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Steadfastness of Discipleship

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This week, we continue to uncover the deep commitment required to follow Jesus authentically. We peel back the layers of human nature's temptation for instant gratification, contrasting it with the enduring devotion of true faith. As we delve into the teachings of John chapter 6, we reveal how discipleship transcends the allure of miracles and material gain, challenging us to embrace the more complex, transformative aspects of Jesus's message. 

John 6:66-68 NIV

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 

As followers of Christ, we are called to a commitment that goes beyond convenience and comfort. Today's reading shows that even when others turned away from difficult teachings, Peter recognised that only Jesus had the words of eternal life.

2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position [steadfastness - NASB]. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen 

Grace is not merely how God draws us to Him initially. It is also the way we grow and stay steadfast in our faith. We can never grow apart from the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and we never grow out of God’s grace.

Drawing parallels between the intricate art of bread-making and the delicate balance of growing in faith. We discuss how the pitfalls of bread-making—like too much liquid or over-proofing—mirror the excesses and imbalances that can hinder our spiritual growth. 

1. We steadfastly pursue righteousness, distinguishing good and evil.

Just as bread falls when the dough contains too much liquid, disciples are called to mature in their knowledge of righteousness, good and evil. 

Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 

2. We steadfastly recognise that as His disciples, we are different to the world.

Bread can fall in the baking process when there is not enough salt in the bread. Jesus called His disciples the salt of the earth we are to preserve what is good and prevent the decay of evil. 

Matthew 5:13 NIV

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 

3. We steadfastly recognise the need to die to sin

Bread often falls after an initial rising because the yeast has been allowed to rise too long, which is known as over-proofing. As disciples, we must die to sin by grace. 

Romans 6:1-4 NIV

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 

Discussion Questions

1. How does Hebrews 5:12-14's comparison of spiritual 'milk' to 'solid food' resonate with your current stage of faith? Discuss the importance of spiritual maturity and how you can actively pursue growth in discernment and righteousness. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

2. The sermon spoke about the importance of godly sorrow leading to repentance. Can you share a personal experience where you felt this type of sorrow and how it led to positive change in your life? (2 Corinthians 7:10)

3. Salt is used to enhance flavor and preserve food. As the 'salt of the earth', how can we as believers live out our faith in a way that preserves and brings out the goodness in the world around us? Discuss how you can maintain your distinctiveness as a follower of Christ in your everyday life. (Matthew 5:13)

4. Discuss the dangers of overproofing in the bread-making process and how it relates to allowing sin to remain unchecked in our lives. How can we stay vigilant against the 'yeast' of sin and continue to die to it daily? (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

5. The sermon encourages steadfastness in the face of challenges. Share a scripture that has helped you remain steadfast in your faith during difficult times, and how you can apply it to your life today. (James 1:2-4)

6. As we continue through the season of Lent, how can we use this time to deepen our commitment to discipleship and spiritual growth? Share your plans for Lent and how you intend to focus on becoming more like Christ during this period. (Mark 8:34)