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Every disciple of Christ is a Christian. But NOT all religious Christians are disciple of Christ. The Bible teaches everyone to be "followers of God as dear children" (Eph 5:1). Jesus was exactly like His Father. He bade His disciples, "Follow Me" (Mt 4:19). Then comes the third stage. Apostle Paul urged his converts, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). The teaching of the Bible confirms that this chain should not be broken but continue from generation to generation. A chain smoker cried, "Don't tell me why; show me how!" We are desperately in need of men and women who can lead by example, being role models. We have often heard preachers say, "Don't look at me; look at Jesus!" This is nothing but escapism and sheer hypocrisy. Concerning such debasing examples among the religious leaders of His day Jesus warned the people, "Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works" (Mt 23:3). On the other hand Paul challenged, "Join in following my example... the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do" (Phil 3:17; 4:9). It is the sacred responsibily of everyone in any leadership capacity to present before his "little ones" a lifestyle that's unoffensive and praiseworthy (Lk 17:1,2 This is the last of four things one must do to be a disciple after being born again: 1. Continue being willing to follow Jesus (Mk. 8:34; Jn. 7:17; 12:26) 2. Deny himself daily; renounce all self- dependence, self- interests, and self- pursuits which are contrary to God (Mk. 8:34; Rom. 6:16- 23 8:1- 13 Gal. 5:19- 24 Col. 3:1- 10) 3. Take up the cross daily (Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23; Rom. 6:11- 13 8:12- 13 Col. 1:23; 2:6- 7 3:5- 10) 4. Follow Christ daily, not for a while (notes, Jn. 10:26- 28) Ten Tests of Discipleship: 1. World persecution (Mt. 10:25; Jn. 15:18) 2. Fearless preaching (Mt. 10:26- 27) 3. Fearless consecration (Mt. 10:28) 4. Fearless faith (Mt. 10:29- 31 Heb. 11) 5. Bold confession of Christ (Mt. 10:32- 33) 6. Family persecution (Mt. 10:34- 36 19:29) 7. Putting God first (Mt. 10:37; 22:37) 8. Bearing the cross daily (Mt. 10:38; Lk. 9:23) 9. Following Christ (Mt. 10:38; Jn. 10:27) 10. Denying oneself (Mt. 10:39; Rom. 8:1- 13) What are the signs if you are a disciple of Jesus? "...gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases" Christ gave them power. They did not have it until He gave it to them, nor could they heal. After receiving it though, they healed (Lk. 9:6; Mk. 6:7- 13). "all power and authority over all devils See Mt. 10:1- 8 Lk. 10:1- 20. They were commissioned to heal all the sick in every city they entered, as proof that the kingdom of God had come to them and that God's representatives were in their midst. How we need such representation today! The kingdom of God is still not in word only, "but in power" (1Cor. 4:20; 2Tim. 1:7). Christian Perfection means growing from holiness to holiness, righteousness to righteousness, and victory to victory, by looking to Jesus (Rev 22:11b). When we finally meet Him, "we shall be like Him!" (1 Jn 3:2).
The assumption of Jesus is that all of His people would live their lives as His students and co-labourers. They would find Him so admirable in every respect - wise, beautiful, powerful and good, that they would constantly seek to be in His presence and be guided, instructed and helped by Him in every part of their lives. This means that we would 'conform to everything that I have commanded you' (Matt 28:20). In His presence our inner life will be transformed and we will become the kind of people for whom His course of action is the natural, and supernatural, course of action for us. Plainly, in the eyes of Jesus there is no good reason for not doing what He said to do, for He only tells us to do what is best. He has made a way for us into easy and happy obedience, into personal fulfillment, and that is apprenticeship to Him, which is Christian 'discipleship'. His gospel is a gospel for life and Christian discipleship. All of this is stating, that in actually doing what Jesus knows is best for us, we build a life that is absolutely indestructible, 'on the rock' (1 Cor 10:14). The most important point is that it is one of an inward transformation by discipleship to Jesus, which results in the 'agape' that comes to characterize the core of our personality. But if I am to be someone's disciple, apprentice, then there is one absolutely necessary condition, and that is that I must be with that person. This is what it means to follow Jesus. The personal presence of Jesus with individuals and groups was soon to be understood by Jesus's first students to be the practical reality of the KIngdom of God now on earth. Unfortunately, the relentlessly legalistic bent of the human soul has led many to believe that engulfment in the Spirit with outward manifestations, whether they be signs and wonders, other tongues, poverty, chastity and obedience, power to convert unbelievers, or certain practices. However, the reality is an inner one, a hidden one, with 'the Father who is in secret' and which through the Spirit is then evident in love. Being a disciple of Jesus is an obvious kind of thing, and there is no reason why anyone should be in doubt because is is difficult to doubt is one is a student of someone else, and the evidence thereof will be quite clear. However, it is almost universally conceded that one can be a Christian without being a disciple. It would seem that we have done something that never occurred to Jesus or His disciples, and that is to separate Christianity and discipleship into two different forms of living. Jesus' assumption was that as soon as one accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, then that person was automatically a disciple. However, today some can accept Jesus as Savior and 'not be bothered' to follow Him every day, or adopt His teachings as being trans-formative to their lives. On the other hand, anyone who is an apprentice of Jesus in their daily existence is sure to be a 'Christian' in every sense that matters. The term 'Christian' was introduced in the New Testament, where it was introduced three times to apply to disciples when they could no longer be referred to as Jews. As a disciple of Jesus, I am with Him, by choice and by grace, learning from Him how to live in the Kingdom of God with His life flowing through mine.Thus, I am learning to live my life as He would live it if He were me. But that is a choice, a life-changing choice, and thus there are those who profess to be Christians and yet do not daily make the choice to deliberately 'follow' Him by engaging with disciplines in order to place themselves before Him, and thus do not manifest any changes in their lives, no fruit of the Spirit, and thus cannot be defined as 'disciples' of Jesus. The whole of my daily existence should be the focus of discipleship.
My preference is to identify the 12 as Apostles, the 70 or so as disciples. I believe that distinction is important in clarifying the relationship to others. Today we could be identified as disciples, but that is rarely used. 99% of the time we are simply Christians, the offspring of the Jewish Messiah (Christ), having been grafted in. A more appropriate term today would be "Follower of Jesus," but we are waaaaaaay beyond adjusting to that.
Disciples today are no different than the disciples in Christ's time. Apostles had seen the risen Christ, which is why that term should never be used for anyone today. But disciples are those dedicated to becoming Christ-like. That was true then and it's true now.
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