By Dr Hank Lindstrom
What is a disciple? A disciple is one who makes a conscious decision to follow Christ in pursuit of becoming a fisher of men. In the fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew as the Lord Jesus Christ was walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. Peter and Andrew were already saved prior to this event as related to us in the gospel of John 1:40-42. Now Jesus invites these two saved men to enroll in His discipleship program. He lets them know the goal or objective of discipleship to be that of fishing for men. We cannot avoid this clear presentation of the pursuit of a disciple to be a fisher of men.
The word disciple means a learner, a pupil, a scholar, or one who comes to the taught. The idea of teaching and learning is preeminent in the word disciple. Tying this together with Matthew 4:19 we can come up with a good definition of a disciple. “And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).” Therefore, the definition of a disciple is one who makes a conscious decision to follow Christ in pursuit of becoming a fisher of men. A disciple comes to learn the art of winning people to Christ.
Discipleship is separate from and is in contrast with the doctrine of salvation. One believes on Jesus Christ to be saved, while one serves Jesus Christ to become a disciple. All believers are not disciples. All disciples are not believers.
Being a disciple has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s salvation. The classic example is that of Judas Iscariot. Judas, although a disciple of Jesus Christ, was never a believer; therefore, he was never saved. Jesus said, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve (John 6:64,71).”
Joy, testimony, effectiveness, power, and reward among other blessing are associated with discipleship. The hymn writer said, “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus.” We trust Christ to be saved, but we trust and obey to be happy. Many Christians are miserable because they have never known the joy of serving the Lord. The decision of choosing to be a disciple is essential for joy, power, reward, etc., in the Christian’s life.
A believer must learn to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” as the Bible teaches in 2 Timothy 2:15 or live in confusion. The Bible is not a book of confusion or contradictions. It is in perfect harmony. Please take time to look at the chart below to get a mental picture of the differences between Salvation and Discipleship.
Take a look at the differences:
1) Believe on Christ
Believe not (John 3:18)
1) Come to Christ
3) Cannot be lost
4) Depends upon Christs faithfulness
6) All believers are not disciples
7) Thru sacrifice of Christ
TERMS: (To invite a person to be saved)
1) Believe on Christ as your Saviour
1) Hate father, mother, wife, & own life*
2) Bear his cross
3) Come after Christ
4) Forsake all he hath
5) Follow Christ
6) Deny himself
7) Lose his life for Christ’s sake
(*Hate is a comparative term-contrasted with love for God)
Serve not (Malachi)
1) Come after Christ
2) Costs us
3) Can be lost
4) Depends upon our faithfulness
6) All disciples are not believers
7) Thru sacrifice of self
TERMS: (To invite a person to be a disciple)
WARNING-DO NOT USE FOR SALVATION
1) Commit your life to Christ
2) Make Jesus the Lord of your life
3) Surrender your life to Christ
4) Put Jesus on the throne of your life
5) Be converted
6) Follow Christ
7) Obey Christ
Salvation divides the world into two groups: those that believe and those that believe not. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).” A person is either saved or lost. There is no middle ground. The difference being only whether they believe or believe not on Jesus Christ. Human works have nothing to do with salvation! Salvation is by faith without works according to Ephesians 2:8-9 and many other passages.
Discipleship is also divided into two groups. There is no middle ground. You either serve or you serve not. Discipleship is clearly based upon works! See Malachi 3:18, “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous, (the believer – see Romans 3:10, Romans 4:5), and the wicked, (the unbeliever – see Romans 3:10-19), between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”
Where do you stand? Are you a believer? Then you are saved! If you are saved you ought to serve, not to be saved (which is impossible), but serve because you are already saved (John 5:24).
If you are a disciple of Christ, then you should be in pursuit of the goal of becoming a soul-winner (Matthew 4:19). If soul winning doesn’t occupy a major place in your discipleship, then you have been deceived.
I pray that you have made both decisions that God gave us to make. That you believe on Christ to be saved (Acts 16:31), and then choose to be a disciple. Remember a disciple is one who makes a conscious decision to follow Christ in pursuit of becoming a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19).