Posted by: futurefaith | March 15, 2011

A Biblical Disciple, Part I

As promised (months ago) I am going to share some thoughts from a Bible Institute class I taught at our Church on ‘Biblical Discipleship’. I hope these thoughts provoke us to consider ourselves and our responsibilities through the lens of Scripture. What is a Biblical Disciple? This is a question that haunts Christianity and has for a while. Many believers make claim to being a Christian or a disciple, yet few of us really match what a ‘Biblical’ Christian/Disciple really is. Webster defines “disciple” as: 1. Any professed follower of Christ in His [Christ’s] life time. 2. A member of the (12) Disciples of Christ. 3. A pupil or an adherent of another. General enough, this certainly would allow for just about anyone who goes to church and/or reads their Bible to place themselves within the confines of this distinction. But, what examples does the Scripture give us that would help us define a biblical disciple? Early followers of Christ [true believers] were initially called “disciples”. Such examples can be found in these scripture references (Acts 1:15 (KJV). This is actually a variant reading. The greater MS evidence as well as other ancient versions read “brothers”; 6:1; 9:1). Later, due to the closeness of their life style to that of Christ’s, they were known as Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:13-16), a term given to slander those who followed Christ. Their life so emulated Christ’s that the term was given to them as a means of mocking this association. It seems clear that the term “Christian” was synonymous with “Disciple” in the Scripture, and one would not dare put these two terms at odds by making a distinction between them. The current distinction between the two labels is a modern “degeneration” of the definition of Disciple. It has become acceptable to be something less than a disciple. For such a “lesser” distinction we simply permit the label “Christian” (a religious affinity). That still sounds very nice. No wonder that today, EVERYONE is a Christian. It is also interesting to see that Corinth was the first place that a group of believers evidenced the fact that being a “believer” doesn’t mean that one is a true Disciple/Christian (1 Cor. 3:1-3). They certainly were “disciples” but of the wrong person (1 Cor. 3:4-5, 21-23). Later, we see that even the writer of Hebrews needed to address the same problem with his readers (Heb. 5:11-6:3). In both places such a distinction was not acceptable to the author of the epistle. What is a disciple? Biblically, a disciple is a follower, a student of a certain teacher. The Greek word “ma-thay-tace” is always associated with a type of devoted following. In other words, a disciple is a person of concrete action and commitment. So what does the biblical, “devoted” disciple look like? Consider.

A Biblical Description of a Disciple:
A disciple…
1. Is willing to deny self, take up his cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23-25).
2. Puts Christ before self, family, and possessions (Luke 14:25-35).
3. Is committed to Christ’s teachings [His Word] (John 8:31).
4. Is committed to world evangelism (Matt. 9:36-38) (John. 20:21).
5. Loves others [believers, neighbors, and enemies] (John 13:34-35).
6. Abides in Christ, is obedient, bears fruit, glorifies God, has joy, and loves the brethren (John 15:7-17). This is a pretty good summary of everything.

Now some of us, about right now, are cringing. Having considered these six things, you might be saying to yourself, “That looks nothing like me!” and you may be feeling a little discouraged and/or convicted. But be encouraged, the good news is, disciples are MADE not BORN (Matt. 28:19). In the posts yet to come we will consider some things that might help us achieve the end design of our calling to salvation (Rom. 8:29-30). In closing, I hope and pray that God will work in us to correct the error of our day, that error which allows the separation of the terms “Christian” and “Disciple”. I wish to leave you with this biblical thought. “When a disciple is fully taught, he will be like his teacher” – (Luke 6:40)

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