Dare to be a Disciple
by Tom Brown
"I dare you!" You've heard that before. Usually people say that to you when they want to challenge you to do something adventurous, like ride a roller coaster or ski dive.
Well, I dare you to take the riskiest, and yet, most rewarding adventure that you can ever experience—and that is to be a disciple of Christ Jesus.
"Well, I’m already a Christian," you might say.
There’s a vast difference in being part of the Christian religion and being a disciple. Many consider themselves Christians, simply because they believe in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ will make you a convert but not necessarily a disciple.
The difference between a convert and a disciple is the same difference between giving birth and raising your child. A lady was in the hospital giving birth to her first baby. As the pain and contractions increased, she grabbed the nurse, pulled her close to her and screamed, "Is the hard part over!"
The nurse smiled and said, "Honey, this is the easy part. The hard part is in the next eighteen years."
It’s easy to get saved. You simply need to accept Jesus Christ into your heart. You are saved by grace, not by works. The hard part is living for Christ once you’re saved.
The Holy Spirit’s favorite word to describe the believer is "disciple." It is used 270 times in the Bible. Yet the word "Christian" is rarely used. The reason is because believers saw themselves more than simply being part of a religion, they saw themselves as followers of Jesus Christ.
The word "disciple" literally means a student who follows after the example of a teacher in order to be like the teacher.
Jesus says, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). The ultimate goal of a disciple is to be like Jesus. And if that’s not your aim, then you’ll never make heaven.
Jesus is not coming to take with Him to heaven wretched sinners. No, He’s coming for His disciples. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
Many people will be shocked to find out that they will not enter heaven, simply because they called Jesus "Lord." The only ones who will enter heaven are those who become disciples of the Lord, not simply converts.
Three Marks of a Disciple
The Bible teaches us that there are three marks of a genuine disciple: faithfulness, fellowship, and fruitfulness.
We need to understand that there are privileges of being a disciple, but there are also responsibilities. There are responsibilities to being a disciple. To be a disciple will cost you something.
In Luke 14:25-34 Jesus speaks about the high price of being a disciple. He uses the analogy of a army going to war. The king calculates whether or not he has enough men to win the war. Then Jesus gives another example of a man who builds a tower. The man first sits down and counts his money to see if he has enough to finish the building.
The point of these parables is obvious: count the cost to see if you are willing to pay the price of becoming His disciple.
Hold to My Teaching
The first mark of a disciple is mentioned in John 8:31: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." The word "really" implies that there are many insincere followers of Christ. Jesus shows the characteristic of a true disciple. And what is this characteristic? It is someone who holds to the teaching of Christ rather than holding to the words of others.
Many people who claim to be disciples are more influenced by what people say than by what God says. Many guide their lives by Hollywood, instead of the Holywood—the Cross. Jesus says, "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
Are you influenced by the world’s philosophy, or are you influenced by the Lord’s Word? A genuine disciple puts the Word of God first in his life.
If I walked in your house what would I see? Is your magazine rack filled with pornography? If it is then that’s what is important to you.
Is it filled with money, sports and home magazines? Then that’s what is meaningful you.
However, every Christian home ought to have Christian magazines sprinkled throughout their house.
What literature fills your bookshelves? If the Word of God is first in your life then you will have plenty of Christian books and Bibles on your shelves.
And if I looked into your CD player what would I find? Conway Twiddy and his pals, or will I find Petra, Carmen, Michael Smith and their Christian friends. When the Word is first in your life you don’t mind spending money to keep your mind filled with God’s Word.
A woman asked her pastor to visit her at home and pray for her. When the pastor arrived, the woman turned to her daughter and said, "Honey, would you bring mommy’s favorite book." A minute later, the little girl brought in a T.V. Guide.
When the Word is first in your life it will show in your conduct, words and attitude.
By This Shall All Men Know
The second characteristic of a disciple is that he wants to fellowship with believers.
Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).
Jesus does not say that you should love the world, but rather that you should love His disciples. If you truly love Christians, then you will want to fellowship with them. If you’ve stopped going to church, then you show that you don’t love Christ’ disciples.
Some believers prefer to hang around non-believers. This shows that they truly are not Christ disciples.
You may say, "I’ve been disappointed with other Christians. They’ve hurt me. This is why I don’t go to church." Have considered the fact that you hurt others when you don’t go to church. Yes, that’s right. You hurt the church when you stop attending it. The church needs your support.
"The church is full of hypocrites!" Isn’t that shameful that you allow hypocrites to get closer to God than you.
In fact let me say this to you: if you’ve stopped going to church, "You are the hypocrite!" Now, don’t get mad because I’m telling you the truth.
Jesus said that hypocrites will go to hell along with the unbelievers. So you better watch what you’ve been saying about other Christians.
This reminds me of a burglar who needed money to pay his taxes. So he decided to rob a store. He broke in and to his delight he saw a note on the safe. It read, "Please, don’t use dynamite. The safe is open. Just turn the knob."
He reached and turned the knob. As he did, a heavy sack fell on top of him and knocked him out. The alarm sounded. Lights flashed.
The police arrived and arrested him. As he was carried out on a stretcher, he could be heard mumbling, "My confidence in human nature has been rudely shaken."
Many Christians are like this thief. They forget their own sins, but remember the sins of others.
The third characteristic of a disciple is fruitfulness. Jesus says, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8).
In the end, what really matters is the fruit we produced for the Lord. Not what denomination we belonged to, but what kind of fruit we bore.
Several cotton farmers were arguing over the merits of their individual denominations. One thought that the Baptist way was best; another believed that the Methodist way was superior; still another thought that the Catholic way was better. Finally, they asked Joe, "Hey, Joe, you haven’t said anything. What’s your opinion?"
Joe thought carefully. He pointed to the familiar mountain and said, "Fellows, you know that beyond that mountain is the cotton gin. There’s three ways to get to the cotton gin. The shortest is over the mountain. That way is rugged. Another way is south around the mountain. It’s a bit shorter, yet not so rugged. The final way is to the north. It’s the longest way but the easiest. Now, when you get to the cotton gin, the owner is not going to ask you how you got there. He’s simply going to ask you, ‘How’s your cotton?’."
Farmer Joe has more sense than many Christians. When you finally arrive at the Judgment seat of Christ, God’s not going to ask you what denomination you belonged to; He’s just going to ask you, "How good is your fruit?"
Soul winning fruit
The fruit that Christ desires us to produce is more disciples. "I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last" (John 15:16). We must "go" and bear fruit. It’s clear that the Lord has in mind that we go into all the Lord and make disciples, and that these disciples will last.
I want to ask you an important question, "Are you winning souls for Jesus Christ?" If your answer is no, then you better seriously get to work in witnessing for Christ. This is most important job for you. People’s eternal destiny will be determined by whether or not you share the gospel with them. God will hold you accountable for every lost soul that you refused to witness to.
Ezekiel 3:18 says, "When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood."
Lester Sumrall was dying of tuberculosis. As he was lying on his bed he had a vision. On one side of his bed he saw people fall into hell. He heard their awful screams as they plundered into hell. On the other side of his bed he saw a big, glowing Bible. Then he heard God’s voice, "Choose."
Lester chose the Bible, and from an early age he preached the gospel to all nations. He continued to do this for over sixty years until he died this year. He made his life count. I can only imagine the reward he received.
The only regret you’ll have when you go to heaven is when you realize you could have won more to the Lord.
One of the best movies ever made was Shindler’s List. The most touching part of this film for me was near the end. The war was over, and Shindler was about to leave Germany. As he’s leaving, the Jews he saved from the concentration camps gave him a gift. A man took the gold filling from his tooth and made a ring out of it. They gave it to Shindler.
He slowly, and hesitantly puts the ring on his finger. It dawns on him. He could have sacrificed more to save others from death. He wept over his luxury automobile, "I could have sold this car and saved twenty more from death."
He grabbed the fine clothes he wore, "This suit is worth five lives."
As he entered his car, he looked closely at his expensive watch, "I could have sold this watch and saved one person."
Tears stream down my cheeks as this scene unfolded. I reflected on my own spiritual life, and wondered, "What could I sacrifice in order to win more people to Christ."
I read the story of a pregnant Korean woman who fled North Korea during the war. It was during a cold winter day. As night approached she began to have contractions. The baby was about to be born.
She climbed down under a bridge, and there she gave birth to boy. It was so cold that night. She knew the baby would not survive the frigid air. So she took off all her clothes and wrapped him with them. She hugged her baby trying to keep him warm.
The next morning, a missionary couple was driving their truck across that bridge when the wife exclaimed, "Stop the truck!"
The truck screeched. "I hear a baby crying?" They quickly jumped out of the truck and ran under the bridge. There lay the baby wrapped in his mother’s clothes with his frozen mother dead, still with her arms around him.
The couple took the baby and buried the mother nearby. They chose to adopt the baby.
As the child became older he asked his adoptive parents about his mother. He wanted to know what happened to her. So the parents told him this story.
The boy journeyed to this old bridge and found the place where his mother lay. He took off all his clothes and laid it on his mother’s grave. He fell to his knees and wept.
I wonder have you realized the sacrifice of Christ? He gave his life for you. Are you as grateful as this Korean boy? Will you be willing to come to the cross and fall on your knees and strip off anything in your life that has hindered you from serving Christ?
Strip off the sin in your life that is hindering your walk with God. Get back into church. Start reading the Bible. Be bold in your witness to others. Basically, put the Lord first in your life!
Fall on your knees and tell God that you’re sorry. Promise Him that you will serve Him with all your heart.
I dare you to be a disciple.
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