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Disciples Indeed?

Disciples Indeed?

   When Jesus went about speaking and teaching, He made disciples. This means that there were many who believed in Him as well as many who decided to follow Him. There are 30 or so passages that reference folks who followed Jesus.  Some did so because of the miracles, some for other reasons. Some did so because they heard Jesus and accepted His message. These followers became His disciples.  Some were affected in other ways in what Jesus said and how He said it.    We read about this in John 7:45-46 when officers were sent to arrest Jesus, but could not.   Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this manThese officers did not become disciples of the Lord, even though they were affected by His Words. 

    The difference between these folks and His disciples per John 8:31 is explained by Jesus while speaking to some who believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  Then He told them in the next verse what benefit this would provide for them.  John 8:32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.   Notice that “continuing therein” is a condition given by Jesus whereby those who became His disciples could remain so.  This is how one is a “disciple indeed”. This means reading, studying and living that Word.  We read of this not only in John 8:31 (above), but also after the church was established the Spirit had Paul write in 1Timothy 4:15-16 to Timothy.   He had become a disciple by obeying and following the Word of God.   Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  He could only be a “disciple indeed” if he kept following and remained obedient to the Word.   The same is true for us even today.  

     There are those who begin being disciples and then fail to continue.  Why is this?  These surely are not “disciples indeed”.  When one questions what the Lord said, or what He had delivered to us through His Word, or begins to choose which Commandments to follow, can they continue to be disciples?   Jesus experienced this while He was still on earth.   In John 6:60 after hearing Words of Jesus that offended them, some began to question if they could remain His disciples, not considering the “spiritual” application of which Jesus spoke.  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?    Note also that when people begin to question the Word, this is when their discipleship begins to become unstable.  

    We read that even after the explanation Jesus offered, many still could not see that He was speaking of the spiritual nature of His kingdom.  In John 6:63-65 He again told them that which was given by the Father (the Word) was what would make (and keep) them disciples.     It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.  It is only through the Word that one can find the formula for being a disciple.  The Word is what calls us to Christ as we read in 2Thessalonians 2:14. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. But alas, in John 6:66 we see that some could not remain “disciples indeed”. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 

    Then, as we read on through John 6:67, we find the question that Jesus asked of His closest disciples in that day, and that all disciples need to ask themselves.  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?      As this is being pondered, we should always consider the inspired response of Simon Peter which is found in vss 68-69.    Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.    The fact that Christ is God’s Son is the very beginning of becoming a disciple indeed.  But, it takes more than just believing that Jesus is the Christ.      Jesus Himself addressed this in Mark 16:15-16 when He taught the eleven after His resurrection.   And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

     When we read of another account of the Great Commission, we find that the Lord, in Matthew 28:18-20, told the eleven what “disciples indeed” were to do after the Lord returned to His Father and the promised Comforter came.  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.    Go, teach the truth, baptize, and teach is what disciples indeed will do.  Living according to the Word of God makes one a disciple indeed.   Is that what you are doing as a disciple?             

                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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