I am continuing with the series I started on Disciples and Discipleship of Jesus Christ. You can read my earlier post; Why Christ is still calling for Disciples, not just church members”.
As you saw or would see in my earlier post, my situation of thinking that the idea of Disciples was past and gone and no need of disciples is not the exception; rather it is the norm in the church today. Actually, this is the prevalent situation in the church where we are quick to call ourselves Christians without actually getting there; without paying the price that the disciples paid, and without discipling Jesus Christ. But by the special grace of God, the Lord fished me out of the multitudes and commanded me to disciple Him and make Him Disciples; and He taught me discipleship by His Spirit Who is our teacher, among other designations. He called me and transformed me into His disciple.
Now we want to understand the meaning and definition of who a Disciple of Christ is. For a fuller understanding of what and who a Disciple of Christ is, let us first understand who and what a Disciple of Christ is not.
I want to state that Jesus Christ the Head and Founder of the church is calling His church back to Disciples, not just ordinary church members, without deep love and commitment to Him. The process is activated in heaven and the chosen and prepared vessels here on earth have received the signals. Once again, are you a Disciple of Christ or you just identify with church?
What a disciple of Christ is not;
- A disciple is not necessarily someone in church or around the church.
- It is more than being a member of a church or a Christian denomination.
- It is not being born again, it is far deeper.
- It is more than an accent or mental agreement that Jesus is the Son of God, Who came from heaven, and shed His blood for us.
- More so, a Disciple is not the same as receiving Holy Ghost baptism, it is more than that experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues and prophesying.
- A Disciple is more than anyone who quotes and teaches the Word of God, everyone who studies the Bible can quote and teach the scriptures but with the difference of not having the power of God behind his words.
- Furthermore, Disciples are more than people with nice titles speaking in the name of the Lord; as a Pastor, or Evangelist, or Prophet, or Teacher, or Rt. Reverend, or Rev. Professor, or Very Reverend, or Rev. or Dr, or Bishop, or Archbishop, or Cardinal, or Pope as we have them today. These do not make you an automatic disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is therefore not everyone wielding the Bible and calling himself a Christian or “Man of God”.
And again, a Disciple is not the same as a Christian as we have it today. I will explain this later.
The above listed, important as they are, do not automatically make one a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact they are important aspects or call it processes and stages of our salvation and transformation. Beyond these, there is a further step, price, cost, requirement demanded by the Lord Jesus of all who come to Him, His followers, His disciples, without which Jesus says we are not worthy of Him. In other words, not being worthy of Him means not being qualified to come near Him.
Description of a Disciple of Jesus Christ
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary describes a disciple as;
- “a person who believes in and follows the teachings of a religious or political leader. They went further to say that, a disciple is synonymous with a follower…
- (according to the Bible) one of the people who followed Jesus Christ and his teachings when he was living on earth, especially one of the twelve Apostles” (1).
Two implications from the above definition are that; a disciple is a believer in the doctrines of a certain personality, a religious or political leader whose belief makes him to follow the one in whom he believes and secondly, this definition makes it explicit that the disciples are followers of Jesus Christ and his teachings when He was on earth.
Clearly, this definition puts the idea of disciples into a past tense; as a historical event. In other words, a disciple is seen here as a group of followers of Jesus who lived and worked and died and are gone, no more disciples. Was that the end of disciples in the mind and program of Christ Jesus Who introduced and owns the idea?
Eastons Bible Dictionary gave this description of who a disciple of Jesus is; “a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist (Matt. 9:14), and of the Pharisees (22:16), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example (Matt.10:24; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 6:69)”.
Similarly, others also see a disciple as a student of Jesus Christ who have matured and hence teach others what they have learnt, it’s seems like a Teaching Assistant (just graduated).
Dr. Richard J. Krejcir who has written on the subject of discipleship defines a disciple as this, “A disciple is one who grows in Christ and in so doing models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship, to name the main ones” (2).
Matthew Henry, the famous 17th century theologian in his commentaries on Acts 11:26 put forward this meaning for the term disciples, “learners, scholars” (3).
Now, in addition to all the above descriptions of who a disciple is, I show you the deep meaning on what the Holy Ghost, our teacher imparted to me. I have realized that it is highly possible for a learner and scholar to achieve this scholarly feat by engaging only his mind, excluding other faculties; heart and soul and spirit in the whole project. Of course, this is what happens in most classrooms.
My personal experience so far as a 21st century Disciple of the Lord Jesus makes me understand that we (disciples) do not engage our minds (intellect) only in dealings, studies, followership, apprenticeship of Jesus Christ, but we in addition, also fully deploy our hearts, souls, strengths and spirits, in fact our very breath and whole life to disciple, learn and make disciples of and for Jesus Christ. We love Him without looking back, without repenting, without conditions. The disciple attains Christ-likeness in obedience to God, forsaking all other priorities even unto death with our Master Jesus as our example. No wonder the early disciples, not only the twelve, all suffered diverse fates, torture, crucifixion and murder except John, the writer of John, 1-3 John and Revelations. Even John was not spared his share of the sufferings, torture and threats of being murdered. But God kept him alive to accomplish his mission by writing the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelations.
A disciple is therefore anyone that leaves all his comfort, convenience, achievements, and priorities, and disconnects himself from pleasing himself and the world, and loves and follows Jesus as his Master and lives to Him and God. The Disciple is an able ambassador of Christ.
By Jesus’ exemplary love, the disciple does not hesitate but loves and even dies for Jesus if need be. As Disciple Paul wrote, we are killed each day for Christ. “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long;” (Romans 8:36).
This is the kind of followers and representatives the Lord called for when He commanded The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV) and He is still looking for such even today in the 21st century. This is His renewed call to His Church and clergy which He has given to me. Jesus Christ is demanding from all who come to Him for eternal life and blessings to be His disciples, not just church members as majority are today.
Dr. Richard J. Krejcir further stated that “Jesus ended his time on earth with an imperative command for them to make more disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), which is also our call!”(4). This statement captures the whole essence of this renewed call from Christ for the church and clergy through His Disciple (the author), that the disciple is not an archaic, past event where the Lord grouped some twelve or seventy (two) people, and trained and empowered them and sent them out to fish for souls in His name. It is still His command even today.
A Disciple’s life is entirely not for himself, he lives to please Christ and the Father, not merely to meet denominational social and family expectations and one’s personal, selfish comfort and convenience. This is what the early disciples exemplified and this is till the standard for today’s Disciple. The standard for the 1st century followers of Christ has not changed from today’s standard. What HE demanded from then, He demands today. Make no mistake dear reader.
This is what Christ commanded and demanded from whoever comes to Him; “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple”.(Luke 14:26-27).
Clearly, if you do not place Christ in the right place as He demands (the first place of love above all else), you miss him.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38). If you do not pay these price of discipleship as demanded by Christ, you are wasting your efforts. You will
Now it is your time to move up into the circle of Disciples of Christ. Is your mind and identity changing from whatever you call yourself now into what Christ calls you? Christ commanded, GO YE THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ME IN ALL NATIONS….As the Lord gave me, I impart to you, receive the grace of a disciple of Christ in Jesus Christ’s name.