Almost 30 years ago, John MacArthur wrote the book The Gospel According to Jesus. The book received mixed reviews from the evangelical community and fueled vigorous debates about what some have called “Lordship salvation.”
I thought the book was great and, for the most part, agreed with MacArthur. But the thing I loved about the book was that it caused the reader to examine what it meant to be a Christ follower in a new and fresh light.
During the next several weeks, I want us to examine what Jesus said concerning being His disciple in John’s gospel. Before we do that though, I want us to answer a couple of questions.
- Are you a fan or follower of Jesus?
Millions of people all over the world consider themselves to be Christians. They belong to a church, pay lip service to Christ, and even believe some basic truths about Jesus; yet, they lack intimacy with God, are not transformed by His grace, and are not living lives that bring Him glory.
They are fans that admire Jesus from a distance, rather than followers who pursue Jesus with “single-minded”, whole-hearted devotion.
- What does is mean to be a disciple?
The term Christian is used only three times in the New Testament, while disciple is used over 280 times! Clearly the term disciple is the preferred term for the New Testament writers.
But what does it mean to be a disciple? The word disciple is the Greek mathétés. This word was used by Greek philosophers to describe someone who was a part of a fellowship of students (e.g. the disciples of Socrates). The Jewish rabbis also used this term to refer to a student who studied diligently their teachings (e.g. the disciples of Gamaliel).
So just what is a disciple? A disciple is a growing follower of Christ, who is learning and applying the truth of the Word, which leads to greater intimacy with God, thus resulting in life change.
During the next several weeks, we will explore the words of Jesus in John’s gospel and identify five unmistakable marks of a disciple. A disciple is one who:
- Abides in the Word
- Dies to self-will
- Loves as Jesus loves
- Abides in Christ
- Bears fruit that remains