1 John 15:4-11 | ROAD LIFE
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 15:4–15:11
Christopher Rich – Sept 10, 2017
John 15:4- 11| ROAD LIFE –
Introduction | Trellis and Vine
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. We are taking a brief break in between 1 John | ABIDE in ME and Ezra-Nehemiah | UNFINISHED HOPE to talk about our vision for intentional discipleship at Damascus Road before we launch into a new season of activity this fall.
PART I | MOTIVE OF DISCIPLESHIP | John 15:4-11
John 15:4-11 | 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
We have talked much this summer about how we find our identity in and security in who we are in Christ. We know we are new creations, who are Sons and Daughters of the King making us as a church, brothers and sisters. We know this makes us family at Damascus Road so we say we are a FAMILY ON MISSION TOGETHER. While this is simple metaphor, Jesus and the Bible use several others to describe His people to help convey different aspects of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. He says we are branches that ABIDE (are held together, survive, live) in the vine that is Jesus. We are held together and survive as Jesus ABIDES (dwells/lives/continues) in us. Jesus uses this metaphor of the vine to talk about what fruitfulness looks like as a disciple. Disciples are to grow and produce lives marked by fruitfulness. This is pleasing to God, it brings Him glory as we produce fruit (repentance, mission, production for flourishing) This fruitfulness is a mark of those who are disciples of Jesus. People who have been saved by Jesus’s work, WILL be changed by Jesus’ grace. We say that because we are not able on our own to produce anything (apart from me you can do nothing). All we produce is a function of our connection to and abiding in the source of life, love, and purpose. We now walk in obedience because Jesus has been obedient in our place. Jesus, (God The Son) is in perfect communion and community with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, this is the relationship we now have. Jesus, who has this perfect communion with God, has great joy. His motive for His mission to reconcile separated sinners back into communion with God is the same motive we have for being on mission and growing as a disciple. That God would be glorified, shown as the greatest treasure in the universe. This glorification of God leads to great joy for His people. To see God as good and glorious is to enjoy Him and all that He has created good, to see and experience this cause us to have great joy. To ABIDE in, and be a disciple of Jesus is to have Jesus’ joy in us. The motive when talking about discipleship and being on the mission of the gospel is God’s glory and our Joy. What greater motivation could we have for anything we could do? This motive comes from our new identity as Christians. So who we are in Christ has an absolute impact not only on what we now do but also why we do it.
Our identity is secure as we abide in Jesus, so when we talk about intentional discipleship it is not a discussion about saved or not, in or out, but one of more or less joy, greater or lesser fruitfulness as we walk in faithfulness. So we don’t simply go from a season of doing less to doing more and they somehow believe that we are now more faithful Christians than we were when were less busy. We cannot produce growth, but we can do things that either stifle growth or help cultivate rhythms and environments that are conducive to fostering growth. I don’t think it is any accident that Jesus talks about a vine and not a tree or a vegetable. Each of these can grow well on their own with little outside influence. But a vine by it’s nature grows best when carefully placed and guided by a trellis. Trellis are the structured environments we intentionally created hoping to foster organic growth. Growth can happen without trellis for sure but it will often be inconsistent and less fruitful than vines that are intentionally grown on a trellis. You can have plants in your garden growing but if you don’t know what healthy looks like you might settle for a crop that is less the good fruit that would be possible when you are cultivating with a goal in mind.
PART II | MARKS of Discipleship | Hebrews 10:23-25; etc
If we are going to try to make disciples and cultivate fruitfulness then we need to have a right understanding of what we are trying to produce. Damascus Road believes to be a Family on Mission Together requires members who are thoughtful in their involvement in fostering relationships and bearing responsibilities. We feel it is important to serve but not to “burnout” in the name of the Lord. Our ministry activity should not become a barrier to living a God-honoring life but simply one expression of it. To best foster Relationships and Responsibilities as a family on mission together we live this out in 4 ways.
Hebrews 10: 23-25 | 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
GATHER | My journey in Christ will be evident through my regular participation in the corporate worship services, and involvement in a community group Flourishing Gospel Communities are those defined by a deep desire, love, and affection for one another that compels them to gather. Depth of displayed commitment to gospel communities has decline dramatically in our lifetimes. We are quick to church hop, looking for better programs, teaching, etc. We consider ourselves all in when we gather twice a month or less. Blogger regular wax poetic about Jesus but bemoan the church. You should have a good and right desire to be face-to-face with the people of God. To flourish as a disciple in your relationship with God is nothing LESS THAN having a flourishing relationship with God people. This is why we gather. You can get great teaching online. You can hear better music (well not on Christian radio) and sing in your car. Don’t “Like” your church gather with it. Your church may exist online and it may be a tool to help bridge gaps when teaching is missed or you want to go back and reference teaching you’ve had before but it is just a supplement not a meal. Oh I just had 5 vitamin C’s for dinner. No! There is a reason watching a game on TV is fun and exciting but going to a game in person is special. It is the power of gathering in community. There is a deep desire which leads to intentional action. Pastors get all the lame excuses on the planet, for not gathering. Some are legit, most are not. Most are people making a conscious or unconscious choice to prioritize something else OVER and ABOVE the gathering of God’s people. For some reason people seem to believe it necessary to give their excuse to us as if we’re the ones who it matters. We hold accountable, not grant approval. The reality is God knows your schedule, your responsibilities, and your desires, he has prescribed regular gathering with God’s people as essential for the Gospel community to flourish.
2 Cor 9:6-8 | 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
GIVE | I will strive to properly manage the resources God has given me, including my time, body, gifts and talents, attitudes, finances and possessions This includes regular giving to Damascus Road Church that is sacrificial and cheerful (2 Cor 8& 9). Many do not give because they simply do not know how much should be given—they need to be taught how to give of their time, energies, or resources. Damascus Road does not require a certain percentage in order to be a member. Below are some questions that God’s Word challenges and guide us on our giving:
Cheerful - Our giving is rooted in an understanding of the gospel. That understanding leads to belief; our giving is a confession of that belief. Our giving should spring from a cheerful heart which God loves. God is not interested in your money but your heart. Our sacrifices do not mean as much to him as our repentance. We are do to all things, including giving, without grumbling and with joy, we do not give reluctantly or under compulsion so we ask Am I properly motivated in my giving? In essence, our motivation comes from a desire to give back to God as He has given to us. Secondary motivations include a love for others, a desire for reciprocity and a reward from God.
Intentional – Am I giving purposefully and regularly? Our giving should be on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. Although there is nothing wrong with spontaneous giving, our giving should not be blind. Scripture suggests that we be more mindful and systematic about our giving. Therefore, giving should not be an afterthought or derived from “leftovers”. It should be a result of the firstfruits of our labor and intentionally planned as part of our budget (1 Cor. 16:1-2).
Sacrificial - Am I giving proportionally? Am giving generously? Our giving should be in accordance with how each of us has been prospered by God; according to our ability Many of us have been blessed by God abundantly, others have not. Some people can give much more than 10%, others much less. This is an issue that must be worked out in your own heart—but it must be worked out. We are called to give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction.
We give because we know that money equals mission ammunition. Our building is not our mission but stewardship and care of it is vital to our mission to engage this city with the Gospel. Staffing is not our mission but having the resources to hire the right people to lead and facilitate key aspects of the mission is. Church Planting, Foreign Missionary support and local social justice is not our mission, but being a generous church that can support these kingdom building endeavors is an outworking of our mission. Mission is a motive for giving. However, disciples of Jesus give because they know Jesus has given us everything.
Ephesians 4:11-16 | 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
GROW | I will endeavor to maintain a close relationship with the Lord through regular personal Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and practice of the other spiritual disciplines. (Ps 119:97, 105) Walking with the Father: This is the regular, intentional, disciplined, use of the “means of grace” such as Bible reading, prayer, etc. We want all of our members to feast methodically for your own spiritual growth as you develop a deeper relationship with God. Humble, teachable spirit, taking opportunities to intentional grow in godliness and giftedness. Engage with discipleship, retreats, cohorts, and conferences. Being life long students who are always seeking to grow as disciples for their joy and the building up of the church.
Matt 28:18-20 | 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
GO ON MISSION | The mission of the church is not to be taken lightly. It was given to us by Jesus in the Great Commission, so we do not have to guess what we are about. As part of the body of Christ, you serve a particular purpose. Without you we’re missing parts! The body might function, but it certainly is not robust. When you are using your God-given skill, gift, talent or resource for the body, you are fulfilling God’s ideal for His community. We expect to use our God given giftings to the building up of the church, both at Damascus Road and universally. On two occasions the Apostle Paul addresses the great reality that God gifts individual followers of Jesus in order to build up the church. Now some of these gifts benefit the universal church (e.g. apostleship), but the vast majority are given by God to be used for the benefit of the local church (serving, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leadership, mercy, etc). Specifically we ask everyone who is a member of the family to serve on one team one Sunday a month. If you have kids in Kids Road, one parent should be in KR once a month. A family member we are saying “I belong to this particular body and commit to exercising my God-given gifts here for its up-building and flourishing, alongside others who are doing the same. We don’t join a church so we can be served, but to more effectively serve together.
Part III | METHODS OF DISCIPLESHIP
How do we foster opportunities for us to live out these 4 G’s? We talked earlier about the trellis and the vine. The goal of any trellis is to facilitate growth of the vine. That means we don’t practice “methodolitry” where we sell out to one method/program and never tweak or change, scrap or replace as needed for growth, contextualization of the gospel for our time and place, and effectiveness of our mission. During this season of our church there are several rhythms and activities that make up our methods of discipleship.
Sunday Morning. We are not called to plant services or church events, but we are called to make disciples. We believe Sunday more is THE preeminent discipleship environment. May things will and do change but this weekly rhythm of gathering on Sunday morning that has served the bride/body of Christ for a couple thousand years and will always remain the key expression of our local body. This is where we are reminded we are part of something larger than ourselves, our individual families, even our various groups, ministries, etc. It is where the gospel is preached, God’s word is expounded on, songs are sung, people prayed for, and most importantly where we remember we are Saved by Jesus’ Work on the cross by taking communion as a response hearing the gospel proclaimed. This is the biggest part of our trellis so it requires the most amount of effort to be built and maintained. In addition to our full-time staff, this requires teams. Our Sunday gathering begins before our service even starts. Several teams of volunteers begin to serve an hour or two before our call to worship. Everyone that is in building to serve or simply gather meets in the Great Room to pray together at 9:30. Everyone is encouraged to join us at this time. Before service starts we seek to create an environment that is warm in and inviting for everyone who is gathering with us each week.
Hospitality – Aggressively Welcoming. When people gather with us they should be greeted and treated like family before they are. They should be pursued. We are a counter cultural embassy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so if our communities are know as being cold we are to be warm people. Everyone had a first day gathering with a new church or even any church. From day one we want people to know what it’s like to be a member of this family. If you’ve been welcomed here you should be involved in welcoming others to our gathering. Reach out to Mark James who leads our Hospitality Team for information on serving.
KIDS ROAD – Training the next generations of disciples. This is not child care or babysitting for grown ups to not be distracted in service. We are a church that if you have a specific conviction or desire to have your (even young children) in our main service you are welcome to do so. However, we believe the most effective discipleship environment for young and elementary age students is with an age appropriate class room setting. On any given Sunday children from birth to 3rd grade represent 50-70 souls in need of discipling. It is mission critical that we as a church body invest our time in to teaching and training the next generation of disciples in the biblical narrative of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration. If you want to be on mission for the gospel and have an impact now and the future, serve in Kids Road. This Fall we are in great need of 10-12 more people to commit to serve in this discipleship environment once a month or we will not be able to execute our class for the 2nd and 3rd grade students.
ROAD Groups - Relational, One Another, Discipleship Environments. ROAD Groups ______ together.
- Fellowship – This is the place people get to know other people and become known by others.
- Study God’s Word – Gospel Truth is an essential ingredient to Gospel Community.
- Pray – We don’t just talk about God with people, we talk to God with others.
- Live on Mission – We gather because of the gospel and practice Gospel Living in community.
ROAD Groups are…..
- Geographically Sensible - People gathering are from same or adjacent communities.
- Meeting weekly – Fosters deeper relationships and connections especially if a week is missed.
- For Discipleship – Teach and live out the “one another” commands in scripture.
This is also the PRIMARY place pastoral care and counseling happens. That doesn’t mean every road group leader is going to solve every problem. But they are your first point of contact. We currently have 3 Elder Pastor’s (two full time one bi-vocational) for 310 people. You don’t come to me for preaching, Randy for benevolence and Nate for counseling. Each of us care and counsel for our ROAD Groups and have a couple of ROAD Groups leaders we’re responsible to bypassing the people who are with you each week.
D-Groups Weekly gender specific discipleship and accountability groups. This fall we will not have men’s and women’s bible studies. Why? Our mission isn’t study the bible but to make disciples. That doesn’t mean our men and women won’t be studying the bible, but will be doing so intentionally. It’s like the CrossFit of Bible studies. D-Groups are from a parachurch group that was birthed from The Village Church in Dallas (Acts29 Network) that partners with Local churches to provided a structured encouragement, scripture memory, prayer, service projects, and the study and application of God's Word. It tends to be more challenging than traditional Bible studies, we believe you'll know God better and love Him more as a result. It perfectly aligns with our core values as they are serious about the study of Gospel Truth, being conducted in and forming a Gospel Community, that then challenges one another to pursue Gospel Living.
FUEL Young Adults - How many of you became Christians or were greatly impacted by a Middle-High School Youth Group growing up? We know adolescence and teen years are foundational for setting the trajectory of the rest of someone life. Many of the relationships formed and worldviews shaped have great influence over our lives long after we’ve “grown up”. FUEL is the primary weekly discipleship environment for kids between 6th and 12th grade meet together during the week FUEL Lead by Pastor Randy with a small team is the key discipleship environment for middle – High school students to grow with their peers and have their worldview shaped through the lenses of the gospel at they are being prepared to engage with the world around them with various competing worldviews seeking to lead them in other directions.
The vision for FUEL comes from Ephesians 4:11-16, where Paul talks about the function of church leaders as being to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (his Church). This is discipleship – and the goal for individuals within our church family is that we all attain maturity so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wave of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (v14).
These students matter… not simply because they’ll be adults someday… but because of who they are now. They are a gift to the Church, and our goal is to build them up into mature disciples who are fully-engaged in and contributors to the life and mission of Damascus Road Church. We also teach with the specific aim of giving them a biblically-informed worldview, because they need to be constantly reminded of the truth claims of scripture and their relevance to them. Last year, for example, we studied many of the parables of Jesus and tried to use the parables to help students ask themselves these 3 introspective questions:
- What is my functional Source of Truth (what do my actions/heart attitudes reveal)?
- What is my View of Self?
- What is my View of God?
These questions were aimed directly at helping the students learn how to derive their worldview from the truths of the gospel. In addition to bible teaching, we spend time playing games and processing life in small groups. If you have any questions, feel free to talk to Pastor Randy or to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Playing, Praying, Celebrating, Traveling, Working, Getting Away Together - Finally discipleship happens when we simply have fun and life out the Christians life with joy together. This why we have events like Prayer/Worship Nights, Oktoberfest, Women’s Retreat, Movie Nights, Short Term Mission trips, work parties on the space, and even just gathering to watch the Seahawks. In all of this we are reminded that God’s mission in Jesus makes us a family and sometimes families just rest and relax together before continuing on the more strenuous activities of the mission.
What is your next step? Do you need to commit to simply gather with God’s people consistently on Sunday? Do you need to be baptized to declare your allegiance to Jesus and His people? Do you need to begin to obediently give of your time, talent, treasure, to the family on mission together? Do you need to start serving on Sunday morning once a month? Do you need to join a ROAD GROUP and being to know and be known by others? Do you need to go deeper and participate in a D-Group? Whatever it is don’t leave hear today?
Because Jesus actively pursues us we can actively gather with his people. Because he gave us his very life we can cheerfully, sacrificially and intentionally give. Because His 33 years of obedience is gifted to us we can continue to grow as disciples. Because he came to us on a mission not be served but to serve we can Go on mission and get to work as one member of a larger body. ROAD LIFE is where we are a Family on Mission Together who Trust Jesus!
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