During His ministry on this earth, the Lord Jesus made disciples and He always told them a lot about the importance of making disciples. Before His Ascension to heaven, He let to all Christians the Great Comission, where he emphasized how important it is to go to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that He had taught them. The first Christians had been called “disciples” before they were called “Christians”. Unfortunately, there is less and less discipleship in Christianity today, but there is so much confusion concerning this subject. In this article I want to present some confusions concerning disicipleship and what the Holy Scriptures says about them.
Confusion Nr. 1 – A disciple is the person who prayed the prayer of repentance
After the Gospel has been presented to a person, it is normal to invite that person to receive the Lord Jesus as personal Savior, to ask for forgiveness and to enter a covenant with Him. This is the beginning of a Christian life and if one hasn’t make this first step, he cannot be considered a Christian. But, this doesn’t mean that someone becomes a disciple. In the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came on this earth, Apostle Peter preached the Gospel to the people who were gathered at Jerusalem and the Scriptures says that:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:41–42)(NASB)
So, as we can see, these people dedicated to a process of discipleship from the beginning and “day by day continuing with one mind in the temple”, where they were coming to study the Word of God. Today it is no so anymore. People think that it is sufficient to make a prayer to become Christians and to receive the gift of eternal life. They don’t realize how important it is to dedicate themselves to a process of learning and living the Word of God. Those who preach them the Gospel usually bear the guilt for this confusion, because they don’t tell to people anything about the importance of enrolling in the process of discipleship and being a Christian is similar to being a disciple. Here is what once the Lord Jesus said to the people that had just believed in Him:
As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (the Gospel of John 8:30–32)(NASB)
Look out at the passage cited above. These words were spoken to those that had just “believed in Him”. If they hadn’t taken the decision to continue in His word to know the truth and to become free from sin, they were not qualified as being “truly His disciples”. Did you pray the prayer of repentance? Did you enter the covenant with Jesus? Do you consider yourself a Christian? Then did you make the decision to continue in His word by dedicating to study the Holy Scriptures? If you didn’t do this, you can not be qualified as being “truly His disciple”. Make this decision today.
Confusion Nr.2 – A disciple is the person who visits the church systematically
People have different reasons to come to church. Some come to find the peace of mind, others to light a candle as a sign of grattitude for those who passed away. Others come only when they have problems to pray to God. Others come because they have been taught this way since childhood that it is necesarry to go every Sunday to church. And others come to church because they meet their friends there or maybe there is a person there that he/she likes. I have heard for many times about guys that come to church to find good girls and to marry them. I have also heard about girls that come to church, hoping they will be noticed by faithful guys and will get marry rightly. Whatever the other reasons can be, it is clear that people come to church for themselves and to fulfill some temporary needs, but not for the eternal things. The true disciples were coming to church and were “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching”. What is your motivation when you go to church?
When Apostle Paul came to Efes, he went to the Jews’ synagogue and he preached the Word of God there at the beginning. Some believed in the Lord Jesus.
But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:9–10)(NASB)
The motivation of the people to come to the new created church was their will to learn and to know the Way of the Lord, that is the Word of God. Their divine service was in the biggest dedicated to studying the Way of the Lord. Today, the divine services are totally different and for many times is very, very little teaching for people. It is obvious one thing, that going to church, but not being dedicated to teaching and living the truth of the Holy Scriptures, doesn’t qualify you to be called a disciple of Christ.
Confusion Nr.3 – A disciple is the priest or the leader of a Christian organization
This statement should be true, but, unfortunately, it is not so always. There are many people that came to the leading positions in churches or Christian organizations, but they are not disciples, because they don’t study and don’t live according to the Holy Scriptures. The Bible writes about such a man, Diotrephes that was the leader of a church, but he had never known God. Here is what Apostle John writes about him:
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 9–10)(NASB)
Maybe you wonder yourself, how can anyone who is not a disciple or a good Christian come to a leading position of a church or a Christian organization? There are careerist persons, that “like to be first” and they use all their abilities to come to leading positions. This is what interests them the mostly and they do the utmost for this. Don’t be one of them. Be a good disciple of Christ, that studies the Holy Scriptures systematically and lives according to them.
Confusion Nr.4 – A diciple is the person who reads many Christian books
Last month I heard a story told by a student at the Theological Faculty, who said how once they had been with al their group to the lesson and because they hadn’t managed to get ready, the teacher had asked: “OK, then I want you to tell me who and what was the last time you read from the Bible?” Then, one of the students answered: “We don’t read the Bible because we don’t manage, we have very many subjects that are about Bible…” The teacher had been very angry with him and he had sent him away for that answer, but he hadn’t been right. The Lord Jesus said that we are truly His disciples, if we continue in His Word, if we study the Bible. I don’t want to say that we don’t have to read other books about the Bible, but they can not replace the Bible, and more than this, they can sometimes squeeze in wrong teachings in our lives and we can not make the distinction if we don’t know the Word of God.
Confusions Nr.5 – A disciple is the member of a team who does a Christian ministry
Some Christian leaders consider that they make discipleship because they consider as disciples those who are in their team of organization and that do a certain Christian ministry, but they don’t study the Scriptures with them or they do it very, very little. They spend the most of their time discussing about the organization of that ministry, let us say that it is a philanthropical activity, or the organization of the great Christian events. This takes many efforts and usually, when they meet, they discuss things concerning the course of the organization. This cannot be called discipleship and if you are a part of a group that does more or less a spiritual work and you don’t study and live accoring to the Holy Scriptures, this doesn’t qualify you as a disciple.
The only thing that qualifies us to be called the disciples of Christ is to dedicate ourselves to study the Word of God to apply our lives totaly to their teaching and to present the Savior to the world through our changed characters. May God help us to do this.
I have read an article about a young woman who was twice sold in Turkey for sexual slavery. Tomorrow I want to publish an article where, based on what I hav read about the girl sold twice, I will give other advice how to protect you from the slave trade.
Translated by Djugostran Felicia