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: