Go Home & Make Disciples #1
By Bobby Blakey on August 15, 2021
Go Home & Make Disciples #1
By Bobby Blakey on August 15, 2021
Well, it is with eager anticipation that I invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to Acts, chapter 16. Acts chapter 16, we will be studying together for the next three weeks. And we're going to look at verses 1 to 5 together right now. And so, once you find Acts 16, and I'm talking to you online, I'm talking to the people on the front lawn, wherever you are, if you can hear this, open up your Bible to Acts 16. And when you're there, stand up with me for the public reading of Scripture. And I'm going to read for us the first five verses, and we're going to give this our full and undivided attention because this is the Word of God. Acts 16 1-5.
“Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily..”
That's the reading of God's Word. Please go ahead and have your seat. And we meet a man here it says, a disciple named Timothy, and we get to hear a little bit about his family. His mom's a Jew, she's a believer, his dad is a Greek, a Gentile, apparently not a believer. And that's going to be a theme throughout Acts 16 is families or otherwise referred to as households. Just let me give you a preview of what's to come. Look at verse 14. If you jumped down to Acts 16:14, we're going to meet this lady named Lydia. “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us.” So maybe you've heard of this lady Lydia, where God opens her heart, and her entire household are baptized together. Maybe you know about the Philippian jailer. Go down to Acts 16:30. And after Paul and Silas are going to end up in prison, well, we'll see what happens with that. They're singing hymns at midnight in prison. And there's an earthquake, the jailer thinks they have escaped. They haven't. And he says to them, Acts 16:30, “he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your…” what does it say, everybody, “your household.”
So, we see this theme, we got Timothy, and we have a description of his family. Then we've got Lydia and her household, then we've got this guy, if he believes he's not just going to be saved, his whole household is going to be saved. So, you see a strong theme in this chapter about our families; families are so important to us. Some of us we just got sick with our families. That was something we went through together. Some of us we have gone on trips, even this summer, and who do we travel with when we go on trips? We travel with our families. These are the people we love. These are the people that mean more to us than anybody else. These are the people that we live with, and we die with, our families. We care about these people. And everybody here if we were to break down families, there's no one certain image that makes up a family. That's why I love this word household. And we've learned this word throughout the pandemic over the last year and a half, you and your household. Because everybody you live with may not be exactly blood family; we’ve got people who have roommates. We’ve got people who live alone. We’ve got a lot of different types of households represented here. And that's what this chapter is about. How do our families and our households get affected by our faith? Now, families are a good thing.
Let's go back, everybody, to Genesis 1, and let's just see, let's remind ourselves about God's design for the family. God's love plan was for one man, one woman to come together, for the man to leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, the two would become one flesh, and they would have a family. And that was God's plan from the very beginning. In fact, look what God said when he created us. And we need to make that very clear that we are not some random chance accidents, but we have been created by God. Can I get an Amen from everybody here at church about that? Okay. It just isn't luck that our planet is a certain distance from the sun. It's called God creating life. And here's what he said when he did it. Genesis 1:26, and “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” God is referring to himself in the plural, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them, men, have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So, God created man, in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” This is Genesis 1:27-28, “male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them,” look at this, “’Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea over the birds of the heavens. and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” God creates us in his image, which is a fascinating concept, if you've ever considered it, because God does not have an image. And he doesn't want things to be made in his image. And he doesn't want you to use the image of anything else for him, because God is spirit and those who worship him have to worship him in spirit and in truth. So, if we are made in the image of God, we are made to be spiritual beings. And God says, to Adam and to Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Maybe you've heard it referred to as the creation mandate. Sometimes people call it the cultural mandate. But here's God speaking to his creation on planet earth. You're going to have families, you're going to have babies, you're going to be fruitful and multiply, and you're going to fill the planet, the population is going to be ever-increasing all over planet earth. And so, there's work for you to do to exercise dominion over all that God has made. And you do this work so that you can be fruitful and multiply and provide for your family. So, we want to make it very clear that families, whatever household you're living in, whatever kind of family you've got, that is the way God designed it. That is a very important thing. That is a blessing.
And if you're taking notes, and you wrote down Genesis 1:26-28 there as the as the mandate from God to “be fruitful and multiply,” a command to everybody on the planet. You might want to write down Genesis 9. Genesis chapter 9. After the flood, starting in verse 1, he tells Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” So, after God judged the world in a flood, he reaffirmed, this is what I want everybody to do is “be fruitful and multiply.” And you could also write down Jeremiah 29:4-7, even when God's people were taken away into exile, he said, to those sent into exile, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.” Yeah, you guys have been taken over by another nation, you've been brought to a land that's not your own. “Be fruitful and multiply.” Give your sons and daughters in marriage, let them have kids, let's fill the earth. Let's go for the welfare of wherever we live. This has been God's plan. And all of us have experienced, for better or for worse, God's plan in the family design, and this mission to be fruitful and multiply, it is happening all over the world today. Now, here's the thing, though, you don't have to be a Christian to want to do work and provide for a family, to want to have a family. In fact, I would guess that every single one of us could think of people that we know who work hard and love their family, but they do not do it for the glory of God out of faith in Jesus Christ. They just do it because that's what we were created to do. We were created to have families, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to share life with people that we love. This was God's plan from the very beginning.
Now turn with me to Matthew 28, where we get another mission. And this one is uniquely for not all people, but the people of Jesus Christ. This is a mission for the disciples of Jesus in Matthew 28. This is something distinctly Christian. Yes, everybody has the mission to be fruitful and multiply. But specifically, now, Jesus, he let his disciples know that he had all authority in heaven and on earth, this is after he died for sin. This is after he rose again on the third day. And he says this in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” See there has been fruitful multiplying that has taken place, there are now nations over all the earth. And even since the last two thousand years, since Jesus said this, there has been so much increase of people all over the earth, and what are we supposed to do, we're supposed to make disciples of those people, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” It's the mission that Jesus has given. And I would go so far as to say, this is the mission that Jesus has given to you. So yes, “Be fruitful and multiply.” That's what human beings do, made in the image of God, but go and make disciples. That's what the people of Jesus have been sent out to do.
Now you could write down if you wrote down Matthew 28:18-20 as the Great Commission, is what it's known as, well, you could write down Luke 24:46-47, which is not as often quoted. But it's the same idea that it's been “written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Here's Jesus sending out his disciples as witnesses to let all nations know that if they repent of their sin, they can be forgiven because of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Acts 1:8 gives this same idea that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That's been the theme for the whole book of Acts that we've been studying. So, yes, we have families, yes, we work to support our families, we love our families, we're fruitful and we multiply in our families, but see Christians we have a mission as well, to make disciples. And how is that happening in our families? A lot of times, there's a real disconnect these days between this idea of making disciples and doing it in our own households. And Acts 16 is going to show us three different ways how disciples are made at home. See this idea of “Go and make disciples,” we often think of going to the nations, we think of missionaries going all over the world, because it's a worldwide mission that we've been given. That's why we support missionaries in other parts of the earth. We send resources from our church to help other churches that are getting planted, because this is a worldwide mission that we are on. But when it says go, it doesn't mean that all of us are going to go to other countries and learn other languages. You could translate it as you are going in one place that every single one of us go is we go home, we go to our household, we go to our family. Are you making disciples in your family? are you connecting these two missions, the mission to be fruitful and multiply and the mission to go and make disciples? Is that something that's happening in your home where you live?
And there's a big difference between thinking of yourself as a Christian who goes to church, or as a disciple of Jesus who's on a mission to make more disciples. It's a big difference between those two things. America is full of people who think they're Christians, and they go to church, but who are the people who are disciples who are really living out this mission that we've all been given, to make more disciples. And I'll tell you why we've all been given it. Look at the last line there in Matthew 28:20, “behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” That's Jesus. Wink wink, I'm talking to you Compass HB, I'm talking to you in 2021. Even at the end of the age, even at the end of the earth. We're on the opposite side of the planet from Jerusalem. Here we are two thousand years later into the future, even you at the end of the age, I want you to know, I'm with you, because I've sent you on this mission to make disciples. The Great Commission that Jesus has sent us on is the great omission in many Christians’ lives. Many people will tell you people here tonight, will tell you that they have been Christians for decades for ten, twenty, thirty years., and if you ask them, how many disciples have you made? The answer will be nada, nada, enchilada, zero disciples. How could that possibly make sense when that is Jesus’ marching orders. That's his final words, that says, I leave you with this. If you're going to do one thing with your life. Because the world is full of people being fruitful and multiplying, but you specifically, the one that I'm with to the end of the age, if you're going to do something, it's not just have a family or a household, it's make disciples. That's the mission you've been given. And you will be evaluated by your Lord Jesus, whether you obey his command or not.
So go back to Acts 16 with me and notice how it introduces this man who's a very important character in the Scripture, we get to meet Timothy. And I love how it says it, “A disciple was there named Timothy.” So, “disciple” is a word that the Scripture uses, not just to talk about the twelve original guys that Jesus called, not even just to talk about the group of people who are following Jesus, at the time that Jesus was here on earth. A disciple means a “learner”. And I would like for everybody to write that down. I'm going to throw the Greek word here up on the screen. It's my favorite, mathitis. If you want to write that down, mathitis, and it means learner. The idea is almost like mathematics, and you are a student. To be a disciple means that you are a learner, you are officially putting yourself underneath someone's teaching, a disciple. Here's another word you could write down, a disciple would have a “rabbi,” the rabbi would be the teacher, the disciple would be the learner. Timothy was known as a learner of Jesus Christ. He was known as someone who was growing up, maturing, making progress. It's not like Timothy just believed one day and then he was a Christian. And everything was cool after that because he was going to heaven. It's like, no, when Timothy believed, he started learning, and he was known as a disciple. In fact, people knew about him, they knew his mom was a believer who was a Jew, his dad was not a believer who was a Gentile. In fact, Timothy, look at Acts 16:2, “He was well spoken of by the brothers, at Lystra and Iconium.” In two different cities, they're talking about Timothy, there's a guy who's really a disciple of Jesus. See, there are people who claim to know Jesus, and then there are people who sit under the teaching of Jesus and learn the way to follow Jesus their entire life. You want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is the rabbi that you want teaching you how to live, we need to get back to the definition, the Biblical definition, that Jesus is our teacher, and we are all learners, that we are all disciples.
So, let's get this down for point number one: Be a lifelong learner of Jesus. Everybody here should be a lifelong learner of Jesus. It's not like you learn about Jesus, and then, oh, I’ll get there someday. No, no, you start learning about Jesus. Then you put yourself under his teaching, you leave everything, and you follow Jesus. You officially become a disciple. And then as a disciple, that's not the end of the story. No, you get baptized, you go public, you let everybody in your life know that you're now following Jesus Christ, and then you get taught to keep all of his commandments. So really, when you learn about Jesus, and you believe in him, that's just the beginning of your discipleship. After you're made a disciple, then you start showing everyone you're a disciple by the change in your life. When you get baptized and then you start learning, you're taught all of the commands, and so your life can be lived in obedience to Jesus Christ. And as you become a disciple, as you learn more and grow as a disciple, the ultimate goal is that just like the mandate was to be fruitful and multiply, the ultimate goal is that you would reproduce more disciples, that you would become such a mature, learned person about Jesus, that you have now the knowledge of Jesus, and you could pass it on to other people. That's what it means to be a Christian. It means you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is not something that you do for a season in your life. It's not something you are ever going to arrive at, I promise you. With how many fruitful multiplying there has been going on planet earth, we are not going to run out of people in our lifetime that need to be made disciples of Jesus Christ. We all are on a mission. And I'm not sure how many of us are taking that mission seriously. In fact, some of us would have to admit here tonight, if we're going to be honest before God and men, that making disciples has been the great omission of our lives. A lot of fruitful multiplying going on, not so much reproducing other believers in Jesus. A problem with that is Jesus gave us a mission. He gave it to you as one of his disciples, and he expects you to make more disciples.
Turn with me to Luke chapter 5. Let's go back to when Jesus called his disciples, maybe you've heard the story. He says, follow me and they drop their nets, and they leave everything, and they follow him. Well, Luke gives us a little more of the backstory here in Luke chapter 5. And he tells us the interaction that Jesus had with Peter and James and John, the three innermost disciples of Jesus. He tells us why did these guys decide to give up being fishermen, to drop their nets, and to leave everything in their life to follow Jesus? Sometimes you hear that story, and you're like, well, that sounds crazy. Jesus must have had some kind of power where he just points at you to follow him, and you just start going well. Here's the story. Look at Luke 5:1-3, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.” This is the Sea of Galilee. “And he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” if you ever get to go to the Sea of Galilee, what an awesome place to go. It's so much like the way it was at this time. And it makes a lot of sense. And when you look at the sea, and then the hills that kind of come off the sea, Jesus was out in a boat, and the people are up on the hill. A lot of people would be able to hear him teaching. I've been to the Sea of Galilee multiple times. And I've been shocked how I could be so far away up a hill, and someone could be way down in the lake, and I could hear them so clearly, even though I'm hundreds of yards away. That's what Jesus does here. He teaches the people. Luke 5:4-11, “And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and the nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Fisherman knew this was a miraculous catch. And he knew that Jesus was the Lord, and he was convicted of his sin. “For he and all who are with him were astonished.” All these fishermen can't believe this catch of fish that they had taken. And so also here they are “James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” So, this was the plan. From day one of Jesus calling his disciples see, this is how it works. You think you're deciding to become a disciple, you think it's up to you to leave everything and follow Jesus? Once you start learning the way of Jesus, you realize, no, Jesus is actually the one who called me. Can I get an amen from anybody on that? And he calls these disciples. I don't know if there are just two boats full of fish sitting there after this, but they leave everything and they follow him. And from day one, he says to them, you will be fishers of men.
The point of becoming a learner of Jesus is so that you can become a teacher and make more disciples. That is the purpose. And if you're not on the path towards that goal, you're missing the point of the Christian life. Yes, we have people here right now, who are still learning enough about Jesus to decide if you want to even become a disciple. I just want to encourage you if you're in that condition here, where you're checking out church, you're learning more about it. You're not sure if you're all in or not, you will have no better teacher in your life than Jesus Christ. What other teacher, what other master, what other Lord lays down his life for his servants? You're never going to experience a love like Jesus’. You're never going to learn the truth unless you learn it from Jesus. Jesus is the one way. Where else are you going to go? If you're still trying to figure out if Jesus is for you, tonight is the night you need to make him your rabbi. And you need to say, I'm becoming a lifelong learner of Jesus Christ. No better way to live your life. And if you have made that decision, to be a disciple, you've become a disciple, you’ve got to learn every single commandment of Jesus Christ. And I know a lot of people are acting like, ah, all we got to do is love God and love people. Well, if you actually go and read where Jesus says that, those are the two greatest commandments, and they fulfill the law and the prophets, which Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish. And he seems to expect people to know. There's a lot to learn if you're going to be a learner of the rabbi, Jesus Christ. He's got the secrets of the universe, and he's got to fit them in your brain. It's going to take a while. There's a lot to learn. I've been trying to learn Jesus for all of my life; I've got a lot to learn. There is not a person in this room who doesn't have more to learn about Jesus Christ, more commandments that you could do a better job of keeping in your life, more Scripture that you could do a better job of understanding and applying to your life. You don't ever stop being a disciple of Jesus because there's more to learn and you haven't learned it all. I am so sick and tired of the know-It-all attitude that so many Christian people have. Already heard that, already been there, already know about it. Well, then why don't we see it in your life, brother or sister? Why aren't you doing it? Why aren't you keeping it? If you already know so much about it, how come nobody can even see it in your life? It's not about what we know. It's a constant process of learning so that we can observe, so that we can keep all the commandments, and keeping commandments never gets old.
So, we're supposed to be learning; we're supposed to be growing. And the reason is because we are on a mission to learn and then pass on whatever we've learned about Jesus and start giving it to other people. Specifically, why wouldn't we give it to the people in our own home, our extended family, our household? Whatever, I'm learning about Jesus, I'm on a mission to pass that on so that other people can become learners of Jesus with me. That's what you're here to do, to make disciples. Where are you on the scope of discipleship? Are you not a disciple? Are you a new disciple? Are you a growing disciple? Or are you actually a mature disciple who is making more disciples? If your goal isn't to get to be a mature disciple who can make disciples, you are doing life wrong, according to Jesus Christ, and you need to learn his ways. This is the mission that you've been given. Please don't let it be the great omission in your life.
Now let's meet this disciple named Timothy and let's see what we can learn from him here in Acts 16. He's presented to us as a disciple, and he's such an impressive disciple that people are talking about him in two cities, and the Apostle Paul immediately wants to make him his disciple. Which if you remember where we left off in at the end of Acts 15, Barnabas wanted to bring John called Mark with them, and Paul was like, no, that guy bailed on us on our first missionary journey when we planted all those churches and saw those people get saved, and they were persecuting us. That guy left us in the lurch. I'm not bringing him with me. Well, now he goes, and he meets Timothy, this learner, this disciple, and he's like, immediately upon hearing the reputation and meeting the man Timothy, Paul is saying, I want to bring him with me. This guy has something different about him. Even the way he's described here, the details that we’re given, it's like this is a guy to know. He's a disciple. And his mom was a believer, but his dad was not. His mom was a Jew, but his dad was a Greek. See, his household was a divided household. Many of us know about that, a divided household. Some people in the household are Christians, some people are not. Maybe even a blended family, coming from different backgrounds, Jew and a Greek.
I once met a Jewish missionary in Israel, in Jerusalem, and I asked him, what did he do? And it sounded to me like the main thing this Jewish missionary did was he tried to prevent Jews from marrying people who were not Jews. So, this is a big deal that that you've got mom as a Jew, and you've got dad as a Greek. Oh, wow. Okay, that sounds like an interesting family. And you’ve got mom who's a believer and dad apparently is not a believer. Okay. So, it starts describing for us, Timothy's household, his family, like that has to do with how he is as a disciple and how he has faith.
Let's go to 2 Timothy where we can learn more about, about Paul's relationship when Paul makes this man, a disciple. And we can see that even before Paul makes him a disciple, there was already discipleship happening in Timothy's family. In fact, it had been happening for generations. Look, go to 2 Timothy, the beginning of the book, and notice how Paul starts it out in 2 Timothy 1:2 he says to Timothy, “my beloved child.” So, Paul refers to Timothy as his son, as his child, as his true disciple in the faith. It is so clear that Paul and Timothy ended up having a special discipleship relationship. We get two books of the Bible where Paul is writing to his disciple, Timothy. But look what he says in 2 Timothy 1:3-5, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I longed to see you.” You can feel the love between these two men, “that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded” Timothy “of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and now I am sure, dwells in you as well.” See, when I think about you, Timothy, I think about the real faith that you have in Jesus Christ, how you're really trusting him how you're putting his commandments as the priority of how you live and that faith that you have, I know something about your faith and your family, Timothy. I know that your grandmother Lois, I know that she had faith. And notice that it even says the faith was in her first. See grandma Lois, she had faith. See mom Eunice, she had faith. Now yes, it was a divided household, but even in that division, faith got passed down. There was a disciple made there through the home. So, here's Paul, who's claiming that Timothy is his disciple, acknowledging that there was discipleship that happened in Timothy's home from his grandma and his mom.
The amount of people that have told me about their godly grandma in their life is a long list of people. A lot of people have been positively influenced by grandmas who were known for prayer warriors, for their faith, for always reading their Bible. A lot of people had inspiring grandmas. And there are a lot of moms out there, even though dad is one of these lame husbands who does not obey the word, there are a lot of moms out there who are examples of faith to their children, who day after day show that faith in their obedience to Jesus Christ. And that impact that those moms are going to have on their kids is the real deal. And that's what Paul is acknowledging about Timothy. Your grandma, your mom, they're faithful. This is what a lot of parents don't realize. If you are a parent who lives a life of faith and obeys Jesus Christ as a disciple, it will have an impact on your children. Who you are is what will impact your kids if you are a person of faith. See, that's what happens here. Grandma had faith first. I don't know exactly when they came to faith. I don't know how it all happened. Maybe Paul even had a part in it. Maybe it was when he came to Iconium and Lystra, and he was preaching the Word, and he was getting persecuted, what we read about in Acts 13 and 14. Maybe that's when they came to have faith. Maybe their faith predated Paul coming through where they lived. It doesn't give us all the details, but it lets us know that what happens in the home, faith in the home makes a difference to the future generations. Even a household that's divided, there can be a passing on of faith.
Now it wasn't just in the home, Paul, look at 2 Timothy 2:1-2, he claims to be a part of the discipleship of Timothy as well. He says, “You then, my child,” clearly speaking spiritually as like, spiritually, I'm your father, you're my son, I've discipled you. Look at what it says, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” So, we see here in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, we see discipleship in the home, it goes from grandma, to mom, to Timothy. Now we see, hey, it goes from Paul to Timothy. And Timothy is looking for men of faith, faithful men, men who have proven themselves and passed the test. And he's going to invest and entrust what he knows about Jesus to these faithful men, and then, Lord willing, the faithful men are going to go and teach even others. Four generations there, Paul, Timothy, faithful men, others also. See discipleship, it can happen in the home, it can happen through people you might meet in the church, there are many different ways disciples can be made. Timothy's a great example of this, there was a disciple named Timothy and everybody knew, this guy doesn't just call himself a Christian, this guy doesn't just go to church, this guy is actually on the path to following Jesus Christ.
Go back to Acts chapter 16, and this is really interesting here in Acts 16:2, when it says, “He was well spoken of by the brothers, at Lystra and Iconium.” That's a very common important word in the book of Acts when it says, well-spoken of, it's actually this Greek word martureo, we'll throw it up here on the screen, if you want to write it down. This is Acts 16, verse 2, well-spoken of is actually martureo, which is the word translated “witness” throughout the book of Acts. So, people in two cities Iconium and Lystra were witnessing that Timothy was a real one. Timothy, he was on the one way, he was a true disciple. And so, Paul comes back to town, and people are saying, yeah, you know, since you were here, Paul, I can tell you somebody who's been a learner, I can tell you somebody who's been growing, this guy, Timothy, we've all witnessed it. See, this is what's really true about faith, if you have faith on the inside for Jesus Christ, faith without works is what everybody? If you have faith in Jesus, will there be good works in your life? The answer is one hundred percent. It's the only way that it works. There is no such thing as a privatized secret faith. It doesn't exist. It exists maybe in some people's minds here in the room. Now I've got faith, but nobody would ever know it about me. That's not what the Bible describes as faith. No, when you have faith, when you're a disciple, people, not even in the city you live in, people in the city next door, they can bear witness to the fact that you have faith. I mean, this guy's got two cities of people who seem to know a lot about him already, to testify that they've seen Timothy is a disciple.
Let's get that down for number two: Let your progress be seen by all. Not only do you want to be a disciple, and grow and learn as a disciple, and become a disciple who makes disciples, but you should be doing that in such a way that people, when they see you, when they get to know you, they could witness the fact that you are a disciple of Jesus. In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul writes to Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” And this is now when Timothy is mature, he's a pastor, he's an elder of a church, he's a younger man, but he's already been put in a position of leadership, and he's supposed to show an example to his church. And it's like, hey, even though you have grown, and you have matured, you should still be making progress, and everybody in the church should be able to see your progress.
Now in Acts 16:3, look what they're going to do next. This is absolutely fascinating if you're following along in the book of Acts. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, which immediately shows he passes Paul's test, which we know is a high standard for who could serve in the ministry with him. He wants him to come, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Now, who are the Jews in these places? Well, if you go back, and you read about what happened in Iconium in Acts 14, I mean, this was like the city was divided because the Jews were stirring people up to persecute Paul and Barnabas. And they eventually have to flee one town, flee to the next town, and then the third town, which is Lystra, they stone Paul, and leave him outside the city for dead. These are the Jews that they're talking about, Jews who hated Paul. So even these Jews, even the enemies of the gospel knew that Timothy was a real disciple. They knew that his household was divided. They knew that his mom was a Jewish believer, and his father was a Greek. I mean, this guy, he was making an impact, he was letting it be known that, hey, I'm following Jesus. And people, they got that impression from Timothy in a strong way. Paul, it doesn't take him long to see it. And he's hearing it from all these other people who are bearing witness. That guy's a disciple.
Who's saying that about you? I'm asking you a real question right now. Who in your household… see, a lot of times people act like Christians outside of their household, but their household knows who they really are. And then maybe people out there in the world, people who don't even know what it really means to be a disciple, do they know that you're one of them? See that that's what we see about this guy Timothy. People are bearing witness that there is something going on in Timothy's life that is supernatural, that is divine. God is doing a work in him. His friends can see it, his enemies can see it. Everybody knows it. And you are commanded to do good works in a public way. There is no like obeying Jesus just in private. Yes, you obey Jesus in the secret place in your heart, but out of your heart is going to produce everything that you say, everything that you look at, every place that you go, it's all coming from the secret place of your heart. And if you really want to obey Jesus, you're going to go places, say things, and act and conduct yourself in such a way that people are going to witness you're a disciple. Who's saying that about you? Would your spouse affirm that you're a disciple? Would your kids affirm that you're a disciple? Would the people at your workplace be able to say, I don't know exactly what's going on with so and so, but I know there's something going on, and I know it has to do with their faith. Do people know that about you? They knew it about Timothy.
You could write down Matthew 5:16, because it says, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” You could write down 1 Peter 2:12, which is that you should keep your conduct honorable, even “among the Gentiles,” even among those who don't believe in God, “so that when they come to speak evil against you…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” You could write down 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, where Paul tells that church when he's writing them a letter that he doesn't even need to ask people how they're doing, because people are bearing witness, people are telling him, Paul, when you went to that church, those people got it. They repented and turned from the idols. I mean, they're waiting like Jesus is coming back tomorrow. I mean, these people, they've got faith in Jesus Christ. We heard about what happened, Paul. You went to that church and those people repented and believed in the gospel. Wow, what a work happened at that church! People are telling Paul about it because they can see it. If people can't see your faith, I wouldn't be sure that it's there. This idea of invisible faith that we've created is not what the Scripture teaches. It teaches that when you're a disciple named Timothy, everybody in your town, and in the town next door, knows about it. And Paul can smell it when he's walking into town. And he wants you to be one of the guys following him. When we just saw him reject Barnabas, his cousin in all previous verses, well, Timothy, there's something about him, he's coming along. When people have that witness about your life, when people speak well of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, we’ve got to go back to verse 3, because what happened there, maybe it's something you might just fly over and read right through. But you’ve got to see that Paul just circumcised Timothy. Timothy is a grown man and he just got circumcised, and we just had this whole council back in Jerusalem about whether people needed to get circumcised or not to be saved, to become Christians. And the answer was, no, nobody needs to get circumcised to get saved. In fact, if you start thinking you need to get circumcised to be saved, then you're under the law, and you've got to keep every command perfectly if you're going to make it about circumcision. And so, we just had this whole council that made a ruling that the Gentiles did not have to get circumcised. And now Paul sees Timothy and he's like, boom, let's go get you circumcised first thing? Wow. Is that something you've ever thought about before? Is that something we just read right through, and we don't even notice. Like, why would Paul, who writes like the whole book of Galatians against people needing to get circumcised to be saved, who was arguing strongly at this council that the Gentiles did not need to get circumcised, why is he like, Timothy, you're rolling with me, let's go get you circumcised right now? Why is he saying that? I mean, see, Paul's commitment to making disciples is extreme. It's intense. He is all in, he has one mission, and he's going to do it or he's going to die trying to do it. He is willing to do whatever it takes to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even these hating Jews who threw stones at him to kill him, who left him outside the city for dead, who chased him from one town to the next town, all these towns that are talking good about Timothy, they all hated Paul and chased him out of their town. Even those Jews he cares about, and he wants Timothy to get circumcised, so he'll be above reproach when it comes to the Jews, because one thing we learned about Timothy here is Timothy is the son of a Jewish woman who's a believer. Timothy is a Jew, and Timothy should have been circumcised as a Jew. But because his father was a Greek, apparently, he was not circumcised on the eighth day, according to the law of the Jews. And so, Paul is saying, you're a Jew, we're going to go make this right, otherwise, this is going to be a stumbling block in your ministry, and the Jews are going to use it against you. And so, we're going to go get this made right right now, so that that won't be an issue, because that's Paul's commitment to the ministry. And Timothy, apparently, is right there with him in that commitment.
What are you willing to do so that other people will become disciples of Jesus? What is your level of commitment? Do you even have a commitment? See, this idea here it is extreme. Like, we're going to go and argue that all these Gentiles should not get circumcised, but we're going to hold ourselves to the standard that we want to reach the Jews, and so, Timothy, you've got to get circumcised. Wow. We're going to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we're even holding other people to. I don't hear a lot of that these days. I hear people talking about their freedom in Christ. I hear people talking about exercising their rights. I hear people saying things like, if other people don't agree with me, well, that's their problem. Not according to Paul and Timothy. It's our problem because we're here to make disciples of them. They are our problem. Their problems become our problems, their issues become our issues. And if there's something I can do that I know will make that issue not an issue, then I'm willing to do it to make a disciple of them. I don't hear a lot of that.
Point number three, let's get it down like this: Do whatever it takes for the ministry. Do whatever it takes. Hey, you're going to get circumcised, Timothy. Timothy, apparently, okay, let's go do that. Because he wants to be above reproach when it comes to the Jews who know that he comes from a divided family and would try to use this against him. So, we got to see. Wow, Paul, at one moment, you're arguing so strong against circumcision, next, you're taking your brand new disciple to go and get circumcised. Wow, we’ve got to get into Paul's mindset. Go to 1 Corinthians chapter 9. And we’ve got to hear how does Paul think that through? How does he try not to lay the burden of circumcision on people, but then for himself, or somebody who's ministering with him, a disciple like Timothy, he's going to tell him to go and do that. Well, look what he says in 1 Corinthians 9:19.. Although there's so much you could read here in this chapter, but if you look at 1 Corinthians 9:19, he says, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all.” I'm here to serve. I'm not here to exercise my freedom. I'm here to serve that I might win more of them. For Paul, the goal was always souls, more disciples. That's the mission. That's the purpose. So, look at how he details it 1 Corinthians 9:20-22. And this is why he asked Timothy to get circumcised. “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law” like Gentiles, “I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” That sounds pretty extreme. That is the definition of someone who is all into the mission of making disciples. So, look at that, again, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” I know a lot of people are going to reject me, I know a lot of people aren't going to listen, I know they're going to keep in their issues. Even if I try to get around their issues, they're going to let the issues of the day dominate. But I'm hoping that some of them will become learners of Jesus. And I've got something to share with them. Look what he says here in 1 Corinthians 9:23. “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
What are you willing to do to make disciples of Jesus? What are you actually doing that you could look at in your life right now and you can say, I'm doing this to make disciples? Do you have something in that category? If you heard that phrase ever before, like go the extra mile? Who's ever heard that phrase before? Go the extra mile? Anybody here? Do you know that that phrase comes from Jesus Christ? Do you know that anybody who's ever said, go the extra mile is ripping off Jesus? Plagiarism is what it is. Matthew 5:41, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” That's Jesus. That's right before he tells everybody here to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Can you imagine that Paul, who's been chased out of one town, chased out of a second town, and stoned and left for dead outside of a third town, then watch Timothy, his brand new disciple that he's found, to get circumcised because of all those enemies in all those towns? Because he wants to save some of those persecutors. Some of those people who tried to kill him, murderers, haters. See, Paul doesn't have this, like, oh, those people are on that side, we're not going to reach them, we're only going to reach people in our lane. We're only going to reach people who agree with our politics, we're only going to reach people who are on the same side of this current event with me. See, Paul didn't think like that. He wants to reach everybody on every side, and he'll do whatever it takes. You drag him one mile, you could drag him another mile, you hit him on one cheek, you could hit him on the other cheek, because that's the mission. Personal comfort? That's not the mission. Taking care of myself? That's not the mission. The mission is to win souls. That's the goal.
How many of us can say I'm all in, I'm ready to do whatever it takes? Tell me where you want me to go. Tell me what time you want me to be there. I'm in. I'm all in, I'm ready to do all things for all people, that by all means somebody needs to get saved. That's what we're seeing here. These guys are willing to do whatever it takes for the ministry; their mission is so clear to them. And then go back. This is amazing. Because even though they have such a high standard. Look at Acts 16:4, Timothy gets circumcised. I mean, that's a medical procedure. That's recovery time. That's a big deal. He's not an eight-day old baby here. That's a big deal. Timothy seems to go right along with it. And then “they went on their way through the cities” where they've got haters and persecutors aplenty. And they go through the cities, and what are they telling them? Well, “they delivered to them for observance the decisions that were made by the apostles and elders back in Jerusalem.” So, they go and get Timothy circumcised because these guys, they're all in, they'll do whatever it takes. But what do they go tell all the people, all these Gentiles who believed in the Gospel, all these new Christians, hey, you don't have to get circumcised. They're making sure that they're taking a burden on themselves to reach other people, but they're not laying a burden on anybody else. They're trying to remove other people's burdens, and they're willing to take those burdens on themselves. That's amazing to me. Timothy is going to go get circumcised while we go around and tell all the churches that the new believers don't need to get circumcised. Wow. So, we're willing to hold ourselves to this standard because of the Jews and the enemies, but we're not going to lay that burden on these other people. Wow, that's really fascinating.
Go back to Acts 15 here you can see what they said. Let's look at it when Judas and Silas delivered the message if you look at Acts 15:28-29, it “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements.” We don't want to lay any burden on you. They're saying specifically by that you don't need to get circumcised. But here are some things you do need to do, “abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Hey, we're not going to put this burden on you about circumcision, but there are some things you're expected to do in obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ, even though in obedience to the commands that Jesus reiterated from the law. Yeah, we need you to do some obedience, but we're not going to burden you.
So, we’ve got to get into this dynamic of what's happening here, where Timothy is getting circumcised to appease the enemy, Jews, but then they're going around to the churches, making it clear that there is no burden of circumcision upon them. Yes, there's an expectation of obedience in discipleship. But look at the churchs’ response. Acts 16:5, “the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” Oh, we don't have to become Jews. We don't have to get circumcised. We don't have to do all of this. And that you just want us to obey the commands of Jesus and to follow that. Awesome, wow. And the churches, their faith increases, more people continue to get saved. It's like revival is breaking out because we're taking away the burden of circumcision. So, here's somebody who is willing to accept burdens for themselves but trying to remove other people's burdens. Wow.
Let's get that down for number four: Don't turn obedience into a burden. Don't go around and start telling people you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to do this other thing. Don't make it about some kind of religion that becomes burdensome on people's souls. Jesus came to free us, not to enslave us. And sometimes when people try to make disciples, they make people who follow a list of rules. They make people who do this or do this. If you just go to church and read your Bible and serve somewhere and give money to the church, then you'll be a good Christian. People in this room have been told that and like, hey, if you just go do these four things, that's what you're supposed to do. That's not what being a Christian, a disciple, is about at all. The commands of Jesus are not burdensome; it is not a burden to obey Jesus. Can I get an Amen from anybody? Do we actually believe that? It says that in 1 John 5:3, it says, “For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Every command that Jesus gave is to bless your life, and to lead you down the one way of truth. It is not to be a burden upon you. Jesus wants to remove your burdens, not place more burdens on your soul. It says, “everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” The reason we obey the commands is we trust that Jesus is a good teacher, and he has a better way to live than we understand for ourselves. And so, we enjoy obeying the commands, we find joy in keeping obedience with Jesus Christ, we do it because we love him, because we're following him, because we believe it's a fundamentally better way to live. It's not a burden to know Jesus and to follow him; it is a blessing. And when these guys weren't around, they were taking everybody's burdens. They're taking the bad guys’ burdens. But they're going around telling everybody we're not giving you any burdens. And the church is thriving when people are just giving them Jesus and not religious burdens. People are increasing in their faith because they're realizing it's about trusting Jesus and obeying what he says, not about doing a bunch of things or a list of this or that. If you're caught up in a burdensome Christianity where you think you've got to do this, and do this, and do this, that is not learning the way of Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you…” what did you promise us? Rest for your souls.
Jesus says, I am gentle and lowly at heart. Jesus came to take all of your burdens and to put them on himself and to bleed out as a sacrifice, to die in your place so that you wouldn't have to be burdened anymore. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. If you think it's a burden to obey Jesus, you're doing Christianity wrong. He came to take all of your burdens away. You don't have to do this or do that because Jesus already did it all. And there's nothing you could ever do to undo what you've already done, in this that you've done, and that that you've said, and all of the sin that you've already done, that you could never repay, Jesus already paid it all. He established perfect righteousness that's been given to you by faith, and he paid the penalty for all of your sin. The only reason anybody here is going to heaven is because Jesus already took all of our burdens. And Christianity is not him giving us burdens again. No, his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. See, if you think if you've made a list of things to do, and it's so easy to make faith a list of things that you're supposed to do, that's not discipleship. That's not learning from the Rabbi Jesus, because Jesus is saying, come and follow me, and I'm here to serve, and I'm here to take your burdens, and I'm here to give you rest. That's what he promises. And that's the message that Paul and Timothy are out there. I mean, Paul, he meets this guy, and this guy, he's like a younger version of himself, and he grabs this guy, and he says, you're coming with me, and we're going to go. Here's our plan because we've been sent on a mission. We're supposed to be witnesses to every single living soul in all nations on planet earth. And that's a lot of people out there. We've got a lot of work left to do. And we're supposed to be out there doing it. So, you come with me, and we're going to take all the burdens on ourselves. And we're going to try to take all the burdens off other people; that's making disciples. Who is in for that? Who's signing up for that mission? Timothy is. There was a disciple there named Timothy. Mom was a believer, dad, we don't know much about him, but he was a Gentile, not a believer. And this guy, he started following Paul, he took burdens on himself. And this guy, he was a true disciple when Timothy met the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, well done, good and faithful servant. That's what you want to hear him say. And the question is, if you want Jesus to say to you, well done, good and faithful servant, what have you done to make disciples? Don't let the great commission be the great omission in your home, in your life. Let me pray for us right now.
Father in heaven, we thank you for this inspiring example of Timothy, and how he was learning in such a way that many people knew about his progress was evident to all. As he grew in his faith in Jesus, Paul recruited him and he was willing to get circumcised, and at the same time, he and Paul went around with a message to take burdens away from the Gentiles who had been saved. So, God, please use Acts 16, use these households, these families where disciples are made, use them to spark the light of a revival here among us, God. O Father, it is so rare to find any family in the church today where a father has passed on faith to his sons. It is so rare these days to find a mother who has been faithful to pass on her faith to her sons and daughters. It is so rare. And that's not the way it should be according to Acts chapter 16. And we pray that you're at this church, this Church that Jesus is building in Huntington Beach, we pray that people will make disciples in their homes, in their families that everyone who knows us will know there's a real one. There's a disciple that could see it by the way that they live. I can see it that they're willing to carry my burden. God, please make us disciples who make disciples. Father, we lift up our brother Matt Pena, we know he's been sick, we know he's watching this service right now. Father, we thank you that he's at home with his family and we thank you even more, that he made disciples in his family, that he taught the Bible to his children so that they could have Faith. And we thank you for men that you're raising up here at this church like Matt Pena, who are making disciples in their homes. And we pray that many families will be impacted, that many households will be changed, that you will turn our eyes from the world, from the worthless things, and that we will be lifelong learners of Jesus Christ. We pray this in his name. Amen.
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