Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12 KJV)
Before we can truly begin our journey, I want to explore what it means to be a disciple. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “a disciple is a learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another.” By this definition, everyone is involved in discipleship on a daily basis. Without a thought, we assume the role of teacher or student as it requires. Whether it’s a co-worker teaching someone how to fill out a form, a friend giving advice to another, or a parent guiding their children on the best way to pick and choose their friends, they are all just variations of discipleship.
Naturally, when a Christian thinks about what it means to be a disciple, most think about Jesus earthly ministry and his relationship with the 12 disciples, as revealed in the four Gospel accounts. The word “disciple” appears 243 times in the Gospels and is most often used to identify those who walked closely with Jesus. A closer examination, reveals two verses that contain information that should dramatically change our concept of discipleship: John 13:35 and John 15:8. In these two verses, Jesus teaches us that true disciples will be recognized by “the love they display one for another” (John 13:35) and that the fruit they bear will greatly glorify the Father (John 15:8). Nowhere in those two verses do we find any element of teaching or learning, but the emphasis is upon what you do. Now don’t get me wrong: disciples clearly have a mandate to “go and make disciples”, but Jesus makes it very clear that teaching alone does not meet the His standard. In fact, Jesus made a withering indictment against the Pharisees, because all they cared about was outward appearances; they wanted to look like they were doing good works and loved God, but inwardly they harbored selfishness and greed, the complete opposite of the character of true disciples. No, true discipleship as described by Jesus is so much more. Fortunately, there is a verse that communicates everything we need to know and do to achieve the “Discipleship Seal of Approval”. By now you should have figured out that I am referring to the verse at the beginning of the discussion, John 14:12.
Though this verse does not contain the word “disciple”, it provides a very clear illustration of what true discipleship looks like and how we attain it. Simply put, John 14:12 tells us that if we do 3 things, we will achieve true discipleship:
- Believe in the person of Jesus
- Believe in the works done by Jesus
- Believe that we will do the same works done by Jesus
Now, I know many of you are now anxiously awaiting a detailed explanation of how I arrived at this conclusion and believe me, I am busting at the seams to tell you. In due time, I will share my answer and much, much more in future blog entries. For now, I want everyone to meditate on the connection between what you believe and what you do, as it relates to loving one another and doing the works that glorify the Father. In the 2000 years that have past since Jesus instructed the first disciples, is the church any closer to showing the world that we love one another or that the works we do are for the glory of God? Things that make you go “hhmmm”! Okay, let’s stop there. I will post my thoughts on discipleship in the church today and what I think we need to do to make difference that causes people to glorify the name of the Lord. I thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope I have sufficiently piqued your curiosity to visit again or even post a comment.
Faith Seeks Understanding!