There is quite a difference between just being a Christian and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a Christian, but a Christian is not necessarily a disciple. Compared to discipleship it is quite easy to become a Christian. If one is aware of his need for salvation, it is only necessary to repent and believe on Jesus Christ as Savior. God is always faithful to forgive sins and to set one free from his guilt. Since the atonement for sin has already been accomplished, one only needs to have faith in Christ and to believe in a finished work.
Much more is required to become a disciple. To be a disciple you must walk in a submission to the Lord. It means that you have set your heart to walk with Him, to learn to love Him, and to know Him. He becomes the Lord over your life.
Every Christian refers to Jesus Christ as Lord. In fact, almost everyone calls Him “Lord.” Even so, there are very few who relate to Him in that way. The term “Lord” has become a title without much meaning to many people. Nevertheless, submission to His Lordship must become a way of life for us.
Luke 14:26 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.
Every relationship must be yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). That means He will not share His place as Lord with someone else. There cannot be two masters over us (Matthew 6:24). Every relationship must take a lesser place to the Lord. Actually, it is only then that other relationships can be as meaningful as the Lord wants them to be.
Luke 14:27 And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.
Now that doesn’t mean that you will be a disciple if you have the stamina to endure troubles and difficult trials. Bearing the cross is much more than that. The idea is to get on the cross and let God deal with you until the self-life begins dying, and then to stay on the cross until the work is completed.
John the Baptist said, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). How wonderful it would be if the work of the cross could be completed in a momentary experience. The day may come when it will be that quick, but for now it is usually a process. One reason it takes so long is because we don’t want to be disciples enough to lay our lives on the altar. We must be willing to say, “Lord, let this old self-life be crucified. I want to know you!”
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.
This simply means that everything we have is no longer our own possession, but the Lord’s. Whatever we have, He is the Lord over it. He is also the Lord over our relationships, as well as Lord over everything we are. We cannot hold one little phase or aspect of our being to ourselves and say, “This part I’m going to keep for myself. I am going to be lord over this part of my life.” No, He has to be the Lord, totally and completely.
We are given a key to discipleship in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel. There we find Jesus teaching in the temple. As He ministers to the people, they ask Him a question.
John 8:25-32 Then said
they unto Him, Who art Thou? And Jesus said unto them, Even the same that I
said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but He that sent Me is true: and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.
27 They understood not that He spoke to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things.
29 And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.
30 As He spoke these words, many believed on Him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed;
32 And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.
Discipleship does not come automatically by accepting Jesus as Savior. That is only the first step toward becoming a disciple. Therefore Jesus says, “Set your heart to grow spiritually, dedicate yourself to becoming a real disciple, continue in the Word. Then you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” What is this Truth we must know?
John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.
Jesus Christ is the Truth. Having correct doctrines does not necessarily mean you know the Truth. Biblically speaking, correct facts and doctrines are only the truth when the nature of the Lord is in them. It is knowing Him that counts.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.
A disciple is one who sets his heart to know the Lord. Above everything else he wants to really know the Lord.
Christianity has become just a religion for many people. It was never meant to be that, though. The Lord God did not send His Son to begin a new religion. The Lord Jesus Christ came to open the door and make a way for us to know Him and the Father. This is the key to everything.
We must learn to know the Lord, and that takes place as we experience His presence. He is not a distant, vague being somewhere up in the sky. He is the Lord, and He wants us to know Him.
It’s time for Christians to get serious about their relationship with the Lord. Set your heart; be a disciple! Be determined that your church will be a disciple, too. Paul tells what kind of a church the Lord is expecting us to become in his epistle to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands,
love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;
26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,
27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Generally speaking, we cannot find that kind of church yet. The church-world is very religious and lukewarm. It is like the Laodicean church in Revelation chapter three.
Since the Lord is looking for a glorious church, is it wise for us to be lukewarm? Is it wise to accept Jesus as our Savior, and then continue to order our own steps, doing our own thing? Clearly the Church has not yet become what He wants it to be. It is not without spot or blemish. But it must become that. Pray for the Church! Intercede in its behalf!
The first thing we must do is to really want to be disciples of the Lord. Individuals submitting to His Lordship is the first step toward bringing the Church under His Lordship.
We determine the Lordship of Jesus by our submission to Him as Lord. In other words, lordship is relative. It denotes a relationship. When we are saved, He becomes our Savior. But that doesn’t make Him our Lord. A different relationship is required for that. To be a father one must have a child; to be a teacher one must have a student. And for Jesus to be Lord there must be disciples. Discipleship makes Him Lord.
Copyright © 1997 by Henry DuBose