About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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The Meaning Of Discipleship


Just before Jesus returned to heaven He gave His disciples this command.  Matthew 28:18 reads:


"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"


The Greek word "mathetes" is translated into our English New Testament as "disciple."  This Greek word means "one who learns from another and endeavours to put into action what he learns."  Mathetes emphasized continual learning and continually living what you learn.  Is that you? 


Our present-day, and I believe, dumbed-downed Evangelical gospel that emphasizes getting saved so we can go to heaven destroys the meaning of being a disciple of Jesus, and why?  It negates our present-day responsibility to continually learn and live what we learn.  Learning implies the exercise of our brains.  What we learn in our minds, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and legitimate Bible teachers, must sink into our hearts where it forms the convictions by which we live.  To be precisely accurate, Jesus mandated that we be His disciples, not Christians.  You may ask, "What's the difference?" 


The singular noun "Christian" is found only two times in most versions of our English Bible (Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16).  Its plural form is found in Acts 11:26 where we learn the disciples of Jesus were first called "Christians" by non-believing Gentiles in the Gentile city of Antioch.  The term "Christian" was commonly understood to be a derogatory designation, a designation that King Agrippa seems to have used when he asked Paul if Paul was trying to make him a Christian (Acts 26:28).   Likewise Tacitus, a first-century Greek historian, seems to have used the word "Christian" in a derogatory sense, as seen in this quote. 


"The vulgar call them Christians ... (Annals 15:44)."      


With the above in mind, I ask this question.  In the western-world church, does the designation of Christian imply that everyone who calls himself Christian is a disciple of Jesus?  Do we have two classes of believers, that is, Christians who have adopted a Biblical belief system and disciples who continually learn from Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit live what they learn?  The New Testament says nothing about two classes of believers.  In Biblical terms, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus.        


Jesus has not called us to be western-world style Christians who merely acknowledge a Biblical belief system.  Such acknowledgement is the first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus.  The next step is to repent of your sinful, humanistic ways, trust your entire life with Jesus, and receive His Spirit into your life.  Only then can you begin to walk the path of Biblical discipleship where we continually learn from Jesus and continually live what you learn.  Is that you? 


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