What It Means To Be a Disciple of Jesus: Part 3


The Goal of being His Disciple

In Part 1 of this series of articles we asked the question – what makes someone a disciple?

We defined what a disciple is, seeing that a Disciple is one who follows the teachings of another, then we examined what being a disciple of Jesus Christ means, showing that being His disciple means following His Word.

You can either be a good follower or a bad follower. You can claim to be following Him, but all the while be arguing and fussing with what He says, or even rejecting what He said and coming up with your own idea on the subject!

That may be your ‘right’ because you have the right to your own opinion, but that is not being a good follower, and since Christianity is built upon following Him, what He said and what His Word teaches, then following your own idea makes you a bad follower of Christ!

A person is only Jesus’ disciple to the degree that they follow His Word. To the degree we are NOT following His Word is the degree we are not following Him!

Now we want to look at another part of what being a disciple of Jesus Christ means:

What is the GOAL of being a disciple?

Firstly let’s ask, what is a ‘goal’?

Your goal is what you are aiming at, the target you hope to achieve. It is not necessarily something you have already reached, but rather where you are headed, what you are aiming at!

Life is filled with goals – targets people aim at.

In the business world, people often have things like sales targets they have to achieve, or deadlines by which things need to be completed. These are their goals.

In their personal lives, people often have goals. Some people’s goal is to get married and have a family. Others aim to be successful in their own businesses. There are those who go to gym with the goal of getting fit or losing some weight.

People set financial goals, lifestyle goals, goals for their bodies etc

These goals motivate them in those areas.
Goals help keep you focused and on track.

Without a goal, how will you know when you have arrived?
Without a goal, how will you know you are even heading in the right direction?
People who do not have goals often end up drifting, aimlessly without a purpose. They float around from one thing to another, because they don’t know what they are trying to achieve. They have no aim, so they lack purpose and direction.

What would it be like if people set out to run a marathon, but there was no finish line, or target? Most likely they would all line up at the starting line, then when the gun went off to start the race, they would all run off in different directions, aimlessly running their race in the direction they thought they should go!

It would actually be quite comical to watch these marathon runners racing off, putting lots of energy into a pointless race, since there was no finish line, no target they were aiming for.

How would they know when they finished? Or who won?

Without a finish line (a goal) it would be impossible to know where they were headed, or who won, or even when to stop running!

In the same way, many team sports, like rugby, or football have ‘goals’. Each team is aiming to get the ball to one side of the field.
How would a game of football or rugby go if there were no goals?

How would anyone score?
What would be the point of the game?
It would end up being an exercise of everyone running around kicking and passing the ball to each other, with no purpose or end in sight, and no way for either side to win.

We need goals in all areas of live in order to stay focused and to know what we are aiming at.

Our goals also help us know we are headed in the right direction, and if we are on track. [pullquote]Our goals also help us know we are headed in the right direction, and if we are on track.[/pullquote]

At anytime you can stop and measure yourself up against your goal to see how you are doing. When you do so, you may notice that you have deviated slightly off your goal and are now moving in a wrong direction. By rechecking with the goal, you can adjust and get back on track.

 

The Christian life has goals.

As with all areas of life, your Christian life should also have goals, targets you are heading for.

Sadly many Christians seem to have little idea about this, and as a result they are ‘running around the field aimlessly’, all excited that they are ‘Christians’ but having little idea about what direction they should be moving in!

Most may know the ultimate destination – heaven and life in Eternity with the Lord, but they have little understanding about the goals we are to be aiming at while still down here on the earth.

Yes, they are in the game, but they have no idea which direction to run, or where to ‘kick the ball’

This lack of purpose, direction and aim can often lead to discouragement and disillusionment. People end up drifting off in different directions, thinking they are still on track, but actually going right off course.

 

A lot of people’s Christian lives are without aim. Having no target or direction

This can also result in confusion as people all try to debate about the direction they should be going or where they are headed!

Look at what Paul said about his goal:

Philippians 3:12-14

:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul spoke about ‘reaching forward’ and ‘things which are ahead’. If you have no goal, how do you know which direction is forward?

Paul’s goal motivated him to keep moving forward, it kept him on track, and helped him move on from the past toward his aim.

Notice the phrase in verse 12, ‘…that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.’

In other words, he is saying that Christ had a goal when he laid hold of me and my life! There was a point to what The Lord was doing when He took a hold of my life!

Now Paul says, I find my purpose and my goal in discovering why Christ laid hold of me in the first place!

 

The goal of being a disciple

We could talk about our goals in various areas of the Christian life, but this article is about one specific goal: the goal of being a Disciple of Jesus Christ.

Since being Jesus disciple means following Him, following His Word; then what is the goal. What are we aiming at when following His Word?

It is all good and well to say follow the Word, but people end up getting so caught up in different teachings from the Word that they can get pulled around in different directions.

Since people do not know what they are aiming at, they studies of the Word end up being aimless and untargeted as well! They drift around on different Bible subjects, and some even get ‘lost’ in the sheer size of the Bible and it’s different subjects.

Often people get focused on what I call ‘non essential’ issues, thinking they are major issues in the Bible, and on the other hand these same people neglect issues that the Bible does indicate are major and important issues.

Why do people do this?

Because they don’t know the goal. They are just drifting around in their Bible studies following trails that ‘tickle their fancy’ and stir their intellectual curiosity.

If we could have a goal in our studies of the Word, it would focus us and our time in the Bible. We could follow Christ through His Word and achieve the goal that He wants us to achieve through His Word.

Our goal keeps us focused, it helps us to decide what is important to study and focus on, and what is a side issue that will distract us from the goal.

 

So let’s ask the question again:
What is the goal of being a disciple of Jesus Christ?

 

Since being a disciple is about following what He taught, the best place to answer our question is to see what HE taught on the subject. What did Jesus Himself say is the goal a disciple is to aim for?

Luke 6:40

:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
:40 No pupils are greater than their teacher; but all pupils, when they have completed their training, will be like their teacher. 
(Good News Bible)

(see also Matthew 10:24-25)

The goal of discipleship is to be LIKE Him!

This is so simple and clearly laid out, if we are not careful we will jump over it and overly complicate the issue!

If we could only learn to just take The Word for what it says. There is such simplicity to being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. He has not made this hard!

He gave us His Word to follow, and left us His own life as an example. He lived His own Word! So He set Himself up as the standard, the goal we are to aim at.

What is a disciple?
– a follower

How do we follow Jesus?
– by following His Word

What is the goal?
– to be like Him!

HE is the goal. HE is the standard.

As a disciple we want to act like and look like and operate like Him in all areas!

1 John 2:5-6

:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

We need to follow His example (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Be like Him in his love walk – and how He treated people
Be like him in His character
Be like Him in His faith life
Be like Him in His willing obedience to the Father
Be like Him in His consecration to follow God’s call on His life
Be like Him in how He ministered to people – including sinners and the sick
Be like Him in His prayer life
Be like Him in his humility
Be like Him in His relationship with the Father

(each of the areas listed above is a huge study in an of itself, so it is not the purpose of this article to examine the specifics of how Jesus acted and operated in these areas. We will leave that for other studies we do)
Now if you said to most Christians that we are to be like Jesus, they would probably agree … to a point!

They can grasp how we are to follow Him and be like Him in our love walk and in our character, but there are other areas that Christians want to fight you on if you talk about being like Him in those areas!

One MAJOR area Christians argue about is the area of faith. Sometimes when people teach on the subject of faith, other Christians accuse them of ‘trying to be like Jesus…’

They say it in a negative way, like it is wrong!

Hold on a minute, I thought the whole point – the goal – IS to be like Jesus?

Including in our faith lives!
If HE is THE example in all areas of the Christian life, then why do we want to separate this one issue of ‘faith’ and say in ‘that’ area being ‘like Jesus’ is wrong?

I do not get the impression when studying Jesus’ life that He ever tried to leave His disciples the impressions that when He operated in faith it was only something He exclusively could do, and that were not to dare to try to duplicate Him on those areas!

Rather, I get quite the opposite impression, when you study Jesus and what He said to His disciples on faith, you see that He was constantly trying to push them forward to operate in it like He did!

As their teacher, HE laid out the example, taught them the principles, then said, ‘now you do it, be like me in that area’

That is what a good teacher does!

Today people who claim to be His disciples, teach the opposite
(see Article 2 on what it means to be a Disciple, which talks about how in order to be a GOOD disciple we ought not argue with or be at odds with our Teacher! I would far rather follow what HE taught on faith, than other people who try to discredit what Jesus said on the subject try to teach!)
People today teach that we cannot operate in faith like He did, that our words do not have the same effect that His did etc!

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught His disciples and laid out an example by Him actually ‘doing’ in line with what He taught. He then looked to them to follow His example and do these things as well.

This was so in healing – He commissioned them to heal, in faith – after showing them about faith, and teaching them, He expected them to operate in it too – and rebuked them when they did not.
Let’s look at some examples:

Matthew 21:18-22

:18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.
:19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.
:20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
:22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Firstly notice what JESUS did. If we are to be like Him, then we need to see what He did and HOW He did it.

Jesus SPOKE to the fig tree (verse 19, ‘…said to it…’)

In response to His words, the fig tree withered and died.

Next Jesus disciples saw it and were amazed! In response, Jesus spoke TO THEM.

What did Jesus say to His disciples?

Did HE tell them that what He did to the fig tree was an exclusive ability that only He had?
Did He tell them there was no way they could ever hope to do things like that?

No – He did exactly the opposite. He used the fig tree as an object lesson, and like a good teacher, showed His disciples the principles He had operated, and showed them how THEY could also do the same thing!

This can be CLEARLY seen in Jesus phrase from verse 21, ‘…, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain…’
In other words, Jesus himself said that THEY could also do what He did to the fig tree! Then He takes it a step further and says, you can ALSO do it to ‘this mountain’!

Rather than limiting what they could do, He extended what was possible, showing that they could go bigger than a fig tree, and do the same thing to a mountain!

People today hear that and struggle to wrap their mind around it, so they reject it. They fuss and argue and try to explain away how we CANNOT do these things.

But remember, is that being a good disciple?

Are we to reject and argue with and fight against what Jesus Himself taught, yet still claim we are His disciples?

If you have learned anything from these articles so far, I hope that you will not do that!

You may not understand it, it may not make any sense to your head, but the fact that Jesus said it, and we are His disciples who follow His Word, means that we accept it as truth and don’t fight against it!

If we fight it and try to reject it, then in THAT area we are not being His disciples, but we are following our own ideas!
Jesus spoke to storms, He spoke to demons (rebuked them – a form of speaking), He rebuked sickness, then clearly said that we would do the same things.

John 14:12

:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

If we are to do WHAT He did, then we must also do it THE WAY He did it. He did it by speaking words of faith to these situations. So if we are to do these things to, like He said we should, then we need to do it the same way
Jesus did NOT teach that only He could do the things He did. Instead, He was constantly showing His disciples THEY could also do those things, because that is the GOAL of being a disciple – to be LIKE HIM!
We will study more about faith in other articles. I simply want to stir you in this article about the fact that we ARE supposed to be like Him in all areas – because that is the mark of a disciple who is properly trained!

This includes in our faith lives. HE is the example. Operate faith LIKE He operated it!

Luke 6:40

:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

The goal of discipleship is to be LIKE Him

Some people may say, ‘well yes, but we are not yet ‘perfectly Trained’, so we can’t yet be like Him in all areas.

It amazes me how people look for any reason they can talk themselves out of what Jesus said!

Regardless of whether you are fully trained or developed yet, this is still what we ought to AIM for. This is the goal – to be more and more like Him. To duplicate Him – in Action – and to follow His Word as closely as possible – is the goal.

The more we grow, the more like Him we should look. Our love walk should line up with His, our faith life should line up with His etc.

When we see areas that are not yet fully like him, then we know there is more growing to do in that area, but it does not mean we sit down and excuse away not being like Him, instead it means apply yourself to His Word in that area and get more fully trained so that you DO become more like him in that area!
Now that you know your GOAL as a disciple, you can focus yourself specifically in that area and spend time developing in areas to be more like Jesus!

Take your love walk and develop it to be more like His
Take your humility and develop it to me more like His
Take your faith life and develop it to be more like His

Seek His example in each area and strive for that as the goal you are aiming at in your life!

Run your race…

In a race, the goal is the finish line. That is the mark the runners are all aiming at as their destination. It is what they strive for, what they push for!

Our Christian life is described as a race. We too have a goal, and aim we are pushing for.

Hebrews 12:1-4

:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
:4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Here we see that as we strive for the finish line, we are to keep our attention focused on JESES. He is the example.

He successfully ran His race, and He is the example we follow in finishing ours!

Notice the phrases, ‘looking unto Jesus’ and ‘consider him’. He is our example, He showed us how it is done.

In EVERY area, look to Him, strive to be like Him in that area.
This article is part 3 of a series, click the following links for the other parts:

Part 1: What it means to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ
Part 2: What it means to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ

 

This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.

(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.

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