This statement was made by Jesus to His apostles shortly before He ascended to heaven. It is commonly called "The Great Commission," notice the main thought of Jesus' command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..."
To "make disciples," therefore, is the GOAL of evangelizing the world for Christ. Are you a disciple of Jesus?
I. THE DEFINITION OF A DISCIPLE
A. THE WORD "DISCIPLE"...
1. The word "disciple" literally means A LEARNER
2. It is "one who follows another's teaching"
3. But a disciple was not only a learner, he was also A FOLLOWER
4. For this reason disciples were spoken of as IMITATORS of their teachers.
B. THE GOAL IN BEING A DISCIPLE...
1. Stated by Jesus himself: to be like the teacher.
"The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master." (Lk 6:40)
2. To be Christ's disciple, then, is to strive to be like Him!
3. According to the apostle Paul, this coincides with God's goal in the redemption of mankind, that they be conformed to the image of His Son.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom 8:29)
4. Do we have a strong desire to follow Jesus and become like Him?
5. Unless we do, it cannot be said that we are truly His disciple!
There are also some "identifying marks" of discipleship given by Jesus which can help us to further identify a true disciple of Jesus...
II. THE MARKS OF A DISCIPLE
A. A DISCIPLE IS "ONE WHO ABIDES IN JESUS' WORDS"
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;" (John 8:31)
1. This would imply being a diligent student of the teachings of Christ.
2. It also requires one to be a "doer" of the Word. cf Mt 7:21-27 & Ja. 1:21-25
3. In view of this, a true disciple would not...
a. Fail to study the Bible diligently
b. Willingly refrain from opportunities to study with others: the least attended service of the church is the mid-week Prayer and Bible Study.
c. I believe that it is one of the most needful and important services of the church.
d. It is not enough to know what the Bible says, we must be willing to do what it says!
B. A DISCIPLE IS ALSO "ONE WHO LOVES THE BRETHREN" Jn.13:34-35
1. With a love patterned after the love of Jesus ("as I have loved you")
2. With a love that is visible to the world ("by this all will know")
3. Therefore, a true disciple would...
a. Make every effort to get to know his brethren
b. Take advantage of occasions to encourage and grow closer to them
4. Remember, a disciple is one who wants to become like his teacher.
a. Was Jesus willing to sacrifice time and effort for His brethren?
b. Of course, and so will we... IF we are truly HIS disciples!
C. A DISCIPLE IS "ONE WHO BEARS MUCH FRUIT"
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:8)
1. Notice the word "much" (also found in verse 5)
a. Jesus is not talking about an occasional good deed
b. But a lifestyle which prompts people to glorify God!
c. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Mat 5:16)
2. This is so important, that failure to bear much fruit results in Godís judgment upon our lives. cf Jn. 15:1-2
3. How can we be a disciple if we fail to bear fruit for Christ?
a. The point should be clear: to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means more that just a casual church member. It requires COMMITMENT, especially in regards to: The teachings of Christ The love of brethren Bearing fruit to the glory of God
b. The kind of commitment involved is seen further when we consider the "high cost" of discipleship demanded by Jesus.
III. THE COST OF BEING A DISCIPLE
A. JESUS MUST COME FIRST.
"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." (Luke 14:26)
1. Before anyone else, including members of our own family. cf Mt 10:34-37
2. And certainly before one's own self - cf Lk. 9:23-25
B. WE MUST BE WILLING TO DO GODíS WILL.
"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." cf Luke 14:27
1. Jesus doesnít expect us to carry a cross up Calvaryís hill.
2. He did that already for us.
3. He did it because it was what Godís will was for His life.
4. What He wants us to do is to be willing to do whatever God may desire for us to do.
5. Regardless of the consequences!
C. PUTTING IT SIMPLY, WE MUST FORSAKE ALL TO FOLLOW CHRIST
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)
1. In other words, Jesus must be KING and LORD of our lives.
2. Nothing should take precedent over Him and His Will for us.
This kind of "high cost" of discipleship demanded by Jesus caused many people to turn away from following Him. But Jesus wasn't trying to attract large crowds, He wanted disciples!
Is the COST worth it? Consider some of the REWARDS of discipleship...
IV. THE REWARDS OF BEING A DISCIPLE
A. THERE IS THE PROMISE OF "FUTURE BLESSINGS"
1. We shall be saved from the wrath of God which is yet to come upon the world for its sins. cf Ro 5:9
2. We can look forward with joyful anticipation of eternity with God, free from sorrow, pain and death. cf Re. 21:1-8
B. THERE ARE ALSO "PRESENT BLESSINGS"
1. Jesus offers a PEACE the world cannot give to calm the troubled heart "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)
2. His words inspire JOY to lift our spirits in any situation regardless of the circumstance.
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:11)
3. He also offers to those who follow Him the ABIDING LOVE OF GOD, which casts out fear.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
4. And he makes it possible for us to be members of THE FAMILY OF GOD, which is able if need be to replace our physical family. cf Mk 10:28-30
There are many other blessings we could mention that are enjoyed by disciples of Jesus; but these suffice to demonstrate that though discipleship is costly, the rewards far exceed the cost!
Back to the question at hand, Are you a disciple? Where do you begin?
First, it begins with salvation. The first step toward becoming a disciple is faith in Christ. Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior this morning? That is the first thing you need to do.
However, that is only the beginning. To be His disciple requires that we be obedient followers of Him.
As it is with our fallen nature, we want the rewards and benefits of discipleship without the effort and responsibility that Jesus requires of all who would be His disciples.