What It Means To Be a Disciple of Jesus: Part 2


Are you a good or bad disciple?

In the previous article we asked the question:

What makes someone a disciple of Jesus Christ?

We defined what a disciple is, and saw that being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that you follow after His Word – i.e.: What He taught.

A disciple is one who follows the teachings of another.

So a disciple of Jesus is someone who follows what He taught, His Word.

Jesus Himself confirmed that this is what makes someone His disciple in John 8, by saying, ‘IF you abide in my Word, you are My disciples…’

John 8:30-32 (NKJV)

:30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

We finished the previous article on the point we want to examine in this article:

To the degree I am NOT following what He taught is the degree I am not His disciple

When Jesus Word says something and we say something else, then we are not following Him in that area. So to be a true disciple and follower of Jesus means to follow His Word – what He teaches us in the Word.

Christianity should be about believing in and following Jesus Christ. However to the degree that Christianity is NOT based upon what HE said is the degree that it is NOT following Him!

The church is not firstly to be followers of church creeds or doctrines, or ideas that have developed SINCE the Word was written, rather it is to FIRST AND FOREMOST follow Him and His teachings.

Anything, at any time that is a departure from His Word is a departure from following Him (and therefore cannot be properly defined as ‘Christian’)

The only way to properly be a Disciple of His is to follow His Word without departure or deviation!

Just because someone within the church or who says they are a Christian teaches something, does not make what they teach is in line with Jesus‘ Word!

There are people who teach things under the name of Christianity that do not follow after what He taught and after His Word. When you follow that person, you stop following Jesus and become THAT person’s disciple.

Christianity is to be based upon the Word of God. To the degree that we do not teach the Word is the degree that we are not following God.

If we want to follow God 100% we must go by His Word, what He says, 100%. Whether we understand it or not; and whether we agree with it or not, our heart commitment should be: I am His disciple (follower) so if He says it, I agree with and follow it.

What we say about God must line up with His Word. What we teach in the church must line up with the Word, or else we are not following Him in those areas.

God is calling us back to the Word. A Christian life not built on or based upon the Word is destined for failure. God’s full blessing can only be upon what is in line with His Word. The Word is central to our receiving from God and to our prayer lives as well.

Are you a Good Disciple or a Bad Disciple?

Now that we have defined what Jesus regards is a disciple, we need to look at another related point – are you a GOOD Disciple – or a BAD disciple?

This may seem like a strange question, but let me explain. Since being Jesus’ disciple means following His Word – what His Word teaches, then how good a disciple you are depends upon how good you are at following His Word!

So we could ask, ‘Are you a good follower or a bad follower?’

If I asked you to follow me around the room, and you agreed to ‘follow me’, there are a couple of things that could happen.

1) You could either be ‘good at following me’ by walking exactly behind me, and when I turn left, you turn left. When I go straight, you go straight and when I go right, you go right.

In other words, if you are doing a good job at following me, you will go where I go

2) The other possibility is that you could be very bad at following me by not agreeing every time I turn somewhere and arguing with me. When I go one way, you go another, but CLAIM you are still following me!

Anyone observing would soon be able to tell that although you may claim to be following me, if I go one way and you go another, you are clearly no longer my ‘follower’

Trying to go my own way, makes me a bad follower!

Now as I said in the previous article, we are not following Jesus around the room. Instead the way we follow Him is to follow His Word.

But the same principle applies. On every point that I disagree with His Word and ‘go another way’ on in what I think or believe, then on THOSE points I am no longer following Jesus!

If I am claiming to be a disciple of Jesus, yet I am not following His Word, then I am a bad disciple.

A Good disciple: follows, doesn’t argue and question

A Bad disciple: tries to go their own way, follow their own ideas, argues and fusses with what Jesus taught etc

(I am sure you have heard the expression, ‘a back seat driver’. This refers to someone who, although they are not driving the car, constantly things it is their place to tell the driver how to drive! So they try to ‘drive’ the car from the back seat. Many people want to be ‘back seat drivers’ as Christians. They want to tell Jesus how it should be, rather than going His way!)

Someone might say, ‘Yes, but I have a free will and have the right to go my own way’.

I am not saying that you don’t have a free will and can’t go your own way. That is your right, however to claim you ARE following Jesus when in fact you are going your own way is a lie. Be honest enough o admit that in those areas that you want to go ‘your’ way, you are not following Him!

So on every point that you do not ‘agree with’, and go the ‘same way as Jesus’ you are not following Him in that area.

I believe we ought to desire to be good followers, good disciples. This means that when we see things in His Word, instead of trying to fight and fuss against it, we accept it and go with it.

Arguing or disagreeing is NOT following:

If you are ARGUEING with what His Word says, you are not believing it!

If you are ARGUEING with what His Word says, you are not FOLLOWING it!

When you argue with someone, it shows DISAGREEMENT

Disagreement involves having a different opinion to someone.

Amos 3:3

:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

If I have a different opinion to Jesus on any issue, then I am in disagreement with Him on that issue, so I am not FOLLOWING Him on that issue. Therefore I am not His DISCIPLE on that issue!

You cannot DISAGREE with Him and be FOLLOWING Him (or walking with him) at the same time! If you disagree, and choose to allow that disagreement to surface, then on that issue you have stopped following Him and now follow your opinion. You have therefore stopped being a follower in that area, and are now leading your own path – in that area.

We need to get our understanding correct in this area, because there are people who think they are disciples, yet are actually not following His Word on issues, instead they are following what THEY think on the issue, and labelling it ‘Christian’

There are truths that are being taught in the church today that some people are arguing with and fighting against. They don’t like these truths, so under the name of Christianity they oppose them. Really the ONLY important issue on any subject is – is it inline with Jesus’ Word.

If it IS in line with His Word, then it really doesn’t matter who does not like it or who opposes it. When someone opposes what Jesus’ said and taught, under the name of Christianity, then they are not being a true follower of Jesus themselves.

Many think they are just arguing with and opposing what a particular person teaches. But what we need to determine first, before arguing with it is: Is what that person is teaching in line with Jesus’ Word?

Being Jesus’ follower means following HIS Word. That is what the church is to be founded and based upon.

For example. The teachings on faith. What really matters is NOT – does it line up with what I think, or MY opinion. We are not following you or what you think. We are followers of Jesus Christ, so what matters is – Does it line up with HIS Word.

If it does, then it is HIS teachings and we must accept and go with it if we are to genuinely be His disciples and follow what HE taught.

The ONLY issue that matters when it comes to finding true Church doctrine is: IS it in line with what JESUS taught and in line with HIS Word?

That is what we are (supposed) to be following if we claim to be HIS disciples.

This brings us to another important point:

Am I following what HIS WORD teaches, or am I following what someone else teaches?

If I am following what someone else teaches, that conflicts with what His Word teaches, then I am not being Jesus’ disciple, I am being that other person’s disciple.

The Bible warns us about people who will come into Christianity, and under the name of Christianity, draw away disciples after themselves. What these people are doing is teaching something that is not of God and calling it God’s Word.

Acts 20:29-30

:29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

:30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Notice Paul warns the Ephesian church about people who will arise FROM WITHIN. In other words from within the church. People who claim to be followers of Christ themselves, yet who are actually pushing their own ideas and trying to draw away Jesus’ disciples after themselves.

How do these people draw people away from Jesus?

Verse 30 says, ‘… men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples…’

So it is through THEIR words (what they are speaking) that they will draw people away from Jesus. In other words through what they say and teach.

Since being a disciple is to follow after what someone teaches, and being Jesus’ disciple is to follow His Word (what He teaches) then to depart from what Jesus’ Word teaches and to follow what someone else teaches on the subject IS to stop being His disciple and to become that other person’s disciple!

We need to be VERY CAREFUL about who’s words and teachings we are following after.

The most important question we need to ask ourselves when anyone teaches, is not,’ does it sound good’, or ‘does is seem to be right’ or ‘is it in line with what my denomination teaches’

(if you are more interested in following after what your denomination teaches above what Jesus Word teaches, then you are ‘that denominations’ disciple which may not necessarily be a disciple of Jesus Christ, if what that denomination is teaching is not in line with Jesus’ Word)

The most important question we need to ask ourselves when anyone else teaches is, ‘Is this in line with what Jesus’ Word teaches?’

If it is not in line with Jesus Word, and you follow after it, then in that area you have departed from being a follower of Jesus Christ.

We cannot just use the term ‘disciple of Jesus’ or ‘follower of Jesus’ loosely! It means something very specific. It means to follow after what HE taught. So to depart from what He taught is to depart from being His disciple! It is that simple.

Acts 20:29-30

:29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

:30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

In these verses, Paul shows how people will arise from within the church, but what they will actually be doing is drawing people away from following Jesus (in other words following Jesus’ Word) and getting these people to follow what THEY say and teach.

 

How can we protect ourselves from being drawn away?

The answer is simple: By sticking closely to what His Word teaches.

The more closely you follow His Word on any issue, the less likely you are to be drawn away from it. If you begin to argue with and disagree with the Word and listen to someone else who is saying something contrary to His Word, you risk being drawn away.

There is a lot within the church today that is labelled as Christian which when examined in the light of His Word is actually a departure from what His Word teaches!

Paul spoke to Timothy about these issues as well:

2 Timothy 2:15-19

:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

:16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

:17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,

:18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

1) Rightly Divide the Word

In these verses, Paul first tells Timothy to ‘be diligent’ (the Greek word here means to ‘make effort, labour, study’).

Why is he to be diligent and to study? So that he will be an approved worker, who rightly divides the Word.

According to Strong’s Dictionary, the Greek Word translated ‘rightly divide’ is:

orthotomeo, a compound word meaning ‘to make a straight cut, i.e. (figuratively) to dissect (expound) correctly (the divine message)’

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., 1890

We are to correctly ‘dissect’ the Divine message. In other words ‘what God says’ or ‘His Word’ It is important that we be diligent to correctly dissect what God says. We don’t want to incorrectly dissect it!

When you dissect something, you cut and separate it’s parts and examine it in detail. This is how people study God’s Word. They examine it in detail and separate it’s subjects to help understand it better.

This can be done correctly, or incorrectly – and depending upon which, will determine whether you come out with truth or lies. Either your ‘dissection’ will be in line with what He teaches, or will be wrong conclusions drawn from what His Word teaches.

 

2) Shun the message which overthrows people’s faith

After telling Timothy to ‘be diligent to correctly dissect the Word’, Paul warns about people who will come in with ‘idle babblings’. He says how their ‘message’ will spread like cancer.

Once again this is talking about what people are ‘saying’ and ‘teaching’. Their babblings and their message.

Paul says that these people’s message will cause people to stray off the truth and for their faith to be ‘overthrown’

The Greek word translated ‘strayed’ means to miss the mark.

In other words Paul is talking about people who come in an bring a message that is ‘off the mark’, and it causes people’s faith to be overthrown.

Be careful who and what you follow. Don’t just follow after any and everyone’s teachings. Do you want to be THEIR disciple of Jesus’ Disciple?

Learn to stick closely to Jesus Word and ‘shun’ (The Greek word here means ‘keep away from’) things that oppose what He taught.

 

For many years now, there have been those who have opposed things like the teaching of healing, prosperity and the Word of Faith teaching. These people have claimed that the Prosperity teachings and the Word of Faith teachings are a departure from God’s Word.

I propose to you that the EXACT OPPOSITE is the case. The Word of faith is a return to what The Word teaches, while those who say faith and prosperity are NOT of God (and claim to defend Christianity) are in truth defending their own teaching, and not really defending what Jesus taught.

The REAL issue we need to ask is – what does HIS Word teach. To follow Him means to follow His Word. If His Word teaches something, then to argue with it and to go against it is to NOT be following Him!

Many people have had their faith in God and in His Word overthrown, because they followed after someone’s teaching that told them things like ‘prosperity of not of God or is not scriptural etc.’

(we will examine the scriptural validity of teaching on faith and prosperity in other articles)

Who’s message and teachings you follow makes ALL the difference. That is what determines who’s disciple you are

There are those in the Church today who teach THEIR opinions, and label it ‘Christian’. That cannot be so. To follow their opinions and not Jesus on ANY subject makes you THEIR disciple, not Jesus’ disciple in that area.

The church is not a place for everyone’s opinions to be taught. The church is about following Jesus, so only what His Word teaches matters. To follow anything else, including anyone’s opinions makes you THEIR follower, not Jesus’ followers!

We need to look closely to the Word on every thing people claim and label as Christian, or ‘acceptable church doctrine’.

Learn to be like the Berean church in the book of Acts, who checked out what Paul was teaching, to ensure it was ‘scriptural’

Act 17:10-13

:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.

:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

:12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

When Paul arrived in Berea, He did not find a cynical and sceptical group of people who were suspicious of everything He said!

That is how SOME today think you must approach every subject being taught in church. They approach everything they hear with a cynical and sceptical attitude, looking negatively at it until you ‘prove it to me’. They are missing it as much as those who are trying to teach their own opinion and call it Christian!

Being a good disciple does not mean you have a negative attitude toward everything ‘new’ you hear taught. What it means is being open and receptive, maintaining a neutral stance, until you have had the chance to check it against Jesus’ Word on the issue.

Since we follow Jesus, we need to see what His Word says on everything, in order to check whether we can go with what we are hearing.

Here in the Berean church, we see that they were receptive. They received the Word with all ‘readiness’. But they did not stop at that. They then went and checked it out in ‘the scriptures’ to see if it lined up.

They were not cynical and sceptical, they were receptive, but they also had the sense to check it out in the Word. That is how we ought to be today.
There are some who have taken it upon themselves to ‘defend the doctrines of Christianity’ when in truth they are actually defending their own opinion, which they have labelled Christianity! We need to be sure we are defending the right thing.

 

How do we know what is the right TRUTH to defend?

Do we look to ‘what the church has always taught?

What if the church itself has departed from it’s foundation – and is therefore itself off in an area? Then we cannot see it as a reliable doctrine to defend!

The only way we can properly know what is THE truth we are to defend and be open to is to go back to the start, the foundation, the beginning point of the church and to examine what those who it is built upon taught!

This includes the teachings of Jesus Himself and the teachings of those HE specifically commissioned to lay down foundational doctrine:

Ephesians 2:20

:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

 

Many people have failed to appreciate the central importance of the Word of God in our Christian lives. The Word is our source of truth. We are to base our beliefs and teachings in the church upon the Word of God. Everything we do in the church must be built on, based on and guided by scripture. We don’t just do things because they are nice, sound good or are good ideas; we are to do things because they are scriptural.
For Part 1 of this series, click here

For part 3 of this series (coming soon)

 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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