"ARE YOU A DISCPLE OF JESUS?"
Are you a disciple of Jesus? Do you really understand what that means? Well, my goal today is to help you gain a better understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
The word disciple literally means and learner, it denotes "one who follows another's teaching" - Vine's Or we could say that a disciple is a imitator of their teacher. Thus the goal of a disciple is to be like his or her teacher. Jesus explained this way:
Luke 6:40 "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Everyone is this room this a Christian as defined by the Bible is a disciple of Christ and our goal should be to imitate Him and be just like Him. This is certainly what Bible teaches us to do. As Paul said:
1 Corinthians 11: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Jesus is our master teacher and He has set the example of how we are live our lives for God. The question becomes, are you trying to follow Jesus and become like Him? Until you can answer this question with a firm yes then you cannot be a disciple of Christ.
Let’s now take a look as some more things that the Word of God says identifies one as being a disciple of Christ.
1. A disciple is one who abides in Jesus’ words.
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Also John makes a similar statement in:
2 John 1:9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
The very definition of a disciple is one that learns from His teacher. Obviously, as disciples, we are to make it our goal to hang on every Word that came from Jesus and that He taught His disciples to teach us through the written Word as it is found in the N.T. We cannot sit a Jesus’ literal feet today and get our teaching directly from Him, but we have the next best thing, which is His words and great wisdom found in our N.T. If we every hope to imitate Him, then we must be students of His Word. Otherwise, we are not much of disciple are we?
Being a disciple is more than just learning about the teaching of Jesus, it also means that we live it and put into practice, just a Jesus told us to:
Matthew 7:21" Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' 24 ¶ " Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
James tells us the same thing:
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 ¶ But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The reason people could tell if one was disciple of Jesus was by the actions and not by just what they knew. Knowledge is great, but unless it is put into practice it is of little value. So, you must be a learner and doer of God’s Word.
A disciple of Christ is one who loves the brethren. As Jesus said:
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
So a being a disciple is more than just caring about yourself, it is caring about others. When we show this kind of love to one another, Jesus says it shows that we truly are His followers because Jesus loved all those He came in contact with. He was willing to push Himself to the brink of exhaustion to show His love for the multitude.
I love how Paul expresses this idea of all Christians being one body 1 Cor. 12 because it speaks of the bond we are to have with one another. As Paul concludes his thought in that chapter he says:
1 Corinthians 12:25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
A disciple of Christ is one who bears fruit. As Jesus said:
John 15:8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Notice, Jesus did not say bears a little fruit, but much fruit. So, a disciple of Christ will the kind of person that will take advantage of the opportunities he has to glorify God with good works. Again, Jesus says:
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We cannot be the kind of people that simply say, “Well, I have done my good deed for the month or for the year.” No, we are to continually look for ways we can serve and glorify our Father in heaven just like Jesus did. Though the works we do not earn us anything salvation wise, would not be wonderful one day to hear our master say:
Matthew 25:21 …'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
However, if we choose not to bear fruit for our Lord Jesus says:
John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;
It is our choice whether we want to be faithful disciple of Jesus who bears much fruit, or one who does not. We need to understand that if we do not bear fruit for our Lord, then we just might here words similar to this:
Matthew 25:26 'You wicked and lazy servant… 30 …cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
If you want to be considered a faithful servant then do good works to glorify your Father in heaven. One area we can show how much we love our Lord is by showing other how much we love Him by being part of His church and the assemblies that we have. Since a disciples is a learner and is to show their love for their brethren and look for ways to serve, can you think of a more opportune time to this than by being here at a worship services and our Bible studies? I cannot because most of us are gathered together and we lift each other up and be there for one another. This is certainly a good work that will glorify our God because we are helping His kingdom be stronger and we are showing that we truly are Disciples of Christ.
Can you think of a better place for a disciple of Christ to be on a Sunday or Wednesday other than being with their brethren as the come together to form the body of Christ, which was made possible through His death? I sure cannot. Certainly there are many other great places we could be at other times to help us become better disciples of Christ, but being at worship, and Bible class rank up there pretty high.
Now let’s talk about the cost of discipleship. We must understand that no matter what, Jesus must come first in our lives:
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Matthew 10:34- " Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
Luke 9:23- Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
These are hard sayings from some because Jesus is saying that if you want to be His disciple, then you must put Him before all your loved ones and even yourself. Discipleship is not easy because it is can be hard to love Jesus first when your kid is crying in your arms because of some sin they want to live in. It can be extremely difficult when life hands you a situation you know is wrong according to Scripture, but it would mean you making a huge change that would upset those around you.
As challenging and emotional as it can be, if we really want to be a disciple of Christ, we must put Him first always. If we are not willing to do this then we failed to count the cost of discipleship and we are going to fail to be pleasing to God as long we keep trying to be pleasing to mom, dad, son, daughter, etc.
Along with this same thought, sometimes being a disciple means we must be willing to suffer for Jesus. As Paul said:
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
When you look at the first century Christians, we can see that they were willing to die for the cause of Christ and some of them did. While it highly unlikely that we will suffer to the degree that many of them did, we all are persecuted in one form of another when we stand up for what is right. Whether it is light persecution or heavy persecution, we are called to never waiver in our faith. As Paul tells, we must fight the good fight of faith.
Being a disciple of Christ takes a serious commitment. Some become a Christian because they like the sound of it or because of emotional response, but they made their decision without considering what it will cost. When this happens, they fall away as quickly as they were converted. So, one that wants to become a disciples needs to consider what it will cost them and what sacrifices they will have to make to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus explains it this way:
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- 29 "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Jesus had many disciples who were not committed in John 6 and these disciples left Him as soon as things got to difficult for them to understand. However, His apostles had considered the cost of following Him and new that He had the word’s of life, so they continued to follow Him. We must be willing to do the same even when we may not fully understand why God wants something done a certain way because that is what true discipleship is all about.
Now some might think being a disciple of Christ just is not worth the sacrifice it takes, which is why the Bible says only a few will be saved. But I am here to tell you that though the road to heaven is a difficult one, it is worth every step because of the love God has for us, and because of what He makes possible for us when we choose to make those sacrifices.
One thing we can look forward to is that we will not have to have to face the wrath of God.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Every person who chooses not to be a disciple of Christ, has that right, but each of them will understand one day what they gave up when they chose a different path because Paul says:
2 Thessalonians 1:6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a powerful statement that Paul is making in these verses because it clearly points out that the righteous will receive rest when the Lord comes and the righteous will be excited when that day comes because they know that their faithfulness and endurance as a disciple is going to begin their eternity in heaven just as Jesus promise in Rev. 2:10. But these other people who chose to be a disciple of the world will have to face the wrath of God and eternal separation from Him.
I can promise you that all those who thought it was a great idea to leave God out of their lives or who chose to live life for themselves are going to quickly realize that they made the wrong decision. They will realize, they a vision problem because they put their hope on the temporary, instead of the eternal. The fact that heaven awaits the faithful disciple is enough by itself to make the sacrifices worth it. As Paul says:
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Not only do we have these future blessing, but we have also receive many blessings as Christian today because when we live for Jesus, we know that that God is our corner. While we struggle with life, God gives us a peace that surpassing all understanding and that no non-Christian can have. As Jesus said:
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
We also have the blessing of God’s Word, which we can read and mediate on. Since we know that God’s Word is truth, its message will lift our spirits and give us the extra boost we need to press on with our life and keep ourselves focused on God.
We get the wonderful blessing of casting our cares and concerns onto God through prayer knowing that He is listening and answering our prayers and making things work out for the best (Rom. 8:28).
It such a wonder feeling to know that you belong to family of God and that you have access to God and the strength He provides and then icing on the cake is that promises of eternal life in heaven. So, no matter how much someone might say it is not worth it, we can boldly tell them, your wrong it is worth it and then some.
I want to ask you question now. As you think about your life and your relationship with God, are you being a disciple of Christ? Are you putting in the time and the effort that it takes to bear fruit and glory and honor to our Father in heaven? Have you really considered the cost of discipleship?
As you think about these questions, if you realize that you have not been diligently following after Christ, I hope you will make decision to start doing so today. If you are here and you have never obeyed the gospel, then you are not a disciple of Christ and you have no chance of making it to heaven. However, you can fix that problem today and I can promise you it be the best decision you have every made in your life. The Bible is clear on what it takes to become a Christian and to remain a faithful disciple of Christ.
You believe the Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 3:16), you must repent (Lk. 13:3), you must confess Jesus as your Lord (
10:9-10), and you must be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). Jesus Himself says that we must remain faithful to Him until the day we die, then we will receive the crown of righteousness. If you have counted the cost of discipleship this morning and your are ready to turn your life over to God, then please come forward this morning… Rom.
Adapted in part from executable outlines – Mark C.