Quick Note to my subscribers: Due to some scheduling challenges this week, I may not be posting my regular chapter-a-day regularly week. Feel free to browse the archive for a fix if you wish. Cheers!
This past week I delivered a message among my local gathering of Jesus’ followers. In the message, I referenced John 8:31-32 which contains one of the most well-known statements Jesus ever made: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” That famous statement, however, is part of an if/then statement, which means that the statement by itself will always be out of context.
Jesus was speaking to a group of believers to whom Jesus was differentiating from those who were disciples.
I was raised to be a believer in Jesus but later I became a disciple of Jesus. Looking back on my experience and observations of growing as a disciple of Jesus for over 40 years, I penned the following list contrasting the two. I was asked by many to make this publicly available. Here it is:
• A believer makes a mental agreement that Jesus was who He said He was and that the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament are both true and worthwhile.
• A disciple makes a life-long decision to willingly and obediently think, speak, and act in accordance with the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament.
• A believer goes to church on Sunday, at least occasionally, because it is expected.
• A disciple attends worship regularly out of a desire to corporately worship God and make meaningful, relational life connections with other disciples.
• A believer brings their Bible to church to follow along with the preacher (and because it looks good to have it with you).
• A disciple devours the Bible continuously as spiritual nourishment and Life sustenance.
• A believer prays in church on Sunday, says the Lord’s Prayer, prays over meals, and prays in time of need.
• A disciple acknowledges Holy Spirit’s indwelling and God’s ever-presence, making everyday life an ongoing conversation with God.
• A believer “fellowships” on Sunday mornings before & after service with other believers.
• A disciple lives everyday life growing in increasingly intimate relationships with fellow disciples: loving one another, confessing to one another, forgiving one another, admonishing one another, building up one another, bearing one another’s burdens, being generous with one another, and comforting one another.
• A believer seeks assurance of entrance to heaven after death.
• A disciple seeks to die to self each day in order to be a citizen and ambassador of heaven on earth.
• A believer excuses their lack of knowledge, education, training, standing, goodness, holiness, purity, and/or godliness, in order to justify leaving the work of ministry to paid professionals on staff of the local institutional church.
• A disciple receives God’s grace, forgiveness, and indwelling, translating it into an embrace of the spiritual reality that Jesus made every follower a minister of the Gospel of Christ at every moment of every day no matter one’s age, gender, education, ability, sinfulness, or past failures.
• A believer gives God a place in their lives.
• A disciple surrenders their life to God in response to the life that His Son gave for them.
• A believer comes to the bricks-and-mortar church (or watches the YouTube feed) to pay God a visit.
• A disciple is the flesh-and-blood church taking God’s love & presence to every person with whom they visit.
If you’d like to watch the entire message:
7 thoughts on “Believer vs. Disciple”
Thank you Tom for sharing your perspectives between a believer and disciple. Since I see myself somewhere between believer and disciple, my own faith journey will continue to deepen.
Being a disciple is not a status to be achieved, but a life-long pursuit of Christ-like-ness. You are a disciple-in-process, my friend, just like me. Press on! Thanks for sharing.
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Tom, thank you for sharing more. Like so many others, I will continue to press on.
Excellent Tom! Convicting. Thanks for challenging us!
Thanks Tom! I’m so glad you shared this incredible list. It’s great, as was your message yesterday. There’s a lot of profound truth here of what a life fully surrendered to Christ looks like. Real freedom comes when we are so connected to Jesus we simply do what he did, namely love God and love others. “A disciple surrenders their life to God in response to the life that His Son gave for them.” Love it!
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Thanks for the kind words, Bev! Have a great week.