This passage is out of Walking In The Basics of God’s Grace. It has been updated and revised a little since it’s the printing in the book.
You might ask what the difference is between being a disciple instead of a convert? Well the answer lies in their own purposes. See a convert in this case is someone who has changed their belief from one way of thinking to another. In this case even non-believers in Jesus have a religion of some sorts in place of a relationship with God, whether it is to some other god or gods or even humanism. A convert in this case then would basically be one who believed in something that was really nothing and now believes and confesses that Jesus is truly Lord. Being a convert to Christianity is probably about 99% of the Christian population. It is more of a self-preservation mode because the majority of Christians became so only to have eternal fellowship with God, which many limit in their mind to going to heaven some day. It is rare though that they actually follow in the footsteps of Jesus, but usually seek complacency.
A lot of churches want converts. These are people who do not challenge authority to be accountable for being faithful to God so that the fruit of the Spirit is produced. I believe the majority of pastors honestly want to help people but they want to do it their way and not God’s because of religious tradition. I also have noticed that many started out with pure motives in wanting to see the lost come to Jesus but along the way religion happens. We know this to be true because we do not see the works that Jesus did manifested to the consistent degree that he did and there are many who no longer believe they are a part of the daily life for every believer. Most people go to a service to get a good feeling and some entertainment, possibly donate money and then they are done for the week.
On the other hand a disciple is someone who becomes the very image of their teacher. The apostles were disciples of Jesus and when they were being discipled they slowly started putting away their own ways of thinking and a lot of their mannerisms which were a result of their beliefs, to be like Jesus. To a small degree you can see a part of what I mean when you see two people become friends and over time they, unknowingly in many cases, start acting like one another in possibly the way they walk, talk, act, think and live. But the goal of a disciple is to be as close of a representation of their teacher as possible in the way they think, act and live so they can continue on with the teachings and purpose of their master.
John 14:7 KJV If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
John 5:19-20 KJV Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
John 5:30 KJV I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 8:28-32 KJV Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. 30 As he spake these words, many believed on him. 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Jesus was ultimately the perfect disciple himself. The reality is just what he said, in that upon seeing Jesus you saw our Father because he only did what our Father does. Jesus walked, talked, acted, thought, loved and lived a life that perfectly personified our Father. Jesus had so emptied himself of himself that when you interacted with Jesus it was as though you were interacting with our Father directly. See a disciple no longer looks inward to himself for anything but becomes the perfect representation of their teacher. They do what they do because it is what their teacher would do.
Matthew 14:29 KJV And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
This is one of the great examples of being a disciple. Peter saw Jesus walking on water and Peter being a disciple of Jesus knew that if his master could do it then he should be able to as well. Notice that as long as Peter remained in the mindset of a disciple he did what Jesus did because he expected to be able to do what Jesus could do. It was not until Peter looked inward to his own ability and not staying focused on Jesus that he started to sink. Too many look toward Jesus for ability and then once they start to see fruit they quit looking towards Jesus and start to lean onto themselves, looking inward for sustainability.
Proverbs 3:5 KJV Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Hopefully you are starting to see the difference then between someone who believes in the word and may go to church every week and take part in some functions versus someone who says it is not I that live but Christ in me. When you get up in the morning do you thank God for your place of employment or do you see it as an opportunity to share the love of God? Do you see your job as your source of income or do you see God as your source of provision and where you work at just an opportuntiy for His provision? Where do you see yourself fitting in at when it comes to the scriptures?
Think about this. When you go to church many of the teachings that you hear are from what perspective? In other words what role do you see yourself playing or are you being taught to look at. You essentially have the Old Testament, the synoptic gospels and then the balance of the New Testament epistles. Are you being compared to the lost children of Israel in the desert or do you see yourself that way? How about as the lepers, the woman with the issue of blood, blind Bartimaeus? Are these people who you are being taught to look towards to see what was done in their lives? Do you relate to them and their circumstances? What about Jesus? Do you see yourself as one ministering to those in need and putting the will of our Father before anything else?
Right now I mainly want to start dealing with how God wants you to see yourself. Just as though you were looking into a mirror and seeing the reflection he wants you to see out of who he says you are and not what you think you see. When you read the four gospels it is crucial to start seeing yourself only in the way God sees you. There are three distinct categories in the gospels. There is Jesus who is the maximum personification of God, then the disciples and then the rest of the world.
Where do you see yourself in these three categories? Now when I ask you this I do not ever want you to fill condemned but hopefully motivated. You can be wherever you want to be and God will continue to love you no matter what. Do not feel guilty about where you see yourself because guilt, condemnation and shame only come from believing the lies of the devil over the liberty we have in Jesus. But how do you see yourself? When you read the scriptures do you identify more possibly with those who are in need seeking the aid of Jesus? Do you see yourself forsaking the things of this world to follow him like the disciples? Or do you see yourself as Jesus ministering to those in need? Ultimately God would like you to identify with Jesus, for just as he is now (Jesus) so are we in this world.
This might sound like a pretty bold statement but that is the whole goal of discipleship. A disciple learns all that they can because they wholeheartedly believe in what they are being taught. This way when their master passes on they can continue on teaching in the masters place so the vision does not die.
Everyone is at different stages in these three categories and honestly most are content with where they are. They may not like the circumstances they live with on a daily basis, but even the circumstances are not enough to cause a desire in them to be born for change. Personally without realizing it, and I really mean like so many totally oblivious to having even the slightest clue, I was living as someone always seeking and then getting frustrated and giving up. Then in becoming complacent again it was not until circumstances changed and became uncomfortable again that I would seek once again for change. For me it was not until I learned about God’s unconditional love towards me and his grace that I wanted to become a disciple in hopes of fulfilling this relationship.
This in itself presented an issue though because of the discipleship training, or the lack thereof, that exists in many churches. As I have already mentioned discipleship is becoming a mirror copy, the very image, of the teacher. Unfortunately many of the discipleship programs that are available are not designed to make you in the image and likeness of Jesus but of their own church. As you grow in becoming a disciple of Jesus people will and should start coming to you so that they can experience Jesus. Many will also persecute you as they did him just because you want to share his love. Ironic isn’t it that something that everyone wants and needs is not always well received.
Jesus did not start his ministry until he was baptized and then filled with the Holy Spirit. I know that there are many things Jesus did for us and many things he did as an example and we are to do likewise as followers. Receiving the Holy Spirit is one of the first things as a believer we need to do. I know that when we believe on Jesus for eternal life that God dwells in us, His temples,and since God dwells in us the Holy Spirit does as well. But I also know that there is a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the many things that because someone did not experience they wrote it off as not true or not for today along with many of the other things in scripture for us as believers, which is how religion and denominations come about. Some do not believe in it, some say you receive it when you receive Jesus as Lord, but the bible without trying to manipulate the scriptures states that every believer needs to receive to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to do what he did and as in Acts it is He who empowered the church in its birth.
Holy Spirit led Jesus in times as to where to go as well as gave him information on his surroundings. There were several instances when Jesus perceived what people were thinking, which is what we would call a word of knowledge. Holy Spirit is also the power behind, the ability, do to what cannot take place in the natural.
Jesus commanded his disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils and preach the good news. His disciples did this not because they knew they had the ability in themselves to do so but because they saw Jesus do it. They knew that if Jesus had called them his disciples he would never command them to do something that could not be done and even more so since they had already witnessed him doing it. But they did not do this alone because Jesus gave them power to do so.
Holy Spirit is our most intimate direct connection with God. When He resides in us we are in constant communication Spirit to spirit. We may not be sensitive to our spirit but in fact the communication is always going instantly back and forth. I believe this is what many call the sixth sense and it is when we are sensitive to our own spirit.
As disciples of Jesus we also need to have the same purpose as Jesus. Jesus main purpose was to restore the eternal relationship between God our Father and his children. He did this by destroying the works of the devil. Is this something we can do? Absolutely, but not entirely in the same way. Jesus needed to destroy the works of the devil in order for the ability for relationships to be re-established. Jesus did this by his own personal sacrifice for all humanity, everyone who ever has and ever will exist, and because of his sacrifice we are all found righteous in Jesus regardless of our flesh. This does not mean everyone is automatically going to experience eternal life because scripture after scripture states it is a free gift to be received, but our Father no longer judges us because he judged Jesus. This may shock some folks but not everyone wants to experience eternal life nor does everyone want to be healthy and whole or prosperous. If God just automatically healed and saved everyone then He would be going against the will of a lot of people and God will not violate anyone’s will.
We can carry on this work though not by our own self-righteous efforts, but by teaching all who will hear that they have been made righteous through Jesus in what he did. That we have a Father who is God and loves us unconditionally and the relationship that had been estranged has been restored by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Maybe you never saw yourself playing as an important role as Jesus and some might think that this is a pretty radical statement, but I do not and this is why. I agree that only Jesus could bring about the way of salvation for all of humanity but he has commanded us to go forth and share the gospel.
Romans 10:13-17 KJV For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Over the years potentially millions of people have expired and will experience hell because we have not shared a message of God’s grace, mercy and unconditional love. This was revealed in the most powerful way by God through sending his only begotten son to die for all of humanity. We need to really understand how valuable we are, each and every single person to God who is the only one superior to us because we are his children. He created everything in this physical realm just for us. Adam is called the son of God not the creation of God like animals. We are the only ones who are the temple of God through Holy Spirit.
Though it should be the goal of every believer to take part in the spreading of the gospel, as the word teaches everyone is unique and everyone has their own special part to play in accomplishing this. We all should do the basics in ministering to those around us. Sharing words of encouragement, demonstrating the finished works of Jesus through healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils and preaching the good news but some will be stronger in other areas as well. A very practical way to that we are sometimes unaware of is what people see in us and the life we experience as we walk daily in the quality of life that God desires for us all to experience.
Most believers have heard about the fivefold ministry; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I have yet to meet someone who did not fit into one or more of these rolls though they probably do not realize it. I would have never seen myself in any of the rolls until I saw myself more like God does. I realized then I am more of a teacher since that is what I really love to do, though I know I am not limited to a teacher because God can quicken something in me to do whatever is necessary. Teaching is just what gives me joy so that is how I know what God has gifted me in.
Probably one of the greatest challenges for any believer is the transition from self-reliance to God’s provision. Too many times we try to incorporate God into our lives. Not only is this very limiting to what God alone can truly accomplish in us and through us but it can lead to disappointment, frustration and then rebellion. I am not saying everyone will go through all that, but that is the trend. When we come to the revelation that we are to be about our Father’s business and let him provide for us in however that may be you will find a greater peace than you have probably ever known.-
Think of it this way, what if one day you found out that someone in your family was extremely wealthy and they setup a trust fund in which you find out you are a part of because unfortunately they passed away. There are millions of dollars in this fund and basically let’s say it is set up so that every year you and you alone get all the interest earned for that year which just happens to be $500,000. It is set up so the interest rate never goes lower and no one can ever take any of the principal. Now you may be skeptical until you got your first check but I bet after that first check there would be an expectation after that on a yearly basis. If you steward this money the way you are supposed to then you will have more than enough to live off and to give to every good work as you are led. In fact you will notice that the burden and pressure for you to produce for self-preservation is gone. All that pressure just lifts and a new-found freedom enters. I am balancing this out by stating that you need to be a good steward which more than likely means you need to change the way you look at money.
With this example though we see that one becomes free to pursue the leading of God because their focus is not on income. Reality is this is true for every believer in Jesus but most just do not believe in God’s provision or how it works. Now we will all need to labor in one way or another but we should never look at a job as our only source of income from God. God needs to be your source and you need to be a steward. This way regardless of your circumstances, like Paul for example, as a steward you can focus on ministering to those in need and learn to live with what you have. But be profitable with everything you do have to manage.
The main issue here is do not limit God. If God leads you to go somewhere or do something then listen and obey. Obedience is rewarded always and is part of being a disciple. God’s provision may not always be in the mailbox but in another place all together. The more you stay in your comfort zone, which is more like a convert, the more you are limiting yourself to receive from God. But you can get to a point where acting in obedience and trusting solely on God, such as a disciple, is where your comfort zone becomes.