What is a disciple? What does the Bible say about it? Is a disciple simply a ‘believer’? Many define it as ‘one who believes in Jesus’ but that’s not according to scripture. There is more to it, like a changed lifestyle that should follow. James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
There are numerous scripture about making disciples, and with discipleship comes changed behavior. It’s mentioned throughout the book of acts, as well as the gospels. Matthew 28:19 says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Very quickly we begin to see that a disciple is an obedient follower. Strong’s Greek Concordance gives this definition: 3101 mathētḗs (from math-, the “mental effort needed to think something through”) – properly, a learner; a disciple, a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require; someone catechized with proper instruction from the Bible with its necessary follow-through (life-applications).
Now let’s look at John 8:31 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” A disciple is not someone known for words they speak, but the life they live! We must ‘continue’ to dig deeper into the Word of God and put forth effort to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
We must stop trying to live behind generic terms and the removal of all responsibility in our Christian walk, and begin to embrace the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary and the new life we are to live through him! We have become too concerned with being politically correct and apathetic about pleasing God. As followers of Christ, we cannot be ignorant to His Word. The bible gives us instruction on how to live and treat each other.
John 3:16 is not a license to live however you choose, but an opportunity to choose the life offered through Christ. Paul said in Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” — If you are a follower of Christ, then your life should reflect Christ!
Let us pray, “Father, help me live a life pleasing to You. Help me understand and retain Your Word. Lord, help me to not get caught up in the gossip or frustration at work, help me forgive those that hurt me or a loved one, help me lay down the distracting and unhealthy habits, help my speech to be kind and uplifting, help me be a better example for my family. Thank You that I’m forgiven, and help me show that same forgiveness to others, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.