Discipleship and Discipleship
April 29, 2021
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
Christian discipleship begins with salvation. A person cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ unless and until he/she has surrendered to the call of Christ to salvation. That’s the truth behind, if anyone wants to be a follower of mine (disciple), let him deny himself and take up his cross (repent of sin; be saved) and follow me.
We must make a distinction between discipleship and Christian discipleship. Jesus called 12 men to be His disciples. All 12 men left their families, friends, vocations, and everything else to be with Jesus wherever He went, to do whatever He did. All of those men became disciples. Eleven of them became Christian disciples and then Apostles. One did not - Judas Iscariot. He was a disciple of Jesus, but he did not become a true Christian disciple, nor did he become an Apostle.
Many people came to Jesus in hopes He would be the political and military Messiah they had hoped for. When they found out He wasn’t, they didn’t follow Him. Some people came to Jesus out of curiosity. Some were saved (Nicodemus; John 3) some were not saved. Some people came to Jesus out of religious concerns (the rich young man; Matthew 19:16-22) but when Jesus told them the cost, they didn’t follow Him anymore (John 6:60-66).
Even today there are those who will come to Jesus because of personal needs or wants. When confronted with the truth of the Gospel, some will see the greater need of salvation and be saved, others will not. People engage the Christian church for a number of reasons - social opportunities, religious instruction and discipline, tradition, a sense of belonging, etc., but never come to faith in Jesus Christ. They are disciples of the church, but not disciples of Christ because they never repented of sin and put their faith and trust in Jesus. They are religious, but not saved.
Jesus said, If anyone wishes to come after Me (discipleship), he must deny himself, and take up his cross (salvation) and follow Me. Whatever else the Christian and the Christian church is about, it is first and foremost about Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, help us to distinguish between religion and salvation, genuine faith in You and faith in an institution or organization, discipleship and Christian discipleship. May Your Holy Spirit reveal to all who hear the Gospel that there is not only a choice to be made regarding salvation, there is also a choice to be made in following You through personal discipleship. For the sake of Your Kingdom I ask, Amen.”