Believer or Disciple?

Is there a difference between a believer and a disciple? Many people think that these two terms are synonymous, but some would suggest that they are not. In his fine work “Devotions for the Man in the Mirror,” Patrick Morley writes, “America has been saturated with the Gospel, and countless millions have leaped at the chance to receive Christ without knowing or counting the cost. Many of these people leave the revival meetings and go about the business of life as usual. They don’t obey Christ, meditate on the word, talk with God, or manifest the changed life of those who had surrendered their will to almighty God.” We are converted at salvation in a second, but obedience and discipleship are daily, moment-by-moment decisions and commitments for life. Every disciple is a believer, but not every believer is a disciple. From the Book of John, Jesus gives us three defining characteristics of a disciple: (1) they obey God’s Word, (2) they love others unconditionally, and (3) they bear much fruit.

How Do We Recognize A Disciple?

Obey God’s Word:  Jesus said, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). Often times this scripture is taken out of context and used as a spiritually liberating platitude. However, those who want to be set free – the promise – are liberated only to the extent that they are obeying God’s Word – the practice. A disciple is someone who reads God’s Word on a daily basis, digests God’s Word, applies God’s Word, and manifests God’s Word in their life. Freedom is predicated to obedience. Are you obeying God’s Word? Love One Another: Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Jesus’ love is unconditional. A disciple of Jesus must love no less. Agape love is not an emotional feeling. A disciple is someone willing to lay their life down for his friends. Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:10-14). Are you laying down your life for others? Bear Much Fruit: Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). A disciple bears fruit – bringing new believers to Christ, immersing them in the character and life of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. Are you bearing fruit? Are you a disciple? Becoming a disciple will cost you everything, but as Dallas Willard once said, “Discipleship is costly, but the cost of not discipling is even more costly.” What about you? Will you truly obey God’s Word, love others as Jesus loves willing to lay your life down for theirs, and bear fruit by praying and reaching out to unbelievers and begin making disciples as Jesus instructed in Matthew 28:19,20? Doug Morrell –