“And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." – Matthew 28:18-20ESV
That may be a life-changing question for you. Too many Christians have stalled, stagnated and settled for being just believers. They have plateaued at a lower level than The Lord Jesus intended when He gave the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). You may think that those terms are synonymous. However, they are not synonymous. Every disciple is a believer. However, not every believer is a disciple.
My dear brothers and sisters, there is a difference between a disciple and Christian convert. The difference between a convert and a disciple is the same difference between giving birth and raising your child. I’ll illustrate the point with this story: A lady was in the hospital giving birth to her first baby. As the pain and contractions increased, she grabbed the nurse, pulled her close to her and screamed, "Is the hard part over!"
The nurse smiled and said, "Honey, this is the easy part. The hard part is in the next eighteen years."
You see, it’s easy to get saved. You simply need to accept Jesus Christ into your heart (Romans 10:9-13). You are saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The hard part is living for Christ once you’re saved.
A Disciple is a life-long learner
In the Bible the word “disciple” is used 270 times. The word “Christian” is only used a few times in the Bible. The reason is because the early disciples of the church understood the purpose of the church was to “make disciples” and, they saw themselves as followers of Jesus Christ.
The word "disciple" literally means a learner who follows after the example of a teacher in order to be like the teacher.
Jesus says, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). You see, disciples are much more disciplined in their Bible study, prayer, witnessing, non-conformity to the world, giving to the work of God, and other aspects of their walk with God. God’s ultimate goal of a disciple is to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). And if that’s not your aim, then you’ll be only a Christian convert.
Being a disciple is pursuing a life-long joyful journey with Jesus, which results in spiritual growth. It is a life that is risky (Luke 9:23-26) but richly rewarding eternally (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
As defined by Christ’s command to His disciples, the purpose of the church is to make learning believers—men and women whose lives reflect a deep commitment to and love for the Lord, His Word, and His people. Are you actively helping your congregation grow in this clear and critical purpose for the church?
Are you a disciple or just a believer?
Hi, I hope you enjoyed my first blog article on our new website. Please encourage you comment and check back regularly for more article as I seek to fulfil the Great Commission and make disciple. God bless!
Pastor Robert J. Fontell, Jr., M.S.