Tonight we began a teaching series looking at the practical ways Christians exercise their spiritual life. We began at the beginning–How does a Christian follow Jesus? Here is the outline:
1. What it meant for the first followers to “follow” Jesus:
See Mark 1:17 (“follow me and I will make you”), and Mark 3:14 (“be with him” and “be sent out”). For this first group of Jesus followers, following Jesus mean to:
- join the group of people who were with Jesus
- actually follow him
- be where he was
- make him, his activities, the center of their focus
- listen to him teach
- watch him do things
- learn everything they could
- be an apprentice, for the sake of carrying on his work (let him “make” them something)
2. Since we can’t follow Jesus this way, what does it mean for us?
See Matthew 28:18-20 (the apostles are told to teach Jesus’ commands) and Acts 2:42 (the first Christians “abode” in Apostles’ teaching.) So, for us following Jesus means:
- Come to Trust Jesus – And find life (John 20:30-31)
- Join the community—Get together with other Christians to learn the Apostle’s teaching.
- What did the apostles teach? They used the Old Testament to show how Jesus was the true messiah, they told the story of Jesus and what he taught, they taught the meaning of his life, death and resurrection, and showed how people could live out his teachings today.
- How do we know what they taught? We have they’re writings—it’s the New Testament.
- Seek to let the commands of scripture (Christ in the Gospels, The NT Letters) shape your living—seek to learn the commands and put them in to practice on a daily basis (both individually (“my life”) and together (“our church”).
- Watch Jesus do things and listen to him teach (in the gospels) – get to know him!
- Hear the Apostles teach (in the letters and Gospels) what the teachings mean.
- Once you learn something–Find ways to live it out daily
- Overall, seek to understand Gods heart—learn what’s important to God, learn what Jesus is doing in the world.
- Continue, for the rest of your life, reading and learning what Jesus taught through what the Apostles wrote. Do this personally and in community with others. Seek to practically obey these teachings so that your life becomes one which is totally shaped by the things revealed in the Christian scriptures.
NOTE: This is very different than another way people typically have of pursuing God: using the bible to find inspiring verses for each day. I am arguing for people to also practice something much more systematic—like the deliberate, systematic way Jesus trained the disciples. Instead of only hoping for a daily inspiration, I am saying that I think the scriptures lead us to embark on a lifetime journey of deliberately, methodically learning what Jesus wants us to know and becoming who he wants us to be by daily adding small pieces to what we know. Day by day, year by year letting the commands of Scripture shape our life. This is a lifelong learning to learn, and a lifelong learning to live.
Three helpful questions:
- Do I read to be inspired, or to learn? —hopefully both! (it’s not one or the other, or one without the other)
- Do I go to church to be inspired or to learn? —hopefully both!
- While I wait for moments of inspiration, do I know how to be inspired by what I learn?
3. Receive and Rely on the Power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24, Acts 2)
See Luke 24:44-49 (the promise of the Father) and Acts 1:8 (“receive power, then be witnesses”). This is the essential piece to making all of these live:
- Depend on the Spirit as you read the Bible (Pray for understanding, talk to God often)
- Depend on the Spirit Through the Day as you seek to put Jesus’ commands in to action
- How? Ask (Luke 11:13), and believe the gospel as you obey (Galatians 3:2, 13-14)