Greg Laurie - What is a Disciple?
The title of the message today is, What Is A Disciple? How many of you have ever seen the bumper sticker probably in a car, that says, God is my Co-Pilot? You've seen that sticker? How many of you have that sticker on your car? Okay, if you do, please take it off now. I actually saw kind of a response to it, a little bit satirical, it said, Dog is my Co-pilot, instead of God. You say, that's sacrilegious. Honestly, I like the dog one better than the God one. Let your dog be your co-pilot, God doesn't want to be your co-pilot. God doesn't even want you in the cockpit, okay? So this is part of the problem, is we sort of envision God as, God as my co-pilot, God as my wing man, God as my close buddy, well you know, look, yes, it's true, God will be your friend, but oh no, he wants to be so much more than that, you see? He is the potter and you are the clay. He is the shepherd and you are the sheep. He is the master, and you are the servant. We gotta get this one figured out.
In fact we read over in 1 Corinthians 6:19, that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, which we have from God, and we're not our own. Do we understand that? You're not your own. Often we'll say well you know, my wife, my husband, my car, my house, my career, my ministry, my future, my past, my thoughts, my plans, my, my, my. Okay, it's okay, they have a sense of connection to all those things, but we need to always remember that everything belongs to God. Your possessions belong to God, your families belong to God, your future, it all belongs to God. So listen to this, our objective in life is not to find out how God can bless our dreams and ambitions. Let me say that again, 'cause this is not always what we hear being taught today sometimes even in churches. Our goal in life should not be to get God to bless our dreams and ambitions, listen, our goal, or our objective, is to find his plan and align ourselves with it. This is really important.
Some of you are saying, well God doesn't care about my dreams? God doesn't care about my ambitions? He cares, but our goal is not to get God to do what we want him to do, our goal should be us doing what he wants us to do, because eventually you'll figure out, God's plans for you are better than your plans for yourself. So never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God, that's what it means to be a servant. Hey, that's what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus told the story about a group of servants that were given a task to fulfill. And at the end of the story he said, in the same way when you obey me, you should say, we're unworthy servants, and we have simply done our duty. You know sometimes people will come in and they go, say, Greg, thank you for all that you do, and the sacrifices you make, and you know, thank you for that compliment, but honestly I'm just doing my duty. And the same is true of all of us. We're just doing what the Lord has called us to do, I don't deserve any special applause or praise for what I do, nor do you. We're just doing our duty. Hey, we're just being disciples of Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis said, and I quote, "all who are called to salvation are called to discipleship. No exceptions, no excuses". but listen, here is the secret many do not know. Here is the sweet spot of the Christian life. In fact, this is where you will find life. Do you understand what I mean when I say sweet spot? Like in a racquet there's a sweet spot. And if you hit it, you have the maximum control and effect. And there's a sweet spot in the Christian life, where it almost becomes effortless, where you enjoy that life and joy that God wants you to experience, and it's embedded right here in the Great Commission. So let's look at it again. Matthew 28, we read these words, Jesus speaking, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I've given you, and be sure of this, I am with you, even to the end of the age".
We're in the series now on the topic of discipleship. In the last message, I asked you, are you his disciple, now I'm defining what a disciple actually is, because I'm committed by Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples, and we all say, well that's an amazing idea, let's do it. But you can't make a disciple if you are not first a disciple yourself. It takes one to make one. And as I pointed out, all disciples are Christians, but not all Christians are necessarily disciples. So here's what it comes down to. As a follower of Jesus, I should either be being disciple, or I should be discipling others, and sometimes I'm doing both. There's someone that I'm discipling, and someone that's discipling me. You say, well what is all this discipling mean? It means that I'm taking a younger believer under my wing, I'm helping them to get established and get more mature spiritually, but at the same time I have someone in my life that's helping me to grow as well. This is something we're all called to be, either be a disciple or a disciple maker, and preferably, both at the same time. But where does that start? No-brainer, it's right here in the Great Commission. Be baptized. What does Jesus say? Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, son and the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday we baptized a lot of people, down there in Pirate's Cove and Newport Beach and it was such a joy to talk to people young and old, who had been impacted by the Gospel, and there was one gentleman that came up to me, and he said, you know, Greg, I've been waiting to be baptized for 30 years. And my response was, I'm really glad you're here, but why did you wait so long? He goes, I don't know. I'm like, I don't know either! I said, well better late than never, but you know, if you've accepted Christ, you should be baptized. Well wait, baptism isn't necessary for salvation. Well Bible study isn't necessary for salvation, nor is prayer, nor is attending church, but are those good things to do? And Jesus told me specifically in the Great Commission he actually broke it out so this is important to him, so we start in the simple act of obedience, to be baptized, so begin there, and then number two he says, obey his commands. Go into all the world, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples to obey all my commands. Before I can teach others to obey his commands, I first should be obeying his commands.
Well what are his commands? Well there are many. I could cite, but let me sum it up in this simple way. Jesus said if you will love me, with all of your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself, you fulfill the commands. Think about it for a second. If I love God with all of my heart, and all of my soul and all of my mind, I would never want to break the first four of the 10 Commandments, which deal with my relationship with God. If I really love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, I wouldn't want to have another God before him. I wouldn't want to worship a false image. I wouldn't want to take his name in vain. And if I loved my neighbor as myself I would not want to lie to them, or steal from them, or covet something that belongs to them, and I certainly would not want to murder them. So if I focus on loving God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and my neighbor as myself, I will fulfill the commands he gets.
Now let's shift gears and go to our second passage. Go over to Luke 14 where Jesus really breaks down what it means to be a disciple. Verse 26 he says, "If any man comes to me and does not hate his father or mother, wife and children, brothers, sisters, yes in his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple". I made this point my last message, but in case you didn't hear it, I want you to know what it is. Number one if you want to be his disciple you must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. You must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. When Jesus says hate your father, mother, brother, sister, et cetera, he's not being literal. Because in other passages I'm told to love my wife as Christ loves the church, I'm told to even love my enemies. Jesus is using a contrasting term to make a larger point. In effect he's saying, your love for God should be so intense that your love for others would be like hatred, in comparison. You need to love Jesus more than you love your wife. You need to love Jesus more than you love your husband. You need to love Jesus more than you love your children. You need to love Jesus more than you love your stuff. You need to love Jesus more than you love your life itself.
You say well, I don't know if that's possible. Oh it's possible, listen to this. If you really love Jesus as you want to, he'll give you more love for that ornery husband of yours. If you really love Jesus as you ought to, he'll give you more love for that, dare I say it, sometimes, on rare occasions, nagging wife? If you really love Jesus as you ought to, he'll give you love for those crazy teenagers. If you love Jesus as you ought to, he'll give you love, more love, for those overbearing parents, right? He'll give you more love. He'll expand your heart. So you must love God more than anyone or anything else. Love him more than your career. Love him more than your ministry. Love him more than even your life. Point number two. The disciple must take up the cross and follow Jesus. Verse 27, "whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple". In Luke's Gospel over in the ninth chapter Jesus addresses this again, addresses this again with a little more detail. He says, "if anyone desires to come after me and be my disciple, he must deny himself," listen to this, "and take up his cross daily, and follow me, for whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it".
So I know when I make a statement like this it sounds pretty unappealing. You imagine yourself living this miserable life, you know, sacrificial life, an unhappy life, but as I said in the beginning, this is the way to live as a Christian. You sort of envision it like your friends call you up, hey, wanna go out and get dinner and a movie tonight? No, I don't want to do that. Why not? Because I'm bearing the cross. Wow, okay. What does that mean? It means I'm eating bread, very old stale bread, drinking water, and just staring at the wall. All the while dressed in sackcloth, yes. That's not bearing the cross, that's being weird, okay. And it has nothing to do with bearing the cross, because the fact of the matter is, when you're really bearing the cross, you'll be experiencing life. Don't forget, Jesus said, if you lose your life for my sake, you'll find it.
I mean, we want to find the meaning of life, and people say I'm learning to love myself. I just don't love myself but I'm learning to love myself. Oh stop, you love yourself so much already. No I don't because I'm overweight, and I don't think I'm attractive and I don't like the way I looked in the last 5,000 selfies that I shot, and posted on Instagram. Yesterday. Yeah. Because you love yourself, you took 5,000 selfies. Because you love yourself you're aware of your appearance. Because you love yourself you think about yourself. So don't say you're learning to love yourself, you already love yourself, that's just an established fact. Jesus is saying, no, the objective is not to learn to love yourself, it's to deny yourself. And it's to lose yourself. And then you'll find yourself.
Sometimes people say well, I am trying to find myself. And that's just another way of saying I'm gonna do something really selfish right now. I hate the expression, by the way, I'm gonna go find myself. Just shut up, okay? Stop. Because this is what I hear when the husband's ready to walk out on the wife and kids. This is what I hear when the wife is abandoning her family. This is what I hear when a person is gonna make really bad decisions. I'm trying to find myself. No, Jesus says, you actually want to find yourself? Lose yourself, and how do you lose yourself? Answer, by taking up the cross and following him. Jesus says if you want to be my disciple, take up your cross daily. Now, here's the problem. We have no idea what this means. And I think it's even more complicated from the time we live in, because what do you think of when you think of the cross? Probably the symbol of the church, or Christianity. You see a cross, you think, that's a symbol of Christianity. The cross for many is a fashion accessory. It's a new tat on their arm. It's something they, you know, maybe have somewhere, but, and that's fine, I'm not critical of the cross, but let me just say for explanation that the early church did not use a cross as their symbol.
In fact the early church used a fish as their symbol. Did you know that? Now later on the church used the cross, but in the first century it was the fish. You say well, why a fish? Well, basically the idea was, there's an ancient story told of a Christian meeting a stranger on the road and the Christian drew the arc of the fish, wondering of that other person was a Christian, and if they were they would complete the arc, and it would be a fish. And they would put the mark of the fish, maybe in a place where the believers were meeting, undercover, so here's the point I'm trying to make. the early church did not wear crosses, they died on crosses. It was an upsetting, shocking image, and that's why Jesus used it, you see. So when he says take up the cross, it's like whoa, that's kind of an alarming way to phrase it. Because people knew about crosses, living in any area occupied by Romans. Like Jerusalem. Because the Romans had a penchant for crucifying people. And by the way that was not a way to put a person to death efficiently.
There are far more effective ways, and faster ways. The Romans crucified people to torture them. The Romans crucified people to bring the maximum amount of pain. The Romans crucified people and put them on public display to serve as a warning to anyone who would dare defy the power of Rome. So you could be walking down a road, going into any Roman city or Roman occupied city and see a line on each side with crucified men. So when you hear Jesus say take up your cross and follow me it means one thing. It means that person is going to die. And maybe that's why Jesus said, you better count the cost. Luke 14 verse 28 he says, "don't begin until you count the cost, or who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there's enough money to finish it? Otherwise you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, oh, that's a person who started the building and can't afford to finish it".
So it comes down to this, if you want to remain a big baby for the rest of your life spiritually, if you want to have everything spoon-fed to you for the rest of your life, this message is not for you. But if you want to grow up and become a man or a woman of God, then pay careful attention. This is not something we do impulsively. One day Jesus was walking along and some guy yells out, Lord, I'll follow you wherever you go. You would've thought Jesus would've said, awesome, come on, join the team, glad to have you on board. Instead he turns to the guy and says, listen, birds have nests and foxes have holes, but the son of man has no where to lay his head. What does that mean? Jesus is saying buddy, I think you're making an impulsive statement. I don't think you're thinking this through, and just so you know, I'm not headed to the Jerusalem Hilton right now. I don't even have a place to sleep at night, and in fact, I'm going to go and die on a cross for the sin of the world. So I just want you to be aware of that.
As my friend J.D. Greear said, quote, "salvation is free, it costs us nothing. But following Jesus will eventually cost you something, maybe everything," end quote. So he said okay, alright, and so, I want to count the costs and take up the cross. But what does it mean to bear the cross? We use this phrase, cross-bearing, for a lot of things. You know, you might say of your husband, oh, my husband, he's my cross to bear in life. And he might be saying that about you too, by the way, wife. But my cross to bear is this neighbor I have, or my cross to bear is this problem I'm facing, no, that's not your cross to bear. Here's what your cross to bear simply is. It means you die to yourself, and by dying to yourself or losing yourself, you ultimately find yourself. You go, what do you mean by die to self?
Let me illustrate. Dying to self means resisting that temptation to do what everybody else does. Dying to self means to a single person waiting to have sex until you're married. Dying to self if you're a married person means no sex after marriage. Well let me rephrase that. With someone besides your spouse. Because some of you're saying that's me, I'm married, I haven't had sex for, six months, really. No, you misunderstood it. With only your spouse. Please have sex with your spouse. Is that controversial? The Bible actually tells you to do that. If you are sitting at home, sometimes dying to yourself means, sit down the remote control, and or the cell phone, and or the tablet device, and or whatever electronic gadget you're holding onto, the control for the video game, and pick up your Bible and read it. Dying to yourself means praying when you'd rather be sleeping. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means forgiving someone who has hurt you if you feel like it or not. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means swallowing your pride, and telling someone about Jesus. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means doing what God wants you to do, instead of doing what you want to do. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means leaving your comfort zone and engaging a person in conversation about Jesus Christ.
There's hundreds, maybe even thousands of opportunities every day to die to yourself. Hey, dying to yourself means getting up in the morning and going to church. Because we're not always in the mood to go to church. Are you always in the mood to go to church? Some of you, really? You aren't? You don't like it here? No, I'm kidding. No, sometimes we aren't, I heard about a husband and wife that were getting ready for church in the morning and the wife noticed the husband hadn't done a thing to get ready, she's ready to walk out the door, she said honey, we're going to church. Why aren't you ready? He says, I'm not going to church today. She said, why? He says I'll give you three reasons why. The people in that church are cold. Number two no one down there likes me. Number three, I just don't wanna go. She said I'll give you three reasons why you need to go to church today. Number one, the people there are warm. Number two, some people like you. And number three, you're the pastor, so get dressed, see.
Let me ask you this. Has there ever been a time where you really didn't want to go to church? You just weren't in the mood, or you had the sniffles, or there were eight drops of rain, or whatever it was, right? I love how, you know, there's a little rain, we can't go to church, but we can go to the mall or the movies still, right? So whatever it was, he says, no no, we're going to church, because that's what we do. That's how we roll. That's a priority in this house, so you went and the moment the worship began you're like ah, I was supposed to be here today. Have you ever had a time when, I really don't want to read the Bible. I'm too busy to read the Bible. And you open it more out of obedience, almost, and then a verse just jumped off the page and spoke directly to a situation you were dealing with. Has there ever been a time where you really didn't want to leave your comfort zone and engage a person you didn't know, in a conversation about Jesus, but you did it out of obedience as a way of denying yourself and taking up the cross, and that conversation blew open and it resulted in that person coming to Christ? You see that's what it means. We die to ourself, we take up the cross and we follow him.
Point number three. The disciple must turn the title deed of their life over to Christ. The disciple must turn the title deed of their life over to Christ. So if you're a car guy, give him the pink slip, right. Verse 33, "you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own". The King James translation is, "Forsake all that you have". it's just reminding ourselves we're actually not owners, we're stewards. Because everything you have one day is gonna be passed on to someone else, you know, you can't take it with you. So what does it mean when Jesus says, giving up everything that you own? Does that mean it's a sin to have a car, or a house, or some money in the bank, or some clothes, no no, of course not. Here's what it means. It could better be translated, surrender your claim to those things. If you want to be my disciple, surrender your claim to everything in life. So it's a recognition, God is the owner, God is the pink slip, God is in control of it, and I recognize I'm just a steward over it for a period of time.
See it's not wrong to have a career but it's wrong if a career has you. It's not wrong to have possessions but it can be wrong if your possessions have you. Your only real passion and obsession in life should be Christ, and all these other things have their place, but not the most important place. My granddaughter Allie loves to collect stuffed animals. She really loves them. And so whenever I go on a trip, she'll say Papa, bring me back a stuffed animal. So if I'm traveling you'll see little stuffed animal heads sticking out of my carry-on bags, I'll look for them and bring them home, and so the other day I was on a trip, and I made a video of a bunch of stuffed animals. And I said, which one do you like, Allie? And I got her on the phone on FaceTime, and we're talking, and she says, Papa, I'm not obsessed with stuffed animals anymore. I said, really? She says, I'm just obsessed with talking with you. I said, oh, I like that. It's very good. Girls, try that line on a guy. girls, I think that line would work on any guy, no matter his age, no matter your relationship, you know, warmed my heart. I think we all should say, to God, Lord, I'm obsessed with talking with you. And walking with you and hearing from you, and knowing you.
Number four, a disciple must impact their culture. A disciple must, and will, impact their culture. Look at verse 34 of Luke 14. Jesus says, "salt is good for seasoning, but if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good for the soil, excuse me, flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile, it's thrown away, anyone willing to hear what I'm saying, should listen and understand". hey, what good is salt, if it's not salty? Really? That's like Coke without carbonation. Ever get a flat Coke? Kinda gross. It's like an espresso without caffeine. What's with that? I love like a triple espresso, decaf. Get out. Really? It's like having a car without an engine. Also known as a Prius. sorry. And you probably have a Prius with a God is My Co-Pilot sticker on the back, right? No, that's not true, because no Prius owner would ever have God is my Co-Pilot sticker, they would have a Co-Exist sticker. Am I right? Right? And I know, 'cause I've seen them, I've gotten behind them on the freeway, they always drive slow. That's because the wheels on the Prius are this big. And I have a sneaking suspicion that cats drive Priuses. I'm just, they're all interconnected somehow. Sometimes they have Bernie stickers too, right? Oh, you know it's true, don't go ohhh. It's true. I'm not critical, I'm observant, people, that's all.
So when Jesus says you are the salt, what good is unsalty salt? The point he's making is, what good is a halfhearted Christian? What good is a diluted believer? What good is a decaf disciple, right? What good is it? Well the answer is, not good for much. So what does salt do? Well, we have to understand in this culture, just like we misunderstand the cross, we misunderstand salt. Salt was kind of a big deal in the first century. In fact it was so important and valuable that sometimes they would pay Roman soldiers in salt. Hence the expression, he's not worth his salt. Valuable commodity. Also, salt, obviously has an impact. A little bit of salt goes a long way. You know, with a meal, put a little salt on it, or, hey, if you have watermelon, I love watermelon, a little bit of salt takes it to another place, doesn't it? Works with cantaloupe too. I like it in cantaloupe. Also in oatmeal, just a little bit. Don't overdo it or you'll wreck it for sure. But so what is Jesus saying? He's saying, number one you're valuable. And number two your life can make a difference. So when he says you're the salt, he's saying you're of value, and you can make a difference.
Another thing that salt does is it stops the rotting process. Back in the first century, without refrigeration, the way they would preserve meat was by rubbing salt in it. And in the same way we sort of stop the spread of evil. A Christian may speak up in a classroom or speak up in an office, or speak up in a neighborhood, or speak up in our culture and say when something is wrong, and speak up for what is right, but not only do we stop the spread of evil, we're not just there to stop bad things, we're there to speak up for the most important thing, Jesus Christ, because salt stimulates thirst. Now of course movie theaters know this well. They salt that popcorn. So you'll come back and buy a Coke that costs $100. and it's in a trashcan, it's so, why does everything have to be so big? And so expensive? But you know, you get thirsty, and I think the greatest compliment that can be paid to a Christian is when a nonbeliever says, what is it about you, I admire you, I want to know what makes you tick. Ah, you've done your job, Christian. You've done your job, disciple, because you've created thirst in another.
As you all know this McQueen film, yes, one person's clapping randomly, thank you. I don't know if that was a delayed clap, or an anticipation clap, but it was kind of out there, but I appreciate any applause, okay, so I just, thank you. Thank, well, all. I don't even know what that was for but thanks again. And I lost my point, you crazy people. No, it's my own fault. We're doing this film thing, McQueen, some guy yells out. That's right, we're doing a movie, you know, about the life of Steve McQueen and some have asked, why, you know, what is your deal with Steve McQueen? Okay, it's not my deal with Steve McQueen, it's a story of a transformation of a life. That, he was like a modern-day Solomon. You know, he had everything this world offers. McQueen in his day was the number one movie star in the world, he had incredible wealth, he had women throwing themselves at him, and he was a willing recipient I might add.
He had the coolest cars, motorcycles, he bought an airplane hanger to just store his cool stuff, it was like the ultimate man cave. He lived the dream. And saw the emptiness of it, and walked away from Hollywood at the peak of his fame, and moved to this little town called Santa Paula, California. It's like small town, USA. Because it reminded him of the town he grew up in, as a young boy, Slater, Missouri. And the reason he moved there also was because Santa Paula was the antique plane capital of the world, and Steve bought his German biplane, a very old plane, because he wanted to learn to fly. He didn't know it but he was setting himself up for what God had for him. Because it was only one guy qualified to teach people to fly in this German biplane, and it was a guy named Sammy Mason, that was a totally committed disciple of Jesus Christ. But here's how Sammy reached Steve McQueen. Not by, you know, fawning over him. In fact the cool thing is, Steve called, says, I wanna learn how to fly, and Sammy answers and says, I'm not taking on new clients right now. New students. And Steve says, well this is Steve McQueen. And he says, I don't care, I'm not taking on new students right now.
Steve couldn't believe it. Whenever he said who he was, everyone wanted to help him. So he called back, I'm Steve McQueen, I'm a movie star, I want you to teach me how to fly. I don't care, he says. I'm not taking on new students. So later that day Sammy says to his son Pete, yeah, some guy called me, an actor, Steve McQueen, wants to learn how to fly. His son's like, dad, that's Steve McQueen, we watch his movie, the Great Escape, all the time. Oh, whatever, okay, I'll take him on. That was Sammy. So they spent hours in the cockpit, and Steve saw something in Sammy that impressed him. And Sammy was a man's man, he was a regular kind of guy. He was a salt of the earth kind of guy, in the best use of that phrase, that he wasn't ashamed to talk about his faith and Steve said, Sammy, I see, like you have a peace, and I want this peace, what is it? And Sammy said, Steve, it's my relationship with Jesus Christ. And then Steve said, will you let me come to church with you?
So, Steve actually asked him if he could go to church with Sammy, he ended up in church, he heard Pastor Leonard Dewitt speak, who's still alive and I've talked with Leonard, he's an amazing guy, and Steve came to faith, but you see, it was someone living the life and stimulating a thirst in someone else, for Jesus Christ, are you doing that right now? One last point. A disciple will bring forth spiritual fruit. A disciple will bring forth spiritual fruit. Now this not here in Luke 14, this is in John 15 where Jesus says, in John 15:8, "by this is my father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so shall you be my disciples". If you are really a disciple of Jesus, you'll have fruit in your life. You say, but what does that mean, fruit in my life? It means results. It means evidence. Another way of putting it, if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? By evidence I don't mean Bibles laying around, or Christian bumper stickers or things like that. I mean evidence, where they would talk to people you know, look at your lifestyle and say, I can see the evidence in their life, and one of the first things we do as a Christian is we bring forth what the Bible calls fruit in keeping with repentance, you see.
So your old buddy say, hey man, let's go out and get a drink after work. I don't do that anymore. What? You don't do that anymore? Yeah, I don't drink anymore. Pff, hey, I found this porn site man, I don't look at that stuff anymore. Whoa, what's wrong with you? Oh, it's not what's wrong with me, it's what's right with me. Christ has come into my life. See, they know you now by the fruit of your repentance. You've stopped doing some wicked things, now you are doing in their place godly things, and that intrigues them, and also perplexes them, but you should be known by your repentance. That's one way to bring forth fruit. Giving praise and thanks to God is a way of bearing fruit. Because we're told by him, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of your lips. So earlier in worship when we sang the praises of the Lord, that was bringing forth fruit. When we gave in the offering, that was bringing forth fruit. Those are tangible results.
One other thing, I could go on and on about this one, but one other thing, is a change in your conduct and character is spiritual fruit. A change in your conduct and character. Galatians 5:22 says, "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control". Can people see the fruit in your life? Let's review and conclude. Number one, the disciple of Jesus Christ loves God more than anyone or anything else. Number two, a disciple of Jesus Christ takes up his cross daily and follows him. Thirdly, the disciple of Jesus has turned the title deed, or the pink slip of their life over to him. Fourthly, a disciple impacts our culture, and fifth and lastly, a disciple brings forth spiritual fruit. Okay let's pull out the word disciple, and insert your name in its place. Greg loves Jesus more than anyone or anything else. How does that fit? Depends. I try to, I want to.
Do I always measure up to that? Of course I don't. But that's something I should aspire to, isn't it? How about this, Kathy takes up the cross daily and follows Christ. Josh impacts his culture. Mary brings forth spiritual fruit. Put your name in those places, and do you do that? You say well, no, I don't know if anyone can do that. Who can even live up to these standards? Answer, you can. I can, and you must. If you're going to be a disciple. And you say but I can't. No, it's more like you won't. Don't you remember when your teacher used to tell you there's a difference between can't and won't. You can, you just won't. Don't say you can't. Because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Okay, that's what the Bible says. so this is not a can I do it, issue. This is a will I do it, issue. Will I do it? Will I make that decision today, and then make that decision again tonight, and tomorrow morning, then in the early afternoon, then at lunchtime, then after, then into the evening, then into the next day, remember, being a disciple is taking up the cross daily, and follow Christ.
You don't do it once a year, or once a month, you do it every day, and really, in effect, multiple times, throughout the day. That's what we are to do. Take up the cross. Listen, and when we bring forth spiritual fruit, it doesn't grow overnight, right? You don't go in your back yard and pull up a chair in front of your peach tree and just look. I mean you could do that, but you won't see anything. But if you set up a camera and did time lapse photography, over a period of a month, oh, you'd see dramatic growth. But you look at it every day you may not see any growth but it's growing, so this takes time, but we just need to start by saying, I want to take up the cross daily and do it, because I want to find the life God has for me.
See, living in this in between spot is the miserable place, living in the sweet spot of commitment is where the life is. Listen to what Paul said. "I'm crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet it's not I, but Christ that lives in me, who loved me and gave himself for me". Did you notice what Paul said? I'm crucified in Christ. Death, cross, cross-bearing. Nevertheless, Paul said, I live. See, he understood this. That's where the life is. As I lose my life, which means give it to God, I find my life, I find my purpose and meaning in life, by putting God first. As I quoted earlier, "becoming a Christian costs you nothing, it's a gift, but being a disciple costs everything". yeah, being a Christian costs you nothing.
Listen, God has an awesome gift for you today. It's called the gift of eternal life. I love how the Bible calls it the unspeakable gift. I like that word because it's effectively saying there's no word to describe it, it's so incredible. It's just unspeakable. Why is it unspeakable? Because it's the only gift that becomes more valuable with the passing of time. It's not that the gift itself becomes more valuable, but I think our understanding of it does. Because we see the depth and the width, and the greatness of it, and then as we get closer to the end of life on earth, that's when we see the full power of the gift, because it means we have the hope of heaven.
And I ask in closing, do you have that hope right now, that when you die you'll go to heaven? God offers you a gift. You say, well how do I receive the gift? Well, how do you receive any gift? You reach out and you say thank you and you open it. So God offers you the gift of eternal life and you say Lord, I receive that gift. You have to admit you're a sinner, turn from your sin, and ask Jesus to come inside. And I would like to pray and give you an opportunity to do that and then, pray for all of you that want to be disciples.
So Father, now speak to any that have joined us, wherever they are, if they don't know you yet, help them to come to you and believe in you, and receive the forgiveness of all of their sin, and the hope of heaven.
When our heads our bowed and our eyes are closed, and we're praying, if you would like Jesus Christ to come into your life today, if you would like him to forgive you of all of your sin and know with certainty that you'll go to Heaven when you die, why don't you just pray this prayer, right where you are, you can pray it out loud if you like, you can pray it silently if you prefer, but if you want Jesus to give you this gift of heaven, and eternal life, just pray this after me. Wherever you are, just pray this.
Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner. And I know you are the Savior. Who died on the cross for me. I turn from my sin now, and I choose to follow you, from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.