Disciple of Christ – What Does It Mean to be a True Christian?
Do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Christ? “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The Bible declares, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The Bible also says, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Therefore, to be saved from our sins, and thus from the sting of death, we must: (1) confess Jesus as Lord, and (2) believe that after He died upon the cross for our sins, He was raised from the dead. It goes without saying, that Jesus will not be our Savior apart from us proclaiming Him as sovereign Lord. Part of salvation includes believing in our heart that Jesus Christ is truly Lord over life and death.
Disciple of Christ – What Does it Mean to Make Jesus our Sovereign Lord?
Part of being a disciple of Christ is stewardship and repentance. If God is sovereign, He owns everything. If God owns everything, we own nothing. We don’t so much as own the bodies we possess. The Bible says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ… ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
We don’t have ownership rights — we have management responsibilities. This basic realization is the foundation for Christian stewardship. Good stewardship is the wise management of God’s property (you, your health, your money, your time, etc.), including how you invest it as His steward.
One fundamental lesson we as Christians must learn is: God knows best! God knows everything! He loves us as children (adopted into the family through Christ) and has set principles for us to live by in His Word, the Bible. We must follow God’s principles. They are for our own protection. We live in a hostile world that has willfully rejected its Creator God, and we, as His children, are not immune to the world’s trials, tribulations and temptations. Once we learn this hard lesson, and we outgrow the childish notion that we know better than God, then it’s easier to submit to Him and say, “Lord, forgive me, I was wrong… I’ve been living a life you disapprove of and I want to change. Help me to live the life you approve of.” This is the essence of repentance. To repent is to regret your sin, denounce your sin, turn from your sin, and turn to God.
Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). The Apostles “went out and preached that people should repent” (Mark 6:12). Jesus declared, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord… ” (Acts 3:19).
We all want a Savior. To be a disciple of Christ, we need a sovereign Lord. How do we accept Jesus Christ as sovereign Lord? We need to give Him the place in our lives that He deserves and requires, and repent of our old ways. We must be born-again. We all have a choice. We can either live our life the way we please, obeying God and disobeying God as we feel is best, or we can recognize that Christ alone offers salvation. Christ alone offers a relationship with God. Christ alone offers significance and purpose to life that we can never achieve by our own wisdom or might — a significance and purpose the world cannot offer. Trust in Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation, and trust that He is truly worthy of first place in your life.
Disciple of Christ – So What’s a Born-again Christian?
A disciple of Christ has truly been reborn. A born-again Christian is one who both believes in God AND receives Him. As a result, the believer/receiver is born again into the family of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Disciple of Christ – Test Your Heart!
A disciple of Christ should constantly check his heart. The Bible warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) We are warned about false conversion. How can we be certain we have accepted salvation and surrendered our lives to the Lord? The Bible tells us, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There are signs — warning signs to look for — to determine whether or not we’ve done what ultimately every born-again Christian has done: surrendered our will to God… not only in our head but also in our heart. Think of it this way, “What is my driving purpose?” Everybody has a driving purpose in life. It’s that thing that is tied to how we spend our most valuable commodity — time. It’s that area in our life where, when we’re successful we’re the most exhilarated, and when we have a set back, we’re the most frustrated, even depressed. Take inventory of your life and examine the areas that trigger these highs and lows. You’ll discover that these areas are closely tied to your driving purpose. True born-again Christians recognize that Jesus Christ needs to be our driving purpose. While false Christians proclaim Jesus is Lord with their mouths, true Christians proclaim Jesus is Lord with their lives.
As disciples of Christ, we need to surrender all of our lives to Him so that He is central, not just one of many fancies competing for our attention. Once we make the decision to put Christ first, and once we begin making the necessary adjustments to our routine to accommodate this decision, He is faithful to bring about the heart changes. Don’t be discouraged immediately when the wicked imaginations of your heart continue to manifest themselves in your mind. Don’t think that somehow you’re going to change your heart overnight. That’s what God does – over time. We can’t do it for ourselves. We just submit to Him and ask Him to do that for us. It’s called the process of “sanctification,” and it continues throughout our entire lives. It becomes a source of great joy in our life as we witness the tremendous changes God makes in our heart. The way we see people and situations will change as God gives us “the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Romans 7:18 — 8:14 tells us that while we can’t change our hearts ourselves, we can and should ignore our carnal lusts, choosing instead to live for the things of God. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:19-25). “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: …put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, …put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).
Disciple of Christ – The Fruit of the Spirit
For the disciple of Christ, there is a huge difference between just knowing God, and actually submitting ourselves to God for the saving of our souls and the renewing of our minds. The Bible says, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:18-20) Does this mean we are saved by our works and not by grace of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). No, James is saying that there is a difference between knowing about God and submitting to God. The demons know of God, but they won’t willingly submit to Him. On the other hand, Christians both know and willingly submit to God. The good works — the fruit of the Spirit — manifests itself in the life of a true believer. If we read the rest of the Ephesians passage about grace we see, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Disciple of Christ – How Do I Know That I Am Truly Saved?
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).
What are God’s commandments for His disciples? In a nutshell – Love!
“‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
Choose God by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ; love God by putting Him first in your life; and love your neighbor by placing his needs over your own. This is the fulfillment of God’s Law.
Disciple of Christ – A Warning to All of Us!
Dear disciples of Christ, “‘Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.’ And He said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'” (Mark 4:3-9)
Jesus spoke this parable to the crowd that had gathered. He explains the idioms to His disciples in private: “And He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:13-20).
The Devil is intent upon steering you away from faith in God. He wants very much to cause you to doubt your salvation and limit any type of growth in your Christian life. He does this in four obvious ways:
• Propose teachings and philosophies to deny God even exists (ex. evolutionary theory).
• Make Christianity look hypocritical and divisive.
• Supply plenty of false religions and vain philosophies to fill the apparent voids.
• Distract you with the “lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16)
We are warned, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). “‘Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the son;” (Hebrews 10:38-39).
The Bible was written to lead the sinner to repentance and to give the believer encouragement. READ YOUR BIBLE OFTEN! “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Never doubt in darkness what God has shown you in the light!