Faithlife Sermons

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?

What is a disciple?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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How we define what a disciple is will matter greatly in our success in making them.

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What is a disciple?

What would you have done if you had seen Jesus die?

What would you have thought if you had heard that he had risen from the dead?

What would you have done if you had heard Jesus tell you to go to the ends of the earth proclaiming the Good News?

What would you have done if you had heard people speaking in different languages on the day of Pentecost?

What would you have done if you had seen 3,000 people get saved in one day?

You would go and tell someone, right?

1 in 5 non-christians does not know a single christian.

Less than 1 in 7 people that are non-believers has ever had a Gospel conversation.

We are not doing a good job of raising disciples?

There are many challenges facing the disciple today such as:

Moral relativism;
· Political correctness;
Political correctness;
Christians living like they are not saved;
Non-believers proclaiming themselves as saved
Non-believers proclaiming themselves as saved
Christians in bondage (e.g. gambling, sex, drugs, etc.);
Breakdown of the family;
Materialism/greed;
Hostile anti-Christian environments;
Apathy; and
Lack of leadership in the church.

Many Christians want to grow close to God. But they don’t know where to start.

Rob Gallaty says that “When people in the pew don’t know what to do, they don’t do anything at all.”

Rob Gallaty is the author of the book, Growing Up; How to be a disciple who makes disciples.

Reflect on the following statements. Do you agree or disagree with them?

The way to reach the world is to reach the individual.
The solution to the dilemma of reaching the total world lies in the reaching of the total person and unlocking his or her kingdom potential.
What a man can be, a man must be.
· Becoming a leader (influencer) means becoming synonymous with yourself.
Becoming a leader (influencer) means becoming synonymous with yourself.
Only an exponential strategy can reach an exponentially growing world.

The starting point for making disciples is to start with a clear picture/definition of a disciple.

If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.
Mist in the pulpit is fog in the pew.
Much of the problem today is that churches and ministries have not clearly defined the important terms.
In most churches, if you ask someone what does the term “disciple” mean or “discipleship,” you will get as many answers as you ask people.
– Creating a Discipling Culture in Module/Week 8)!

The starting point for understanding what a disciple should look like is found in the Scriptures.

Luke 14:26 ESV
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Hatred here is a comparative term. Your love for Christ must be so great and so consuming that any other love in comparison feels like hatred or disdain for others. Jesus said it this way in : “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Putting Jesus first in your life means having the willingness to go anywhere and do anything that He asks of you. Reflect on the commitments/statements like this that you may have made. What were the circumstances?
You cannot serve someone without eventually surrendering your will to the person you serve.
Luke 14:27 ESV
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 ESV
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
There has been a lot of debate about what it means to “carry your cross.” In a nutshell, it simply means that the disciple of Jesus will be called upon to lay down his life (his desire for self-direction and determination) and to surrender his will to the will of God.
You cannot serve someone without eventually surrendering your will to the person you serve.
Luke 14:27 ESV
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:28 ESV
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Luke 14:28 ESV
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
This verse makes it clear that before a person decides to follow Jesus, he or she must first sit down and calculate the cost. For the true disciple, it will cost you your life, your body, your possessions, and your future. In short, it will cost you everything. God’s plan and God’s will cost Jesus His life; it cannot cost His followers anything less.

There is a cost, and it must be counted.

Luke 14:33
Luke 14:33 ESV
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Again, Jesus calls his disciples to totally abandon any and all ownership to possessions. Jesus put it this way in : “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” In , Jesus also said this: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This does not mean that, to be a disciple, a person must take a vow of poverty, but the disciple must be “poor in spirit” and be willing to surrender all possessions if the Lord asks.
You cannot serve someone without eventually surrendering your will to the person you serve.
You cannot serve someone without eventually surrendering your will to the person you serve.
John 8:31–32 ESV
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The Word of God is “living and active” (). It has the ability transform you through the renewing of your mind () and your life if you will read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate in it on a consistent basis. The Word can set you free from the lies of the enemy and empower you to overcome the fiery darts of the adversary (). If you do not continue in the Word, then you are wide open to deception, discouragement, and defeat. You cannot be a disciple without an aggressive commitment to consume and obey the Scriptures.

There is an obedience that must be visible.

That obedience is learned in the Scriptures.

John 13:35 ESV
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If you do not love other believers, then you do not know the God of love. Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some, but for everyone” (1996). These lyrics summarize the call and the challenge of Jesus in the upper room discourse when he called his disciples together and told them to “love one another.”
Francis Schaeffer observed that your love for one another ought to be so strong that it will unite believers and that, when believers are living in unity, the world would believe that Jesus was sent by God. The modern day disciple must be committed to love: loving God, loving your neighbor, and loving your brothers and sisters in Christ.
John 15:5 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:7–8 ESV
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Acts 13:52 ESV
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

There is fruit that must be present.

Immediate and complete obedience is a hallmark of a disciple.

Do you realize that it is impossible to ever say, “No, Lord”? The moment you say “no,” He is no longer the Lord in your life. The gospels portray following God as being a member in His kingdom. As loyal subjects in His kingdom, your job is to follow the King and go wherever and do whatever He says. Many times, individuals approach the kingdom of heaven in a casual “take or it leave it” manner.
The Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Minas make it very clear that, one day, the Master will return and call His servants into account. In order to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” (, NIV) from Him, we must understand and assume the role of a servant.
Matthew 26:19 ESV
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
Matthew 28:16 ESV
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These passages contain 3 principles:

· Sacrifice,
· Relationship, and
· Transformation.

Dr. Dempsey’s definition:

— “A disciple is a person who has trusted Christ for salvation and has surrendered completely to Him. He or she is committed to practicing the spiritual disciplines in community and developing to their full potential for Christ and His mission.”
— “A disciple is someone who knows Christ, grows in Christ and goes for Christ.”
— “A disciple is someone who shows and shares Christ with others.”

Reflect on the foundational concepts contained in this definition.

What do you think they are?

Disciple-“A committed follower of Christ that grows intentionally with the purpose of achieving the fullness of Christ in such a way as to guide and teach others to do the same.”

I really enjoyed reading your post. Your definition and explanation of a disciple is very good. I particularly liked your assertion that “discipleship” could be in danger of the same type of ambiguity that “leadership” has attained to. I do think both of these “buzzwords” have a place in any serious discussion on following Christ but, if they become over used, they will be much like we use the word “love”. We will say “I Love Christ” like we say, “I love cheesecake”. No real meaning.
We both appear to believe that a disciple must fulfill the great commission by making other disciples. I also agree with you and realize that while we are doing this we must strive to grow in Christlikeness. However, we often fall short of the mark. As you wrote, “Not all of God's children are obedient to their Father”. We cannot claim that we are true disciples of Christ if we willfully continue in a sinful lifestyle. Earley put it well when he said that, “ Sanctification is a word we do not use very often today, but it simply means coming to the place where you consistently say yes to God and no to sin.”[1] What are we growing in our likelihood to say yes to? If it is not God, discipleship cannot really be occurring.
Pastor C. Jason spade
[1] Earley, Dave. Disciple Making Is . . . (p. 18). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Ephesians 4:11–17 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
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