Don’t follow the numbers game. The Christian crowd can be wrong! Once a person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he is saved forever (John 6:37-39). After a person is saved he is expected to become a disciple. Are there any indications in Scripture as to how many become disciples or continue as disciples?
First, let’s look at the difference between a lost person becoming saved and a saved person becoming a disciple. Dr. M.R. DeHaan, in his book “Hebrews” defines the differences. “There is a vast difference between coming to Jesus for salvation, and coming and coming to Jesus for service. Coming to Christ makes one a believer, while coming after Christ makes one a disciple. All believers are not disciples. To become a believer, one accepts the invitation of the gospel, to be a disciple one obeys the challenge to a life of dedicated service and separation. Salvation comes through the sacrifice of Christ; discipleship comes only by sacrifice of self and surrender to His call for devoted service. Salvation is free, but discipleship involves paying the price of a separated walk. Salvation cannot be lost because it depends upon God’s faithfulness, but discipleship can be lost because it depends upon our faithfulness.” Qualities of a disciple are therefore surrender, sacrifice, faithfulness, devoted life and etc.
Scriptures indicate that there are not many willing to pay the price of discipleship. After the three year ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, there were only one hundred twenty disciples present at Pentecost (Acts 1:15). Although the Scriptures record many thousands of people getting saved in the book of Acts, only a handful are mentioned as becoming disciples. A sobering thought is that the apostle Paul concluded his ministry by saying, “but all men forsook me (II Timothy 4:16).” “Not withstanding the Lord stood with me (II Timothy 4:17).” The sad story is that there were few disciples.
Remember that a disciple’s primary objective is to become a soul-winner. Jesus, when he enrolled disciples in His discipleship program said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).” And again, Jesus Christ gives His last instructions to them as He ascends up to heaven and says, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me (Acts 1:8).”
Evidently this has been true in every age. Remember the words of Jesus when He said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).”
Solomon gives us the most interesting statistic. He said that he actually took a survey. “Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found: but a woman among all those have I not found (Ecclesiastes 7:28-27).” Solomon found one man out of a thousand, and less than one woman out of a thousand. That is one-tenth of a percent of men, and less than one-tenth of a percent among women.
Think about this for a moment! Lead a thousand men to Christ. A wonderful thought, and ONE will become a true disciple. Lead a thousand women to Christ, and you may not even get one true disciple. Is the fault with God? Absolutely not! Look at what Solomon says as he continues, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29).” Solomon is saying that God saves men, then they proceed to seek out their own way.
The true disciple should do the very opposite. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him (witness), and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5,6).” This verse is saying that in all of our activities we should let Christ become known to people. How few are the persons who do this?
Most of the epistles (letters) of the New Testament were written to Christians who were not disciples. They were carnal Christians who were living to satisfy their own fleshly desires. Paul warned about a future accounting at the Judgement Seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10), for these Christians and a present judgement of the Lord’s chastening (I Corinthians 11:28-32). Paul says, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus have I begotten you through the gospel, Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me (I Corinthians 4:14-16).” You might have ten thousand instructors, but you only have one person who led you to Christ. Follow him, even as he follows Christ. I believe this is important because usually the person who led you to Christ is a soul-winner. God wants you to follow them so that you will be a soul-winner. Many instructors (Christians) are not soul-winners, and defeat God’s plan.
Get your eyes off numbers. If you don’t, you may be misled. Look to the Word of God and Jesus Christ. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12).”
Why not strive to be that one out of a thousand that will be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, rain or shine, day or night, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. You will be a rare treasure to the Lord. He is looking for you to do this (I Corinthians 16:9).
The apostle Paul was such a man. When “all forsook him” he was still faithful. The Lord stood with him and he is one of God’s heroes.
If you are not saved, remember that salvation is a gift. Just receive this “gift of eternal life” (Romans 6:23) by trusting Christ as your Saviour (Acts 16:31). Don’t look at numbers.
The Christian crowd can be wrong!