with.


THE PATTERN OF DISCIPLE
MAKING

But not only do we see that it’s a priority in this passage but we see that
there’s a pattern in this passage.
“What does disciple-making look like?” challenged you even this morning to think
about what it means to be a disciple; this evening we’re talking about what it
means to make disciples. And
actually it’s a blessing to have Gateway Rescue Mission with us because what we
see in this passage is that it’s a pattern of Word and deed; it’s a pattern of
Word and deed ministry. We’re told
in verse 1, “He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority
over demons and to cure diseases” — to do and to meet the physical needs of
those in whom they were coming in contact with and the spiritual needs and “to
proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”
Word and deed ministry.
Declaring the kingdom of God with words and displaying the power of the kingdom
of God with deeds.

This is exactly the work that we are called to, not one or the other, but to
both. This is why when Jesus comes
He comes and He preaches but He doesn’t come and just preach.
He comes and He immediately meets the needs that present themselves
before Him. And He doesn’t just try
to cast them off in another direction.
He doesn’t say someone else is more chiefly responsible for them.
We see the in-breaking of the kingdom of God right there in the midst of
His healings, right there in the midst of His exorcisms.
We see Him breaking the power of the Fall down.
The reason you get sick and the reason that your body hurts — you know
I’m realizing this. You know I know
you don’t think so but I’m getting old.
And this is how you know you’re getting old — you hurt yourself sleeping.
(laughter) I don’t know what
I’m doing at night but I’m waking up with more pain than I used to wake up with.
Something is happening in the middle of the night; I’m not sure what it
is. But the recognition is that that is a sign of the fact that I’m like
everybody else — fallen, broken.
Jesus, by displaying His power in curing and in healing is displaying the fact
that He has power to reverse the effects of the curse.
And when we feed those who are hungry, when we care for those who are in
need, we also are walking in line with the displaying of the kind of kingdom
that Jesus brings, right alongside the proclaiming of the kingdom of God,
articulating beautifully what is this power of the Gospel that is pushing back
on the evil one’s domain. We see
that this is the pattern in disciple-making.


PARTNERSHIP IN
DISCIPLE-MAKING

But thirdly, we see that there’s a partnership in disciple-making.
I am very encouraged by this.
Look at verse 1. He’s called the
twelve together. He says similarly
in Luke 10 verse 1, “And the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out
ahead of Him two by two into every town and place where He Himself was about to
go.” I don’t know if this is true of
you but I get nervous doing disciple-making on my own.
It’s scary to do it on your own.
In fact, in some ways, I’m kind of glad that we’re scared to do it on our
own because we’re not meant to.
We’ve been called into community for a reason.
We need partnership. We need
the accountability. We need the
wisdom that comes from walking with someone who’s beside us who can see from a
different perspective, who can speak into our lives, who can pray with us, who
can weep with us, who can rejoice with us when we see the kingdom of God,
someone who can be, as it were, our reflector, telling us what it is that
they’re experiencing, how they’re seeing it, being creative with how it is we
might break-in new in-roads for the expansion of the kingdom of God.

That’s one of the things that struck me in Latin America.
Everywhere I went I spoke a strange tongue; no one understood me.
And I couldn’t say anything.
And trust me, that’s difficult for a man of my nature!
It’s difficult to not be able to just say something to someone.
I needed a translator. I
needed someone to come alongside me and to be my Aaron in a very real sense, to
be the mouthpiece of what it is that God wanted to say.
And I was going over sermons and lessons ahead of time and asking him,
“Hey, I’m saying this but is that going to translate?
Is that going to make sense to the culture, to the community?
Is this the right way to communicate it?
Do you think it’s structured well for this particular audience?”
Without his partnership I would have been lost.
I would have been lost. And
oftentimes he even educated me on exactly how I should create an apt word for
this particular setting at this particular time.
I was dependent.

But do you know it’s no different from right now because if you’re truly hearing
the Word of God you’re not hearing my voice; you’re hearing the Holy Spirit.
It’s only He who can translate this.
It’s only He who actually penetrates our hearts. We are utterly
dependent. And when we partner, that
becomes just very clear that we are those who are in need of each other.
This is a community calling.
I want to challenge you — find a partner.
If you have someone in your life, there’s someone who the Lord has
burdened you with regards to sharing the Gospel or walking with someone over a
period of time and building a relationship, the right kind of external pressure
comes when you invite someone in accountability with you.
Because when you tell them what it is that the plan is and what the hope
is and you ask them to pray, it’s almost as if you have to do it, and that’s, I
think, the point. When Jesus sends
these disciples out two by two they need each other.
This calling is meant to be together.

This partnership really displays what the real power in disciple-making is.
And I really want to see this free you.
I want to see this encourage you.
When we see disciple-making priority, yes, clearly, when we see the
pattern of Word and deed, when we see the partnership of doing this as a
community together, we also need to say, “Where’s the power going to come from?
Where’s the effectiveness going to come from?”
Let me tell you, the Lord Jesus teaches us all about that here in this
passage. Jesus, in chapter 8, has
just calmed the storm, the waves, and He’s shown His power over nature.
He’s just healed Jairus’ daughter and He’s shown His power over flesh and
over disease. He’s just cast out the
Gerasene demoniac’s demon and He’s shown that He has power of the spiritual
world, over the principalities and even the kingdom of the evil one.
And then I want you to see something astonishing.
Verse 1 He says, “Jesus gave them power and authority over all demons and
to cure diseases and to preach the kingdom of God.”
Astonishing. The Savior of
the world, the Son of God, the one who is omnipotent, who has just displayed His
power over every sphere, now takes His disciples aside before He sends them out
and He commissions them with His power, commissions them with His power.
You know what Jesus says this at the end of Matthew 28, before He sends
them out and says, “Go and make disciples” do you remember what He says?
“All authority has been given to Me on heaven and earth.”
It’s meant to assure you.
It’s meant to assure you. “You go
out in the name of the One who controls everything.”

You see the confidence that comes with that in disciple-making, that we are
those who live in the power of Jesus, and we give away the power of Jesus in
discipleship to others and we see His kingdom making a ripple effect all
throughout our lives and our community.
We see resurrections happening, we see regeneration taking place in
hearts, and we see the kingdom of God slowing but surely, like yeast leavening a
lump, taking over an area, even a geographical area, because the Spirit of God
is working through His people who are saying “Yes” to His call and are resting
not on their own competencies but on divine dependency.
You see, that’s the power. We
tend to think that we’re going to be fruitful because we have a lot of
knowledge. Knowledge is great; it’s
wonderful. It’s a tool in the hand
of God, but your smarts is not a guarantee that you are going to be effective in
the work of kingdom building. We
think we’re going to be effective because we have great gifts.
It’s no guarantee that your gift is actually going to advance the kingdom
of God. We think that because we
have the resources that we can continue to throw money and people and energy at
this. “This wall’s going to come
down. This bulwark is going to hold
fast. We’re going to accomplish this
because we have what it takes.” And
Jesus is saying quite clearly, “This power comes from somewhere else.”

And the more that you are actually relying on the powers of the flesh, actually
the weaker you become in the work of the Spirit.
But the more that you are emptied, emptied of the things of the flesh,
the more that you are abandoning and despairing of the things of the flesh and
the more you are resting, even relaxing into the grace of God in the power of
the Lord Jesus Christ, you become a receptacle for His work, a conduit for what
it is that He wants to accomplish in the world.
You see, in Acts chapter 1 verse 8, Jesus actually tells the people of
God, “Don’t go out until you receive the power of the Holy Spirit, until He has
come upon you. Then you will be My
witnesses in Jerusalem and not a moment before.
Not a moment before. It’s in
My power that you go.” And it’s in
the power of this Gospel, Romans 1:16, “The Gospel is the power of God unto
salvation.” Do you know the Gospel?
Can you share the Gospel? Can
you articulate the Gospel? You have
the power of God with you. Are you
one of His disciples abiding in His Spirit?
He promises He never leaves you nor forsakes you.
The power of God is with you.
The power of God is with you. What
are you waiting for? It’s not the
readiness of the power of the flesh that’s going to accomplish the will of God.
It’s going to be readiness in the Spirit of God in the truth of God that
accomplishes the building of His kingdom and you have that if you’re one of His.
He’s equipped you; He’s trained you.
He’s readied you.

You see, this power of the flesh Paul is very concerned about.
He actually says it in 1 Corinthians 1:17, actually a passage that as a
preacher haunts me a bit. He says,
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel,” and notice how
he is to preach this power of God unto salvation, the Gospel — “not with words
of eloquent wisdom.” You would
think, “Of course he’s going to preach it with eloquent words of wisdom!
Why would you not do that?
After all, it is the power of God; it’s the most glorious message of all.”
But here’s Paul’s concern.
“Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
He says that there’s a human preaching of the Word of God that’s relying
upon giftedness and eloquence that can move a crowd, that can make people like
you, that can make you winsome. And
he says, “There’s nothing necessarily of the power of God in it.”

We know this because one of the greatest evangelists in the early church was a
woman who was never formally trained in sharing the Gospel.
She’s known as the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. She comes to know
the Lord Jesus Christ after a theological discussion that she has engaged Him in
and we’re told that she left her water jar and she went away into the town and
she said to the people, “Come and see a Man who told me all that I ever did.
And many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s
testimony.” Now here’s what I want
you to hear from the text. She
didn’t come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and go, “I need to go to RTS Jackson
to get a degree. I need to sit back
in Sunday school for the next five years before I say anything.”
She, in being touched by the grace of God, is overwhelmed, tongue
loosened, and babbling about what it is He’s accomplished.
The Lord is drawing His people to Himself through her.

Friends, do you see the power of God?
Do you see how it works? It’s
when you’re emptied and full of Him that you become an instrument, a mighty
instrument, in the hand of God because you have become full of His power.
That’s what He’s granted you.
That’s what He’s granted you in the Gospel and within the Spirit.
He wants the disciples to be totally clear in this, so clear in this.
He doesn’t want them to get confused.
You see, this was my struggle that night driving down from the Suba
district. Immediately I have nothing
to say. I wasn’t going to come up
with neat terms or phrases in the moment.
I wasn’t going to “Wow” anyone.
I really felt like, “I could totally bomb this thing” and I don’t like
feeling unprepared. What about you?
I don’t like it. I don’t
choose it. I don’t choose it.
But it was very clear that the Spirit of the Lord was putting this on my
plate and He was saying, “How much do you trust Me with My power?
I don’t need you to do the work but I’ve called you into the work because
I love you. Do you trust Me with it?
Do you trust Me with it or do you trust the organization of your message?
Do you trust your way, your gifting?
Do you trust your tone of voice or your winsomeness of what you think
that you have? Trust Me, it’s
nothing in My kingdom. The Samaritan
woman is a better evangelist than you and she’s never been in preaching class
before.”

You see, that’s the Spirit of God saying that.
That’s His words to me. He
says, “Nate, I want you to walk by Me because I have something planned this
night to accomplish by My Spirit and I just want you to watch and be amazed at
what I’ll do.” You see, that’s how
God works. And He says, “Disciples,
I want you to know this. If you’re
going to walk in My power you’re going to have to walk in My provision.
So let’s just be really clear.
When you go out on mission, you’re not going to be able to take any money
for your journey, not staff, no bag, no extra tunic.
You’re not going to take anything with you.”
You know this is Jesus’ “Don’t Take to Camp” list.
You know that list? Twin
Lakes folks in here, you know that list?
You know, don’t take to camp — drugs and grenades and AK-47’s.
You know, leave all those at home, but you know, grab the sleeping bag
and the toothbrush. Well here’s
what’s fascinating about Jesus’ list — everything that would be on the “Take to
Camp” list is off Jesus’ “Take to Camp” list.

If you’re going to go for a journey, you’re going to take your staff.
The staff is a symbol of protection.
You’re going to take your money and your resources so if you ever get in
a bind, you’re going to take a little bread and a little something to drink in
case you get hungry. You’re going to
make arrangements before you go so that everything is in place.
And Jesus says, “I don’t want you to do any of that.
I don’t want you to take the things of the world with you as if your
confidences in the journey was you being able to organize your trip.
I want you to instead be taking the Maker of the world with you.
That’s Me. And it just so
happens that I own everything in the world and if you seek first the kingdom of
God, all these things will be added unto you.
You ready to go?”

That’s the call to make disciples.
You see, that’s why you’re never more ready than where you are right now.
Are you asking that question?
You know, “When I get to this point in my life, then I’m going to be something
for God. I’m going to start using my
time and my energy and my resources when everything else is taken care of.”
And aren’t you just stockpiling staffs and possessions and bags and bread
as if He might not provide tomorrow?
You know the people of Israel struggled with this.
You’re not alone in this. You
remember they wanted to horde the manna in case it didn’t fall the next day.
They were amazed every day.
He did it. He did it again.
He said that He was going to do it and He did it again.
You know they didn’t have any bread.
All of their gold had been taken from them. You know they built their
calf, that terrible mistake, and everything had been taken from them.
They’re walking in the wilderness — no food, no water — and so God says,
“Guess what? I’m going to rain bread
and I’m going to give you water from a rock and your shoes are never going to
wear out for forty years and your clothes are going to be like new the day I
gave them to you because I want you to know this — you don’t live by bread alone
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
If I have said it, it is done, it is done.”

Friends, that is still true today.
That has not changed. And today, by
His grace, He’s telling you, “Don’t look at that increasing checking line or
decreasing checking line, don’t look at the resources or the comforts to be able
to say, “Okay we’re ready now to be able to make the step that we’re in.”
It’s in taking a godly risk, that’s really no risk at all, because God
has already told you He’s provided with every step that you take.
Do you see His provision? Do
you see His power? That you should
be inflamed with this pattern? It’s
His overwhelming priority. He’s
going to do what He says He’s going to do.
And to boot, He’s going to never leave you nor forsake you.
He’s going to be right there with you.
Well this is deeply encouraging, because when you get to that place where
you don’t know how to answer someone and you fumble all over yourself or that
time that you think you really nailed it and nothing seemed to happen, you know
that some sow and some water and some reap the harvest but really He’s the Lord
of the harvest and He will accomplish all that He has set His mind to and the
gates of hell will not prevail against the advance of His Church and you’re a
part of that answer. And so by God’s
grace a few more laborers will be in the fields, a few more souls encouraged to
step out in faith and go somewhere that you’ve never gone before, and that you
don’t this servant slip in one ear and out the other — and we’ll know if it does
by what we do with it and how God by His grace will lead you and guide you.

So let me challenge you — pray, pray.
How are you going to put this in practice in your life?
And then plan, plan how you’re going to take steps to take godly risks
over how it is that God’s going to provide to call you into the work of making
disciples. And then let me encourage
you, tell somebody about it, partner with somebody.
Draw them into relationship with you.
Confess to them the fact that you would never dream of doing this before
but some silly preacher came one Sunday night and he said something about this
and all of a sudden you feel like you need to do something crazy like share the
Gospel and seek out others for the purposes of advancing His truth —
volunteering at the Gateway Rescue Mission, going on a short-term mission trip,
whatever that answer looks like for you, I’m not too concerned about what it
looks like, only that you answer it, by God’s grace.

Friends, this is an adventure and you and I are in it and we know where it
leads. And when you follow Christ,
the best really is yet to come because the end is told you ahead of time.
So don’t live by these eyes of sight; live by the eyes of faith.
See the most beautiful glory of Jesus and in doing so let it motivate you
to do the work of making disciples.
Let’s pray He’ll do that right now.


Father in heaven, You’re at work in this place.
You are speaking to Your people and the people are listening.
So Father we ask that this moment not be lost at the conclusion of hymn
and the exiting out of the doors, because this is the beginning of a mission of
a new day dawning in the hearts of Your people that they see, “This Lord Jesus
Christ has called me into a work that He has promised to bear fruit and I will,
in assurance of His promises, say ‘Yes’ to His mission.”
And Father, I ask that You raise up an army of disciple-makers in this
room, the likes of which this city would not be able to turn away and would be
able to say, ‘The Spirit of God is working over there at First Presbyterian
Church because those folks, they’re stripped of possessions and provisions and
confidences and self. They’re going
forth like a Samaritan woman and they’re just sharing their testimony and they
actually believe something might happen” — and something does, because You’ve
promised it! And so Father we ask
You now, by Your grace, settle us into this work and compel us by Your love.
We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s stand for the blessing of God.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all. Amen.