Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Every Christian Is a Disciple

There is plenty of talk these days about which term or terms to use when defining those who belong to Christ. I know it can be tempting to want to define "disciple" differently than you define "Christian." I was actually toying with that idea myself a number of years ago. But as Scripture details what it means to be in relationship with God through faith in Christ, I don't believe it is wise or beneficial to make this distinction and end up with two different categories of believers.

Some are tempted to do it because of the bad rap that certain "Christians" have given to our faith. Others are tempted to separate them because they believe that a "disciple" is someone truly living it....whereas a "Christian" is not really putting in the work. Those are valid concerns and it is certainly understandable why it would then seem to make sense to distinguish one from the other. Having said that, I don't believe Scripture allows us to make this distinction.

There was an occasion where Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Derbe. God's Word tells us, "They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith." (Acts 14:21,22)

Notice what specific message they was "the good news." It was the message of the cross and the empty tomb which "won" a large number of disciples. They were not preaching to Christians in an effort to now make them "disciples." They were preaching the good news to lost people. When lost people in Derbe accepted the good news, they immediately became disciples. They didn't become "Christians" first, and "disciples" at some later point.

Notice that when Paul and Barnabas returned to the other cities, they strengthened the "disciples." There was no distinction between "believer" and "disciple," or between "Christian" and "disciple." Paul and Barnabas didn't strengthen just some of the believers, and then call those select ones "disciples." They strengthened all of the believers, that is, all of the disciples.

Paul and Barnabas encouraged them to "remain true to the faith." Why? Because when you hold fast to faith in Christ, the life of Christ gets produced in you and you live out the resulting life of discipleship. Faith in Christ produces good works. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:20) No one who is born again has a "dead faith," which is really no faith at all. Disciples are those who believe in Jesus as their Savior, and one of the results of their faith is that the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in their lives. Read more

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