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True Discipleship

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 9, 2024 12:01 am

True Discipleship

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 9, 2024 12:01 am

The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. Today, Steven Lawson addresses our need for vibrant relationships in the church so Christ's disciples can grow together into a mature family of believers.

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Steven Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries in Dallas. He is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow, professor of preaching and dean of D.Min. studies at The Master's Seminary, and teacher for the Institute for Expository Preaching. He is author of many books, including The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Knox: Fearless Faith, and The Moment of Truth.

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Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

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There is a true disciple who is a true believer in Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who has come to the place of denying himself of self and taking up a cross and following after the Lord Jesus Christ on the narrow path that leads to life. It's a day by day by day by day following after Christ. A true Christian, as you heard Stephen Lawson just say, is a true disciple. We follow Christ day by day. And through his church, Christ has provided those we should imitate as they imitate Christ. So who is discipling you?

And who are you discipling? This is the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind, an outreach of Ligonier Ministries that provides daily opportunities for teachers of God's word to help you grow in your knowledge of God and his holiness. We're currently in Philippians Chapter 4, and Paul has taught on joy, the peace of God, what kind of things we should think on. And now he paints a picture of what discipleship looks like. Paul had invested in the church at Philippi, and he gives us a wonderful example to follow.

So here's Dr. Lawson from his series Rejoice in the Lord. I want you to take your Bible, turn with me to the book of Philippians, Philippians Chapter 4. And in this session, we're looking at verse 9, and the subject matter deals with discipleship, true discipleship. So I want to begin by reading this verse and giving careful thought to it, what it means, but also what it requires of us.

So verse 9, the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. In these verses, the Apostle Paul gives us much insight into what is at the very center of the work of the church, which is making disciples. It is discipleship. A disciple is a believer in Jesus Christ. A disciple is not an upper-level Christian who ten years after being converted finally reaches a point where they want to get involved in a Saturday morning Bible study, and so now they enter into discipleship. That is a very flawed understanding of what a disciple is. In fact, the term Christian was not even coined until Acts Chapter 11, and at that it was a term of mockery and a term of derision, looking down upon the disciples and calling them little Christs who were so scorned and mocked.

And the early believers so embraced this title of Christian that it was not meant to be a word of encouragement, but they kept it to themselves, anything to be identified with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But from the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ, to be one who has entered through the narrow gate, to be one who has left the kingdom of darkness and entered into the kingdom of light was to become a true disciple. There were also false disciples, such as at the end of John Chapter 6 when Jesus began to talk about sovereign election and irresistible grace, they fled from Jesus like rats from a sinking ship.

They didn't want any part of that. So they were disciples who were false disciples, counterfeit disciples. But there is a true disciple who is a true believer in Jesus Christ. And that disciple, the moment they commit their life to Christ, is not over – it's just the beginning. It's the beginning of a whole new life of following Christ. A disciple is one who has come to the place of denying himself of self and taking up a cross and following after the Lord Jesus Christ on the narrow path that leads to life.

It's a day by day by day by day following after Christ. And so in the Great Commission that was given before our Lord's ascension back to heaven, He said in Matthew 28, 19, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Not just make decisions, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them – this ongoing practice – teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. In other words, to obey the teaching of Scripture.

And lo, I'm with you always even to the end of the age. The word disciple means a student. It means a pupil. It is one who is enrolled in the school of discipleship. The first step of entrance into the kingdom of heaven is one's enrollment into the curriculum of being taught by the Lord Jesus Christ.

And it is a lifetime of being in the classroom, sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, realizing the more that we learn, we realize how little we really know and how much more there is of the truth for us to learn, as well as for us to live out. And this growth in Christ's likeness is what we call discipleship, to be being taught and being trained by the truth of the Word of God, by the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, this mark, this ministry of discipleship is what Paul is stressing in verse 9.

And it's intended to take place within the context of relationships. There should be a discipler and there is the disciple. And the discipler is the one who teaches the truth, who teaches sound doctrine, who teaches the Bible, who teaches theology. It is a steady instruction in the truth of God's Word. And the disciple is the believer who is continually learning and implementing this truth in their own life. But it is to be passed down from one generation to the next. It's to be passed down from a pastor or an elder or a teacher or a parent down to the next generation, whether it is someone who has just been converted and come into the kingdom or whether it is someone who has been walking with the Lord for many years. And in order to be a disciple who is being properly trained, we need to hear it. We need to learn it. We need to receive it.

We need to see it. It needs to come into our lives on all these different levels of access and entry into our lives. And that is what Paul is addressing here in this passage. So let's begin looking at verse 9. When he says – he begins verse 9 – the things. And the things refer back to the end of verse 8, dwell on these things.

Do you see that? And so there is this connection now from verse 8 to verse 9 that whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, etc., it's these things that begin verse 9. And he gives now four verbs, these things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.

And that prepositional phrase in me, I think, is to be understood in relationship to all four of these verbs. That you've learned from me, that you've received from me, that you've heard from me, you've seen in me. It's Paul's life having an impact and an influence upon these believers in the church at Philippi. Now, it was ten years ago, ten years earlier that Paul was in Philippi. And it speaks to the ongoing influence and effect he had upon their lives that a decade later, probably slightly more than a decade, they are still living out the impact of the life and teaching and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

It was that real that over ten years later, they're still walking the walk because of the investment that Paul had made in their lives. Now, let's look at each of these individually. And I guess one more thing I would draw to your attention is the word and.

Do you see the things you have learned and received and heard and seen? It's not or, it's and. In other words, it's not a multiple choice. You could pick one or two of the four. These are all like pearls on a strand forming a necklace.

These are all coupled together. They had received all four of these avenues of Paul's influence coming into their life. So the things you have learned, and Paul was a teacher.

They couldn't grow without the truth. I think 1 Peter 2, verse 2, like newborn babes long for the pure milk of the word that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. It is the truth that sanctifies and it is the truth that nurtures and matures us. And so the things you have learned refers to Paul's teaching and preaching. It refers to Paul's exposition of the Old Testament. It refers to Paul's teaching of what the Lord Jesus Christ had taught him after his conversion on the road to Damascus. It refers to the apostles' teaching. It is teaching about the gospel. It is teaching about the person and work of Christ. It is teaching sound doctrine. It is teaching about godly living. All of this teaching that was pouring into them, they were learning, and it was absolutely essential for their Christian life.

And then he adds, and received. And received has some overlap with learning, but it's a technical word for receiving God's revelation, for receiving God's truth. And so this may refer even to this letter, the book of Philippians, that is now being read to them as it has been brought back to the church by Epaphroditus. And then he says, and heard. And it may refer to the reports that they are hearing about Paul, how he is responding to his suffering in his imprisonment in Rome, how he was reacting to unjust suffering, how the gospel was advancing through the faithfulness and the fidelity of his testimony as he is chained to the Praetorian Guard there under house arrest. It may refer back to the ten years earlier when Paul was there and what they had heard from him that we might call informal instruction, different than a sermon or a formal lesson, but just being spoken to them by Paul as life was being lived out, as he was in the midst of their fellowship, and they just are talking among themselves.

And then he says, and seen in me. That too is a part of their discipleship. For them to actually see, what does it look like for someone to be walking with the Lord? Certainly there are examples in the Scripture, but all of us need to see another Christian, other Christians, plural, who are further advanced in their Christian faith than where we are. We all need someone who is out ahead of us, who is more advanced, who is more mature, who is more stable, who is deeper in the faith, to see them live their Christian life.

What does this look like? And trust me, no matter where you are in your Christian life, there are those who are further out ahead, further advanced. And we need those examples in our Christian lives because they become an incarnation of the truth that we hear from the pulpit and that we hear from different classes. We need to see how they respond to trials.

We need to see how they respond to someone who is hard to love and hard to get along with. We need to see them living out the Christian life, and it speaks volumes to us on how we are to conduct ourselves and how we are to live our Christian lives. So when you pull all this together, it's what they had learned from Paul, what they had received from Paul, what they had heard about Paul, what they had seen in Paul. This was a seminary education par excellence unto itself. The Philippians had been well-taught and well-trained by the Apostle Paul, and it was so real that even a decade later, they're still under the sway and under the influence of that man of God who lived among them.

You need people like this in your life. No matter how long it is that you have known the Lord, you need other believers who are more advanced, who are influencing you in your Christian life and in your Christian walk. They may be teachers of the Word. They may be a pastor in the church. It may be an elder in the church. It may be a deacon in the church.

It may be a parent or a grandparent. It may be a Sunday school teacher. It could come in any shape and form, but we cannot live our Christian life in isolation from other believers, especially other mature believers in the Lord. This is what discipleship is.

Discipleship is someone who is further advanced than where you are in your Christian life, taking deposits into your life, verbal deposits, didactic deposits, even exemplary deposits that are yielding great dividends in your life and shaping you. There are men who have left their fingerprints on my life. R.C. Sproul left his fingerprints on my life. There's a sense in which he still sits on this shoulder and is in my ear, and it becomes a basis for me to process not only what I say and what I preach and what I teach, but also how I say it and how I preach it. John MacArthur sits on this other shoulder, and he's in the other ear and has invested much time in me, and I carry those influences with me.

I've been very privileged to have had that, and there are others as well. There have been people in your life. It may be a mother. It may be a father.

It may be grandparents. It may be someone in church leadership, but we all need someone sitting on this right shoulder and someone sitting on this left shoulder who have been an example and an influence to us. That's what discipleship is about, so much so that earlier in chapter 3 of Philippians, in verse 17, Paul writes this, join in following my example. Observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. That's discipleship. It is the Philippians following, imitating, mimicking the example of Paul in their life, as well as those others in the church at Philippi who are walking the walk as well. Now, this does not mean that those whom we follow are perfect and we are to imitate even their weaknesses and their sinful ways. There's an important verse that helps clarify all of this, and it's 1 Corinthians 11, verse 1, in which Paul writes, be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ. So, you should imitate a discipler only to the extent that they are imitating Christ. If they are imitating the world, don't follow that.

There's an old saying, you eat the meat and spit out the bones. You accept what is true out of that person, but you also reject what is not true that would be in their life. 1 Corinthians 4, verse 16, Paul writes, I exhort you, be imitators of me. Now, this really begs the question, who are you discipling? Who are you influencing? Because many of you have been walking with the Lord long enough that you should be pouring your life into others. You should be allowing others close access to your life, whatever the setting is that it is easy for you to cast a shadow upon their life. And so, we all need a Paul who's influencing us, and we all need a Timothy that we are influencing.

And we're just in the middle. We are receiving an influence, and we are giving an influence. So, who is it in your life that is this discipling influence? Even if it is somewhat from a distance in a pulpit or a class lectern, who's pouring truth into you? And to whom and into whom are you then pouring this same truth into others? That's the way the Christian life is supposed to function and supposed to work. So, he goes on to say, practice these things.

Do you see that? Practice these things. Put it into practice. Whatever you saw in Paul, whatever you learned from Paul, don't just keep it in a notebook.

Don't just file it away on a piece of paper. Get it into your skin. Get it into your heart and life and live in such a way that you are practicing these things. And then the result is at the end of verse 9, and the God of peace will be with you.

That's pretty good, is it not? The God who gives peace to His people, and this is referring not to…or this is referring to internal peace within the heart, this inner peace, subjective peace of tranquility. It's not referring to peace with God. It's referring to the peace of God. And as this influence of truth is being poured into your life, then the God of peace will be unusually with you, and there will be peace that surpasses all comprehension. And in this context, we saw in verse 7 that if we will commit our troubles to the Lord in prayer, God's peace will flood our heart and soul.

We saw that in verse 7. Well, here's peace again in verse 9. And so, this is another channel or avenue for God's peace to flow from the throne of grace above into our lives here below.

It is for the ministry of the truth of the Word of God to fill and to flood our heart and our soul. So, we all want this peace. We all want to know this peace that surpasses all comprehension.

Well, in part, it comes to us within the context of someone who's been a truth speaker, a truth teacher, investing in us, someone who has lived out the reality of Christ's likeness before our very eyes. That is a part of enlarging our experience of peace. Jesus said, peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful. And then he said, these things I've spoken to you so that in me you may have peace. This is our responsibility to have this peace is for this truth to be coming from God through someone else into my life. May God provide this kind of person and these kind of people, plural, in your life for your spiritual good. Does today's message have you asking who it is that's influencing you, discipling you? To use the words of Stephen Lawson, who is it that is sitting on your right and left shoulders?

It's a good question to ponder as we each seek to grow and follow after Christ day by day. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, and you just heard a message from Dr. Lawson's 42-message overview of Philippians. There are so many well-known and memorized verses in Philippians that makes Dr. Lawson's pace in this series so helpful as he forces us to pause and consider the depths of the riches contained in each verse in this epistle. So I encourage you to get this series when you give a gift of any amount at or by calling us at 800-435-4343. In addition to the DVD, you'll have lifetime digital access to the messages and the substantial study guide in the free Ligonier app. So give your gift today at and help spread the discipleship resources of Ligonier Ministries and the teaching library of R.C. Sproul to the nations. Thank you. Are you content? Paul will go on in Philippians to say that he learned the secret to contentment, and that's what Stephen Lawson will unpack tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-09 03:03:36 / 2024-05-09 03:11:45 / 8

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