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What Do You Call a Christian? - Disciple of Christ
by Alex M. Lindsay
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Reference: John 8:21-36

As we have already noted, words change meaning over the years. Sometimes they lose meaning through overuse. Sometimes they are mishandled, causing the true meanings to be corrupted or lost. The word "Christian" has been overused and mishandled over the years. It is the purpose of this study to regain its original and true meaning through the study of Biblical words and phrases.

The next term in our study is "Disciple of Christ".

A Disciple is a Follower of Christ
Sometimes people think that faith is a shallow agreement with the facts of the Gospel. The truth, that we say we believe, requires us to do something, not just nod along with the information. Therefore, one who truly believes becomes a follower of Jesus Christ. See John 8:30-32; 13:5; 15:8 cp. Matthew 7:21-27; Ephesians 2:8-10; James 1:22-27; 2:14-18; I John 1:5-7; 2:3-6.

A Disciple is a Believer of Christ - We not only believe in Him, we believe Him.
At this point we should take a closer look at the word "believe." The Greek word means "to believe or to rely upon; to entrust / commit something to someone with confidence." It is related to the Greek word for "faith," which is also translated "belief," "trust," "confidence," "fidelity," "trustworthy," and "faithfulness." Faith / belief is associated with obedience (Romans 1:5; 6:15-17; 16:26; II Corinthians 10:5; I Peter 1:2-5). This brings with it the idea of submission. Faith is shown to be the motive for walking with the Lord and lovingly doing His work. See II Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:5-6 cp. Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 2:6-7.

Conversely, disobedience is the evidence of unbelief. See John 3:18-21; Romans 2:8 (See Romans 2:1-10); I Peter 4:17. Note the example of Israel (Hebrews 3:7 - 4:2).

To believe is to trust and rely on the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - that He is the Son of God, the one and only Savior, sent by the Father to redeem us on the cross, who rose from the dead and calls us to repent of our sins and follow Him. See Luke 5:31-32; John 3:16; 5:24; 8:12; 10:1-10,27-28 cp Acts 17:30-31; Titus 2:11-15.

A True Believer Follows Christ - This is not an option!
A believer in Christ is a disciple of Christ / a follower of Christ. Some have tried to separate these two descriptions - implying that you can be a believer and go to heaven, without being a disciple / follower of Christ. This would mean that being a disciple was extra credit and would merely be for rewards. This would also imply that those who teach that you must be a disciple / follower of Christ for salvation are teaching salvation by works.

  • This does not agree with statements made by Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21-27; 10:38-39; 16:24-26; Luke 6:46; John 8:12; 12:20-36).
  • Consider the words of Peter (I Peter 2:21-25).
  • James said, "‚ĶFaith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:17-18 NKJV).
  • We are not saved by works, but we are not saved without them. "We are not saved by faith plus works. We are saved by faith that works." (Martin Luther). See Hebrews 11:6; 12:14.

Consider the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:18-20).
In order to be faithful to the call of making disciples, we must first, ourselves, be faithful followers of Jesus. See I Corinthians 11:1 cp 4:16; Philippians 3:17; I Thessalonians 1:2-10; I Timothy 4:12; I Peter 5:1-3; Romans 16:17-18. See also II Timothy 2:1-10.

Originally delivered March 31, 2019
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