NEW TESTAMENT DISCIPLESHIP

The Lord has his own definition of what it means to be a disciple.  The Greek dictionaries gives a beginning definition of the word ‘disciple’ as “a learner (i.e. pupil).”  This is only a beginning definition.  Jesus further defines the word ‘disciple’ when he says: “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40).   He gives a similar definition of the purpose of a disciple by stating: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Matt. 10:24-25).  This explains why no man can have two masters.  No man can be in the image of two masters at the same time.  John’s disciples would end up being like John, and Jesus’ disciples would end up being like Jesus.  Here is the Father’s eternal purpose for Jesus’ disciples.  We read of this same purpose many times throughout the scriptures.

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. (Col. 3:9-13)

When we obey Jesus command to make a disciple, we make someone who desires to have a heart and mind like Jesus.  Jesus calls men to learn of him and follow him.  He is meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:28-30).  We learn of him so that we can become like him in heart – meek and lowly, and in all of the other good ways of his heart.  Some leaders emphasize many other purposes (many of a temporary nature like buildings, collection plates and numbers).  This is more in line with the description of false teachers who seek to make merchandise of God’s children (2 Pet. 2:1-3).  We need to emphasize the eternal purpose of God.  The Lord states his purpose in Romans 8:28 to describe this same plan to have all of his children to grow in the image of Christ.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  (Rom. 8:28-29)

He is clear.  He calls souls according to his purpose.  He ‘predestinated’ (predetermines) that these souls should be “conformed to the image of his Son.”  He told the Colossians the same thing:  “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).  We have already put on the new man as we rise from the waters of baptism to walk the new life (Rom. 6:4).  At that time we have ‘put on Christ’ (Gal 3:27).  After we put on Christ it is time for that image which we have put on to grow more in the image of Christ.  This is done by being renewed in the knowledge of Christ (Col. 3:10).  It is an ongoing process.  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”  (2 Cor. 3:18).

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