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Fort Worth Community Director, Tyler Briggs, teaches on our purpose in life and how to make disciples the way the Lord calls us to. Looking at Matthew 28:16-20, he shows us where our purpose in life is found, what that purpose is, and where the power comes from to live out that purpose.
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Good morning. My name is Tyler Briggs, and I get the privilege to serve here as the community director for the Fort Worth Campus and also lead Equipped Disciple, which is a great ministry to burst into, if you ever feel like doing that. I want to introduce you to my nephew. I think I have a quick picture of him. Some of you may have met him before. I've talked about him once. Isn't he a cutie pie? Look at that. He wouldn't appreciate me calling him a cutie pie either. He's a little tough guy.
This picture is from a couple of years ago. I went down to southeast Texas where I'm from to watch him play youth basketball. To me, watching youth sports is incredibly entertaining and amusing. It usually ends up where you have one kid who is a little more athletic and faster than everybody else who gets the ball, and they're doing all the work, and everybody else is just kind of following them around wherever they go.
In one particular game, that little athlete on the team was just scoring a bunch and just did all this stuff. He was kind of the ball hog. The coach knew, "If we want to win, we can just give this kid the ball the whole time." There is one play where he shoots, and he actually missed. When he misses, it kind of bounced off of the rim. Another kid on the team gets the rebound, and it's like he's never touched the ball before.
All of a sudden, he realizes, "I can score. I can do something here." It was an offensive rebound from his teammate, but when he gets it, in his excitement, he turns around, and he starts dribbling the other way. You already know what is coming here. He starts dribbling the other way, and nobody is chasing him, which is kind of weird. His coach kind of steps up on the court and says, "Turn around. Turn around. Turn around."
He's so excited that he can score and be successful and do what he's supposed to do as a basketball player that he's just locked in and going and going. Now his coach is no longer just kind of nudging him. He's saying, "Turn around!" His teammates are saying, "Turn around!" The other team is like, "We're going to let him go." People in the stands are going, "Turn around!"
He keeps going, and he gets to the other end, and you can see the closer he gets to the goal, the bigger the smile on his face gets, and he shoots, and it goes up, and it hits the backboard and off the rim on the other side, and it spins, and it goes in. He just goes, "Yes!" Everybody else does what you did. They go, "Aw." In that moment, he realized that he scored in the wrong basket.
What I love about that story is it really relates to us in a lot of ways because we're not playing a little game. We're not in youth sports. We're in life. What can happen is oftentimes, we'll adopt a purpose in life that leads us to be successful in the wrong things, that leads us to be successful in the wrong areas. I want to talk to you this morning about our purpose in life.
You get one call to get up and teach once a year, and you pick the biggest topic you can possibly tackle. We're going to talk about our purpose in life. Here's why it's important. I don't want you to think about a little kid on a court. I want you to think about your life, and I want you to think about what direction you're headed and what type of success you're pursuing. I want you to think about as we talk about it this morning if you're being successful in the right thing. Are you living out the right purpose?
Specifically, we're going to look at three things. We're going to look at where we find our purpose, what that purpose is, and where we get the power to accomplish that purpose. We need to understand this because if we don't, we're going to get to the end of our days, look back, and we're going to let out a big sigh because we're going to realize we were scoring and being successful in the wrong things. We don't want that to happen.
There's an easy place we can look. This morning, we're going to look into God's Word, specifically in Matthew 28. I'm using the NASB translation. Matthew 28:16-20. This is the Great Commission. If you've been around the church for a while, this is a foundational passage for what we believe and what we do. If not, this can be. Hopefully, this will become a verse that spurs you on in life to live out the right purpose. I want to read through it, and then I want to set up the context of what's going on. Matthew 28:16-20 says,
"But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"
Within this text, there are three things. It talks about where we find our purpose, what that purpose is, and where the power for that purpose comes from. Jesus starts off in verse 18. He comes up to his guys, and he says, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." What is about to happen is… Let me set up the context for this. The entire gospel of Matthew, this entire account leads up to this very moment.
Matthew writes this to tell the disciples to tell the new church, the early church, to tell us, "This is your purpose," but he doesn't start off by giving them their purpose. He starts out by saying, "Here's the foundation of where that purpose comes from." What Jesus tells his disciples is, "All authority has been given to Me…" What he tells them essentially is, "I get to pick your purpose.
1._ Jesus picks your purpose._ The first thing that came to my mind as I was thinking about this, the first question that came up was, "Why does he get to pick?" It's my life. Why don't I get to pick what my purpose is? Let me tell you. As I was reading this, I was thinking, "If I were sitting there, and Jesus came up and said, 'All authority has been given to me, so I get to pick the purpose of your life,' I would have said, 'Whoa, hold on. Why do you get to do that? Why don't I get to do that?'"
The disciples didn't interrupt him. Let me tell you why they didn't interrupt him. They knew he had the authority. This is why they know. If I were to say, "Why don't I get the authority?" You may be thinking, "Why don't I get to pick what my purpose is in life?" Here's why. The person with authority gets to pick. This is why Jesus has the authority to do so. It's because he created everything. God was the architect of this universe, and Jesus was the builder. He created it all.
When we rebelled against him, he became a man. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life that we never could. He never did anybody wrong. He never sinned against anyone. He performed tons of miraculous healings. He walked on the water. He stilled the sea. He claimed to be God. He spoke as one who had authority.
He even said, "I'm going to get a few men, invest in them, and give them the purpose to carry on my work when I'm done. As proof to them, they're going to see all that I've just said that I've done. Not only that. I'm going to prophesy that I'm going to be crucified, and I'm going to rise again." Do you know what happened? He was crucified, and he rose from the grave. When you do those things, you get to have authority. He just has it.
The question is not, "Does Jesus have authority to pick our purpose?" The question is, "Will we choose to acknowledge his authority in our lives to define the purpose of our lives?" It's a question that all of us have to answer. He has the authority because he is God. If you want authority to choose, all you have to do if you want to pick your purpose is everything I just mentioned. You should be able to knock it out by the end of the week, right? Not a chance. Only God can do that. Jesus is God. As God, he gets to pick the purpose of our lives.
I coached football for a little bit. I've coached anywhere from youth to middle school to high school and had a great time doing it. If you're in Texas for more than one fall, you've probably seen at least one game of football. Here is something that has never happened while I was coaching. I would figure out which play we wanted to run. I would get the quarterback over on the sidelines. I would give the quarterback the play, and I would send him in to relay that play to the rest of the team in the huddle.
The quarterback would run in. This is what has never happened. The quarterback kneels down. He gives the play. Then everybody in the huddle says, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. We don't want to run that play. I want to run a pass. I want to do a run. I want to do a sweep. I want to do a dive." Then they break the huddle, and all the different players run a different play all at the same time. That has never happened.
Do you know why that has never happened? Everyone knows they are not going to be successful as a football team to fulfill their purpose, which is winning football games, if they all decide to do their own thing. They know we all have to be aligned under a common authority, running a common play, so we can accomplish a common purpose.
That's Christ. It's very cliché. "Jesus is the quarterback of our lives." He is. His authority does come necessarily from itself. It comes from the Father, through him, to us. Just as players on a football team run plays, disciples make disciples. What happens is when players decide not to do that, they are not successful in fulfilling their purpose.
They lose their ability to fulfill their purpose when they don't acknowledge the authority of the coach. In the same way, when Christians, when believers forget their purpose, they lose their power to accomplish that purpose, and it all starts with the foundation of the authority of Christ in our lives. Jesus picks our purpose.
Jesus gathers all of those men around. He gives them the foundation for their purpose. He declares his authority. Then he gives them that specific purpose. This is what he tells them. He says in verse 19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."
2._ Your purpose is to make disciples._ I bet they responded and were thinking, "That sounds really simple. You spent three years with us. That's all you want us to do? It's not more complicated than that?" "No. Your purpose is to make disciples." Just as players run plays, disciples make disciples.
I want to be very clear on this point. Making disciples is not what brings you to salvation. Your salvation is the reason you make disciples, because of who you are. It's what you do. In order to make disciples, you must first be a disciple. You have to make the decision. All it takes to be a disciple is to make the decision. Is Jesus who he said he was? Is it true? Was he God? Did he become a man? Did he die for the forgiveness of our sins? Did he rise again? If so, do I place my faith in all that for my salvation?
If so, you are a disciple. Therefore, your purpose in life is to make disciples. That's the greatest question you can answer, is if you are a disciple. The next thing to look at would be… If our purpose is to make disciples, how do we do that? He tells us. He says, "To make disciples, all you have to do is teach people to obey. Teach people to walk in obedience to my commands."
How do we do that? Well, how did Jesus do it? Through a relationship. If we look at the life of Christ, he didn't try to have a deep relationship with everybody he encountered, but he had a few. He chose 12. With those 12, he spent an enormous amount of time, three years. In those three years, he didn't just give them sermons. He got to know them. He got to know what they did for a living, their vocation. He got to know the desires of their heart. He got to know what struggles they were experiencing. He got to know the victories they experienced in their lives.
Along the way, he taught them. He told them, "This is what it looks like to love God and love your neighbor as yourself." He didn't just tell them about those things; he showed them. He said, "It's not about your outward behavior; it's about your heart. It's about the condition of your heart before the Lord." As he told them those things, he modeled for them what it looked like to walk in obedience to Christ.
After he modeled it for them, he said, "Now I'm going to send you out to go and try to do the same." He would send them out, and they would come back together. They got back together, and Jesus would go, "Tell me what happened." Then he would celebrate their faithfulness. Sometimes he would have to correct them for errors or for where they went wrong.
Sometimes he would get to teach them about how to take it a step further. All of that came through relationship. All of that came through spending time with them. He spent three years, an enormous amount of time with 12. The reason he did was so they could continue the purpose he came for when he was gone. Our purpose is to make disciples.
I was thinking about this. What does it take to really teach someone to obey? I got to thinking about Lyla. My wife and I just had our first kid about nine months ago, so here is a picture of sweet Lyla Rose. Exactly. Don't get lost in her cuteness. I need you to stay tuned in right here. That's little Lyla Rose, and she is cute as can be, but if my wife and I don't build a relationship with her and teach her what it looks like to obey her parents and, more importantly, to walk with Jesus, she's going to be a terror to herself and to others.
As cute as that looks, I've seen that side of her already coming out. Last night. What would never work, what would be crazy… All of you would tell me I was a terrible parent if I did this, if I went on Amazon, opened up my Prime account, and started looking for books on parenting. Then I got all of the best podcasts and all of the best DVD curriculums and all of the best books. I stacked them up. I went to Lyla and said, "Okay, Lyla. For the next 17-18 years, I want you to systematically read through these things and obey. Obey me, and obey the Lord."
That's not going to happen. She would never happen. How is she going to learn to obey her parents? How is she going to learn to obey the Lord? It's going to be through me spending time with her, gaining her trust by loving her, serving her, helping her, encouraging her, correcting her, disciplining her, modeling for her what it looks like to walk in obedience, modeling for her what it looks like to walk in obedience to the Lord, correcting her along the way.
It's only through that that she's going to raise up and not be a terror to herself and others but be a loving person. In the same way, that's discipleship. Parenthood is awesome because it's partly about you and your child, but it's also heavily discipleship intensive, where you're teaching your child to follow the Lord as well. That's any discipleship relationship. That's you identifying some people who God has brought into your life and being willing to invest time, being willing to build a relationship with them.
There are two things I have heard related to this that have been really impactful for me. One of them is just someone… I don't remember if I read it or if I heard it, but I'm just going to say it as I've always said. "Discipleship travels at the speed of relationships." That reads true. We're never going to be able to live out the purpose of making disciples apart from having meaningful relationships with people.
What makes this even more challenging is I have heard before that relationships are the most inefficient things in our lives. There is no secret formula to them. They are the most inefficient things in our lives, but they are the most important. They are the most important because it's through relationships that we carry out our purpose, making disciples, but it takes time.
I've been in your seat before. If you want to be convicted about this, prepare to teach on it, and you'll realize how much you've fallen short and how much you can pick up your game in this area. As I was thinking about it, what you may be thinking is, "That sounds like a lot of time, a ton." You're right. To make disciples takes a lot of time.
Here's the truth. The vast majority of you, almost all of you are not called to vocational ministry. You're not going to do this for your job, but every single one of you who has a relationship with Christ is called to full-time ministry. There is no wiggle room in it. Every single one of you who has a relationship with Christ is called to full-time ministry.
As we think about that and think about what our purpose is, if you don't have time to make disciples, it's because you're spending too much time on other things. It's that simple. If you don't have time to make disciples, you are spending too much time on other things. What are those other things? I don't know. I don't know what that is for you. It could be a lot of different ones. We'll maybe dive into what some of those are.
One of my favorite books is called The Master Plan of Evangelism. It's a little book. I don't like big books. They intimidate me. Somehow, I've been able to get through God's Word, break it down into bite-sized pieces, which you'll learn in Equipped Disciple. It's a little book, and it talks about what we can learn from Jesus' life about how to make disciples.
The whole thing is really good. The one line I remember clearly… I have a bad habit of remembering one line. The author says about Jesus, "Jesus' life was ordered around his objective." Everything he did was ordered around his objective. Another way of saying it is, "His life was ordered around his purpose." In the same way, our lives should be ordered around the purpose of making disciples.
Everything we do should be informed by that purpose. I'm not saying other things are bad, but the way we spend time on other things should be informed by that purpose. Our purpose is not to get married. Our purpose is not to raise the perfect kids in the best school district and the best neighborhood. Our purpose is not to be the boss or the CEO of the company we work for. Our purpose is not to dribble our lives in the direction of being successful and making a lot of money.
It is not to dribble our lives in the direction of enjoying the best vacations. It is not to have a purpose geared toward having a comfortable retirement. Our lives are not to be geared around the purpose or moving in the direction of just living for ourselves and our own desires. Oftentimes, if we take an honest look at our lives, that's what our lives are ordered around. Our lives are to be ordered around the purpose of making disciples.
Another way to say it is that this purpose should inform the plans and practices of our lives. Let me show you what I mean by that as it relates to marriage. When we think about our purpose in making disciples, marriage no longer becomes about, "What can my spouse do for me?" Instead, marriage becomes about the purpose of, "How can I love my spouse as Christ loved the church? How can I be a living picture of dying to myself to serve someone else by doing nothing from selfish or empty conceit but considering my spouse as more important than myself and living out the gospel?"
When it comes to children, instead of it being about having the perfect kids and protecting them from the world, it becomes about, "How do a train them up above all else to love Jesus?" Not that other things are bad, but that's the most important. "How do I order a relationship with them around training them up to love Jesus Christ?"
When it comes to your vocation, your purpose is no longer your job. That's not what you live for. You no longer look at your job as something that is supposed to bring you fulfillment in life. Instead, your job becomes the means through which you have your needs met while you fulfill your purpose, because your ultimate fulfillment comes from making disciples.
The other thing on that as it relates to your vocation and your job is it's not meant to bring you fulfillment. Also, a big reality is you will spend likely up to 40 percent of your life at work. You can't separate vocation from discipleship. What that means is one of your greatest mission fields where you carry out that purpose is through your vocation, whatever that may be.
How else it informs our plans with the purpose of making disciples is as it relates to the stewardship of money and possessions. Those things are no longer used to build up my kingdom but are used as a resource to serve others, to love God, to love others, and to train them up. When it comes to leisure time, leisure time is no longer what we use to escape from reality. Instead, it's a time to rest and be refueled so we can engage with reality and real relationships with people to train them up to follow Christ.
Everything is ordered around this. As it relates to relationships in general, it's no longer, "What can these people offer me?" It becomes the means through which you love others well by making disciples. When it comes to the church, church no longer becomes something you attend once a week, but it's something you are every single day of the week, every single hour of the day as you live out your purpose.
There is a group of people I get to spend time with every single week on Thursday nights. We have a ministry called Equipped Disciple, which we have mentioned a few times. In particular, there is this one circle of young adults who, every time I see one of them, they talk on and on and on and on about how great that ministry is.
What I love about it is they're not really talking about the ministry of Equipped Disciple. What they're talking about is the ministry of their leaders in their lives. They're talking about the Gossetts. If you don't know the Gossetts, I hope you get the chance to get to know them some day. What all of these young adults tell me over and over again is not about what they're doing on Thursday nights but about how Byron and Tricia invest in them hours every single week.
They took an interest to build a relationships, to get to know where they're from, to get to know their stories, to get to know what victories they're experiencing in life, to get to know what struggles they're walking through. Not just to get to know about it but to then engage and say, "In the midst of this, let me encourage you about how you can follow Christ in this way."
They're not only telling them these things. They're inviting these young adults into their lives to know what is going, and they're modeling to them what it looks like to follow Christ. They are ordering their lives around the objective of making disciples, and it is making a tremendous impact. The truth is God wants to use you to do that in other people's lives. In order to do so, you have to get your purpose from Jesus. You have to know that purpose is making disciples.
The last thing Jesus tells them as we look at this verse is he gives them a comforting promise. He says, "Hey, I have the authority to determine the purpose of your life. Here's what it is. Take comfort in this." He tells them simply, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." There is something curious about this. "Okay, that's comforting. I know you're with me, but you also just told me you're about to leave, so what does this mean?" It begs the question, "How is Jesus with us, and what does that mean?"
3._ Jesus is the power for our purpose._ I'm going to tell you how the presence of Christ in our lives provides the power for us to live out our purpose. Jesus is present with us today. He's present with you today in three ways: through his Spirit, through his Word, through his people. Here's where the power comes from. We've been walking through the book of Acts with Todd and JP for a while, although we have had periodic interruptions.
Very early on in the book of Acts… This was one of the last conversations Jesus had with the disciples. He tells them, "I'm going to go. When I go, someone else is going to come. It's going to be a helper. When you receive the Holy Spirit, you will receive power, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth."
The benefit of that is Jesus as a man only had the ability to be present with a few people at one time. The benefit is now that he is gone and has sent his Spirit, he is present in the lives of every single believer at all times. It is his presence that gives you the power to carry out your purpose. He is also present with us through his Word. John 1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." If you skip down a little bit further, it says, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…"
Jesus is God's Word, and we connect. We build a relationship with him through the Word of God. He's present with us through his Word, but he's also present with us through his people. I get to talk to people a lot who are walking through tough times and walking through tragedy, even who are just isolated. The one question they all seem to ask is, "Where is God when I'm hurting? Where is he?" He's in the room. He's sitting around you right now.
The metaphor for the church used throughout Scripture is the body of Christ. The church is the manifestation of Christ on earth today. In order to be connected… It's the means through which we're discipled. It's the means through which we're encouraged. It's the means through which we're corrected. It's the means through which we grow. To have the power of Jesus in your life, you have to be connected with him through his Spirit, which you already have if you're a believer.
It's being connected with him through spending time in his Word, and it's being connected through the body of Christ. This is real simple. There is the actual application of how you make disciples, and there's the how of, "How am I… Where is my strength going to come from to carry out this purpose?" It's real simple.
I want you to think about a lamp. This is about the simplest illustration ever. You put a lamp on a table. You turn it on. Nothing happens. What do you have to do to get the lamp to come on? You simply get the plug and put it into the power source. All of a sudden, it comes on. If you want the light to go out, all you have to do is unplug it. If you plug it in, it's on. If you unplug it, it's off.
What do we need to do in order to carry out our purposes? It's real simple. If you don't want to do this, all you have to do is stop listening to the spirit of conviction in your life, close God's Word, and remove yourself from God's people. You will struggle to live out your purpose. That may be where some of you are, but there is good news. All you have to do… It's real simple. It's just like plugging a light into a socket.
All you have to do to live out that purpose is begin to listen to the conviction of the Spirit in your life, begin to open up God's Word, and begin to build a relationship with the Lord through reading him, through meditating on him, and then through plugging in to God's people, moving out of isolation and into community. That's it. That's all you have to do to access the power of Christ to live out your purpose.
I want you to think about something. Jesus gets to pick our purpose. He gives us the purpose. It's very simple. It's not complicated. It's to make disciples. He gives us the power to do so, but we have a choice to make. All of us have a choice to make. What are we going to do with it? Do you remember how at the beginning, I said I wanted you to think about which direction you're dribbling?
I want you to think about your life being on a basketball court right now. On one end is a goal. It's your desires. It's your purposes for your life that you can come up with on your own. On the other end, you have Jesus' purpose for your life. If you're on that court right now, which way are you dribbling? Which way are you dribbling? What are you pursuing success in?
When you make a basket, when you are successful and score, are you going to look back at the end of the game… You don't know when that is coming. That might be today. Are you going to let out a big sigh, or is there going to be rejoicing because you were successful in the purpose given to you by your Savior, by the Creator of the heavens and the earth?
In summary, we are all living for something. We are trying to figure out what our purpose is. We are trying to find success in life. Jesus gives us very clearly the direction, the purpose we have for our lives, what we're supposed to be doing, and how we accomplish it. Here's the application. If you are at a spot… There are only two responses to this. You're either thinking, "Where do I start? Where do I start discipling others? Where do I go?"
The other response would be, "I need to be discipled because I have no idea how to teach someone how to walk in obedience to Christ." There's a very simple application to it, and it's what we've been talking about a lot of the morning. It has come up a lot. It's the ministry we have called Equipped Disciple. The purpose of Equipped Disciple is to teach you how to come into a relationship with Christ and how to walk in obedience with him.
It equips you with the tools to share the love of Christ with others and help teach them how to come into a relationships with Christ and how to walk in obedience to him. Every ministry we have is designed to do that. The application is to figure out if you need to be discipled or if you need to start discipling others.
This is the last thing I'm going to say. There are some people who are in the room who are looking around, and you see this kid up on stage and a bunch of young people in the room. You start to wonder, "Do I fit in here?" You're older than the rest of us. You're like, "Do I have a place?" The reason I mention that is because I hear it a lot.
That's a great question, and the answer to that is yes. You do have a place, and that place is to be here to help make disciples, to come in and build… We want to know you. We want to build a relationship with you, and we want you to help teach us how to walk with Christ. You either need to be discipled or start making disciples.
If you don't know where to start and want to know more information on how to do that, on that little card on your Watermark News, there is the First Impressions. You can tear it out. You can just say, "I want to be discipled." That means we're going to get you partnered up with one of our ministries led by people who invest in you.
Or you could say, "I'm ready to make disciples." We can point you in the direction of how to do that. My hope is that you will have a very clear understanding of what your purpose is and that you will move your direction in being successful in the right things, living out the purpose given to you by Christ, which is to make disciples. Let me pray for you.
Father, we thank you for your grace. We thank you that you're God, that you created everything, the expanse of this universe, yet you take specific interest in each one of us as individuals. Out of your love for us… We were running from you. You ran toward us. You left the comfort of heaven to come and give yourself so we might have life. You died for us, and you've given us a purpose that is greater than anything we could ever live for in this life.
I pray that in my life, I would acknowledge your authority because of who you are and what you've done. I pray that I would clearly understand what you want me to do, which is to invest in a relationship with other people to make disciples and to order my life around this objective. I pray that I would avail myself to the power to do so through your Word, through your Spirit, through your people.
I pray the same for all of my friends in this room. I pray that if there is anyone here who doesn't know where to begin or know where to start that they would just raise their hand and say, "Would you help me? Would you teach me to walk in obedience to Christ? Would you help me find out where I can teach others to do the same?"
I pray that this would just happen in this building here. I pray this would happen in these neighborhoods and workplaces in DFW, Texas, and the US, and to the remotest parts of the earth, and that we would be intentional to make disciples anywhere we are and everywhere we are. We love you, and we thank you for your grace. It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.