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Monday, October 8, 2018

Are You His Disciple Indeed?

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The word “Christian” is used only 3 times in the NT, but "disciple" is used 372 times. What are the marks of a disciple of Jesus Christ? Surely, one mark is to believe on HIM.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, . . . then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31).
Jesus said that true believers will watch for His return:
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40). 
In 1 John 2:28, the Apostle exhorts all: “. . .when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
“. . . in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Tim 3:1) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (2 Tim 3:5).

Many forms of religion and many denominations are lukewarm in following the things that produce salvation and godliness. Those who have a mere form of religion "walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart." (Ephesians 4:17, 18).

Those who love Jesus, who know and practice His Word, are born of God, the Eternal One. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4).

A true disciple aligns only with the true proclamation of the Faith. Ask "How many of their converts fall away after making professions of faith?" Consider this: when asked about their faith, how many will say: “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ?”

Many pastors are unaware that there are 6 levels of being a disciple in the New Testament. The disciple is one who has matured from acceptance of the Faith to a reproductive life; from becoming a disciple to making disciples. Unless the pastors focus on this progress their people will not know where to start the walk of a disciple.

Another mark is to believe is HIS word.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31).

Many who claim to be a disciple lack the necessary discipline and the commitment. The commitment involves adoption of the disciple’s self concept, practicing the New Testament methodology for making disciples, and a life style of consecration to Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

Other marks of the true disciple include:

Belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, as He presents Himself. This conviction must grow to be strong enough to become free from sin’s domination! (John 8:31–36).

Remaining faithful even when other disciples stop following Christ. (John 6:66–69). 

Adopting a disciple’s self concept. This involves confessing oneself to be a disciple of Christ (John 9:27, 28; Matt 10:32, 42; Acts 9:26). When a person receives a God given self concept, he will be as consistent as long as he keeps asking: "What must I do to be as God wants me?"
Eagerness to learn and practice what his disciple-making mentor teaches (Matt 13:11, 12, 23; 28:19, 20).

Dedication to reproduce the Lord’s message, and commitment to be an agent of Christ in character and in daily life.

Maintains an abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus by faith (John 15:1–16) and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13, 14).

Takes up the disciple’s cross to exchange his natural life for the soul life Jesus gives. (Luke 9:23–25).

Looks to function in a Local Church that functions as a fellowship of disciples (Acts 11:26; 13:1–3).

Most of you will say to yourselves: “These characteristics are biblical and good, but what are the precepts and steps in applying them?” This is what discipling courses should teach. Sacrifice the time to learn from a mature disciple of Jesus Christ. A Bible-practicing church will explain how to become a mature disciple, as the Lord Jesus commanded:
“Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 

Related reading: The Grammar of Salvation; The Disciple's Self-Concept: On Holy Baptism and Discipleship