The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
+ Followers of Christ +
A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. When is the last time you have heard someone call themselves a disciple of Christ? The word disciple is used over two hundred and fifty times in the New Testament, in the four gospels, and in the book of Acts. The early believers were called disciples. This Biblical term is not used much in our society today, but in the early church every believer was called a disciple. The Bible calls Christ’s followers disciples. The word disciple is used as a synonym for believers throughout the book of Acts (Acts 6:1, 2, 7; 14:20, 22; 15:10). It is simply the Biblical designation for a true believer (Acts 11:19-26).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This article will consider the call, the cost, and the crown of discipleship. May we approach this subject prayerfully and with much seriousness. For the Lord speaks with great soberness when He addresses His audience in reference to discipleship.
The call to Discipleship
In Luke 14:25-33, there is a clear invitation or summons to discipleship. Christ gives the terms straight forward and plain with no gimmicks or worldly methods. These are the words of Christ to the great multitude who followed Him according to verse 25. It appeared that the crowds were growing, but not to the commitment level. Many followed Him for various reasons, but most followed for the wrong reason. In our text, the Lord Jesus Christ “defines” what a disciple is or that which keeps one from being a disciple. In verse 26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” In verse 27, a disciple is to suffer all, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Discipleship is not taken seriously today, but remember that these are the words of our Savior and it is He who lays down the terms.
Christian discipleship is summed up in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The preaching of the gospel is a call to discipleship. To become a believer is to become a disciple. Every Christian is a disciple. There is no distinction between salvation and discipleship. Some see disciples as a separate class, that is, a more dedicated believer, but this is not true. The idea that a person can be saved and not be a disciple is foreign to Scripture. Salvation is the first step to Christian discipleship, for the two are tied together. In the Gospels, the word disciple is the only name used for Christ’s followers. The word disciple is related to the word “discipline” which identifies one who is seriously committed to follow, learn, and to obey.
The Cost of Discipleship
In Luke 14:26-33, we see the demand of discipleship. The warning to count the cost is given in verse 28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” In verse 26, the disciple is to deny all, that is, surrender which is a supreme love for the Lord. The Savior is to be put above all others, including our own self. Christ did not promise His followers prosperity or popularity, but carefully instructed them to follow Him. There is no room for half-heartedness. Our devotion to God must be above all.
Secondly, in verse 27, we are to suffer all, bearing the cross. “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” The word cross speaks of suffering, persecution, or cruel treatment. For serious crimes such as murder, insurrection, etc., it was one of the cruelest forms of execution. The cross is the badge and evidence of discipleship (Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 10:28, 32, 33, 37-39; Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34). To carry one’s cross is to openly confess Christ as Savior and to suffer for Him. It is our cross and not our creed that distinguishes us as true believers.
Thirdly, in verse 33 the Lord said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” We are to forsake all, sacrificially living, renouncing worldly possessions for the kingdom of God (Luke 12:15-22, 33-35; 16:13-16, 18:18-30). We are to hold loosely to this world’s goods. The Scripture and early church writers give much warning against riches and possessing a covetous heart (Luke 19:1-10; I Timothy 6:6-11, 17-19; Hebrews 13:5).
The Crown of Discipleship
In Luke 14:34-35, the Lord compares His disciples to salt, showing their usefulness in His kingdom. Salt is a symbol of purity and the true believers are compared to it. The crown of discipleship is the kingdom of God, eternal life, God’s blessings and approval, and a blessing to others. Great things are in store for the disciples of Christ but warning is given in verse 35 for mere “professors,” “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” True disciples have many things to look forward to (Matthew 5:1-4). The disciples were known by their conduct (John 13:34-45, John 8:30-47). Many “supposed” disciples did not continue to follow the Lord (John 6:60-71), but God knoweth them that are His (John 10:27).
The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Here is the invitation to be a follower of Christ, separated from the world. Discipleship cannot be accomplished on our own, but will only be accomplished through the grace, mercy, and help of the Lord. Trust Jesus Christ as your Savior today. Amen.
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523