DESPERATE NEED FOR DISCIPLES
(This is 4 in a series of blogs on the names of Christians in the Bible)
A young man was eager to grow in His Christian life. He got a piece of paper and made a list of all the things he would do for God. He wrote down the things he would give up, the places he would go and areas of ministry he would work. He was excited. He took the list to church and put it on the altar. He thought he would feel joy, but instead he felt empty. So, he went home and started adding to his list. He wrote down more things he would do and wouldn’t do. He took the longer list and again placed it on the altar. Still he felt nothing. He sought the counsel of a wise, old pastor. The pastor said, “Take a blank sheet of paper. Sign your name at the bottom. Put that on the altar.” The young man did. Peace came to his heart.
In previous blogs we’ve looked at the designations “Christian” and “Believer.” They both refer to redemption, to one who accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation and will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus when they die. Salvation is a free gift. We do nothing but receive it. The price was paid by another and we simply receive the benefits by stopping rejecting them. It is a one-time action that lasts for all eternity.
But there is another designation the Bible uses for those who follow Jesus: “Disciple.” Discipleship follows becoming a Christian. Some Christians are not disciples, but no one can be a disciple without first being a Christian. Step 1 is to accept the free gift of salvation. Step 2, then, is to decide who we will live for in this life: ourselves or Jesus.
In the original Greek, disciple is a pupil who submits to his leader for a process of learning and becoming like the leader. The term is used 270+ times in the New Testament. Multitudes believed in Jesus as Messiah and put their faith in Him for salvation, but when He challenged them to live for Him each day and become one of His disciples most of them turned away (Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 9:62). They didn’t lose their salvation, but they didn’t live a life of victory and fruitfulness for God, They will be in heaven but won’t be rewarded for faithful service while on earth (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus in what we think, feel and do. It starts with turning from putting ourselves first to putting Him first. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). He was speaking to Christians, to believers, for they “had believed in Him” (John 8:31). Now He is challenging them, and us, to follow Him in daily life, to “hold to My teachings. (John 8:31).
The mark of a true disciple is continuing in the instructions of the teacher. When you stop following the Master, you are no longer a disciple. You are still a Christian, but not a disciple. Jesus never forces anyone to follow Him as a disciple. He knows there is a cost to pay (John 21;15-23). Salvation is free by accepting what He has paid for. Discipleship requires denying ourselves, yielding what we want to serve Him. It can be hard and costly. This is the process to spiritual growth and fruitfulness in this life and rewards in the next.
Luke 9:23-25 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
Are you a disciple of Jesus? Or are you a Christian who is concerned about what Jesus can do for you? Are you willing to serve Him no matter what? Can you give Him an empty sheet with your name on the bottom? Why not get a blank piece of paper now and sign it? Put it in your Bible as a reminder of your commitment to be His disciple.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
Copyright © 2020