Discipleship: Restoration by Pastor Abidan Shah

DISCIPLESHIP – RESTORATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Discipleship Restoration

Introduction: Have you ever observed how ants help other ants? Once a worker ant finds food, it makes its way back home leaving behind a pheromone trail (chemical scent) that helps the other ants find their way to the food. In some varieties of ants, if a warrior ant gets injured in battle against an enemy, like the termites, the other ants will carry him back home. Now compare this with crabs. Throw a bunch of crabs in a bucket and you don’t need a lid to keep them in. If one tries to climb out, the others will pull him back in. Ants pull each other up. Crabs pull each other down. What does this have to do with our series on discipleship? In the Christian life, we don’t need people who will pull us down. We need people who will pull us up. We need others to encourage, guide, and pray for us when we lose our way. It’s called accountability. Unfortunately, most Christians act more like crabs than ants. Today’s sermon titled “Restoration” is going to help us understand true accountability.

Galatians 6    1“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you whoarespiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For each one shall bear his own load.”

Question: Who is holding you accountable? Who do you have in your life who is spiritually mature enough to restore you in a spirit of gentleness? Are you pulling others up or down? Have you ever asked Christ to pull you out of sin? Are you saved?

Context:  As I’ve said before, it’s been awesome for me to see the response to this series on discipleship. Some have already started their Inner Circles and some are getting ready to start. Typically, most people have no problem with most of what I have been explaining.

  • for Witness – yes, it’s important to have a testimony and share your faith.
  • for Togetherness – yes, it’s important to go to church and hear the Word and join in Sunday School and small groups.
  • for Established in the Word – yes, it’s important to get in the Bible.
  • for Reproducing Disciples – yes, it’s important to “Go and make disciples.”

The one that people struggle with is A for Accountability – no, I don’t want to share my business with anyone. Most are okay with coming to church and being part of the congregation. Some are even okay with going to Sunday School and Small Groups (Circles at Clearview) and getting into community. But, Inner Circles tend to intimidate some people. Actually, I’m surprised how well the concept of inner circles has been received by most people. But, if you are one of those who are intimidated by that concept, I’m going to try to clear up some misunderstandings about it in this message. Having said that, please don’t talk down about it. Pray for those who want to do it. What may look to you like an ugly, uncomfortable vest may be a lifejacket for someone else. You may not be drowning but they are. Please don’t talk them out of putting on the life-preserver.

I’ve already preached a message on how Jesus valued accountability, how he sent them out in pairs (two by two) and how the early church followed the same pattern. In the brief time we have today, I don’t want to convince you again of the importance of accountability. I simply want to clear up some misunderstandings by explaining how accountability works in the Inner Circle. Basically three:

1. Don’t confuse Sunday School and Small Groups with Inner Circles. They’re wonderful and very essential for developing T for Togetherness. You get to know each other, share in each other’s joys and sorrows, and learn the Bible. But, the real test is “are they making disciples?” The answers is “No.” Disciples who make disciples is the goal.

2. Don’t confuse One-on-one mentoring with Inner Circles. Jesus met with people one on one. He met with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman by themselves. He even had a deep conversation with Peter after he rose from the grave. These were times of great spiritual benefit to these individuals. Some like the Samaritan woman even got saved through it and maybe Nicodemus too. I’ve met many times with people one on one and it’s great. But, there are some limitations to one on one meetings. In other words, there are some important benefits to meeting in a group. Listen again to Ecclesiastes 4 9Twoarebetter than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. . . 12Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” In other words, if two is good, three is even better.” Why is an Inner Circle better?  8 Reasons (I’m getting these from Robby Gallaty):

i. Avoid the ping pong match. How are you? Good. Did you have a good week? Yep. .

ii. One on one is difficult to reproduce. The mentee never feels equal to the mentor.

iii. A group of two tends to become a counselling session. Instead of a time of spiritual growth, it becomes a problem solving, therapy session.

iv. A group of three to five has built-in accountability. If one fails to do the assignment, the others are good motivators to challenge and encourage.

v. A multiplication strategy is exponentially faster than an addition strategy. Keith Philipps in his 1981 book “The Making of a Disciple” presented a chart comparing discipleship with evangelism. If one person were to reach one person every day for the next 16 years (he actually calculated for 32 years), that would be 5,840 people. Now if a person would disciple one person a year for the next 16 years, that would be 65,536 people. Then, Greg Ogden in his 2016 book “Transforming Discipleship” expounded it even further. If we went by the Inner Circle Model, in 16 years, that would be 43,046,721 people. I know that all these figures are ideal world assumptions. But, unless we go this way, there’s no way that we will win our community and our world for Christ.

vi. A one-on-one group can be intimidating. It is very hard for people to talk about their personal lives and struggle one on one, especially men.

vii. You grow as a group. Christian life is not an individual sport. It is a team sport. The boys and I have been watching the World Cup Soccer tournament. It’s amazing to see the reaction when a player makes a goal. The whole team comes running and jumps on him! So also, in discipleship, we grow as a team.

viii. Jesus discipled in groups. I’ve repeated this time and time again with how Jesus worked with the disciples and the Inner Circle with Peter, James, and John.

3. Don’t confuse biblical correction with control and condemnation. A major reason that many people are reluctant to join an accountability group or the Inner Circle is because they think that now they have to give an account of everything they do to someone. They assume that they are inadvertently turning over their freedom to someone else. This is just not true. Here’s a great illustration:Most of us have a lead foot. We like to drive a little above the speed limit. What happens when you see a police, sheriff, or state trooper car? We slow down and check our speedometer. Why do we do that? Is it because we don’t want to cause a wreck or break the law. I doubt it. We don’t want to get stopped, get a ticket, have to go to court, and have our insurance go up. The police car forces us to stay within the law. What if we didn’t have any police cars. Would we still do what is right? Maybe some of us but most won’t. Accountability is like that police car. It forces us to stay away from sin. Galatians 6 1“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The goal is not control or condemnation but biblical correction or restoration.It is not pushing your personal convictions on others. Robby Gallaty said – “Accountability must be couched in grace. Avoid narcissistic, self-improvement regimens that turn grace into law.” Listen to verse2“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

Illustration: John Bradford was a pastor, a reformer, and later became a martyr. Tradition has it that when he would see convicts being taken to be executed that he would say under his breath “there but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, “the only difference between that convict and myself is the grace of God.” If all of us can believe that we are only 1 or 2 steps away from that man or that woman behind bars, what a difference it would make in how we treat people. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am. . .”

Invitation: Do you pull people up or down? Have you been pulled up by the grace of God in Jesus Christ?

EASTER MEANS YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE

EASTER MEANS YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE

John 21:1-7  1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is one of my most favorite passages in the Bible. It takes place after Jesus rose from the dead. He had already shown Himself to His disciples—some individually and some in a group. For all practical purposes, His work on earth was done. The only thing left for Him was to send the Holy Spirit to energize and empower the church to go out and share the good news of salvation. John could have ended his book in chapter 20 but he goes on to chapter 21 for one reason – Simon Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion.

You remember the story – on the night of the crucifixion Jesus had told His disciples that it was time for Him to give His life for them; that He had to go away for a little while and where He was going, they couldn’t come. You remember Peter’s response – “Even though the rest may fall away, I won’t. I’ll even lay down my life for you.” (Paraphrase) Mark in his gospel tells us that he was insistent that he wouldn’t betray Him.

For e.g. Like a child who insists upon going with his father. “I promise I won’t fall asleep.”

Peter weeps bitterly

We know the result. Just as Jesus had prophesied, Peter denied his Master at least three times and the rooster crowed twice. Luke tells us that right then Jesus turned and looked at Peter and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him and he went out and wept bitterly. Those were tears of shame, disappointment, guilt, failure, and self-condemnation.

Application: I believe there are many here this morning that are crying the same tears of shame, disappointment, guilt, failure, and self-condemnation. They may not be visible but they are there. You promised God that you would do better; you promised God that you would obey Him better; you promised God that you would never turn your back on Him; and then you failed. Easter means you get a second chance.

There are 4 things we find in this passage that will give you hope.

I. SELF-CONDEMNATION IS A MISERABLE LIFE.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

Background: Keep in mind—Peter knew that Jesus had risen from the dead. In fact, Jesus had already personally visited Peter. He knew his calling. Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men but he had gone back to being a fisherman. Why? Because he was living in self-condemnation. I failed Jesus. I just don’t have what it takes.

For e.g. Things are going on at church—come join us. I can’t. I can’t do my devotions right now; I can’t pray right now; I can’t sing right now; I can’t serve right now. Why? I am living in self-condemnation. We don’t say it but we think it. Self-condemnation is behind more backsliding than anything else.

The problem with self-condemnation is that it is contagious. They said to him, “We are going with you also.” 6 more disciples followed Peter. Misery loves company. Show me a person who is down on their circumstances, failures, mistakes, and I will show 6 more around him/her who are also down on their circumstances, failures, and mistakes. What’s the result? They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. Maybe they had forgotten what their Master had told them in John 15:5 “without Me you can do nothing.” A Self-condemning life is a fruitless life. Nothing seems to work out. No prospect in sight. No hope. No joy. No peace. No vision. There was a time in my life when I was in this very place. No matter what I did, it didn’t prosper.

Application: May I ask you a difficult question—Is what we are talking about sound familiar to you?

II. JESUS COMES TO US IN GRACE NOT CONDEMNATION.

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Background: You would expect Jesus to come with anger and disappointment. Instead He comes with forgiveness and grace. He does not condemn them for going fishing but helps them find fish. That is the nature of God. Just when we think we don’t deserve grace, we receive grace; just when we think we have been discarded, He comes to restore us. Just when we think that He won’t help us. He does.

Someone might say, “You don’t know how bad I have been.” Listen to Romans 8:33-34 33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Meaning: We not only have the Holy Spirit interceding for us but we also have Jesus praying for us. Jesus, who knows our every weakness, is the one who is interceding for us.

Application: Why do we listen to the enemy? Why do we only think of negative thoughts?

III. ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD.

tissot John 21John tells Peter “It is the Lord!” and Peter puts on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunges into the sea. When the rest come to the land, they see fire of coals and fish laid on it and bread. Jesus says to them “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” How beautiful is that passage? Jesus not only had the breakfast prepared for them but He even asked them to bring some of the fish they had just caught and included it. Altogether, they had 153 fish. Peter pulled in the net and it didn’t even break.

The beauty of the Christian life is that God uses even the broken and shattered pieces of our lives to bring something good. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “God is the greatest junk dealer in the history of the universe.” He will take whatever is there and bring something good.

Application: Are you done with your broken and shattered pieces? Give them to Him.

IV. HE ONLY ASKS US TO LOVE HIM.

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.

Background: Why did John put that in here? They knew what Jesus looked like. Was that His glorified body? If it were, the Bible would have said something about that? Why this distance? In fact, they spoke only one word to Jesus so far. “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

They felt very unworthy. What does He want from us? We are nothing. We cannot do anything for Him but disappoint Him. He is God!

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth

Would care to know my name

Would care to feel my hurt?

Who am I, that the bright and morning star

Would choose to light the way

For my ever wondering heart? 

Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are

13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

You can imagine the disciples, especially Peter, wondering what does He want.

Do you love me more than these

Then comes the well-known conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus asks Peter – “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter replies, “Yes Lord;you know that I love you.” Then, “Feed My lambs.” “Tend My sheep.” On the third time Peter was grieved and he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Then “Feed My sheep.

Meaning: Peter – I’m not through with you. I still need you. I still have work for you. You were not supposed to follow me to the cross. I was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. I had to die. I had to fulfill the prophecies.

Application: Let me say this as clearly as possible. You and I cannot go down that path. We cannot die for our sins. We cannot earn our own salvation. All you can do is step back and see Jesus walking to the cross, being nailed to the cross, and dying on the cross for your sins. All you can do is accept His sacrifice for your sins and thank Him for walking that path for you. Have you done that?

Application: There are many people here this morning for whatever reason you feel God is through with you but He is not.

Personal Example: I thought for sometime that I had disappointed God and that I was no longer worthy. Everything I attempted was fruitless until I met Nicole’s dad. Just a handshake showed me that he loved me. You may not see Jesus face-to-face but you can feel His love in the smiles and the handshakes in this place.

Have you received His love? Do you love Him?

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