What Is A Disciple Of Christ?

What is a Disciple of Christ?

We are familiar with the twelve disciples of Christ. His Great Commission to them was to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19 NKJV). The question becomes, what is a disciple of Christ? This article will supply a complete answer to that question.

What is a Disciple?

A disciple accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. In the case of Christianity, a disciple accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, assists in spreading the gospel and teachings of Jesus, and creates more disciples.

What is a Disciple of Christ?

What is a Disciple of Christ?

What distinguishes a disciple of Christ from others? It boils down to who is teaching us, Christ or the world—our culture. What has the most influence on our lives? Many of us presume that we are disciples of Christ. But are we really?

We must be cognizant of the spirit of presumption. Rev 3:15-17 reads:

15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 

What is a Disciple of Christ?
A disciple of Christ must make a clear choice to follow Him

This passage is regarding the Laodicean church. The church had become lukewarm and, therefore, distasteful and obnoxious. The professing followers didn’t stand for anything; indifference led to idleness. The church had become hardened and self-satisfied by neglecting to do anything for Christ, destroying itself. The church of today is suffering from this condition.

There is nothing more repulsive than a halfhearted, nominal Christian who is self-sufficient.

Many Christians presume that they are disciples, being self-sufficient in the process. Therefore, we must be on guard against presumptuousness.

We are a people who believe that we are clothed, but we are naked (Revelation 3:17).

Because of sin, we have been separated from our Creator. We have a sinful nature and thus a propensity to engage in actions contrary to God (Gal. 5:18?). As a result, we are born on death row. Until we receive Christ, we are on death row.

Because of our sinful nature, we are battling with a false security in ourselves. Therefore, we must examine ourselves and be in a constant state of self-examination and introspection to get to a point of spiritual awareness. Lamentations 3:40 reads, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.” [cf. 2 Cor. 13:5]

A Radical Imitator of Christ

Matthew 10:34-39—Discipleship is the pursuit of accepting and embracing division. We are not inclined to practice self-denial. However, discipleship calls us to a life of self-denial. Two words for radical are central and extreme. We are to be central and extreme imitators of Christ.

Luke 6:40 reads, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” NKJV  We are to be similar or like Christ. Our sole purpose is to be like our teacher in a radical way. Not scarcely wear Him, but be like Him.

1 John 2:6 reads: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” NKJV—Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did—not wear him but live…be like Him. If we don’t plan to live as Christ, we should not call ourselves Christian. We should strive to live as Jesus lived. This walk, this way of life, is a daily walk.

True worship is not a destination but a lifestyle that hinges upon living like Christ in spirit and truth.

1 John 3:2 reads, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” NKJV—When Christ appears, we will be like Him.

Christ’s call to discipleship has always been radical. He called us to:

o   Repent of our sins [Matthew 4:17]

o   Deny ourselves [Matthew 16:24]

o   Take up our cross [Matthew 16:24]

o   Love our enemies [Matthew 5:44]

o   Pray for those who persecute us [Luke 16:27]

o   To be willing to forsake all family ties and earthly relationships, hating our fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers, even our own lives, eat His flesh and drink His blood. Jesus was a radical rabbi. [Luke 14:26, John 6:53]

The five fundamental and extreme calls to discipleship that upset the natural order within ourselves and the lives of others around us and turn the whole world upside down are:

o   A relentless commitment to learning—A radical way of learning.

o   A readiness to live in a way that is foreign from the norm—A radical way of living.

o   A stubborn devotion to love God and others—A radical way of loving and serving.

o   A persistent determination to follow instructions obediently even if it means going against one’s desires or interests—A radical way of submitting.

Is Informed by His Word

John 8:31 reads. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” NKJV—If we don’t abide by His Word, we are not considered disciples. We can supplement to the Word of God but never substitute it. It is through the Word that we become acquainted with Christ. If the Word is not a priority in our lives, then Jesus is not a priority. It requires commitment and devotion. We are to live our lives based on the Scriptures—not trusting only but obeying.

Matthew 22:29 quotes Jesus as saying, “…You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” NIV A disciple who isn’t informed by the Word of God isn’t a disciple at all.

What is a Disciple of Christ - 3

Is Empowered by His Spirit

The Spirit first appears in Gen. 1:2: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. NKJV

o   When God creates, He fills. He creates Galaxies and fills them with planets and stars. He fills the earth with fish, vegetation, livestock, and humans—God is a filler.

–          After Genesis 3, the fall of humanity due to disobedience, a filling is still required. It merely looks different. We still need fillers. We are individuals who look to have something fill us up. As new creations in Jesus Christ, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

–          Luke 24:44-49 reads:

44. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48. And ye are witnesses of these things.

49. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

To fulfill the work of Christ, we need to be filled with the Holy Spir

Acts 1:4-8 reads:

4. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

5. for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6. Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7. And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

8. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” NKJV—For the apostles to be empowered, they needed to be filled with the Spirit.

Matthew 28:18-20 contains the great commission. It reads:

18. And Jesus came 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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20. teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. NKJV

Jesus was filled with the Spirit—When Jesus was born (Matthew 1:18-20), Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

§  Luke 4:1—After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. It led Him into the desert, where He resisted the enemy’s temptations for 40 days.

§  It is evident from the Scriptures that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit.

§  Ephesians 5:15-18—Draws a contrast between being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit. When influenced by alcohol, one’s behavior changes (walking, talking, and acting).

§  We need to be filled with the Spirit every day. 

Counterfeit Discipleship

What is a Disciple of Christ?

–          A counterfeit is an imitation of something, but it is ultimately fake and can be very deceptive. It differs from a lie since it mixes truth with error, whereas a lie lacks all truth.

–          Counterfeiting extends beyond physical objects to the spiritual. It extends and manifests among those who appear to be followers of Christ but lack the true essence of what it means to be a disciple.

–          Counterfeit disciples are good for nothing. They possess no flavor or power and are useless and utterly worthless.

–          True religion is the devotion and worship of God that is first received in the heart through love and then expressed from love through obedience based on the triune nature of God as revealed in Scripture.

–          Religion is not a group. It is a way in which one enacts his faith. It strengthens and structures our relationship with God. It is how we serve, and His will is revealed in Scripture after we come to Christ and are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

–          False religion, on the other hand, is a form of system religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices expressed by one’s sinful nature and strong inclination. It is somehow packaged precisely the same but can be corrupted and descend into an empty form of religion. If it is not rooted in love and expressed based on God’s character, it is a false religion. False religion is deployed by the counterfeit disciple that deceives those around him and the individual themselves, believing and falling into the deception that they are authentic in their discipleship. [Matthew 7:21-23, 25:31-46] Judgment falls upon those presumptuous in thinking they are practicing true religion. They are self-proclaimed and self-assured disciples and are ultimately cast away from Christ.

        The Three characteristics of a counterfeit disciple are:

o   Profession—The issue with God is that these characteristics are not religion but the absence of Christ. Engaging in a religious practice without the person you are devoted to or faithful to is empty and worthless. This type of religion God hates because He is not included in it. Therefore, it is an empty and faithless religion. The epicenter of a counterfeit disciple is a false religion. True religion highlights its source and origin of it. Where they spring from is important because the source and origin of these things determine their worth in the sight of God.

Being recognized by Christ as His own is what truly matters. Rather than individuals designating themselves as His disciples, calling themselves Christians, Methodists, or otherwise, Christ’s recognition is supreme. It is not based on external factors such as religious affiliation but on the purity of one’s heart and acceptance to follow Him.

Merely using the title of Lord does not make one a true follower of Christ. [Luke 6:46] The obedience to His teachings grounded in love determines the authenticity of one’s discipleship (Matthew 7:21).

If we rely on our religious affiliation to form the basis and authenticity of our relationship with Christ and not His presence, in that case, we may find that we will be utterly cast out.

The mere sound of religion does not work because it is missing the critical factor of Christ. The sound of religion doesn’t work because it doesn’t sound like Jesus. What is the actual worth if we have a loud profession but no genuine connection and relationship followed by obedience to Jesus?

A counterfeit disciple is an individual who bears the most robust and most convincing profession. Still, at the heart of such a profession lies knowing about Christ but not knowing Him intimately. It’s academic knowledge, but not relational. It isn’t one built upon relational equity. Ultimately, it isn’t about what we say or how we package it that demands Christ’s acceptance. Rather, Him being received into the heart, which transforms our lives and therefore enables us to become faithful followers of Him. This transformation involves one whose profession springs from a genuine relationship that follows His teachings and His Commands.

o   Christian Service—Isaiah 1:11-15—In this passage, God condemns Israel for their empty religious practices because they are not sincere. God hates religious practices and Christian services when He is not a part of them. We often place religious rituals above God’s presence, and therefore, our religion is considered flawed and meaningless. This passage exposes the presumptuousness of hypocrisy of those who claim to follow God but do not have a sincere heart. 

A counterfeit disciple goes through the motions of religion, idolizing passion above presence. A true disciple strives for Christ’s presence, not going through the motions for the fun or the perception of it, but out of the desire to be in Christ’s presence because it is where Christ dwells.

A true disciple strives for Christ’s presence, never seeking to do it for the fun or the perception of it, but they do it out of a desire to be in Christ’s because this is where Christ dwells. Without Christ accompanying us in our service, our religion would be meaningless, and our discipleship would be phony.

Amos 5:21-24—Here again, God condemns Israel for their feast days, sacred assemblies, burnt offerings, peace offerings, and their songs. He considers them detestable and resents them because their hearts are disconnected from the religious rituals. Therefore, they were meaningless in light of the injustice that they practiced.

What is a Disciple of Christ?

A counterfeit disciple may participate in religious activities and services as a facade to hide their true motives or gain the approval of others. In verse 24, God calls the Israelites to seek justice and righteousness rather than simply engaging in rituals.

In the same way, a true disciple will seek to live a pleasing life to God by following His Commandments and seeking justice and righteousness. But it isn’t significant if it is not birthed out of love but human esteem.

Over time, many have believed that prophesying and doing good works are enough to prove one’s discipleship. However, this perspective falls short when viewed from God’s viewpoint.

Romans 8:8—It is a fallacy to believe we can do Christian service without God because we have all been born in sin and shapen in iniquity. We are controlled either by the flesh or the Spirit; if our doing is not submitted to the Spirit, it is fleshly. That condition results in our service being carnal and intolerable in God’s eyes.

In service, it is essential to remember that the ultimate aim is to serve Christ. While serving others may seem noble and selfless, our sinful condition prevents us from serving others in a way that pleases God. If a relationship with God does not accompany our actions, the value of our service is worthless and intolerable to God. It is worth considering whether our service is driven by a genuine desire to help others or is simply a means to earn religious merit or social approval.

By prioritizing our relationship with Christ and the religious practices accompanying it, we can ensure that our service is grounded in a more profound sense of purpose and that our efforts are genuinely benefiting those around us. When our service is done with the accompanying presence of Christ, it is no longer a blessing for those we are helping but also a blessing for us.

A counterfeit disciple gets caught up in doing for God and often leaves God out. Discipleship isn’t about doing things for God but doing things with God. If we do Christian service without inviting God, we are merely boasting before the Lord. We boast that we can carry on without Him.

What is a disciple of Christ?

A true disciple exercises discipleship in the pursuit of the dependent. It involves seeking God’s will and guidance in all things. They recognize that they can no longer do anything apart from God and are pleasing to God. A true disciple does not consider themselves independent. A day without prayer is boasting—assuming one can go their own way without God. Humility is required with a willingness to submit to God’s authority in every aspect of life.

o   Outward Appearance—Matthew 23:23-28. In this passage, Jesus rebukes the religious elites of His day for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness. They are accused of having an empty religion as they focus more on external things. [expound on dirty cup] True righteousness comes from the heart, not only external appearances (Luke 11:39). Externalism leads to legalism. Jesus urges all to seek Him and allow Him to change our inner selves, cultivating a spirit of service and compassion rather than seeking validation and praise from our appearances. This hypocrisy is idolatry in principle since this position worships at the altar of someone else’s approval of others. 

Jesus is more concerned about the heart because the heart is everything. If He has our hearts, He has everything.

Luke 11:42—the Pharisees were only doing half of their duties. They were performing the half without Him.

The prominent trait of the counterfeit disciple is an individual who claims to follow Christ and profess to follow Christ. However, their actions and behavior do not reflect the true essence of being a disciple. They may participate in Christian service, attend church regularly, and pay tithes, but their motives and intentions are not pure. Therefore, they do not have a genuine relationship with Christ.

They may seem righteous, but their hearts are far from God. They imitate a true disciple but do not hold the qualities that define a true disciple. It is a false religion.

Our prayers should be what it reads in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a steadfast Spirit within me.”

We must move away from our presumptuousness and our self-righteousness. No matter what the outside appears to be, work on the inside. We must constantly monitor our hearts and ask the Lord to circumcise our hearts.

Satan is the chief counterfeiter and influences fake Christianity.

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came 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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20. teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. NKJV

What gives the Great Commission its potency is what lies at its epicenter: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The central focus of the Great Commission is not Christ only, but His imperative statement to make disciples.

What is a Disciple of Christ?

The Great Commission is a cooperative. It is a joint mission, and we, as the church, exist to spread the proclamation of the gospel message and multiply disciples.

The prerequisite to being a disciple of Jesus Christ is to submit and engage in a transfer of authority. We are giving up our independence and giving it to Christ. Discipleship is the pursuit of the dependent.

We need to have a centralized focus on following Christ. A Christless Christian is a worthless Christian. In actuality, a Christless Christian isn’t a Christian at all. Christ is the chief cornerstone on which to build our lives. If the cornerstone is removed, all fail. The relationship is built on trust in His administration over our lives, which involves surrendering control. As a disciple of Jesus, you follow Jesus with a supreme fixation and emphasis on Him alone. Not an organization, not a denomination, not a philosophy.

What is a Disciple of Christ?
The complete picture of a disciple of Christ!

Luke 14:25-33—There is a cost to be a disciple of Christ. If Christ is not the Lord of all, He’s not the Lord at all.

John 8:31 reads: If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”

Don’t settle for following God halfway. Continue in His Word and let Christ fire up your faith and get you into the action.

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