Tim Johnson, editor
July 17, 2011
The word translated "disciple" means "lit., a learner . . . in contrast to a teacher . . . hence, it denotes one who follows one's teaching . . . a disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent, according to VINE'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS.
Being a disciple involves learning and following what one teaches. Those who were Moses' disciples learned and followed the teachings of Moses. Some of the Jews said: ". . . we are Moses' disciples." (cf. John 9:28). Disciples of John and disciples of Christ are mentioned in Luke 11:1. Disciples are learners, believers, followers of some one. The disciples of Christ ". . . were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
Only disciples of Christ receive the blessings provided in Christ. (d. Eph. 1:30; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 2:12-22).Those out of Christ are alienated from God and, thus, are without hope.
DISCIPLESHIP MUST BE ABOVE FRIENDSHIP
We must accept and obey the truth even when friends (our dearest ones) are involved. Our love for truth and righteousness must motivate us to follow Christ whether our friends approve or disapprove. There may be times when our close friends choose the path of sin in one or more situations and we must consent with them in that or lose their friendship. We should be faithful to our Lord and Master regardless of their attitudes and actions.
We should "be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2), even when our friends are involved.
The apostle Paul, no doubt, loved the apostle Peter, but his love for Christ was greater. When Peter acted hypocritically, Paul "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." (See Gal. 2:11-14). Paul was an "adherent" to the teaching of Christ. He was following Christ. He was not a disciple of Peter. He was obligated to his Lord to rebuke Peter. It, no doubt, took a lot of courage for him to do so.
True friends are very valuable. Their "wounds" are "faithful". We need friends. We love our friends, but discipleship must be above friendship!
DISCIPLESHIP MUST BE ABOVE KINSHIP
Pressure from parents, children and other relatives to do wrong is often present. It comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a threat. At other times, its appearance may be subtle. Regardless of how it comes, we must be faithful in following our Lord. We must not compromise one principle of truth and righteousness to appease a relative or to please a companion.
Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I am not come to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matt.10:34-37)
We love our "kin" and appreciate their love and concern for us. We value their love and companionship very highly, but as disciples of Jesus Christ we must put discipleship above kinship! We must not become unfaithful to our Lord and Master because of the pressure from our relatives to do wrong.
DISCIPLESHIP MUST BE ABOVE HARDSHIP
Christians are often faced with hardships. They may be physical, financial, domestic or spiritual. They may come occasionally or they may come often. They may be many or they may be few. They may be light or they may be severe. Hardships may come from without. Those who reject Christ may purposely inflict hardships upon true disciples of Jesus Christ. Hardships may come from within. Unfaithful children of God (or false brethren) may cause true disciples to suffer hardships. (Paul was "in perils among false brethren.")
The apostle Paul told Timothy to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," (2 Tim. 2:3), and "endure afflictions" (2 Tim. 4:5).
Paul faced many hardships. He encountered many problems. He was imprisoned, striped on five different occasions, beaten with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked and faced many perils (2 Cor. 11:23-28). However, Paul was faithful as a disciple of the Lord.
We may face hardships of various kinds, but let us always keep in mind that discipleship must be above hardship!
Jesus said: "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27).
"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." (1 Pet. 4:16).
-- Carrol R. Sutton
Via The Instructor, Vol. 25, No. 7, July 1988