Inquiring Minds Must Ask!
In somewhat my own personal investigation and far from an official qualitative research project study, I asked randomly selected people two major questions:
1. What were Jesus’ last words?
2. Is there a difference between a Christian and a disciple? If so, what are the differences?
For question one, the larger percentage of people reflected upon Jesus’ last words while He was on the Cross. And what powerful words that He spoke!
- Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing…, Luke 23:34
- Today you will be with Me in paradise…, Luke 23:43…
- Behold your son; behold your mother,…
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?…
- I thirst,…
- It is finished,…
- Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.
We will revisit these words later…
In regard to question two, most people essentially did not see any differences between being a Christian or a disciple. Those that did, were very vague in their ability to distinguish any differences when asked to elaborate. Many of which were believers and the larger segment, where attending church on a regular basis.
In those that I interacted with, none mentioned The Master’s last words that He spoke in Matthew 28:18 prior to His ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. I elected to use the Complete Jewish Bible version of Matthew 28:18 to highlight some major terms.
Yeshua [Jesus] came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim [disciple], immersing [baptizing] them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit], and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.
note: The Hebrew word for disciple is “talmid.” A talmid is a student of one of the sages of Israel. A disciple is a learner or pupil. When we decide to repent and turn to our Lord for the forgiveness of sins, we have to realize we are now on a new journey. I personally would like to thank my Brother in Messiah, Eric Chabot for this link: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/if-the-gospel-is-true-why-dont-we-see-more-transformation-in-the-lives-of-christians/
In Matthew 28:18 and the following scripture references, we see the Messiah after His resurrection as the Heavenly Father’s mediator between all matters of heaven and earth, as He now is empowered to govern as Adonai [Lord] and The Mashiach [Messiah] in establishing the aspects of His Kingdom and His Body of called-out ones, [The Church].
In verse 19, The Messiah commissioned His disciples to go everywhere in the world, in verse 20, and teach the foundational aspects of the Gospel and its life-long spiritual disciplines that were learned and practiced by the Messiah in saying and doing everything that the Father instructed Him to do.
As a talmidim [disciple] there was a willful life-long commitment to seek after and embrace the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, making the physical Word of God made active and alive within the regenerated soul of the follower of The Messiah.
A faithful disciple of The Messiah is to be devoted to the service, worship, and obedience of the Kingdom of God, through the calling of the Messiah, while being separated and empowered/commissioned by the Holy Spirit in producing and bearing good fruit. [John 15]
Disciple verse Christian [why does it matter anyway?]
Of the four different heart conditions that The Messiah spoke about in Matt. 13:1-23, only one in four were able to effectively receive the Word of God and were able to produce the good fruit of the Kingdom. The other three were unfit for the trials, temptations, and testings of this fallen world system due to the hardness of their heart, lack of perseverance, and divided alliance toward the matters of the Kingdom of God.
According to the basic guidelines of most Western Christian evangelism practices, to become a Christian the following must take place: Belief in God [hearing the Gospel message], repent and confess one’s sins, believe and receive Christ as Lord in your heart, become baptized and obey the Lord, become born again, study the Word of God, and join a church. In the multiple links and sites that I asked what were the requirements to become a Christian, becoming a disciple was never listed! Evangelism is not Discipleship!
In the Gospels, the name of Christian only appears three times [1 Peter 4:15; Acts 26:28, and Acts 11:26] as opposed to the term disciple [Greek: mathetes] which occurs more than 230 times in the Gospels and Acts. The context of these texts is the most important in that each writer used the term in an atmosphere of persecution, suffering or standing in the midst of trials or testings while standing and living out their faithfulness in the world.
During the spread of the Gospel and the earlier expansion of the Body of Christ during the 1st-century community of Christians, the term was a synonym for the word disciple [without a separate category], but in modernity, I believe that this is not true. http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Are_You_a_Christian_or_a_Disciple_page1
The very best example of Biblical discipleship is The Messiah on The Cross and how His Words define the very best model for life-changing discipleship. While during His earthly ministry Messiah was able to do much for the Kingdom, nevertheless, it was after this death, burial, and resurrection that He was most successful in bringing forth into the earth, heavenly salvation, and redemption.
In a review of The Messiah’s last words above [Luke 23:34ff.], He demonstrates seven life-long realities and requirements for His disciples in Kingdom related ministry during one’s journey. Any worthwhile discipleship program should include each of these aspects as foundational.
- His words of Forgiveness [one of the oftentimes most underrated aspects of spirituality]
- His words of Salvation [eternity begins when we are in union with Messiah, now & future]
- His words of Relationship [everything about the Kingdom of God is based on relationships]
- His words of Abandonment [being a disciple of The Messiah is a lonely journey]
- His words of Distress [being a disciple of TheMessiah will require experiencing pain]
- His words of Triumph [After experiencing the pain, suffering, there is victory]
- His words of Reunion [as a disciple, the Master promise to never leave or forsake you]
What better affirmation of the example of The Messiah in the life of a faithful follower than these words that are found in the Book of Romans:
I urge you, therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual service of worship.
Looking for a challenge for this coming Fall? Please consider joining others and myself in a 16 week “Walking in The Messiah Discipleship Group.” To find out more, follow this link:
I quote some most powerful words by Oswald Chambers: “Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an “IF,” never with an emphatic assertion-“You must.” Discipleship carries an option with it.
Grace and Peace