This message has been developed over the past six years. It is one that has led to the transformational work of the Holy Spirit within Garfield Christian Fellowship. If you have been a part of this Family for a while, you have heard some of these things. As we are obeying the social distancing rules, I had this idea that it would be good to go over some of the things that God has used to bring transformation to our lives. Here is the first message we spent months walking through and the past six years learning and applying to our lives and will spend the rest of our lives learning and applying as well.
I pray our time together will bring glory and honor to God. May you experience God the Father, our Lord Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in real, personal, and practical ways. I love you all and look forward to a great big hug very soon. I will be delivering a hard copy of this to those who do not use the computer.
The Irreducible Core of the Christian Faith.
Matthew 28:18 Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.
Everything in the Bible is important, everything in the Bible points to Jesus and Jesus has been “given all authority in heaven and on earth.” And since the only way to God the Father, Heaven, is through Jesus, what He teaches us is the most important. And since Jesus is our King, High Priest, and Prophet what He taught and what He did is what we as Christian, followers of Jesus, need to learn and apply to our lives.
John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Jesus taught many things and showed us many things about the Kingdom of Heaven. He brought clarity to the life God desires of His people, the ones He calls out to be His very own. There are three statements Jesus taught us that has become known as the “The Irreducible Core” (IC) of the Christian faith. These three statements are foundational for all who call themselves Christian. Since Jesus has all authority, His instructions for our lives are our focus.
The IC is the most basic instructions/commands given to us. There are three parts (Jesus’ statements) to the IC: two commandments Jesus summarized for us and one mission Jesus declared for us. Here are the first two of the IC of the Christian faith:
Matthew 22:34-40 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"
37 Jesus replied, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."
Since these two commands are equally important and “the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments,” then these should be the very least we focus on in our lives. There are many things we can do as followers of Jesus, these two are the very minimum we need to focus our lives on.
Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”
The implication of this is more than our minds could possibly fathom … It is through our love relationship with God that the truths of Scripture will be lived out in our lives. A natural consequence of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind is that God will be glorified in and through our lives. No human effort will bring glory to God only the wonderful grace, mercy and love of God in and through our lives will bring Him glory. For each and every one of us, loving God with all we are is fundamental to our faith.
Instead of me telling you what loving God looks like, I am going to ask you to search the Scriptures and, if you are willing, share what God has shown you about what it looks to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul.
Luke adds strength in there too.
Luke 10:27-28 The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"
What does “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (strength) look like?
Matthew 29:39 A second is equally important: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Love your neighbor as yourself… The implication of this will transform the way Christians do church. Loving our neighbor as ourselves implies we understand who we are in Christ. Understanding our identity in Christ, allows us to see us the way God does. When we grasp (even if only a little) God’s love, grace, and mercy our perception of who we are changes the way we love ourselves and thus we are able to love others rightly.
When we understand who we are in Christ Jesus and the life changing work of the Holy Spirit, we then are able to give life producing words to others. One Scripture that comes to mind often is
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
As our love relationship with God grows, we understand who we are in Christ and through this wonderful relationship we are able to love (agape) others because we have learned to love as God does.
Instead of me telling you what loving others as myself looks like, I am going to ask you to search the Scriptures and, if you are willing, share what God has shown you about what this looks like. I am not asking who your neighbor is, just what does it look like to love them.
What does “Love your neighbor as yourself” look like?
Part three of the IC, is the mission Jesus gave His disciples, you and me. The Great Commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Make disciples along the way… Making disciples is all about teaching people to know Jesus, to follow Jesus, to remember Jesus… in reality the Word, Jesus, tells us to “obey all his commands.” The implication of this commission is that the church knows Jesus’ command and that we know how to apply them to our lives. If the Church of today would truly grasp and understood disciplemaking, church as we know it would never be the same again. We will be ever changing as we embrace the people(s) of the community we live in.
Jesus spent three years showing us what disciplemaking looks like. Jesus followed the Jewish rabbinic model for disciplemaking giving us all we need to understand, develop, and apply disciplemaking to our lives.
Instead of me telling you what disciplemaking looks like, I am going to ask you to search the Scriptures and, if you are willing, share what God has shown you about what this looks like.
What does go and make disciples of all the nations look like?
The irreducible core then are these three basics fundamentals to the Christian faith
Make disciples along the way
This is the challenge: to live out these three basic commands. One very important Scripture that has helped me with this is
Romans 12:2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
The challenge, only if you want to, share with me and others Scriptures that you use to help you focus. Scriptures that help you Love God with all you are and have, love others as yourself, and make disciples along the way? Looking forward to hearing what God has done in your life to live out the irreducible core of the Christian faith.