I would imagine that most Christians understand a disciple to be a follower of Christ. That is true, but let us look a little closer at the word disciple. The word disciple in English means a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. The HELPS WORDS STUDIES adds this note, “the mental effort needed to think something through.” In the case of a disciple of Jesus Christ, it says this, who learns the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require; someone catechized with proper instruction from the Bible with its necessary follow-through (life-applications).”
Therefore, a good disciple of Jesus Christ is one who studies His teachings with the express intention to understand their life applications. The good disciple then is one who puts the life applications of Christ’s teachings into practice. Concerning religious people failing to put the demands of Christ’s teachings into practice, consider what the Apostle Paul wrote.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who …always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-6)
What is incredible about the terms Paul uses, such as, lovers of self, haters of good, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God is the fact that he concludes this list by saying, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. What form of godliness loves pleasure rather than God? Why would he say avoid such men as these? Do not all people need the Gospel?
There is related teaching from Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
My dear readers, the good disciple is one who learns Christ’s teachings and by the grace of God puts them into practice. As Paul taught his disciple Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” This is another way of saying, “the “mental effort needed to think something through.” We might ask ourselves concerning Christ’s teachings what are the implications concerning my behavior with regards to such teaching?
Concerning the Bible itself, Paul continued, “”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17) The Church of Jesus Christ is not to be infested with people who say they are Christians but act in ways contrary to His teachings.
The good disciple will hunger after righteousness. He will hunger to know the word of God because his desire is to know, love, and obey God. The good disciple is certainly not perfect, he sins and has an advocate, like John wrote in the first chapter of his letter, but he pursues ever-increasing righteousness. When he sins he feels the sting of guilt, the pressure to repent from the Holy Spirit, he flees temptation and resists the devil.
When these characteristics are lacking the church should be discerning enough to recognize them and confront the so-called brother.
Are you a good disciple?
Is the church that you attend a good church?
Does your church take seriously all the commands of Christ as recorded in His Word, the Bible?
Does it declare the whole counsel of God, even if that will mean driving people away or disciplining them out of the fellowship?
Are you and the church you attend discerning about people without becoming critical or cynical?
My dear reader, not all Christianity is easy nor is it meant to be. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.