Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” NKJV
There has been a discussion or debate perhaps in every generation about what distinguishes, determines, or describes a true Christian. Our Lord Jesus Christ spent all night in prayer with the Father to select the initial 12 men that would walk with Him in every corner of that small region of the earth that our Lord would confine Himself to. These men were chosen by Him and did not make a decision for Him. These men were called by Him disciples. The word disciple or disciples is used in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Book of Acts 255 times. This is the word used to describe a person that has been saved, sanctified, and sent by God the Father, God the Son the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. These early men and women as well as all in every generation are they who have continued in His Words and are His disciples indeed and are free by the truth contained in His Words.
John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” NKJV
From the very beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry, He and the people who followed Him were questioned about many things by the well-established Jewish religious leaders. As we have learned from all four of the gospel writers, our Lord and these men with Him were watched, scrutinized, and criticized about everything that they did or did not do amongst the Jewish people. Their motives and intentions were always questioned by the religious leaders, they were ignored for the most part by the Gentiles (Romans, etc.), and many of the common Jewish people were drawn to our Lord and these men for the miracles done by them. Our Lord gave these men power to perform miracles as He so performed them and this would always draw crowds or multitudes of people. However, as we discovered later on at the end after Christ died many of these multiplied thousands, who were fed, healed of disease, made to walk and see were nowhere to be found as we find only 120 men and women together in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Also we know that one of the original 12 (Judas) was not a true disciple as he betrayed our Lord for money and the gospel writer the Apostle John confirmed his true heart as he records that Judas (the treasurer for the 12) was a thief as he would commonly, constantly, and continually take money from the treasury used to supply the earthly needs of the 12 and our Lord (see the article entitled “Things or Christ”, http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=87513 ).
John 8:37-44 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father --- God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My Word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” NKJV
What happened to the multiplied thousands that followed Him and received healing from His hands? Were they really disciples? What about the multiplied billions today who say they are Christians? Are they Christians/disciples? The English word disciple comes from the Greek word mathetes, which means a pupil, a student, or a learner. The Book of Acts records the word Christian once and the New Testament writer the Apostle Peter records the word once. The English word Christian comes from the Greek word Christianos, which simply means a follower of Christ. Therefore, we can safely say that since the word disciple is used by our Lord to describe those who belong to Him, then the word Christian and disciple are synonymous with each other. Therefore, we can conclude also that no one can be a Christian without being a true disciple and if one is not a true disciple we can conclude that they have not yet been made a Christian by the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit that produces new birth. Earlier in this account from the gospel writer John Mark, he details our Lord having fed 4,000 men, being troubled in Spirit by the Pharisees wanting some other sign from Him, warning the disciples of the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Herod, healing a blind man at Bethsaida, rebuking Peter and explaining or teaching them of His approaching death then resurrection, and now finally describing to all who His true disciples would be (see the article entitled “A Christian Indeed”, http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=125568 ).
Those people our Lord calls will understand that they have been bought with the price of His blood at Calvary and now their spirit, soul, and body is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ. Their old life of being a servant or slave of sin is finished and they are dead now to sin but alive to Jesus Christ. They deny their flesh and old passions and submit to His will as He reveals it to them through His Word that will remain forever. They consider themselves dead to their old way of life and now purpose to follow in the same narrow way of the Lord Jesus Christ accompanying Him pursuing His desires and passions. They desire to present their bodies to Him every day as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Him, which is their reasonable service. They no longer want to conform to this world system, but instead want their minds renewed continually so that they can prove what is pleasing, acceptable, and the Lord Jesus’ perfect will (see the article entitled “The Proper Example of a True Believer”, http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=123957 ).
Romans 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. NKJV
Romans 6:20-22 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. NKJV
1 Corinthians 15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. NKJV
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. NKJV
Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. NKJV
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. NKJV
Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. NKJV
1 Peter 4:1-2 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. NKJV
Our Lord describes His disciples as the unashamed. They love Him and His Words with such a passion that’s so strong that even the threat or fear of death cannot shake, for even if the threat of their skin being peeled from their bodies from head to toe would be made to them, they would (by the grace He gives) still not deny His Words. His Words to them are like food to their bodies they hunger and thirst for His Words every single day to strengthen and nourish their spirit and soul. His Words are more precious to them than any amount of silver or gold and if the whole world were offered to them by the enemy they would count it as dung in comparison to the excellency of the knowledge and intimacy of Christ Jesus their Lord and His Words. They cringe every time they grieve Him by their own sinful words and actions. Their burning passion is to be a workman rightly dividing His Word of Truth and then expressing that truth in love the kind and compassionate parts as well as the hard and stern sayings. By His Words they seek to cleanse their hearts every morning and ingest them and make them the very essence of their being. Far from being ashamed of His Words and His gospel their very spiritual breath is His Words see “Letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini”http://ag.org/top/downloads/Abedini_Letter.pdf).
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. NKJV
Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” NKJV
2 Timothy 1:8 “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” NKJV
2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. NKJV
Hebrews 13:13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. NKJV
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945
“It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. You will find that the place to enter in is in your business, as you walk along the streets, in the ordinary ways of life, when no one dreams you are praying, and the reward comes openly, a revival here, a blessing there.” Oswald Chambers 1874-1917
““True it is,” said Bishop Hooper, the night before he suffered martyrdom, “that life is sweet, and death is bitter, but eternal death is more bitter, and eternal life is more sweet.” As the happiness of Heaven with Christ, is enough to countervail the loss of life itself for Christ, so the gain of all the world in sin, is not sufficient to countervail the ruin of the soul by sin.” “Those that are ashamed of Christ in this world where He is despised, He will be ashamed of in that world where He is eternally adored. They shall not share with Him in His glory then, that were not willing to share with Him in His disgrace now.” Matthew Henry 1662-1714
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…