Disciple (in the secular sense) = Pupil, student, learner
Disciple (according to Luke/Acts) = One who has put their faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son.
Studying Luke and Acts has challenged the way I see discipleship. Luke is clear (there are some exceptions) in that when he uses the word disciple/disciples he is talking about believers, Christians, saints (used by Paul), brothers/sisters (used by Paul and other New Testament writers) who have put their faith in Christ as Lord (Acts 3:16-19). Becoming a disciple is not taking Christianity to a new level. It’s not like in Karate where you move from a white belt to a yellow belt. Discipleship is Christianity. Discipleship is a process all Christians undertake when they believe in Jesus.
What does a disciple of Christ look like? If you look through pages of the Bible you get a good picture of what a disciple looks like. They are normal people who have put their faith in Jesus. Some of Jesus’ disciples were roughneck fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, demon possessed, adulterers, lepers, sick, lame, blind, and many others. There seems to be nothing special about these people. God doesn’t show favoritism. They each had their own problems: some were doubters, some denied knowing Jesus, and others deserted Jesus. But, they continued to follow Him. They had plenty of reasons to give up, but they didn’t.
As a result of their perseverance, they received the promised Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. What difference did it make in their lives? Well, Peter stood up to opposition and proclaimed boldly the Good News about Jesus Christ. Tradition says Peter was crucified and killed because of his beliefs. Do you want to be like that?
Where are we today with discipleship? Are Wesleyan/Armenian Christians (who reject the idea of eternal security) becoming lax in the process of discipleship? I won’t make it if we do because I need the help of others and the church to fully mature in this discipleship process. I can’t walk alone. No one can walk alone. We weren’t made to walk alone. We need our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to uphold (sometimes carry) us. We need our fellow Christians to be in our face about our walk with God. We need them to be asking us the tough questions:
- What known sins have you committed this week?
- What temptations have you faced?
- Were you delivered?
- What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
*Thank you John Wesley for these questions
We need help. Why? It goes back to the Fall in Genesis 3. Since then, we humans have all been born into sin. Sin separates us from God and each other. We’re born with sinful natures that make it easy for us to choose evil and do wrong to God and others. It comes natural to want to run away from God. That’s not what God wants from us. He wants a relationship with us. He wants discipleship. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19,
“Go and make disciples of all nations.”
The main verb here is “make disciples”. Luke paints a pretty clear picture of what a disciple is, one who has counted the cost in regards to following Jesus (Luke 14), denied themselves, taken up their cross, and following Jesus on a day to day basis (Luke 9:23). Such obedience causes one not only to learn from Christ, but also to become so attached to Him (through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) he/she actually becomes like Him to others. That’s powerful! That my friend is what it means to be a disciple, Christian, believer, saint, brother/sister of Christ.