Christian or Disciple?
Many people declare they are Christians. They say they believe in God and Jesus and they are saved. Lots of these people are in church every Sunday. Some of these people don’t go to church because “church is the brethren, not the building”.
I find that generally these people have some interesting ideas about Christianity. They refuse to celebrate Christmas and Easter. They believe music is forbidden in worship. Some of them believe the Lord’s Day is Saturday. They refuse to let women speak in church, including reading a Bible verse. I believe they have added works into the equation rather than just Christ as the answer.
Abide by My word
Jesus clearly says to us that we need to abide by His word to truly be a disciple of God. In this verse (John chapter 8, verse 31), He doesn’t say “go to a building and you will be My disciple”. He doesn’t say “pray once a day and you will be My disciple”. He says “abide in my word…”
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples” (John chapter 8, verse31).
We cannot call ourselves Christians if we don’t abide by God’s word. And the only way to abide by God’s word is to read it. More than that, we are called to study it and understand it so we can abide by it.
Jesus also requires us to meet with others in fellowship.
“Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrew chapter 10, verse 25).
So when someone says “I don’t need to go to church because the church is the brethren and not the building”, they need to make sure they are having fellowship with others at another time.
Bible studies are a good way to do this. Not only do we have fellowship, but we can learn and understand the Bible together, just as God intended. He reminds us that we need to teach all people to obey his commandments – as in, abide in His word.
“…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you… (Matthew chapter 28, verse 20).
Christ’s definition of a disciple?
The first way to know if you are a disciple of Christ, rather than just a Christian, is to understand what a disciple is and what they do. The first thing is that disciples follow Christ and serve Him.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me” (John chapter 12, verse 26).
The second thing they do is preach the Gospel.
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark chapter 16, verse 15).
Thirdly, they bear fruit through the Lord, bringing many to Christ and salvation. “…appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (John chapter 15, verse 16).
And finally, they deny themselves and take up their cross to follow Christ. “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke chapter 9, verse 23).
So, are you a Christian? Or are you a disciple of Christ? Do you follow the four acts of a disciple? Do you need to assess your faith? The good news is that Christ is always there for you and will help you through. Hallelujah.
Emma Bamford from Melbourne is returning as a Press Service International writer for Christian Today. Emma is undertaking a part time theology course and is a qualified business marketer. A self-confessed Jesus girl, Emma writes to stir the heart of her readers into becoming more passionate and loving Christians.