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Andy Stanley - As You Go

Andy Stanley - As You Go
TOPICS: The Fundamental List

So, for the first half of my life, I was often introduced as, this is Dr. Charles Stanley's son. And honestly, that never bothered me. There were a lot of perks to being his son. And for those of you who don't know, my dad was a famous pastor on television, on radio for many, many, many years. So of course there were a lot of perks and there were some awkward moments. The biggest perk was this, I found out later, Sandra told me that one of the reasons she went out with me for the first time was if it didn't work out, it didn't matter because she'd be able to tell her grandmother that she went out with Dr. Charles Stanley's son. So there was that. So thank you, dad.

Okay, so that was 30 something years ago. In terms of awkward moments, the consistent awkward moment was what I call the double handshake. And it wasn't like a double handshake like this, it went more like this. I'd be with a friend, they'd introduced me to one of their friends. "Hey, this is my friend, Andy, Andy Stanley". And they'd be like, "It's nice to meet you", and shake hands 'cause that's what you do. And then they would say, "He's Dr. Charles Stanley's son". And before they could catch themself, here came the second handshake like, oh, like, it was kind of nice to meet you. Now it's like, really nice to meet you.

You know, that first handshake was for politeness, but the second handshake was for association, right? Because of a shared name. And that shared name in that association came prepackaged with an element of accountability, right? Because I was accountable for protecting my famous dad's reputation, which just so you know, was not a burden he ever placed on me or my sister. In fact, he bent over backwards, not to put that burden on us, which I think made both of us feel even more responsible for protecting his reputation in terms of our public behavior, right? I was aware that he had a reputation and that part of my responsibility, even as a teenager was to help protect that and to represent him well everywhere I went, right? Because my behavior was a reflection on him. And the reason is is because he was a way bigger deal than me.

Now, later in life, every once in a while the situation would be reversed and I'd be having breakfast with him somewhere, or lunch or dinner with him, and somebody would see me and walk up and introduce himself to me. "Hey, I'm so and so, Andy, it's nice to meet you". "It's nice to meet you". And I'd always say, "This is my dad, Charles Stanley". And oftentimes they would, not oftentimes, but sometimes they would kind of be like, oh, it's your dad, it's nice to meet you. Then they would walk off and didn't know who he was. And I would say, dad, you better behave because I have a reputation to maintain.

Hey, today we're in part seven of our series, The Fundamental List: Recovering the Essentials of our Faith. Recovering the essentials of our faith, where we're answering the question, what must a person believe? What must a person believe in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus? Not what must a person do. We talk about that all the time. And doing is important because doing is what actually makes the difference. But stepping back from that a little bit, what must a person believe in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus? And this is important because if it's not fundamental, if it's not essential, we're not so sure that it should be something we are involved in. It's an important question too, because there are so many different Christian traditions.

There are so many different versions of Christianity, and as you know, each one of these versions of Christianity, whether it's a single church or a network of churches or a denomination of churches, or the Catholic church or the Episcopal specifically, every single faith tradition or faith expression of Christianity comes with its own terms and conditions, its own traditions, its own expectations. Sometimes they use a different Bible, they baptized differently. We do communion different, there's different interpretations of certain scriptures. In different faith traditions certain scriptures are elevated over others. And really the only thing that we kind of all have in common, and I'm including us, is that we think that we're right and everybody else isn't quite as right, right? Or all the other, other traditions that, that they're just half right or they're not right or they're uninformed or they're misinformed.

And so it makes it very confusing even for Christians, but it certainly makes it confusing for people outside our faith tradition when they're like, even you guys can't agree on what's most important and on what this thing is supposed to look like and act like, and then to make it even more complicated. In every generation, we've talked about this throughout this series, in every generation, beginning in the second century. I mean, this is all the way back. In every generation new and novel ideas are blended into, are woven into certain streams of Christianity, new and novel, and sometimes toxic and sometimes disruptive and sometimes harmful things are woven into certain traditions of Christianity.

And every once in a while, in fact, not even every once in a while, oftentimes these new and novel and sometimes toxic ideas are elevated to the point of being considered dogma or doctrine, they're fundamentals. They're essential to the point of, if you reject some of these new and novel ideas, if you reject some of these things that came along way after the time of Jesus, you're not even considered a Christian. You're not a true Christian, you're out. But here's the thing, and here's why we're doing this series. When non-essentials begin to characterize or define a church or a church brand or denomination or any expression of Christianity, when non-essentials characterize and define a church brand, honest, thoughtful people eventually step away from that church, from that denomination, from that faith expression.

They step away not because they quit believing in God. And they step away, not because they quit honoring the Bible. They step away, not because they don't believe what they've always believed about Jesus. They step away because something about their faith tradition, their expression of faith, the Christian faith just doesn't seem right. And in some cases they, they begin to deconstruct, deconstruct their faith, which basically means they step out of organized religion to kind of sort out the essentials from the non-essentials. To figure out what's actually fundamental? What's actually foundational? What truly represents first century Christianity? And this may be your story. You may have just hit pause on all things organized religion.

And again, you still have faith and you still have faith in God, the God that you grew up with. You still believe that Jesus is who Jesus claimed to be. But there's your faith tradition, whether it was your church, a denomination, whatever it might be, you just began to sense that something was just a little bit off. That the tone and the posture and the approach that they took to the Christian faith just it began to fee, to you anyway, un-Christlike as if the leaders or the the people that kind of led you and that tradition or that church, they knew the Bible, but you wondered sometime if they knew Jesus. So this is a big deal.

So we're asking the question as honest as we can, what is fundamental? What's essential? What's essential versus cultural? Familiar, comfortable, fashionable, but peripheral? And the reason, one of the main reasons this is a big deal is because practically speaking, non-essentials, non-essentials eventually become obstacles. The non-essentials that get woven into certain streams of Christianity, they eventually, for somebody, they become obstacles for faith. Christianity becomes untenable, unlivable for some people. It's no longer good news. It becomes a problem.

Now, so far, we've talked about six of these essentials. I'm gonna run through 'em real quick. For those of you who are just joining us, I would encourage you to go back on your local church website or on my YouTube channel and catch up with the series. These all build. But real quickly, here's the fundamentals we've discovered so far.

Number one, Jesus is God's son and our king. You have to believe this to be a faithful follower of Jesus because this is what Jesus claimed about himself.

Number two, Jesus came to illustrate and demonstrate what God is like. You have to believe this in order to be a follower of Jesus, because this is what Jesus said he came to do. This was part of his mission on planet Earth.

Number three, Jesus had a specific definition of sin. Jesus, and if you're gonna be a Jesus follower, then you have to adopt his view of all things, right? Jesus defines sin as anything that harms you or others.

And then number four, Jesus promised justice in the end, which means if you're a Jesus follower, you have to believe there's gonna be justice at the end of the age, and that he invites us to trust him in the meantime.

And them number five, and this is where I think most people thought we would begin, but we've done this sort of chronologically as you follow Jesus through the gospels. Number five, Jesus died for your sin to reconcile you to God. That Jesus came to demonstrate what God was like. And then Jesus came to die for our sin, to reconcile us to our heavenly Father.

Then number six, we talked about the church. That the church is God's agent of transformation, personally, culturally, and globally, that Jesus left the church behind to represent him. And even though you go to an imperfect church because it's full of imperfect people like me and like you, in spite of that, the church is the epicenter of God's activity on planet Earth. It's a big, big deal. And if you're gonna be a follower of Jesus, in some ways you have to believe that that is what Jesus intended his local church and the church in the world to be.

So today, number seven of eight fundamentals, we're gonna begin by looking at, because this is the end of Jesus ministry on on earth, we're gonna begin by looking at Jesus' final command, his farewell command. In some ways, this was his farewell address, and in some ways this, it explains why we're even here. And for those of you who grew up in church, it's very familiar, which means it's essential because it's his farewell command. It's essential if we're gonna follow him, and it must be taken seriously because it's from him. And here's what we're gonna dig down on a little bit today, it has to be taken personally.

So here we go. Following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his apostles and to the women who had been following him and others, and he told them he wanted to meet with them in Galilee. So he appears to them in Jerusalem, outside of Jerusalem, in Judea. He says, "I want you to spend a couple days, go all the way back to Galilee", where most of his followers originated from. He said, "I'm gonna meet you in Galilee". It was safer in Galilee. And also Matthew was in Galilee. And he documented what happened next.

And here's what he said happened. He said, "The 11 disciples", because Judas is missing. You know that story? "The 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. And when they saw him, when they saw him, they ask him all those questions they've been dying to ask him all along". Yes, that's not in the text. No, I made that up. But this is my whole life, I have heard this and you thought this, I think we've all thought this. When I get to heaven, I'm gonna ask him, right? It's like when I get to heaven, it's like, Jesus, you need to sit down. I got a list of questions that I brought with me, all those unexplainable things, all those things that didn't make any sense, all that heartache and pain, and why did you do this and why didn't you do that? But when we get to heaven, and however that works, you're not gonna ask any questions.

And I'm not gonna ask, the only question we should ask is, why am I here? That's the the appropriate question, right? What comes next? We read write by, but we shouldn't because what comes next takes us back to the very beginning. What comes next takes us back to the first fundamental, what Jesus claimed about himself. Now, don't answer out loud. Don't whisper and don't raise your hand. Do you know, don't say it out loud. Do you know what they did next? They did what everybody will eventually do when they saw him, they worshiped him.

Now, Jewish men and women worshiping a human being as if that human being is a God or is God, this was so unlikely, this was so offensive. In fact, worshiping a human being as if that human being is a God was offensive to Roman and Greek, certainly Hebrew sensibilities. And according to Matthew, according to the people who were there, Jesus did not resist. But, and I love this, I love how honest Matthew is. The text says, Matthew tells us, but I gotta be honest, "Some doubted", and I think the people with Matthew, when they realized what he was gonna write and what he was gonna let the world know about, they would be like, Matthew, do you have to include that? That makes us look bad. To which Matthew would've said, guys, we've looked bad the entire time. Every twist and turn, we ask dumb questions and we respond incorrectly.

And don't you remember when they arrested our rabbi? Do you remember what we did? Yeah, we all abandoned him. Yeah, I don't think we need to worry about looking bad. We already looked bad. But the question is, why would they doubt? Why would some doubt? And the reason is they saw him die and dead people don't come back to life. And then Jesus launched into his farewell address. Here's Matthew's summary. You've heard this before. Some of you can quote some of this. Here's what happened, "Then Jesus came to them and he said", I gotta just say one more thing before we jump in deep. What follows is it's perhaps the most overlooked verse or statement in the entire Bible. Or I should say it this way, it's perhaps the most overlooked statement in terms of what should and could be applied. And if the church had and if would embrace what Jesus says next, it would change things almost instantaneously.

In fact, if you would embrace, and if I would embrace what Jesus says next, we would change, listen to what he said. "And then Jesus came to them and he said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth'", that would be everything everywhere. "'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,'" to which they thought, oh, so that messiah thing, that God's final king thing, that's for real. To which Jesus would say, yeah, all authority, get this, all authority rests in me.

Quick question, do you know why? I know you've wondered, we've all wondered about this, right? Do you know why the church has been able to leverage the Bible for all kinds of harmful nonsense through the ages? Do you know why the church and church leaders and Christian people have been able to leverage the Bible to, for all kinds of harmful things that end up harming other people who claim to be Christians? It's because this statement has been reduced to just another verse in the Bible equated with every other statement or verse in our sacred text. And so the Bible, the entire Bible became the church's authority. But the Bible says, "Jesus is our ultimate and final authority". More importantly, Jesus said, Jesus is our ultimate authority. The words of Jesus are the final word because he is our king, right?

Now, it was as Jewish men and women sitting there listening to Jesus, let me tell you what they heard that we don't hear because we aren't Judeans. First century Judeans. Here's what they heard when Jesus said, all authority in heaven and earth belongs to me. Here's what they thought they heard him say. Here's the implication of what he said, ladies and gentlemen, Moses was your guy. Torah was your text. But the king has arrived. The shadow caster is here. So when they saw him, they worshiped him. They got what we miss. And because they got what we miss, they never misrepresented their king. But here's the other thing they're thinking. We know this because of what happens next. And they're thinking, wait, wait, wait.

So you're the king with all authority and heaven on earth. In other words, you hold the keys to heaven and earth and we're your guys, I mean, we're your posse. We're your people. To what Jesus will say, you are indeed. And with that association, with that association comes extraordinary accountability. If you're gonna continue to be my people, do you realize that everywhere you go and everything you do reflects on me? If you're going to continue to associate with me, if you're gonna continue to be where my brand, if you're gonna continue to use my name and leverage my name, do you realize how accountable that makes you? To which in that moment, in front of their resurrected king, they're like, absolutely, we do, right? So, hey, what do we do? Where are your followers, where are we going? You know what happens next? Is now the time that we reestablish the kingdom of Israel on Earth? Is now the time we retake Jerusalem.

My word's not theirs, but I think this is what I would've thought. Hey, since you conquered death, do we get to conquer something? Since you conquered death, do we get to conquer some people? Do we get to conquer the Romans? I mean, all authority in heaven and earth belongs to you. Do we finally do we finally get to call down fire on our enemies like we tried to do two months ago and you wouldn't let us? Is that what's about to happen? To which Jesus would smile and say as we're about to discover, no, I got way bigger plans for you than Jerusalem. I have way bigger plans for you than Judea. I even have way bigger plans for you than this territory of Galilee. We're about to launch something for the entire world, and you ladies and gentlemen have no idea how big the world actually is, but you're not gonna conquer anything.

I'm gonna send you out with an invitation. I'm gonna send you out to extend the same invitation I extended to you when we first met. Therefore, go and make disciples now. In this phrase, and the ones that follow, there are several participle in the Greek text, but there's only one imperative. There's only one command. And the only command is make disciples. The implication is this, as you are going, as you are living, as you are doing life, wherever you do life and wherever you travel, your responsibility, if you're gonna associate yourself with me, is to make sure you are engaged in some form or fashion with making more Jesus followers.

In other words, Jesus could say, if I show back up in a year, I expect there to be more of you. If I show up in 10 years, I expect there to be a lot more of you. For the rest of your life, part of your responsibility as you go, as you raise your kids, as you do life, as you age. Part of your responsibility, if you're going to associate with me, is to take on the mantle of responsibility of living your life in such a way and engaging with people in such a way that you multiply yourself, you replicate yourself, that there are more of us because of you than there was before. As you go multiply. And then he says this was, this is where they tap the brakes, "Of all people groups", "Therefore make disciples", make more followers of me, "Of all people groups", of all nations, to which they have, you know, immediately thought, wait, Gentiles, Gentile, Parthians, wait, Romans They looked around the room group and they were looking at each other like, anybody here ever been to Rome? And they're like, we've never even been outside a Galilee.

We just Judea, Galilee, this is the only world we know. You're telling us that you want us to make disciples, Jesus followers of every nation, even Rome. Is this gonna work in Rome? I don't think this is gonna play very well in Rome. Wait, Samaritans, does this include the Samaritans? To which they knew, of course it includes the Samaritans. He's already dealt with that. He made a Samaritan a hero, in one of his favorite, you know, famous parables. Not only that, we were in Samaria and there was the woman, and he's talking to her privately. And that was weird. And then she becomes like the hero of her town because she introduces her whole Samaritan town to our rabbi. I think he means the Samaritans.

And then again, we zip right by this because of our church traditions. Another participle, "Baptizing them", as you go, make disciples, baptizing them. This is covenant language. This is full inclusion. This is no distinction. And once again, they're thinking, but the Gentiles, I mean, we don't even cross their threshold. We don't allow them to cross our threshold. There's dietary stuff, there's moral stuff. I mean, wait a minute, full inclusion of non-Hebrew, non-Torah believing people, no distinction? We're challenged sometimes with who should be in and who should be out of a local church. I'm telling you, what they felt in this moment, we can't even begin to comprehend. He said, yeah and when you baptize them, you're gonna baptize them again. We rushed right by this. This was so offensive. Unless he was who he claimed to be.

"Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit", once again, he includes himself in a list that where no mere mortal belongs, where no mere mortal should be included. Equating himself with deity, equating himself with the father, therefore, go and make disciples. Oh yeah and as you're gonna baptize, and then maybe, here's the most important part of this, teaching them, as you go and make disciples, there's a teaching element of this. And so we'll teach them what? I want you to teach them to obey. Not just believe, I want you to teach them to obey. Well obey who, and obey what? "Everything that I have commanded you".

Have you ever thought about the implications of this statement? I want you to teach them guys, ladies and gentlemen, everything I've taught you, I want you to take what I have taught you, and I want you to replicate that. And I want you to live it out. And I want you to teach it to others. Remember my mountain message? Oh, hey, remember your mountain message? There was so much. I want you to teach that. Remember the thing about the log and the eye and the spec? I want you to teach that. Remember the extra mile? I want you to teach that.

Remember when I told you, you gotta fix it with them before you try to fix it with him, that you cannot fix it with him until you fix it with them? I wanna make sure you teach that. I want you to teach people to forgive regardless. I want you to teach people to be the Samaritan in that parable and not be the older brother in the other parables. I want you to teach them to do unto other people the way they want people to do unto them. But then I want you to take it up a notch. I want you to teach people to love one another the way I've loved you. And I want you to teach them to love their enemies the way I loved you when you were my enemy.

I want you to teach them to love their enemies the way I loved you after you betrayed me, abandoned me, and quit believing in me. I want you to teach them to wash one another's feet like I washed your feet. You remember that night? They're like, oh my goodness. It took forever. And we were, nobody spoke a word. All we could hear was the drip of that water and the pan. And there's our rabbi that we thought might be Messiah on his knees. And we are in the elevated position as we sit. And he's in the not so elevated position as he washes. We'll never forget that. And you remember what I told you? As I've done for you, you were to do for others. If you ever get too big for your britches, you just find some feet to wash.

That's what I want you to teach. And that's what I want you to do. I want you to teach them to do everything I have commanded you to do. Pause, what if we've been doing that? What if that had been our focus? What if that had been the focus of our teaching and our preaching and our discipling and our discussions? What if obeying, not simply believing, what if obeying what Jesus taught had been the epicenter of our preaching and teaching all these years for generations? The world would be a better place, the church would be a healthier place. And then if that's not enough, Jesus gives them a promise. And again, we misapply this because we have taken these verses and we have just allowed them to blend in with everything else in the text. But they are so preeminent, they're so important. They're at the epicenter of everything that we are and what we believe as Christians.

Here's the promise he makes. "And surely", he says, don't worry, because imagine what they're thinking. Wait, you want us to go into the whole world? Our world is so small, we don't know how to do this. We don't know how to talk to Gentiles. We don't even know any Gentiles. We hate the Samaritans, they hate us. Rome is our enemy. Wait, wait, wait this is way too much for us. And Jesus appreciates the fact that they're so overwhelmed. It is overwhelming to think about. It's overwhelming for us to think about. He says, but I'll make you promise if you do this, "Surely I am with you always to the very end of this current age". But here's the question. Who is you? Are you, you? Am I you? Are you, you? Do you know who you is?

You is believers whose belief has feet. You as believers who understand, we're partnering with our king. You are the disciple makers. Do you, I know the answer is kind of rhetorical, but do you want Jesus to be with you? That according to Jesus, you have to be with him because he is a way bigger deal than you. And he is a way bigger deal than me. And his agenda is a way bigger agenda and a way more important agenda than my personal agenda. Do you want Jesus to be with you? Then you have to choose to be with him. Are you with him on this? To make a specific, is any of your time? Are are any of your resources already, ahead of time, allocated? That is part of the rhythm of your life, pre-decide, carved out.

Is any of your time, are any of your resources allocated to making more followers of Jesus? Does any of your money or your time intersect systematically with the endeavors of a local church or an organization somewhere to make more disciples? In other words, do your resources and your time. Does it intersect systematically with the mission of your king? Are you engaged? Am I engaged in our king's business or are we too caught up minding our own? Here's what I know, and this thrills me, while I'm speaking, there are hundreds of teenagers and adults who are at this very moment making disciples, not of all nations, but of the next generation. And if you're part of that group, thank you. That in our local churches, there are thousands of you that meet in homes every single week or every other week.

To sit in circles and to ask the questions, how do we do this? How do we live this out? How do I live this out in my difficult marriage? How do I live this out with my difficult boss? How do I live this out while I'm unemployed? How do I live this out? What does it look like to follow Jesus? Pray for me, hold me accountable. I wanna get this right. Every week, people in circles all around our cities, they share their stories and people hear their stories, and they're encouraged to follow Jesus and inspired to follow Jesus because people have put feet on their faith. And hundreds of people stand out in parking lots to assure that the local church experience is hitting on all cylinders and is fabulous.

And hundreds and thousands of people just in our network of churches, plus churches all over the world, show up on the weekends and during the week to serve other people in Jesus' name. And many of you are involved in nonprofit organizations in your local community and all over the world to ensure that people hear the message of Jesus combined with the things they need in the moment. Because you understand that when you meet a person's physical need in the name of Jesus, you're opening the door to them perhaps becoming a follower of Jesus.

So for those of you who are already doing that, thank you. I can make this promise to you without any hesitation. Your savior is with you because you are with him. These were Jesus' final instructions. That makes them essential, that makes them fundamental, it's how we got here. So number seven on our list is simply this. Jesus followers are multipliers. Jesus followers, they're not just believers. Jesus followers are multipliers. This is something you have to believe, whether you ever do it or not, because this is what Jesus said about his followers. Jesus followers are multipliers collectively, sometimes individually.

Now, maybe I'm over reading this, or maybe I'm thinking too hard about it, but I think for some people who hear a message like this, especially if you're more of a traditional Christian, you may be thinking something like this. Andy and I don't take this personally because I'm saying it, not you, but Andy, I don't really like your list. I think your list is ridiculous. You've just made all of this up. Okay, Andy, let me just tell you, I'm a little bit more theologically astute than you and the people in your churches that if you call it that, because I like the Apostles Creed. I like the Apostles Creed or some of the other creeds, but I like the Apostles Creed better than your list. And some of you're familiar with the Apostles Creed, right?

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Then I'm adding this, I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son and our Lord. And it goes from there, all these things that we believe. And you know what? That the Apostles Creed, most of the creeds are way more theologically robust than our fundamentalist. But you look it up if you don't believe what I'm about to say. That creed, its origins, and as it evolved through time, along with some of the other creeds were created in an era when the church was condoning all manner of un-christlike activity.

When the church substitutes belief for obedience to what Jesus taught. When the church substitutes belief statements or creeds, when the church substitutes belief for following, obeying what Jesus taught, people always get hurt, but worse. They get hurt in the name of Jesus. Then Jesus came to them. Imagine this moment. And he said, "All authority", all authority. Jesus is your authority because he's your king. "All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me", by my father. And since I'm in charge, and since I'm a way bigger deal and since I've demonstrated who I am by rising from the dead, here's what I want you to do in response.

Therefore, I want you to go and as you go, I want you to reproduce. I want you to multiply. I want you to be a part of making disciples. At the end of your life, I want you to be able to look back and say, look at him, look at her. I was part of her story. I was part of, I wasn't his whole story. I was part of that story. I was part of that group of children's story. I was part of this college student story. I wasn't the whole story, but I was a part of their story. They are obeying and following Jesus because my life and my time and my resources intersected with their life and their time.

So teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you, let's just do this. Or to be honest, and to be fair, let's keep doing this. And if you're not playing a part, you gotta find your part. You gotta be about the king's business. It's not an add-on. It's not for professionals, it's for everybody. It's fundamental, it's essential. Jesus followers are multipliers. So figure out a way to be a multiplier. It's how the world changed. We can't even imagine, two handfuls of men and women who'd never been anywhere that they couldn't walk, were given the responsibility. It was so fragile. The whole endeavor was so fragile based on where they were, who they were, what they had, what they didn't have.

And the fact that Rome was everything. It was so fragile, they figured it out, and they were good stewards of the gospel in their generation. And we have been called to be good stewards of the gospel in ours. So be a multiplier, it's how the world changed. And come on, I don't know your story, but if you're a Christian, it's how you were changed. Somebody invested their time in you, whether it was a parent, a grandparent, a Sunday school teacher, somebody you met at work. So let's do for others what others did for us. And if we do, he will be with us because we have decided to be with him.
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