James Merritt - Disciple, Conquering Cultural Christianity
Well, I wanna say good morning, to those of you who are here with us live and those who are watching online by television, wherever you are around the world, thanks for joining us today. And I wanna begin by asking a very serious question. And you don't need to answer it out loud, but I do want you to answer in your heart. Are you really ready to do business with God? I sent out a video this week and I don't do this. So, I don't ever remember doing it ever in my life, but I'm sent out a video and it wasn't hype. I said, if I knew today would be my last Sunday. If I knew, when I walked out that door, I die, I'm going to heaven, I'm gonna be with the Lord.
This is the message that I would preach. I wanna be very upfront, it's not gonna be an easy message for a lot of you in this room, it's not gonna be an easy message for a lot of you watching right now by television or on the internet or wherever you might be. It is not gonna be a very comfortable message, for a lot of you in this room and a lot of you listening to me right now, but if you really wanna know what's wrong with the church and you really wanna know what's wrong with the country and the nation and the world. I'm gonna share it with you today. There's something that's true about all of us. Is true of every person who you'll ever meet, is true of every person who's ever lived, ever will live.
There's one thing I know about all of you and you know about me. We all have parents, we got here because of parents, because a husband and wife came together, consummated their marriage, you were conceived and you were born. And though we probably didn't realize it at the time, our parents had certain dreams for us. There were certain aspirations they had and you know this, when children become parents, they have dreams for their children. It's just natural, we all have those dreams. For example, my dad had a dream for me. My dad wanted me to be a doctor, because he wanted to be a doctor, but he never could afford to go to school and so it was always a dream of his. So, his dream for me was to be a doctor. It wasn't a bad dream, that was just his aspiration for me. And some parents even make it very obvious from the time their children are young.
This is what I want you to do, this is my dream for you. So, for example, maybe you're one of those parents right now, and you've spent thousands of dollars, sending your children to tennis camps, or to give them golf lessons or you give them the best coaches you can find in football and baseball and basketball, because you got a dream for your child. You want that child to make it to the major leagues, to the NFL, to the NBA. You want that child one day to be that neurosurgeon or that doctor, to do what you always wanted to do, but you never could do it for whatever the reason. Other parents have children, they want them to take over the family business and parents will send their children to a particular school, because they want them to become a lawyer or a CEO or maybe even a minister, like I am.
So, I wanna make something very plain, if you're a parent today, those dreams are not wrong, you ought to have dreams for your kids. I'm just saying that they're there, we all have dreams for our children. Well, here's what I want you to hear, our heavenly father is no different. He has a dream for his children. He has a dream for everyone that was ever born, from the time they came out of their mother's womb and it's the same dream. This is the difference, God's dream for you and God's dream for me is exactly the same and it can be summarized in one word, God's dream for you is to become a disciple. That's his dream, that's what he wants. From the time you were born, to the time you came into your mother's womb, God said, here's what I want for you. I'm not worried about how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in, what kind of degrees you get, that doesn't matter to me. I want you to become a disciple.
As a matter of fact, becoming a disciple is such a big deal to God. He only gave the church one job. I'll tell you what it is, in two words, you know what it is? What is it? Make disciples, God said, that's your job. You have three jobs, four jobs, five jobs, you don't even have two jobs, God says the church has one job, make disciples. Out of the gate Jesus has three years to do his ministry. What's the first thing He does? He chooses 12 men and says, I'm going to make you my, what? My disciples. He said, this is what I'm gonna give. My three-year could do anything you wanna do three years. Where does He spend most of his time? Making disciples. What does He do with most of his life? Make disciples. What was his major focus, three years? Making disciples. He spent the vast majority of his life saying, men, watch me, walk with me, live with me, listen to me, I'm gonna teach you, I'm gonna show you what it means to become a disciple.
You say, well, what's the big deal? Here's the big deal. The most common term people use for people like you and me today, who are believers is the word Christian and frankly that's very odd, you say, why is that odd? Because the word Christian is only used three times in the Bible and all three times it's used, not in a positive fashion, it's actually used in a negative fashion. The word Christian was actually a derogatory term, it was likely like really kind of an insult to call a believer a Christian. That's the way unbelievers described us. But then you go to the Bible, what do you find? The word Christian is used three times. The word disciple is used 269 times. 238 times it's used in the gospels.
Now, when you put those two things together, it's not hard to figure something out. Jesus did not leave heaven, come to earth, live and die and come back from the grave. He didn't do that to make Christians. He did it to make disciples. Everything He did was tied up in that one word. Now here's the problem. Unfortunately, what Jesus is looking for and what churches are looking for are often totally different things. I spent way too much of my ministry looking for decisions. I wish I'd put lot more emphasis on looking for disciples. Now this is gonna be hard, and this is gonna be one of those messages. I want you to know I'm not being judgmental, I'm not mad, I'm not upset, I'm not angry, I'm not frustrated. I want you to do for you. What I had to do for me as I prepared this message.
When you look at your life and you compare your life to the average run of the mill person that lives in your neighborhood, simple question. Are you more of a decision? Or are you more of a disciple? We spend all of our time looking for decisions. We had so many decisions, but what about disciples? And see, I'm actually convinced that the greatest problem we have in the church is we got too many people who are decisions and not enough people who are disciples, because the church would look totally different. So, let me put it another way, what we have in the church more often than not are not disciples. Here's the term I wanna use, you ready? What we have are cultural Christians. Oh yeah, they're Christians, but they're cultural Christians. They're people, they proudly bear the label of Christian. Oh yes, I'm a Christian, but they don't truly live the life of a disciple. And what I came to tell you today was this.
The only cure for cultural Christianity is discipleship. You can come to church and not be a disciple. You can read your Bible and not be a disciple. You can drop a dollar or a dime in the plate and not be a disciple. You can say all the right words and say 'em at the right time and not be a disciple, but in the ninth chapter of the gospel of Luke and I wanna invite you to find that, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, there's four gospels. It's the third gospel, in the ninth chapter of the gospel of Luke. Jesus tells us in one sentence, what it takes to become a disciple.
And here's what I'm gonna ask you to do right now. Okay, here's what I'm gonna ask you to do. I'm gonna ask you, you may not even be used to doing this. I want you to write down four things today, put them where you can keep them, put them where you will not lose them. And I want you to ask yourself as we do these four things, as I talk about these four things, where are you? Just look yourself in the mirror. 'Cause what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna kinda reverse engineer, I'm gonna reverse engineer what Jesus said about a disciple and I'm gonna show you the four marks of a cultural Christian versus a disciple. And then I just want you to decide, simple question, the way you live your life, the way people see you, what God even knows about you, just tell the truth, are you a cultural Christian? Or are you a true disciple?
You know the difference, four ways, write this one down. A cultural Christian follows Jesus, if it's convenient. A disciple follows Jesus even if it's not. You a cultural Christian or you a disciple? A cultural Christian follows if it's convenient, disciple follows if it's not. Now, the first step to becoming a disciple is, you gotta want to become one. So, Jesus begins by saying this Luke 9:23. "Then He said to them all, whoever wants to be my disciple". Let me just stop, let's just take this, just brick by brick. This is an invitation, it's not a command. Jesus is not saying you've got to be my disciple. He says, whoever wants to be my disciple. That tells me something, Jesus is only looking for people who want to become His disciple. If you don't wanna become His disciple, you don't have to become His disciple. You have to want to do it, you have a choice in the matter.
Jesus never forces discipleship on anybody, but there's a difference. And I've learned this in my ministry. There is a difference between saying, you want to be a disciple of Jesus and wanting to be a disciple of Jesus. Big, big, big difference. Those first two words, by the way, Jesus said whoever wants, every time I read them, they shocked me, 'cause I would have thought, Jesus would have said this, well, since everybody wants to be my disciple, because let me tell you something. The Jesus that I know and the Jesus that I love and the Jesus that I worship and the Jesus that changed my life, that Jesus, I would think everybody would wanna be his disciple. The more I know about Jesus, the more I don't understand why everybody doesn't want to follow Jesus, it boggles my mind. As I look back over four decades of ministry, it boggles my mind that more people have said no to Jesus in my ministry than have said yes to Jesus.
I just don't understand anybody that says no to Jesus. I don't get it. He's the best deal you'll ever get. He's the only God that there is. He's the only one that can change your life for the better. He's the only one that can take you from hell to heaven, from darkness to light and death to life. And yet this world is full of people who says, no thanks, not interested. But Jesus is pro-choice. He only wants people to follow Him that want to follow Him. He won't force you to follow Him, He won't coerce you to follow Him. He'll plead with you to follow Him, He'll try to persuade you to follow Him, He won't pressure you to follow Him. He just says, if you want to, you can.
Now that tells me though something else. It tells me I can stand up anytime, anywhere and say to anybody, if you want to follow Jesus, you can follow Jesus. He won't make you, but if you want to, you can, He won't turn anybody away from following Him. This is what's so wonderful. You don't have to have a certain degree or certain pedigree. You'd have to be a certain height, a certain weight, certain skin color, nationality, ethnicity or even belong to a certain political party. Got news for you, hey, you're ready for this? We need to hear this, Jesus takes elephants and donkeys. You wanna follow Jesus? You can follow Jesus. And oh, by the way, here's the best news of all. You don't have to have your act together. You don't even have to wait to get your act together. Jesus says, if you wanna follow me, you can follow me. He says, if you apply, I will accept your application. Whoever wants to be my disciple.
However, there's no fine print in the contract. There's no if, there's no but, there's no when after the word... You don't have to be qualified to follow Jesus. Let me say it again, you don't have to be qualified to follow Jesus. Everybody got that, raise your hand, set it real high, let me see, all right, wait a minute, but you can only follow Jesus with no qualifications. You got it? You don't have to be qualified to follow Jesus, but you're not allowed any qualifications to follow Jesus. When you sign up to follow Jesus, is you going to see, here's what it means. It means you follow Jesus when the sun is shining, but you follow Jesus when the clouds are raining. It means you follow Jesus when it's popular, you follow Jesus when it's unpopular. It means you follow Jesus when it's joyful, you follow Jesus when it's painful. You follow Jesus when it's delightful, you follow Jesus when it's difficult. You Jesus when it's smooth sailing and you follow Jesus with it's rough riding, you just follow Jesus.
Because by the way, there was no such thing in the early days of the church as a cultural Christian. Say, how do you know? Because cultural Christians don't get condemned and cultural Christians don't get criticized and cultural Christians don't get crucified. There was no such thing. See, here's the difference, you ready for this? Cultural Christians are more concerned about toleration than they are about transformation. Cultural Christians are more into compromise than they are into conviction. Cultural Christians are eager to go with the flow, but they don't wanna go against the grain. Cultural Christians rather sleep on the bed of compromise, then stand on the rock of conviction. So, let's be honest. You're gonna see this as we go along. So, I may as well go ahead and tell you. Discipleship's not for the faint of heart, Discipleship doesn't take the latest poll. Discipleship doesn't hold his finger to the wind and say where's public opinion going? And discipleship doesn't give a rip about political correctness. So, you gotta make up your mind. Disciples follow Jesus. So are you a cultural Christian or are you a true disciple?
Number two, a cultural Christian ask, what can Jesus do for me? A disciple ask, what can I do for Jesus? You know the old saying, be careful what you wish for. Well, before he was too quick to say, oh, I wanna be a disciple of Jesus. Well, just hold on 'cause there's no bait switch with Jesus. There's no fine print in the contract. He writes out what He wants in bold letters, He puts it on the front page, He says it loud enough, so anybody can hear what He wants. So, here's the first thing He says, "He said to them all, whoever wants to be my disciple". You say, okay, that's me, I wanna be, all right. Jesus said, "Must deny themselves".
Oh, that's a big problem, that's a huge problem. Because the average person that walks into the average church, they are into a culture of consumerism, not a culture of commitment. So, when many people come to church, here is their attitude. Don't ask me to serve. My time is all about me. Don't ask me to give, my money belongs to me. Don't ask me to have... Don't ask to save sex for marriage, my body belongs to me. So, let me just give you some pronouns that have to get out of your vocabulary, the moment you become a disciple, there are four pronouns, you gotta get rid off. Here they are. I, me, my and mine. That's the vocabulary of a cultural Christian, not a disciple. Those go out the window, they disappear and understand, when Jesus is talking about denying yourself, this is not just like denying yourself food, if you need to lose weight or deciding yourself a new car, 'cause you need to save money, it's not even resisting yourself and what you wanna, what you desire. Here's what it means, when you deny yourself, you come to a point, you come to a mindset where you realize, you know what?
Now that I'm a disciple of Jesus, my life doesn't even belong to me anymore. Now, that I've given my life to Jesus, now that I'm a disciple of Jesus. I no longer really have a life of my own. I don't even acknowledge or recognize my own existence, I deny myself. Now the problem is, is we all know that goes against the grain of everything you're gonna hear and see on the radio, the television, the internet and social media, because the message you're gonna hear it every day. Turn on any of those things. Here's what they're gonna tell you, deify yourself, glorify yourself, beautify yourself, promote yourself, advertise yourself, exalt yourself, admire yourself, esteem yourself, please yourself, bless yourself. Get up in the morning, look in the mirror and sing how great thou art. That is the culture that we live in. You're gonna be told by everybody, your life's all about you, about who you are, about who you wanna be, about what you want to do, about what you want in life.
So, what do we hear all the time? It's all about your rights, getting what you deserve. That's true if you're a cultural Christian, it is not true of a disciple. So, if you're gonna be a disciple. Here's what Jesus was saying. That means 24/7 for the rest of your life, for the rest of your life. You've got to put Jesus before you, you gotta put Jesus ahead of you, you gotta put Jesus above you, and you gotta put Jesus instead of you. You've gotta come to a point in your life, where your life is all of Jesus and none of you, all of Jesus and none of you.
So, let me just kinda tighten it. That means you put Jesus over family. Hear what I said, not church, Jesus. you put Jesus over family, you put Jesus over money, you put Jesus over career, you put Jesus over getting drunk, you put Jesus over sleeping around, you put Jesus over looking at porn, you put Jesus over looking down on someone just because they're a different color skin than you are. You put Jesus over hoarding your money, because once you realize what Jesus has done for you and you receive that Jesus that has done so much for you, you will start refocusing every part of your life on this question every day. What can I do for Jesus? So, are you a cultural Christian? Or are you a true disciple? Well, if I had made anybody mad at all, let me take a third shot at it.
Number three, a cultural Christian enjoys the benefits of the cross. A disciple embraces the sacrifices of the cross. The cultural Christian says, I'm saved. I'm forgiven. I'm good to go. Can pretty much live my life any way I want to. I can always get forgiveness. instead of getting permission. I'm okay, He's okay, we're all, okay. And I'm sure as this gets deeper, I'm sure the ranks of disciples, even to those listening to me right now are getting thinner, but here's what I love about Jesus. He doesn't take his foot off the pedal, He doesn't let up. Here's what He says, "Then He said to them all," "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves". And if that's not enough, "And take up their cross daily".
Now, everyone who heard that back in that day clearly understood what Jesus was asking for 'cause you know what the cross was a symbol of, right? It was a symbol of execution. It was a symbol of humiliation. In the ancient world, you know the Romans had different ways, they could carry out an execution. Sometimes they would do it quickly and easily and cheaply. So, sometimes they would burn their enemies by fire, sometimes they would stone them to death, sometimes they would behead them, sometimes they would give them a drink of poison like hemlock, but there was one way they killed people. It was the most cruel, horrible, terrible way and it was by crucifixion and that way wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, it wasn't cheap. You had to go to a lot of trouble to crucify somebody. I mean, it took soldiers to crucify somebody, it was more expensive, it took a lot longer, it involved unbelievable suffering, but it had a 100% mortality rate. Everybody that got crucified died, nobody got out of crucifixion alive, everybody died.
Now you don't, we don't witness public executions anymore. Some of you won't remember this, but about 60 years ago, we still every now and then, you could witness a public execution. Well, back in that day, it was like going to the movies. It was not uncommon to see somebody hung every day or somebody stoned to death every day or somebody crucified every day. And the Romans knew how horrible it was to die this way. As a matter of fact, it was such a terrible way to die that the Roman empire even passed a law. That if you were a Roman citizen, you could not be crucified, because on the citizen didn't deserve that kind of treatment. It was that bad, it was that horrible. You say, why did they do that? Because they wanted people to know, if you don't get in line, if you don't live the way we tell you to live and you don't do what we tell you to do and you don't worship the God we tell you to worship.
This is what's gonna happen to you, just like today, on so many issues out there, where for thousands of years, we said things were wrong and now people say they were right. So, now there are certain tripwires today and you know, I don't have to name them for you. You go against that, you're gonna get crucified. You go against this, you're gonna get crucified. You say a word about that, you're gonna get crucified, same thing. This is what happens to people, the Romans say, if you don't tow our line and then to add insult to injury, you had to carry your own cross beam to your own crucifixion. So, when you saw somebody walking down the road and they were carrying a cross beam, you knew they were not gonna a Halloween party. They were going to a funeral, namely their own, because that cross more than anything else represented death.
So, if you saw somebody carrying a cross and I can imagine, mom and dad are going down the road with their child, maybe he's eight years old. They see this man walking down the road with this crossbeam and the little boy says, dad, who is that? He said, son, that's a dead man walking. Really, he looks alive. Yeah, but he's really dead. You wanna know what a disciple is. He's a dead man walking. You're looking at a dead man preaching. I had to get up every morning, I did it today. Lord, I die to me, 'cause I want you to hear this clearly. It's not enough just to deny yourself to be a disciple. You've got to die to yourself to be a disciple.
So, I wanna make sure you hear this clearly and I don't want you to miss it, you ready? Listen to this. You don't become a disciple just by believing that Jesus died for you. This world's filled with, our churches are filled with people that believe Jesus died for them, but they're not disciples. You don't become a disciple just by believing that Jesus died for you, you become a disciple when everyday you die to you, For the apostle Paul said, I die daily. He said that Christians, I die daily, See to get to heaven, you have to die in this life. To get to heaven, you've got to die in this life, but to get to Jesus, you've got to die to your life. Jesus died for you so you would die to you. And you know what death is? Death is the ultimate surrender of your heart and your life and your goals and your desires and your possessions to God. And by the way, did you notice, He says, take up your cross daily. Why did He say daily? Because being a disciple's not a part-time job, being a disciple's not just a one day a week job, you never get a day off, you never get a vacation. You take it up daily.
So, in other words, every day, Jesus said, the number one thing you ought to do, to start your day is have a funeral, because you either, live for Christ and you die to you or you live for you and you die to Christ. Let me just stop and ask you a question. Where is it with you right now? No need to lie about it, God knows. You know, deep down in your heart, where are you? Most days, do you die to Christ and live for you? Or do you die to you and live for Christ? It's not a one-time decision, you have to die every day. See here's where so many people make a mistake. Many people, so many people say, being a Christian is so, so hard. And they think the way you live the Christian life is by trying every day. If you don't hear anything else, I want you to hear this next statement. The way you live the Christian life, is not by trying every day. The way you live the Christian life is by dying every day. You gotta die to you.
What I want, what I desire, what makes me feel good, my pleasure, listen, let me give you a personal testimony. In the past year, in my own personal life, God bought me face to face with things I never dreamed I'd have to die to, but there was a day I was sitting in my quiet time and I was really mulling over just where things were. And God began to ask me some very uncomfortable questions in my heart. I can remember like it was yesterday, I wrote it down in my journal. He said, James, let's just get something straight. Is there anybody you love more than you love me? I love a lot of people. I mean, I love a lot of people a lot, but He wouldn't let up. He then asked me this question. He says, is there anything or anybody that you would do without me, before you do without that or you'd do without them? Boy, that was tough.
And then He said, is there anything or anybody that you would rather give me up for than to give them up for? I mean, you talk about going to church, I went to church. I'm just telling you, there's some things I've gone through the past year. I would have never made it. If I didn't have to come to that point, where I just had to say, Lord, you know what? I just have to die to that. You say, was it painful? Gut-wrenchingly painful, hard, unbelievably hard. Dying's not easy. You know, see, there are things I've had to die to in order to have the peace in my heart of knowing, you know, what? God's gonna work everything out together for my good, but before He does, you may have to die to some things too. So, let's just get real for a moment. You may have to die to that new car or that new house. So, you can give God a tithe of your income. I knew I wouldn't get an Amen.
When I said that, that's okay. You may have to die to that. Some of you, I'm gonna be blunt. Please just do me one favor. If this makes you mad, you apologize, I'll forgive you. Don't call yourself a disciple. If you're not giving any money to God's work, just quit. If you got to rob God just quit. When over 50% of every church I've ever pastored never gives a dime to the church. That's all right, I'm not after your money. We're gonna talk about that in a minute, but just don't call yourself a disciple. Stop it, it's an insult. You may have to do what you always wanted to do with your life to answer God's call on your life. I wanted it to be a lawyer, you know that, I had to die to that. Some of you young people, you may have to die to your sexual desires and you may have to die to your sexual preferences to live in the center of God's will for your life.
So, just remember a cultural Christian enjoys the benefits of the cross, but a disciple embraces the sacrifices of the cross. I know, some of you saying, is this ever gonna be over? We're at the last point. A cultural Christian is a fan of Jesus, a disciple is a follower of Jesus. Now, once you have this desire to become a disciple and you say, okay, I deny myself and I die to myself. Then Jesus says, now you're ready to devote yourself. Now, you're ready to get where I want you to go. So, here's what He says, "Then He said to them all," "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves," "take up their cross daily and follow me".
Now, here we hear what a disciple is. Go back 2000 years ago, in the first century of Palestine, the word disciple didn't mean what we think of it today. Today we think of a disciple, as a pupil in a school, right. And they learned information for a qualified teacher. That's not what it meant 2000 years ago, when you became a disciple of someone, you just didn't get into a school and go to school from eight to two and go home on the bus. Wasn't about information, it was about transformation. You became an apprentice and you wanted to become just like your teacher. So, in other words, when you became a disciple in the days of Jesus, you didn't just wanna learn, what your teacher had learned, you wanted to live the way your teacher lived. You didn't just want information in your head, you wanted transformation in your heart.
Matter of fact, that word follow is a very interesting word. It's actually a compound word, it comes from a prefix that means the like, you know, like or same and it is the verb that means the way or walk or a word that means way or walk. So, the word follow literally means, literally it means take the same way. Walk the same road, that's exactly what it means. And by the way, it's not just following behind someone. It's actually walking beside someone, because you're going in the same direction. So, to follow someone meant you totally give up any authority you had to their authority. So, you say, I wanna follow Jesus, great, then you have to give up all of your rights and all of your freedoms and all of your desires and all of your wants and all of your ambitions. And guess what happens? The teacher becomes your master and you become his disciple. Disciples wanna look like their teachers, disciples want to talk like their teachers, disciples want to walk like their teachers.
That's why I believe the term Christian today is totally meaningless. I think it's the most empty word that people use, here's why. Some people think if you go to church, you're a Christian. Some people think if you've been baptized, you're a Christian. Others think if you're religious, you're a Christian. Some think if you believe in God, you're a Christian. Some think if you try to live a good life, you're a Christian. And the problem with the word Christian is it now means so many things to so many people that it now means nothing to nobody. It's an empty term. That's why I love to call myself a follower of Jesus, but I can tell you sometimes that term convicts me, because can I be honest? There are times in my life, your pastor acts like a fan and not a follower, but here's the deal, here's the deal. You cannot follow Jesus, unless you give up everything to Jesus. That's what I'm trying to tell you. You cannot follow Jesus unless you give up everything to Jesus.
Now, you say, oh, well, I don't know about that. Well, let me just say one other thing. The only Jesus worth following is the Jesus who demands, you give up everything. That's the only Jesus worth following. See, here's what you learn in the Christian life. You have to give up, to grow up, you have to give up, to grow up and then when you grow up, you go up. You give up, to grow up, when you grow up, you go up. And that means you become a disciple, but you don't stop there. It means you be discipled and then it means you become a disciple maker. It is true, that God wants your time. It is true, that God wants you to give your money to his work. It is true that God wants you to worship. It is true that God wants your service, but I wanna be crystal clear on this. God doesn't need your time, He created it. God doesn't need your money, it's already His money. God doesn't need your worship.
The Psalmist said, if you don't worship Him, the rocks and trees will cry out. God doesn't need you, He doesn't even need your service. He's got angels that can serve you a lot better than He can, a lot better than we can. Now, He doesn't need any of those things. So, then what does He want? One word, what He wants. He wants you. He wants all of you, He wants every ounce of you. He wants every part of you. He doesn't want you to hold anything back, bury anything under a rock, put anything in a closet, hide something under a bushel, He wants all of you, 'cause when He has all of you, everything else gets thrown in for free. So, Jesus doesn't sugar coat, anything and neither will I, if you wanna become a disciple, I'm telling you straight out, this is not a seeker friendly message. This is not the way to win friends and influence people, I get it.
And there's some of you that checked out on me three points ago, that's all right. I'm telling you the truth. If you wanna follow Jesus, it will cost you. I gonna say that again. If you wanna follow Jesus, it will cost you. But it will cost you infinitely more, if you don't, Would you pray with me right now? With heads bowed, with eyes closed. I have a simple question, for those who are watching me right now, for those in this room, you're either a disciple or you're not, there's no halfway disciple. You are either a disciple or you are not. Here's my question. The first step to becoming a disciple, is you have to want to become one. The second step is, you must receive Jesus Christ, as your Lord and savior. Because at the end of the day, you're gonna live your life one of two ways, you're gonna live it for you or you gonna live it for the one that put you here.
So, whoever I'm talking to right now, whether you're listening or whether you're in this building or whether you're watching me right now, do you really wanna become a disciple? Yes, I do. You understand the deal? I do. I got to deny myself, die to myself, devote myself. I'm all in, I'm ready to do it. Then let me help you take that first step to becoming his disciple. I'm gonna pray a simple prayer right now. I want you to pray it with me, right now. If you wanna be a disciple, if you don't just don't do anything. But if your heart, if there's a beating in your heart, if there's a fire in your heart and you say, that's what I want. I wanna live the rest of my life as a true disciple of Jesus. I wanna follow Jesus right into heaven. Then you pray this prayer with me right now. Say:
Lord Jesus. I'm not a disciple but I wanna become one. I believe you died on the cross for my sins and I'm a sinner. I need a savior, I can't save myself. I believe you not only died on the cross for my sins, but I believe God raised you from the dead. I believe you're alive right now, and Lord Jesus right here in this moment, I'm gonna make the greatest decision of my life. I'm asking you to come into my heart. I'm asking you to save me. I'm asking you to forgive me of all of my sins. I surrender everything that I am, to everything that you are.
Now, let me stop. If you've prayed that prayer with me and you meant that prayer, God did save you. God did forgive you of all of your sins past, present, and future and God has given you eternal life. So, how do I know that? I don't really feel anything. Forget it, forget feelings. Here's the fact, God made a promise and God doesn't lie and here's what the Bible says. If you will confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. So, I know based on the authority of God's word, that cannot lie. You're a believer.
Now, those of us who would say, thank God, pastor, I am a disciple, great. You got one job, same job our church has, to make disciples. So, let me just say this and just look up here and we're gonna be finish, sing one last song and we'll be done. You don't have to ask a disciple to come to church, they wanna come to church. You don't have to ask a disciple to give to God's work, they want to give to God's work. You don't have to ask a disciple, do you have a one? Are you ever, ever telling anybody about Jesus? You wanna have a one or more than one, and you want to tell people about Jesus. You don't have to ask a disciple to serve, they wanna serve. You don't have to ask a disciple to worship, they wanna worship.
I'm telling you, this nation has been polluted with the poisonous water of cultural Christianity, and if there's any hope for a new revival and a new awakening in this nation, it will not start in Washington DC. Trust me on that. It will not start on Wall Street and it will not start in Hollywood. It will start in the church or it will never start at all. And it is time for us. It is time for a lot of us, who kinda do our Sunday thing and then go out the door and live like everybody else to stop it. And it's time to walk out of here and say, you know what?
I am sick and tired of cultural Christianity. My employees don't need to see a cultural Christian. My neighbors don't need to see a cultural Christian. My doctors don't need to see a cultural Christian. My family does not need to see a cultural Christian. They need to see disciples. It's not just the only way to live, I can tell you, it's the best way to live.
So, I wanna close with this and we're gonna sing. I went a little long today, you've looked at your watch, it's 10:20, I went long today. Again, this could be my last day, so I got my shot in. I told the Lord this morning and I mean it, I was going over my sermon and I got so convicted. I wanna be a disciple, I wanna be a disciple, I want people to look at my life and not 'cause I'm a pastor, not because of any of that. I want people to look at my life, to the day I draw my last breath and say, now that was a disciple.