If we don't know how to do something, we can't do it. The only way that we can do something that we don't know how to do is to learn.

Some people are perceptive and gifted. They have the confidence and understanding to teach themselves. These people are the creative ones. They are the inventors and the fixers. They can "figure out" ways to do something that they have never done before. They are the exceptions.

Many who cannot teach themselves are "fast learners." When someone shows them how to do something, they understand quickly. They learn a lot with just a little teaching.

More people learn if they have a good teacher. Learning is not a problem. They need a teacher who can help them understand. When they understand, they learn well.

Some people have difficulty learning. They must be convinced that they can learn. You must prove that they can understand. Once they believe that they can learn, they learn well.

Regardless of how we learn, we all must be taught.

  1. All of us are aware of the fundamental importance of learning.
    1. Do you know how to:
      1. Sew? Could you make clothing without being taught?
      2. Change a tire? Could you change a tire without being taught?
      3. Make cornbread? Could you make it without being taught?
      4. Drive a straight shift car? Could you drive it without being taught?
      5. Swim? Could you swim without being taught?
    2. Virtually everything we do we learned how to do it.
      1. We expect learning to be a part of life.
      2. We expect to be taught.

  2. Two of the best known and most used verses in the New Testament are Matthew 28:19,20.
    "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    1. Jesus made this statement after his resurrection, not long before his ascension.
      1. The statement contains three instructions.
        1. Go make disciples.
        2. Baptized those who would be disciples.
        3. Teach the disciples you make to observe all the commands that I gave to you.
      2. The primary instruction is to go make disciples.
        1. A person is baptized because he or she wants to be a disciple.
        2. The person expects to learn and to practice Jesus' teachings because the person has chosen to be a disciple.
        3. You do not baptize a person who does not wish to be a disciple.
        4. A person who does not want to be a disciple will not learn or practice Jesus' teachings.
    2. Let's ask the important question: what is a disciple?
      1. The word "disciple" in both the Greek and the Latin mean "the pupil of the teacher;" the literal meaning of the Greek word is "to learn."
      2. It was common for recognized teachers to have their pupils, and for the pupils to be devoted to that teacher.
        1. The thinking, the understanding, and the views of the teacher became the thoughts and understandings of the pupils.
        2. So disciple came to mean more than just a person who learned; it came to mean a learner who was devoted to a particular teacher.
      3. The New Testament mentions:
        1. The disciples of the Pharisees, or Jews whose thinking and views were determined by the Pharisees' interpretation of the Mosaical law (John 9:28).
        2. The disciples of John the baptizer, or Jews whose thinking and views were determined by the teachings of John (John 1:35).
        3. And there were the disciples of Jesus (John 4:1).
          1. In a special sense, this referred to the twelve who were hand-picked by Jesus himself (Matthew 10:1-4).
            1. They followed him and learned from him on a daily basis.
            2. They learned from the experience of being with him as well as from his teachings.
          2. But there were also many people who were devoted to learning from Jesus who were not a part of the twelve, and they were also called disciples (John 6:66,67).
    3. Jesus told his hand-picked disciples who had witnessed the fact of his resurrection to go throughout the world calling other people to discipleship.
      1. When I decide to be a disciple, I choose to be a pupil, to learn.
      2. Who will be my teacher?
        1. Obviously, the person calling me to Jesus will teach me.
        2. But whose teachings will that person teach me? Jesus' teachings.
        3. Is he teaching me to follow him as a person? No, he is teaching me to follow Jesus.
        4. Who will I look to as "the teacher"? Jesus.
        5. Whose teachings will I learn? Jesus' teachings.
        6. Who will I follow in my life? Jesus.
    4. If I choose to be a disciple, a pupil, a learner who is devoted to Jesus, what will Jesus teach me?
      1. Will Jesus teach me all about worship?
        1. No.
        2. Jesus did not teach about the practices or the ceremony of worship.
        3. His teachings did not focus on worship as a practice.
      2. Will Jesus teach me all about the church?
        1. Will he teach me all about church organization, church leadership, and church responsibilities?
        2. No.
        3. Jesus' teachings did not focus on the church.
        4. The gospels only record Jesus using the word twice.
    5. Then what will Jesus teach me?
      1. He will teach me how to look at the world, how to look at God, how to look at life, and how to look at death.
      2. He will teach me how to think from God's perspectives and purposes.
      3. Jesus will teach me how to love like God loves.
      4. Jesus will teach me how to serve God and people as he served God and people.
      5. Jesus will teach me how to treat people.
      6. Jesus will teach me how to commit, in love, to God.

  3. "David, are you trying to say that worship and the church are unimportant?"
    1. Absolutely not.
      1. It is impossible to love God and not worship Him.
      2. It is impossible to be Jesus' disciple and not be a part of his church.
    2. "Then what are you saying?"
      1. Unless we are disciples, we will never worship God appropriately.
        1. Worship comes from what we are just as certainly as what we do.
        2. Only disciples will praise God as He deserves to be praised.
        3. Only disciples will reverence God as He deserves to be honored.
      2. Unless we are disciples, we will never be the church in the way Jesus intended us to be the church.
        1. Only if we are disciples will we leave a worldly, ungodly life and actually make our life in Jesus Christ.
        2. Only if we are disciples will we learn to live the kind of life Jesus intended for people in the church to live.
      3. We will not worship God as He wants to be worshipped, and we will not be the church as Jesus wants us to be unless we learn how to:
        1. Look at life and death as God does.
        2. How to think like Jesus thought.
        3. How to love like God and Jesus love.
        4. How to serve like Jesus served.
        5. How to treat people like Jesus treated people.
        6. How to commit to God in love.

  4. One of the reasons that we have so many problems with ungodly attitudes and ungodly actions in the church, in our homes, and in our relationships is because we became church members without becoming disciples.
    1. Let me ask you a very basic question: why were you baptized?
      1. "I was baptized for the forgiveness of my sins to enter the church."
      2. When you were baptized did you have any desire to be a disciple?
      3. Did you intend to let Jesus teach you how to think when you were baptized?
      4. Did you want Jesus to teach you how to love?
      5. Were you making a decision to learn how to serve?
      6. Did you want to be taught how to treat people?
      7. Were you consciously making a commitment to God?
    2. Or, were you basically baptized to become a member of the church in order to do church things?
      1. Has your Christian life been one long, internal, spiritual struggle because you have been committed to church rules instead being committed to discipleship?
      2. If you are trying to be a church member without a commitment to being a disciple, a pupil, a learner, you have a lot of unnecessary problems.
      3. It is frighteningly easy to be pro-church and anti-discipleship at the same time.
        1. Being a part of the church and being a disciple are commitments that should bless each other.
        2. They were never intended to be separated.

  5. "David, you talked about splitting hairs this morning. That is what I think that you are doing right now."
    1. Let me ask you to consider this.
      1. Because we are taught so little about being husbands or wives before we marry, we make some awfully big messes in our marriages.
      2. Because we are taught so little about being parents before we have children, we create some huge problems in our homes and in our children's lives.
      3. One of our most ridiculous assumptions is that all you need to do to be a good husband or a good wife is get married, and all that you need to do to be a good parent is have a child.
    2. One of the greatest reasons for many of the serious problems in our marriages and in our homes is the fact that we have never been disciples.
      1. When we do not allow Jesus to teach us how to think, to love, to serve, to treat people, and to commitment to God, we will have serious problems in our marriage relationships and our home relationships.
      2. Discipleship is not about how you act in church buildings; discipleship is about how you live your life.

Is Jesus your teacher?
Are you his pupil?
Do you let him teach you how to live?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 23 August 1998

This sermon is also available in French.

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