David Platt – Follow Me – 1.The Call – What does it mean biblically to follow Christ? (30 minutes)

What does it mean biblically to follow Christ?

David Platt (Video from STBC):

David PlattOne of the most haunting verses in the Bible, for me as a pastor is Matthew chapter 7, where Jesus says to a crowd, „Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name, perform many miracles, and drive out demons?’ That I will tell them,”Jesus says, „Away from me, you evil doers.” The thought that there might be many people, ‘many’, Jesus says, who will be shocked one day to find that though they thought their eternity was secure, they never truly knew Christ.

So, I read that in the Word and I think about people that I pastor. I think about Tom, who for 50 years, spent his life in a church, thinking he was a christian, going through all the motions. And, after 50 years, coming to the conclusion, „I don’t really know Christ.” I think about Jordan, a college student whose story is similar, and who went through all the motions, and read a prayer and signed a card when she was a kid, and then went through the youth group, and she was active in doing this or that, but she came to the conclusion that she never really knew Christ.

Is it possible that we could be spiritually deceived into thinking  we are christians, but we’re not truly following Christ. If we don’t know Christ, I can’t think of a more eternally important question to ask is: Am I truly a follower of Jesus Christ? Not if I prayed a prayer, or signed a card. But, am I truly a follower of Jesus? So, in this first session we dive into that question. And we explore: What does it mean biblically to follow Christ? Toward the end, and I hope and I pray that God will truly give you grace to answer that question in your own life. Are you truly a follower of Jesus? Again, there is no more eternally important question than that.

I wanna start by sharing some things that are particularly heavy on my heart as a pastor, but not even just as a pastor, but as a follower of Christ. We live in a day where it means almost nothing  for someone to claim to be a Christian. I came across research the other day that said almost  4 out of 5 Americans identify them selves as Christians. But in that group of self proclaimed Christians, less than half of them are involved in church on a weekly basis, less than half of them actually believe the Bible is true. The overwhelming majority  don’t have a biblical view of the world around them. But these researchers went deeper. They identified men and women as ‘born again Christians’, as if there’s any other kind of Christian, but these are people who say they’ve made a personal commitment to Jesus and they believe that they will go to heaven because they accepted Jesus as their Savior. And according to this research, almost half of Americans are born again Christians. But, out of that group of born again Christians, the beliefs, lifestyles are virtually indistinguishable from those in the world around them.

Many „born again Christians” believe their works can earn them a place in heaven, others think that Christians and muslims worship the same God. Some believe Jesus sinned while He was on earth, And increasing numbers of born again Christians describe themselves as marginally committed to Jesus. So, people have used research like this to conclude „Christians are really not that different from the rest of the world”. I don’t think that interpretation research is accurate. The one thing that is abundantly clear from the statistics: There’s a whole lot of people in the world who think they are Christians and are not. We desperately need to relook at what it biblically means to follow Jesus in our day.

You remember Jesus in Matthew chapter 7:22-23-

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

So Jesus is telling us there are many, many people who will be shocked to find on that day that they thought their eternity was secure, they were ultimately deceived. But they thought they were Christians, and they never knew Christ. So, what does it mean, truly, biblically, to follow Christ, to know Christ, to be a Christian? What I wanna do is dive into Scripture and see how God answers that question and then to let His word drive us to look at our lives and ask the question, „Are we following Christ?” And, „Are you following Christ?” What does it mean for our lives in this world if we are following Him?

So, how does the Bible answer that? Matthew 4:18-22-

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.’

Photo credit www.crosswalk.com
David Platt’s Bible study available at www.lifeway.com

Alright, two words, there in verse 19: Follow Me. You might want to underline those 2 words. What do those 2 words mean- Follow Me? Let’s take them in reverse order. First, who is the ‘Me’ that’s going to be followed here? And this is where I want to give you just a quick  summary of the first 4 chapters of Matthew, because up to this point, Matthew has painted  a glorious, stunning, majestic, masterful portrait of Jesus informs how we understand verse 19.

Turn back to Matthew 1:1 – The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. From the very beginning, Matthew makes clear Jesus is the Savior. That’s what Jesus means , that He will save us from our sins. He’s the Messiah, so Christ is not His last name. Christ means the ‘promised One’, the Messiah who is promised all throughout the Old Testament. He’s the son of David and the kingly lion of David and the son of Abraham. So he’s the father of the people of Israel. He comes from the line of David and Abraham.  That’s a loaded first verse and Matthew spends the first half of chapter 1 showing us how Jesus is the center of all history. How all of history is headed towards His birth. Then, at the end of chapter 1, Matthew tells us that Jesus is fully human and  fully divine (Matthew 1:20). Through the virgin birth, Jesus is born of the Spirit, through a woman, unlike anyone else has ever been born; this miracle, this mystery of the incarnation, Jesus is Emanuel- literally: God with us.

Then, Matthew chapter 2, we see ‘Jesus is the Sovereign over the wise and the Shepherd of the weak. He has wise men following stars from east to west, to bow down before Him. And then, Matthew quotes in chapter 2 from Micah chapter 5. Matthew 2:6-

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

It talks about how Jesus is the rulers who will shepherd God’s people. Sovereign of the wise, shepherd of the weak, all in chapter 2.

Then, in Matthew chapter 3, Matthew tells us through John the baptist that Jesus is the Savior King and the Righteous Judge. „Repent,” John the baptist said, „for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So the King is here. Jesus is the Savior King and Righteous Judge. And then, as John baptizes Jesus, we see that He’s filled with the Spirit and loved by God the Father. And there’s a rare glimpse of heaven in Matthew chapter 3:17- where God declares:

and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

And that sets the stage for temptations and in Matthew chapter 3, Jesus is led into the desert to be tempted by the devil and we discover that Jesus is the new Adam and the true Israel. Where the first Adam fell to temptation from the devil, in the Garden, Jesus stands against that serpent. (Matthew 4:1-11) And Jesus is the true Israel, the faithful, obedient, Son of God, who passed the test of temptation and conquered Satan. And all of that leads to Matthew chapter 4, with this portrait of Jesus as the Light of the World, and hope for all people. Verse 16 says-

the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

And this is Jesus. You look at the Savior, Messiah, the One promised to come and the kingly lion of David and Abraham, the father of His people, Israel. Fully human and fully divine, the One to whom wise men from the nations bow down . His birth and life, the culmination of generations  and generations of prophecy and anticipation. He’s the Savior King, the Righteous Judge of the world, perfectly filled with God the Spirit, loved by God the Father, the only man who has conquered sin, the true Son that Israel could never be, the light of the world and the hope for all people.

DO WE REALIZE WHO THIS IS ?

When we do, there’s only one conclusion possible: Jesus is clearly, absolutely worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association. We cannot reduce Jesus to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for people to accept Him in their lives. Jesus doesn’t need our acceptance. He’s infinitely worthy of all glory in the universe and He doesn’t need us at all. We need Him. So let’s not patronize Him. Jesus is clearly, absolutely worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association. He is worthy to total abandonment and supreme adoration. This is no game here, we’re talking about the Savior King of the universe, the Righteous Judge of all nations. God in the flesh is saying, „Follow Me”. That thought alone is mind boggling, that Jesus would come to you and say, „Follow Me”. There’s no potential casual response here. It’s either: Turn and run, or bow and worship.

Well. you say, „These guys didn’t bow and worship. But, if you look at Luke’s parallel account, Luke chapter 5, where Jesus calls these disciples, you’ll see that as soon as they realize who Jesus was, that’s exactly what they did. He fell on his face, then he rose and he followed Jesus. Everything would be different in these men’s lives because of this encounter with Jesus. Everything.

It is how we know, that people who profess to be Christians, but whose lives look just like the rest of the world’s are completely deceived. All kinds of people, who supposedly made a decision, prayed a prayer, signed a card, walked an aisle, accepted Jesus into their hearts, invited Christ into their lives, but their lives don’t look any different . They say they’re a Christian, but the reality is they don’t know this Jesus, because when you don’t know this Jesus, everything about you begins to change in your life. Everything.

So, what does that word „follow” mean, then? If this is the portrait of the one who speaks, then what does it mean for the ones who respond? To follow Jesus means to live with radical abandonment for His glory. So you go back up to where we read, one verse up, to verse 17. The first words out of Jesus’s mouth are „Repent, for the kingdom oh heaven is near.” That word ‘repent’ means  to confess sin, to express sorrow over sin and to turn from sin. Ultimately, to renounce yourself. Jesus later says in Luke 14:33 that: If anyone is going to come after Me, he must renounce everything that he has. If you don’t, you cannot be my disciples. That’s what He says. So, think about what kind of renouncing it involves in this passage. Think about this disciples, what they were renouncing, what they were leaving behind, as they followed Jesus. Well, to follow Jesus is to leave behind all things, our comfort, these guys were leaving behind everything that was familiar to them. Everything was natural to them. They were leaving behind comfort and uncertainty. Followers of Jesus don’t always know  all the details about where they’re going, but they always know who they’re with. That’s huge.

They’re leaving behind comfort, careers, possessions- they dropped their nets.  Now, to be sure, these guys are not the economically elite in their day, but they had a boat, a successful trade as fishermen, these men had much to lose in following Christ. We find out later they still had a boat and various other things. But the reality is at this moment they follow Jesus with nothing in their hands. Our possessions, our positions- this is big, and this is one of those things that  set Jesus’ disciples apart from other disciples who followed rabbis in the first century. The disciples would oftentimes attach themselves to a rabbi in order to promote themselves. It was kind of like a step up a ladder, in order to increase someone’s position or status. Well, that was clearly not the case for these guys. This was not a step up the ladder, this was a step down. They would eventually find out, the One they were following would eventually be tried and killed.

Leaving behind position. We leave behind our families. James and John leave their father. And they’re not the only ones who are told to do something like this. Luke 9:61-62 „Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus tells another potential disciple: Don’t even go back and say goodbye to your family. Our families, our friends, our safety. This is a rabbi, this is a teacher who would soon say to these same men, „I’m gonna send you out like sheep among wolves.” All men will hate you because of Me. If they persecute Me, they’ll persecute you.” So they’re abandoning their safety.

Obivously, following Jesus means abandoning our sin. It’s the core of what it means to repent. Turn from your sin. And all of this, ultimately important to abandoning ourselves. This is the message we know to become essential for any and every prospective follower of Jesus. He would say over and over again: If anyone is going to follow Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross (take up an instrument of death) and follow Me. In a world where everything revolves around self- protect yourself, promote yourself, entertain yourself, comfort yourself, take care of yourself, Jesus looks at potential disciples and says, „Slay yourself. Die”. So don’t buy it. Some of you have bought it.

The idea that all you have to do is make a decision, pray a prayer, sign a card, become a Christian and keep your life as you know it. It’s NOT TRUE! You become a follower of Jess and you lose your life as you know it. Now, I wanna be really careful here. I’m not saying, and I can’t, I wouldn’t say that as in the New Testament every follower of Jesus must lose their career, sell or give away all their possessions, leave their family behind, and necessarily, physically die for the Gospel. But, the New Testament is absolutely clear on this, for all who follow Jesus, comfort, certainty in this world are no longer our concerns. And our career revolves around whatever Jesus calls us to do and whatever He wants to use us and our career for the good news of His kingdom. Our possessions are not our own. As a Christian, you no longer live for material pleasure of this world. You forsake material pleasure in this world, and you live for eternal treasure in the world to come. That could mean selling or giving away everything you have. Position is not your priority.

When it comes to family, absolutely, based on the whole New Testament, you’re commanded to honor your parents, to love your spouse, to provide for your children. So, you can’t use passages like this to justify being a lousy spouse, or lousy parents, or whatever. But your love for Christ, according to Matthew 10, should make love for your closest family membes look like hate in comparison. And you go wherever Jesus says to go, knowing that self id no longer your god, safety is no longer your priority. As a follower of Jesus, you resist sin  and you risk your life in obedience to Him. This is what it means to follow Him. So are these things true in your life? I mean really true? To follow Jesus is to lay down all of these things in order to live for one thing: to honor the King. To follow Jesus means to hold loosely to all these other things: comfort, careers, possessions, positions, families, friends, safety, selves, and to cling tightly to the person of Christ and the mission of His kingdom.

Some of that may sound extreme to some people, but don’t forget who the ‘ME’ is here (Jesus). To leave behind, lay down everything in your life doesn’t make sense until you realize who the king is. And when you realize who He is, then laying down, leaving behind everything is the only thing that makes sense. Remember Matthew 13:44-45 –  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. He knows that he has found something worth losing everything for. This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We have found in Him, someone who is worth losing everything for. That’s why Matthew 13:44 says: with gladness he sold everything he had. With gladness he gave it away. We do this, not begrudgingly, „Okay, I’ve gotta let go of everything  in order to follow Jesus.” No. We do this because it makes sense, because of the joy in our heart and the glory of Jesus, that it just makes sense to abandon everything, as His disciples.

To follow Jesus is to live with radical abandonment for His glory and to live with joyful dependence on His grace. And this is where I want you to see the beauty and the wonder of God’s grace, in these words: Follow Me. So, see it here: Jesus takes the initiative, to choose us. Don’t miss this. It was common in first century judaism for potential disciples to seek out a rabbi, to study under him. But the beauty of what we’re seeing here, in Matthew 4 is that these men don’t come to Jesus, Jesus comes to them. This is Jesus initiating the relationship. He’s doing here, at the beginning of the New Testament, what we’ve seen God, the Father, do all throughout the Old Testament. God always chooses by grace His partners. He chose Noah, He chose Abraham, He chose Moses, He chose David, He chose the prophets, He chose Israel to be His people. Deuteronomy 7:6. And just as God the Father chose from the Old Testament by His grace, Jesus is choosing disciples here in the New Testament. He tells them later, in John 15:16 „You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” And He didn’t choose these guys because of anything in them. I

t’s all because of grace in Him. You see, it is at this point in His sermon of Matthew chap. 4 that I sometimes hear preachers or I read commentators talk about all the reasons why Jesus would choose fishermen to be His disciples: Cause fishermen do this or that, and they have this or that skill, and this or that perspective. But, if that’s he direction we’re going, we miss the whole point here. Jesus did not call these guys because of what they brought to the table. These 4 guys and subsequent disciples of Jesus did not have many things in their favor- lower class, rural, uneducated Galileans, commoners, nobodies, not well respected, not the cultural elite, not even spiritually qualified for this task, exceedingly ignorant, , narrow-minded, superstitious, full of jewish prejudices, misconceptions, and animosities, and this is who Jesus chose. You’re saying, „You’re being hard on them.” But the reality is it’s not just them, it’s us. You and I have nothing in us to draw Jesus to us, to cause Jesus to give us this invitation. We’re sinners, rebels to the core, running from God. And the beautiful, glorious gracious reality of the Gospel is that Jesus comes running to us. That God on high, looked upon sinful men and women and He sent His Son, God in the flesh, to pay the price for our sin, to rise from the grave in victory over sin, so that anyone in all of history who turns from sin and trusts in Him will be saved from sin and reconciled to God forever. What a glorious invitation to all, by His grace. You don’t walk away from that invitation, saying, „Well, look what I did to deserve that.”

So why would God do this? Why would Christ choose us to follow Him, and call us? Well, He tells us why. I quoted from John 15 just a second ago, where Jesus says, „I chose you and I appointed you to go and bear fruit.” So, Jesus tells His disciple that He chooses them for a purpose and it’s right here in Matthew 4:19. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. So watch this, Jesus takes the initiative to choose us and at the same time, He provides the power to use us to bear fruit. Notice here, Jesus does not command these guys to start fishing for men. Instead, He says, „I’m going to make you fishers of men.” In other words, I’m gonna do a transforming work in your life that will enable you to spread my kingdom all over the world. There’s no way that these disciples here, or subsequent disciples to come would be able to carry out the commands that Jesus would give to them. And so, Jesus says, „I’m gone enable you to do all that I call you to do.”Jesus takes the initiative to choose us, He provides the power to do this and He designs it this way  so that in the end He gets the glory  through us. Oh, think about it, think about what Jesus did in and through the lives of these disciples, and others who followed after them. (23:00 minute mark- there are approx 9 minutes left of this message)

David Platt will Host a Simulcast Seminar in Middle East: Follow Me – the Cost of Discipleship

via http://gospelherald.com map of Middle East via google maps

Platt DavidDavid Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Alabama and best-selling author, will host a free simulcast from the Middle East on the cost of discipleship. He released “Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live” in February, a book which portrays the all-consuming call of Christ for His disciples to follow Him (see Matthew 16:24-25).

Platt will be teaching from an undisclosed location in the Middle East, where sharing the Gospel often means risking persecution and even death in Muslim-dominated regions. He invites believers worldwide to gather together in homes or at church venues to study the cost of discipleship with him, something that he believes is often lost in a culture where Christianity is commonplace. “Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves believing certain truths or saying certain words. As a result, churches today are filled with people who believe they are Christians . . . but aren’t. We want to be disciples as long as doing so does not intrude on our lifestyles,” says the product description for his book. Platt also conductsSecret Church, where believers gather together by simulcast to learn fire-hydrant-style teaching for six hours in one evening, with the goal of becoming equipped to teach what they have learned to others.

In a video about the upcoming seminar, Platt said, “The more we think about what it means to follow Christ … the more we’re in tune with His word … His desires … the more we’re going to find ourselves going against the grain of culture in so many different ways … the more we’re following Christ, the more costly it will be … but the more rewarding it will be.” He quoted Galatians 2:20a, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me.”

Read the entire article here http://gospelherald.com

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