Search

Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between

Category

Discipleship

Discipleship: The External Characteristics of a Disciple

discipleship_graphic1aMatthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples”. This was Jesus’ final command to his disciples as He left this earth to return to the Father in heaven—five simple words that form one small statement. But this final command of Jesus summarizes His purpose for those who call themselves His followers, His disciples, those who wish to learn from Him. While this commission from Jesus has been performed for millennia since the ascension, it is often vague or misunderstood so that those who believe themselves to be “making disciples” really are not. So what does a disciple-maker do? What does it look like for one to make a disciple? In order to make disciples one must know what a disciple is, what the internal characteristics of a disciple are, what the external characteristics of a disciple are, how Jesus made disciples, how one will make disciples, as well as what success will look like in making disciples. This series will engage those topics continuing with: The External Characteristics of a Disciple. The gospel of John lays out the external characteristics of a disciple which include an abiding in the word, a loving one another, and bearing fruit.

First, a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ will abide in the word. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus used the verb abide, which means to remain, to dwell, to continue or to have a determined resolve.[1] This word carries with it the type of resolve a dog shows when it really wants to chase a ball, but stays put because the owner told the dog to “sit”. Paul uses the same word when he speaks of his desire to be with Christ yet truth that he will ‘remain’ in the flesh (Philippians 1:21-25). This type of abiding gives assurance to a genuine disciple. Confidence is built by consistence. And the consistent abiding for a believer is in the word. This word is the Jesus’ teaching, His example, His life, His commands. This word is the Word of God. It is this Word that God points us back to over and over and over again (Psalm 1, Psalm 119, Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Hebrews 2:1-4). Disciples abide in the word.Jonah

Second, a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ will love one another. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This type of love is one that cherishes. it is a love that is a determined, willful, selfless love. It is the love Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 13 as, patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not iinsistingon its own way, not rejoicing with wrong, but rejoicing with the truth.  This love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. This love never ends. This is the love disciples show to one another. It is a love they display to other believers. It comes out in a multiplicity of actions (Mark 9:50, Romans 12:10, Romans 14:19, Romans 15:7, 14, Galatians 5:13, James 5:16). But the ultimate example of this love was in Jesus Himself who died for the sins of others (1 John 4:9-11). Disciples love one another.

Third, a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ will bear fruit. In John 15:7-8 Jesus says, “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.” The verb to bear means to produce, to follow a course, or to demonstrate the reality.[2] Jesus is illustrating for us the truth that a branch does not bear anything unless it is connected to the vine or tree. And as disciples of Jesus people will bear fruit. Fruit in this teaching of Jesus is referring to actions. Other places in the gospels Jesus constantly referred to actions as fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). And the ultimate fruit of disciple is described in Galatians 5:22. This fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These actions come as one has the Spirit that comes through connection with the Vine, Jesus Christ. Disciples bear fruit.

fruitSo are you a disciple? Are you evidencing the eexternal characteristics of a disciple? Do you find yourself abiding in the word? Is there a love for other believers evidenced in your life? Finally, are you bearing the fruit of the Spirit?

Make sure to stop by next week where this series on discipleship continues with How Jesus Made Disciples!

[1] Robert H. Mounce, “John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 479.

[2] Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Discipleship: The Internal Characteristics of a Disciple

discipleship_graphic1aMatthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples”. This was Jesus’ final command to his disciples as He left this earth to return to the Father in heaven—five simple words that form one small statement. But this final command of Jesus summarizes His purpose for those who call themselves His followers, His disciples, those who wish to learn from Him. While this commission from Jesus has been performed for millennia since the ascension, it is often vague or misunderstood so that those who believe themselves to be “making disciples” really are not. So what does a disciple-maker do? What does it look like for one to make a disciple? In order to make disciples one must know what a disciple is, what the characteristics of a disciple are, how Jesus made disciples, how one will make disciples, as well as what success will look like in making disciples. This series will engage those topics continuing with: The Internal Characteristics of a Disciple. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus lays out the internal characteristics of a disciple which include a desire to follow, a denial of self, and a decision to suffer.

3_common_traits_of_youth_who_dont_leave_the_church_120240090First, true disciples of Christ have an overarching desire to follow Christ. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “would”. This is not a “well if you want to” type of word. It means a strong desire. It means to want strongly. Jesus is telling us here that a disciples attitude is that of strong desire to follow Him. Too often this is not the case, as Jesus records an instance in Matthew 19:17-21. In this passage a rich young ruler comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life and be perfect. Jesus’ answer is simply “if you would enter life…” and “if you would be perfect…”. After each of these statements Jesus gives all that is required for someone who wishes to have eternal life and to be perfect. But in saying “if you would” Jesus is actually testing the young rulers desire. Jesus is describing the relationship between actions and attitude. He is saying if the desire was really as great as you say it is, you would be coming. If someone truly desires, strongly desires to follow Jesus. They will come! They will take action. They will move. But that action, that movement will be motivated by a deep desire! Disciples desire to follow Jesus.

Second, genuine believers in Jesus Christ are willing to deny themselves for the sake of Christ. The attitude of a disciples is that of rejection and refusal. It is an emphatic refuting of something. Peter gives us an example of just what denying actually is. Three times on the night Jesus was arrested Peter denies Jesus. Matthew 26:69-74 records the resulting denial of Peter. As Peter is addressed three separate times, he denies Jesus. However, with each inquiry to Peter’s association with Jesus, he grows more and more emphatic in his denial. By the third time, Peter is so enraged and does not want to be regarded as with Jesus that he even changes the way he speaks by swearing. Peter is an example of what denying is. It is with all our might and actions refuting and refusing to accept something. But the disciple of Jesus does not deny Jesus, his denial is of himself. It is giving up what he wants, what he desires, what he is tempted to take. All people must remember there are only two options in denying people, Jesus or yourself (Luke 12:8-9). Disciples deny themselves.

golgotha-01Third, Jesus are people who decide they are willing to take up their cross and suffer for the sake of Christ. This decision is a grabbing, a raising up, a lifting up, and decision to carry something. The willingness to suffer for Jesus sake is something one decides to do. It is similar to my decision to willingly carry my eighteen month old son (who happens to weigh 30 pounds) while my wife and I go on walks. While we walk, if my son gets tired, one of us has to decide to suffer (i.e. carry 30 extra pounds) so that the walk may continue. But here is the thing:picking up my son affects how I walk, how far I can go, and how much work it will be. But the desire to keep walking, to keep going is so great that it is worth carrying him. My love for him and my wife causes me to quickly get over and often even overlook the fact that he weighs 30 pounds. My desire drives my decision! The decision to willing suffer as a disciple is to bear ones cross. The cross was an instrument of death. It was an instrument of torture. It was a symbol of your own demise. To take ones cross was to march to one’s own death; which is exactly what Jesus did for all of us (John 19:16-18, 30). Disciples Decide they are willing to suffer for the sake of Christ.

So are you a disciple? Are you evidencing the internal characteristics of a disciple? Do you find yourself desiring to follow Christ? Is there a denial of yourself in any area of your life? Finally, have you decided that you are willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Make sure to stop by next week where this series on discipleship continues with the external characteristics of a disciple!

Discipleship: What is a Disciple?

discipleship_graphic1aMatthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples”. This was Jesus’ final command to his disciples as He left this earth to return to the Father in heaven—five simple words that form one small statement. But this final command of Jesus summarizes His purpose for those who call themselves His followers, His disciples, those who wish to learn from Him. While this commission from Jesus has been performed for millennia since the ascension, it is often vague or misunderstood so that those who believe themselves to be “making disciples” really are not. So what does a disciple-maker do? What does it look like for one to make a disciple? In order to make disciples one must know what a disciple is, what the characteristics of a disciple are, how Jesus made disciples, how one will make disciples, as well as what success will look like in making disciples. This series will engage those topics starting with what a disciple is. We will examine a disciple as a follower, learner, and apprentice today.

First, a disciple is a follower. In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls His first disciples. In this passage Jesus is simply walking beside the Sea when He spots some fishermen out at sea. In the midst of His walk Jesus calls to these fishermen and gives one simple command, “Follow Me!”. The first thing Jesus does is give a call to follow. He simply wants the men to get to shore, get out of the boat, and follow Him. But He does not stop there. Jesus gives them a charge for their future as well. He tells them He will make them fishers of men. Jesus does not just call people to follow Him, but calls them to a purpose. And how do the fishermen respond? They follow Him…immediately. All of the men leave their nets, their boats, and fathers to follow Jesus. Disciples follow Jesus.Node-Christian-Education1-large1

Second, a disciple is a learner. In Matthew 5-7, after calling the fishermen to follow Him, Jesus proceeds to teach them. In 5:1-16 Jesus first teaches the disciples about themselves. He teaches them what a disciple looks like. He instructs them on what a follower of His really is like. Then in 5:17-20, Jesus continues by teaching them who He is and what He came to do. Christ informs them that He is not just a man keeping the Law, but the One who came to fulfill it. He is teaching them about His person and purpose. Finally, in 5:21-7:27 Jesus teaches the disciples about righteous living. The Son of God walks through seemingly every specific about righteous living for a follower of Jesus Christ. Disciples learn from Jesus.

Third, a disciple is an apprentice. In Matthew 14-15, Jesus enlists His disciples as fellow servants. In chapter 14 Jesus and the disciples are in the midst of 5,000 men and Jesus calls the disciples to feed the crowd. However, it is in this situation that the disciples not only recognize their lack of supply, but show their ignorance of the supplier. So Jesus provides a miraculous meal and has the disciples apprentice Him in serving the meal. As the next chapter unfolds, Matthew 15 records a similar situation, except this time the crowd is smaller and the supply larger. Unfortunately, again the disciples do not understand the supplier that they have before them. But before the end of the day, Jesus does empower them to serve yet again. So we see in these two chapters that Jesus’ followers actually serve alongside Him in ministry. Disciples are apprentices of Jesus.

golgotha-01In conclusion, while understanding that a disciple follows, learns, and is an apprentice is important, there is one foundation to every disciple of Jesus. This foundation is the confession Peter utters in Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. What Peter was uttering was divine revelation concerning the person of Jesus Christ. Peter was confessing Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. He was recognizing Jesus as the only God-man able to save him from his sin. This is the foundational belief of every disciple of Jesus Christ. Have you confessed this? Do you believe this? If so, how can you follow Jesus this week? How can you learn from Him? How will you serve as an apprentice of His?

Make sure to stop by next week where this series on discipleship continues with the internal characteristics of a disciple!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: