Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The New Testament Disciple


Acts 11:26b “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”, and been called Christians ever since.

So, today, in the United States, about 80% of people refer to themselves as Christian. A little less that 10% claim to be Atheist or Agnostic, and a little less than 10% claim other faiths.

Of the 80% who claim to be Christian,

36% are notional (nominal) Christians – Christianity is their religion of preference. Ie; not Jewish, Muslim, etc. They have no real doctrinal commitment.

36% are born again Christians – claim to have accepted Jesus, have a home in heaven, but it’s not necessarily showing in their life.

9% - Evangelical Christians (born again plus). They claim that:

A. their faith is very important in their life today;

B. they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians

C. they believe that Satan exists

D. eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works

E. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth

F. the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches

G. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.

BUT, labeling self doesn’t make it so!

QUESTION: What’s the New Testament word or label for one who accepts teaching and follows Christ?

1. Christian – used 3 times in N.T.

2. Follower – used 5 times

3. Believer – used 27 times

4. Disciple – used 294 times

This doesn’t mean that we MUST use that label (word) today, BUT we should examine the New Testament definition/description and measure ourselves accordingly.

A DISCIPLE IS: (According to the New Testament definition/description)

#1. A student = a learner. Mat. 5:1 & 2 –“And seeing the multitudes,……He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:”

for example: disciples of Moses, Pharoah, John all studied the teachings of the master.

Not necessarily a bookworm

But, it does mean get exposure/give attention/thought/consideration – do your best to study the teachings of the Master.

#2. An Adherent – more than listen and learn. Means to accept and embrace.

Example: John 6:53-56, 66-69 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you……..He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him…………….From that time on many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more…….. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…….”

Who were the true disciples?

#3. A follower. Jesus’ call was “Come follow me”.

Ie: walk with me as:

A. a companion (get to know me)

B. An observer (watch me, and what I do)

C. An imitatorJohn 13:34 & 35 ‘ “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you……” – do what I do

D. A sticker/a stayer John 8:31“….If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” = “Continue in”

Summarized with “having read/examined/considered His teachings,” What Would Jesus Do?

#4. A practitioner – head and heart = hands

John 13:17 - “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” “do” – live it

James 2:14/18 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works’. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” A Christian is known as a Christian by his Christian deeds.

#5. A team member

“The lone disciple” (separate from the others) is NOT a New Testament picture or option

There are FEW commands to gather together. However, the assumption is that the action of meeting together is obvious.

#6. A Kingdom promoter. (a world-changer and shaper)

Acts. 1:8 “….and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – promotes and expands the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

We are to be salt and light and Make a Difference

Example – the Parable of the Talents. The purpose of the talents was to expand the master’s holdings.

#7. A disciple maker. Matt. 28:19&20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…..” – the Great Commission

2 Tim. 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me ….commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


So…… if you are not doing #1 through #7, does that mean Not saved? Not a Christian?

There is no way of knowing that for certain.

But, we do know that: #1. the New Testament makes no distinction between a Christina and a disciple (neither should we)

#2. A disciple – as described in #1 through #7 is what we should strive for and measure ourselves by.

Observation: This looks like a tough standard and list.

However, this list is not nearly as tough as Jesus’ list – Luke 14:25-27/33 – leave all to follow Christ

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