Monday, August 5, 2013

Are You Sure You're a Disciple of Christ?

I read a statistic the other day that said there are over 400 million 'Disciples' of Jesus on planet Earth today.  But then the reality check hit me later that day when I read in Luke 14:27 where Jesus says, "Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple."

This was just a blatant reminder that discipleship is a lot more difficult than we sometimes make it out to be.  It's easy to say, "I'm a Disciple of Christ" because I go to church most Sundays or because I read my Bibles occasionally, but is that how God's Word defines a true disciple?

Ask yourself this question:  Am I a true disciple of Jesus Christ?  Personalize that question and identify your true belief when it comes to following Jesus wholeheartedly.

And now that the question has been asked, be courageous enough to be honest with yourself when it comes time to answer it.

What does a true disciple look like?  What does a follower of Jesus look like?  The following should help outline what the Bible says about true disciples and serve as a guide for those of us who are trying to walk closer to Jesus today than we did yesterday.  Now, get your Bible out and follow along as we break down what the Bible says about true Disciples of Jesus.

1.  DISCIPLES EXPERIENCE SALVATION

John 3:16  "...whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Isa. 53:5 "...by His stripes we are healed."

Christ was crucified and paid the penalty of the sins of the whole world. (Matt. 27:35-38)
Jesus arose from the grave three days after the crucifixion.  He conquered death and sin and then appeared to his disciples. (John 20:12-14)

Jesus was exalted by God the Father and then ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God; with great power and authority.  (Phil. 2:8-11)

Jesus then appeared to his disciples and said this about himself:
(Matt. 28:18)  "All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me."

Jesus provided a complete salvation for all who believed in Him.  Scripture mentions six things that are a part of this process:

I.  Believe that Christ can save you (Acts 16:31)
II.  Accept Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior (Rev. 3:20)
III.  Ask Jesus to forgive you of the sin in your life (1 John 1:7-9)
IV.  Ask God the Father to receive you and be born again in His family (John 1:12)
V.  Ask God to write your name in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5)
VI.  Confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord (Rom. 10:9)

2.  DISCIPLES MUST BE WATER BAPTIZED

Baptism requires obedience and obedience is a prerequisite for being a disciple of Christ.

Jesus commands those who would become His Disciples to be baptized. (Matt. 28:19)

Jesus' Disciples were to follow his example and be immersed in the water like He was. (Matt. 3:16)

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, He came up out of the water and God spoke, saying that He was pleased with His Son.

Baptism does several things:
I.  It buries our old life (Rom. 6:4)
II.  It brings deliverance (1 Cor. 10:1-2)
III.  It's a picture of new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)

3.  DISCIPLES MUST BE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

Once a Believer has been saved and baptized, they become a candidate to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 238)

The Gift of the Holy Spirit brings about many things:
I.  Gift of Spiritual Power (Acts 1:8)
II.  Gift of Anointing (Acts 10:38)
III.  Gift of Heavenly Language (1 Cor. 13:1, Acts 2:1-4, 1 Cor. 14:2)
IV.  Gift of Wisdom (Isa. 11:2, Psalm 11:10, 1 Kings 3:2)
V.  Gift of Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)
VI.  Gift of Faith (1 Cor. 12:9)
VII.  Gift of Miracles (1 Cor. 12:10)
VIII.  Gift of Prophecy (I cor. 12:10)
IX.  Gift of Discernment (Acts 5:1-10)
X.  Additional Gifts (Romans 12:7-8, Eph. 4:11)

4.  DISCIPLES BEAR SPIRITUAL FRUIT

John 15:8 says, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

There is no such thing as an Disciple of Jesus that suffers from a lack of producing.  If you're a true Disciple of Christ, your life will have a consistent pattern of producing fruit.

In order for this to be true of your life, the Bible says there are several things that need to take place:

I.  Disciples read their Bible.

The Bible is the Word of God and it speaks to us.  Inside the pages of Scripture we find the good news of Jesus.  We get to see, first hand, what God has done to reveal Himself to us and as we read it, it has a washing/cleansing effect upon our heart, mind and life. (Eph. 5:26)

The Bible is spiritual bread that feeds us. (Matt. 4:4)

II.  Disciples Pray.

"Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."  (1 Tim. 2:8)

Prayer is a critical component to the Christian life.  It's a conversation between us (imperfect people) and God (the One and only Perfect God).  In prayer we do the following:


  • We praise God and declare His goodness back to Him
  • We worship God and are reminded of His promises
  • We ask God to help us
  • We bring our needs and the needs of others before God
  • We pray for God's favor and ask to be used by Him 
  • We pray for the salvation of others and for revival in His Church 
The important decisions in prayer are deciding what to pray, what to pray for and how to pray. 
We can pray kneeling, standing, sitting or walking.  The Bible tells us to 'pray without ceasing.' (1 Thes. 5:17)

III.  Disciples attend Church.

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." (Heb. 10:25)

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."  (Matt. 18:20)

Why do true Disciples go to church?
  • To gather with other believers
  • To fellowship with fellow-Christians
  • To sing praise to God
  • To be taught the Word of God
  • To pray
  • To serve others
  • To give to God 
  • To experience God's power
  • To be reminded of what Jesus did through Communion
  • To bring glory to God through our faithfulness
IV.  Disciples participate in the Lords Supper. (1 Cor. 11:23-28)

V.  Disciples are witnesses for Christ. (Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, Mark 8:38)

VI.  Disciples are good stewards. (Eph. 5:15-16, 2 Cor. 9:6-7, Luke 6:33)

VII. Disciples are in Spiritual Warfare.  (Eph. 6:12-18)

We are given the assurance of victory by God.  (1 John 5:4, 1 John 4:4)

VIII.  Disciples do their Father's Work.  (Psalm 139:1-3, Rom. 8:28)

IX.  Disciples are preparing and waiting for the return of Christ.

Jesus promised that He would return in the last days and rapture the Members of His Church to Heaven. (John 14:1-3)

Jesus said He would come unexpectedly and not everyone would be prepared for His coming.  (Matt. 24:40-42)

Paul described how this would take place.  (1 Thes. 4:16-17)

X.  It's Challenging to be a Disciple of Christ.

Many refer to salvation as a free gift, but the truth is, if we're going to be disciples of Jesus, it's going to cost us something.  Disciples realize the cost of following Jesus and are willing to pay the price.  It involves Sacrifice, Persecution & Hard Work!

Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34)

He said, "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worth of me."  (Matt. 10:38)

That's what a Disciple of Jesus looks like.

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