An Examination of Discipleship

 

"And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much (many) people. And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11v26.

You see a believer comes to Christ, a disciple comes after Christ!

In Antioch the disciples were known and noted as Christ's ones (Christians) Why? Because they were truly committed to following Him. Could it be dear folks that in these days, Christians need to be known and noted again as disciples? Why do I ask such a question? Because beloved, we live in the day of Christian opinion. You have your opinion, I have my opinion, he has his opinion, she has her opinion, they have their opinion and everyone but every one is acting according to their own opinion. But why was it that the disciples were known and noted as Christ's ones or Christians? Simply because they followed and valued His opinion. It was His opinion that was the driving force of this motley crew. And I mean what a ragbag of diverse people they were, but they became followers of Him, that's why people first called them Christians. Today we are know as Christians but there is nothing much of that distinctive disciple attitude about us.

Its most interesting that the word disciple and the word discipline come from the same root word meaning 'taught one' 'trained one'! We are to walk even as He walked! Discipleship means discipline. The disciple is one who has come with his ignorance, superstition, and sin to find learning, truth, and forgiveness from the Saviour. Without discipline we are not disciples.

In this context the great commission is a very potent statement!

"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the father, and the son, and the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matt. 28v19-20.

That simply put means, go and make disciples. Not converts mind you, but disciples.

Discipline means to train to self-control, train to obedience, to render effective by restraint.

No horse is reliable until he can bite the bit and bear the harness!

No steam ever drives an engine unless it is confined!

No waterfall is ever turned into light and power unless it is funnelled!

No life ever grows God ward until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined by the Lord Jesus Christ.

If I follow my own opinion or indeed the opinion of others, I cannot be a true disciple. "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master." At first sight this looks like an enormous honour: to be "as his Master" is marvellous glory-is it? Look at Jesus as he was when he was here, it was anything but glory. He was easily ignorable, saving to those who knew him intimately; to the majority of men he was "as a root out of a dry ground." For thirty years he was obscure. For three years he went through popularity, scandal, and hatred; he succeeded in gathering a handful of fishermen as disciples, one of whom betrayed him, one denied him, and all forsook him; and he says, "It is enough for you to be like that." The idea of evangelical success, church prosperity, civilised manifestation, does not come into it at all. Oswald Chambers.

Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entries 2812-2813.

Look at the Types of Disciple spoken of!
Some Are Inquisitive About Christ: Luke 9v11,13,18.
People had gathered in great numbers to hear Jesus in this early part of His ministry; they had a real inquisitive ear to hear what He was saying. They really did want to hear this new teacher. It becomes so very interesting as the time goes by, because you discover, of this inquisitive crowd, as Jesus came nearer to the cross that crowd thinned out considerably. Things have not changed much in our day. The crowd today is still inquisitive; they are still passing from meeting to meeting looking for something new, something exciting. They don’t stay long, they don’t believe much, just as long as things go with some kind of a bang they will hang around for a while, but all too quickly they are bored and need to move on to the next excitement and sensation. Sadly, The Word preached does not profit them Hebrews 4v4.

Some Are Identified With Christ: Luke 9v18,19,20.
Here are some that know the Master on a very personal basis, even when he asked leading questions they knew the answer. "Whom do men say that I am?" "Do you really know who I am?" without hesitation Peter had the answer! "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

We live in a time when many identify with the Lord Jesus Christ; they even know well the evangelical language. They have been Evangelised, Baptised and Catechised but have never given themselves to such searching and study of the Word of God as to have a determined aim of life change. They may be able to argue, analyse, dispensationalise and spiritualise but they never produce godly, practical living. The idea of knowing, having thoughts, working things out is not enough, it must display itself in my life. You see, even with such an excellent answer when it came down to what really mattered Peter fell apart.

Let me quickly add just here as an aside, failure does not mean we are finished, as this amazing period in Peter's life proves. As Dr. John Phillips reminds us, it was in John chapter 21 that Jesus 'Recalled Peter's Failure' 'Rekindled Peter's Fervour' and 'Reshaped Peter's Future' very forcibly revealing to us that failure need not be final.

Great accomplishments are often attempted but only occasionally reached. Those who reach them are usually those who missed many times before. Failures are only temporary tests to prepare us for permanent triumphs. Charles R. Swindoll.

Some Are Involved With Christ: v23.
"And He said unto them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

One only becomes a true disciple when they become totally involved with Jesus Christ. It is the way the Master went should not the servant tread it still.

Everywhere there is apathy. Few seem to care whether that which is preached is true or false. A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter the better. C. H. Spurgeon.

If Spurgeon was correct in his day, and I believe with all my heart he was, then compare that dear man of God's attitude toward preaching with the prevailing opinion of our day. One, well known preacher, says Dr. John MacArthur in his book 'Ashamed of the Gospel' page 12, was venting his own loathing for long sermons. January 1 was coming, so he resolved to do better in the coming year. "That means wasting less time listening to long sermons and spending much more time preparing shorts ones," he wrote. "People I've discovered, will forgive even poor theology as long as they get out before noon." (James Buckingham, "Wasted Time," Charisma (December 1998), 98.

This from Dr. Vance Havner:

"We need men and women of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross. The church has devised a new cross today: an ornament to wear around the neck or on our lapel, we wear it like a charm, a holy horseshoe. But such an ornament does not interfere with godless living, never goes against the grain of the old nature." End quote!

There have always been the bread seekers John 6v26, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled."

There have always been the badge wearers Rev. 3v1c "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and are dead."

There must be the burden bearers Luke 9v23, " And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me."

Not deny himself, herself, things. No! Deny self, crucify self. Paul puts it like this in Romans 13v14. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."

Look At The Tests For Disciples Spoken Of!
The Test Of Relationship: Luke 14v26.
"And 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."

The terms of the test are set high. But then down through the centuries the same commitment was called for with respect to our young men going off to war. Did they not love their own life, their father and mother, their brother and sister, their sweethearts? Of course they did. But something of greater importance came up, if life was to be safe again and our country to become free of tyranny, these young men had to walk away from that which they loved best as thought they did not love and give themselves sacrificially for their best good. This is what Jesus wants and indeed what Jesus needs from us.

This from Dr. G. Campbell Morgan. (The Gospel According to Luke) Page 177.

When we talk about the severity of the first line of His terms, the question that arises is this; is the Christ to have a loyalty lower than the loyalty of our boys and yours to their country's call? He calls for much; he calls for everything. He calls for the march that may have no return, and can have no compromise. End quote!

What do we love best and first? You see, what we love usually manages to get into our conversation. What is down in the well of the heart will come up in the bucket of speech.

Our relationship means a great deal to Him, what does it mean to us? His plan for us is so very clear. 1 John 4v17b puts it like this as Dr. John Phillips reminds us.

The Plan "As He is" The Pledge "So are we" The Place "In this world".

How do you fare in the test of relationship? Are you working hard at maintaining and enhancing that relationship?

B. The Test Of Lordship: Luke 14v27.

"And whosoever doeth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."

Scripture consistently declares the Lordship of Christ. He is Lord in Judgement. He is Lord of Sabbath. He is Lord over all Acts 10v36. He is called Lord (kurios) some 747 times in the New Testament. Its interesting that the book of the Acts refers to Him 92 times as Lord, while only on two occasions is Jesus called Saviour. Clearly, the preaching of those early days had the Lordship of Christ at its very heart. A.W.Tozer in his book, 'I call it heresy' says this.

"To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work." End quote!

The test of true discipleship is the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord in all that we do and say. This is a call to 'Perfect Obedience' no mental reservations, no heart rivals. This is a call to 'Personal Obedience' "Whatsoever He saith to you" This is a call to 'Purposeful Obedience' "Do it."

General Montgomery, during World War 2 was sent to North Africa to relieve the allies. They had become hemmed in and were loosing men quickly, Monty was sent to get them out of the mess. On arrival he discovered that the orders given were being discussed but not obeyed. He immediately made it known death would be the penalty for disobedience, and the end result was an amazing victory.

We are in great danger today with our Discussion groups, our simmers, our think tanks and talk-ins, of talking about the commands of the Lord instead of doing them.

C. The Test of Stewardship: Luke 14v33.

"So likewise, whosoever of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

Are we controlled by things, or do we have control of things?

Maybe right now you are saying, well now, just wait a minute, I can't or won't go that far. Well then, let me ask you a question. Do you consider things, trusts that have been given you to use for the Lord, or, do you consider things, treasures to be used for your enjoyment? Now on your answer to that hinges your outcome. Lord, I'll trust you with my soul, I'll trust you with my health, Ill trust you with my loved ones, I'll even take up my cross and follow you. But if I am to give up all my things what will I have? Peter asked the very same question. Matt. 19v27.

"Then answered Peter and said unto him, behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee, what shall we have therefore?"

Jesus answered Peter in v 28-29, do you know what? Peter was getting 100% return on his investment.

You thinking to yourself today, its always go a little further, be a little better, do a little extra, give a little more. Well, I have had enough, I've given enough, I'm dedicated enough I've gone far enough, I've read enough, I've prayed enough, I've witnessed enough, I'm enough of a Christian. I can do no more!

Read Matt. 10v25. "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master."

Folks, it is only enough when the disciple is as his master!

I'm satisfied with Jesus, but the question comes to me,

As I think of Calvary, is my master satisfied with me!

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