9 September 07
Before I begin I want to thank you for your very warm welcome and support and hospitality. Thank you for opening your hearts and even your homes to us.
Now every preacher has a different style and it’s my conviction that you are going to retain more of the weekly message if you not only hear it but can also see it and review it. Researchers have discovered that we forget 90% of what we hear within 72 hours. So I hope you will use these notes but if you don’t want to that’s okay too.
Now as you can imagine the last few months have been a time of great transition and change for us. After almost twenty six years in my previous Church coming to
St Andrews is a very big change. And as we know change isn’t always a comfortable experience. And yet to live is to experience change.
But no matter how great life’s challenges and changes are there are two things we can always rely on and these are the unchanging love of God and the fellowship of His Church. Frances and I have lived in several countries around the world but we have always felt at home because of the fellowship of God’s people. Christian fellowship is a wonderful thing and I hope that we at
St Andrews will always be good at it..
Now God also calls us to change, to make changes in our lives.And I want to talk to you this morning about two of the greatest changes we have to make if we want to follow Jesus. And they can be summed up in just two words, which I have used in my title – the words are to come and to go.
Jesus began his earthly ministry with an invitation to come and he ends with a command to go.
‘Come to me’ and ‘Go and make disciples’,- words that help sum up of our response to the Gospel. And this is what I want to talk about this morning.
Let’s have a closer look at them.
I. COME TO ME
The first people that Jesus invited to ‘come and follow him’ were two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew his first two disciples,
“Come follow me”, and I will make you fishers of men.” And we read that, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:17 & 18
On another occasion Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
And everywhere Jesus went he extended this invitation to people and others picked up on it and repeat it again and again throughout the New Testament in one form or another. In Jn chapter 4 we read about a Samaritan woman who was so excited by her meeting with Jesus that she ran back to her village and urged everyone to come and see this amazing man.
“Come and see the man who told me everything I ever did.” John 4:29
So Jesus invites us to come and follow him and it’s been my very great privilege to be a follower of Jesus for most of my life and I can honestly say have never regretted it. Jesus has always been faithful he has never let me down.
But it is a journey of faith and obedience. (Trust and Obey)
One of the reasons that I love the story of Simon Peter’s life, and remember he was the first to accept Jesus invitation to follow Jesus, is because his story of discipleship is about someone on a journey. Simon had moments of great insight and courage but also moments of blindness and failure and sometimes they came very close together.
Peter had to learn what it meant to follow Jesus just like we do. It’s a life long commitment.
In 1998 Frances and Matt and I went in
Israel and in the north of
Israel we visited a place at the foot of Mt Hermon near a town called Banias. And its there that Jesus took his disciples one day and he said to them “I want to ask you a question”, “Who do people say that I am?” (Context –background history)
And they replied ‘people say that you are a very great man some say John the Baptist even Elijah, or Jeremiah or one of the prophets’.
But what about you, “Who do you say that I am?”
And a big fisherman, yes Simon Peter gave him the answer that he had been waiting for. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt.16: 16.
And Jesus said “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to by man, but by my Father in heaven.” vs. 17
That was the first time someone other than Jesus recognised who he was. And Jesus said ‘Now I can build my Church.”
And Peter must have felt ten feet tall, on top of the mountain but it made him somewhat presumptuous because look what happens next.
Jesus goes on to talk about his death vs. 21 “that he must go to
Jerusalem and suffer many things.and that he must be killed.”
“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” vs. 22
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.” vs. 23
Poor Peter only minutes before he had clearly heard God and was able to make this great confession of faith only now to find that he way off track. How could he get it so wrong?
I think Peter’s success the first time made him a little presumptuous.
Q. When does faith become presumption? It’s a very interesting question.
I think it’s whenever use our faith to protect and promote our self-interest. Peter’s plans didn’t include Jesus death on a cross. He wanted Jesus for himself and whenever our faith makes demands of God we can be sure we have moved into the realms of presumption. God owes me or if I have enough faith God will heal me.
Q. Was Peter presumptuous in rebuking Jesus and telling him not to talk of dieing?
We know that he was and a second time Peter shows that he still didn’t understand on the Mt of Transfiguration, which was the very next thing that happened (Matt. 17) Expand. Peter wants to prolong the experience of being with Moses and Elijah and Jesus by building shelters.
And Jesus said to Peter, “You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.” And there is our clue about Peter’s lack of spiritual maturity.
Peter had not yet learned, what every believer needs to learn, that coming to Jesus means coming without any conditions. “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.’
It’s about being Christ centred and as soon as we put something else at the centre of our faith, even good things like the church or the Bible or people we admire we are likely to move from faith to presumption.
Q. Has that ever happened to you I wonder, has your faith ever turned to presumption? It has certainly happened to me.
Example. When the Church is going well we going well and when it’s not going well we not going well – that’s presumption. Christ is Lord of the Church, it belongs to him, it’s not my job or yours to make the church successful, our job is to be faithful.
But the encouraging thing about Peter’s life is that Jesus loved him and used him in a wonderful way in spite of his human frailty. Peter often stumbled when he was with Jesus. Who can remember the next time? (Peter’s denial –expand)
But by the end of his life a much wiser Peter wrote his letters to the scattered church of
Asia he is careful to instruct the young the believers in the faith in this simple truth;
“Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but precious to God who chose him. And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. ” 1 Peter 2:4 NLT
If you are a Christian it’s because YOU HAVE Accepted God’s invitation to ‘come’ to Him through Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is the way and the truth and the life’. He is not the bearer of some marvellous truth about God. He is the way, and the truth and the life.Holding a Christian philosophy or going to Church won’t save us if we don’t first “Come to him.” (Story of explorer)
Jesus bids us come but he also commands us to go.
II. Go And Make Disciples.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..” Matt. 28: 18 -19
The invitation to come is irrevocably linked with the command to go we can’t have one without the other.
We come to Jesus in order to make sense of our lives – to discover who we are and whose we are. And as a result we learn that we have a heavenly Father who loves us and who has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him. Who no longer calls us servants but His children.
He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of His commitment to us and the Holy Spirit is the One who brings God’s love into our hearts.
“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Rom. 5:5
And if its God’s love we won’t be able to keep it to ourselves. Remember Jn 3:16
Just like the Samaritan women who forgot about her shame and ran back to her village we too will feel compelled to go and share the good news where ever God calls to go. Frances and I here in KL because we are convinced that this is where God wants us to be and this is a very exciting adventure for us. Because the best place on earth is where ever God calls you to be.
In Matthew 28: 16-20 Jesus affirms three things,
i. He assures them of his power.
“All authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given to me” vs. 18
They had ultimately nothing to fear in this life and the next.
ii. He commissions them to make disciples.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..” vs. 19
iii. He promises them His presence.
“And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” vs. 20
We have been sent on the greatest task in the world but we have with us the greatest gift which is the presence of God.
Most of us are not evangelists or pastors but the way most people come to Jesus is not through evangelists it’s through the experienced of being loved by someone they meet in their everyday life.
80 to 90% of people are converted through the influence of a friend, someone who loved them. Jesus said ‘come’ I want to know you and be known by you and at the same time I want to share God’s love, so ‘go’ and help others to find and follow me.