Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer

"Communing with the Lord," C.V. Lacroix
There are those who teach the heresy that some saints are merely saved believers while others are disciples. They make a false distinction between the two.  This separates the church and divides the Body into two different classes.  The following study is a refutation of that destructive heresy.

Easy Believing vs. Saving Faith
This error comes because people think it is easy to believe on Jesus unto salvation. But is it really easy?

In the eighth chapter of John's gospel we read, “Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him.” (John 8:30). Were these people all going to be saved, who put their faith in Him?  The very next verse says that the Lord had some words for them. “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.'" (Joh 8:31). He laid out conditions for being a disciple and it is clear from His words that if they do not continue in His teaching, they are not His disciple and will die in their sins!

Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do." (Joh 8:39-40). Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." (Joh 8:44-47)

Following Jesus and Becoming a Disciple
"At the Cross" by C.V. Lacroix
Listen to what Jesus said about “coming after Him” in all three synoptic gospels:

"And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"  (Mar 8:34).

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'" (Mat 16:24)

"And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'" (Luk 9:23).

Now compare that to what Jesus said about "being a disciple of His."

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luk 14:26-27)

"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."  (Luk 14:33)

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; (Joh 8:31).

We must continue in His word in order to truly be His disciples.  This is working out your salvation. The same words used in Jesus’ criteria for “coming after Him” are found in His criteria for “being His disciple.”  The criteria are cross bearing, denying self, following Him, etc. Following Jesus and being a true disciple are the same thing in Jesus’ teachings.  He laid out the same criteria for coming after Him as He did for being a disciple.  Therefore it is not possible to follow Him without carrying a cross and still be saved.  It’s not possible to ultimately be saved in the end without becoming His disciple.  While you may initially be justified, if you fail to become a disciple of Christ, you will ultimately be disqualified for heaven.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to do everything He commanded them to do. He did not command them to go and make "believers." He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat 28:19-20).  Do you see how Jesus defined "making disciples"? He said it included baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that He commanded His first Twelve disciples.

Salvation vs. the Lordship of Christ
We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ as the LORD, not just the Savior.  The Scripture says of the Philippian jailer, "And after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'  (Act 16:30,31).  The jailer was told to believe in the Lord Jesus.  Salvation is through our LORD. "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th 5:9)

We were called into fellowship with the LORD, not just the Savior. "God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1Co 1:9). Paul the apostle was “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Act 20:21).  Paul preached Jesus as Lord, not simply Savior. He said, "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake." (2Co 4:5).

Both Peter and Paul’s epistles are addressed to those who have acknowledged Jesus as our LORD, not just Savior (Eph 1:3; Phil 1:2; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1,2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Philemon 1:3; 2 Peter 1:2). The whole church is in the Lord.  There is not one part in the Lord and one part just in the Savior.

We are baptized in the name of the LORD not just the Savior. "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Act 19:5). We have peace through our LORD, not just our Savior Jesus. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1). We have reconciliation through our LORD, not simply our Savior. "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Rom 5:11)

We escape the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the LORD. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”  (2Pe 2:20). It is the LORD who by His great mercy caused us to be born again. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1Pe 1:3)

God’s grace is for those who love the LORD, not for those who simply accept Him as their Savior. "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love."  (Eph 6:24)  It is the LORD who has given us eternal comfort. "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace." (2Th 2:16)

We are saved by receiving the LORD from the first moment, and we continue in our salvation by walking in Him. "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col 2:6). This continuing in His word and walking in the LORD are how we work out our salvation. "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling."  (Phi 2:12)

We have eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD, not simply by accepting Him as our Savior. "So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Rom 5:21).  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Rom 6:23).  You were washed, sanctified and justified all in the name of the LORD. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1Co 6:11)

Salvation is impossible without making Jesus Lord.  The one who seeks to save His own life has not surrendered it to Jesus’ Lordship and therefore cannot be saved.  Paul said "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom 10:9). Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mar 8:35).

Repentance Implies Lordship
The very fact that we must repent to be saved implies that Jesus is now Lord of our lives. If we repent as Jesus commanded us to, we will do what our Lord commands, not live as we please. From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mat 4:17).  This is the same thing the disciples preached – that men should repent. (Mk 6:12).  Jesus denounced the cities that did not repent after seeing His miracles (Mt 11:20). Jesus taught that unless you repent, you will perish (Lk 13:3). According to brother Yong-Doo Kim, pastor of the Lord's Church in South Korea, it is possible to repent and to know you have repented, yet, have no fruits of repentance. In that case, you have repented with no evidence. There is no broken heart, no sincerity! Believers must realize once again the seriousness of sin. We must realize how serious the consequences are for sin! Even the smallest sins are as just as severe. They are all traps. The gospel is a message of repentance, spiritual freedom, being free from sins, and enjoying freedom from sickness. You need to fervently repent with tears and true contrition.

Those who only listen to His word and do not do what it says are not submitted to His Lordship.  I have news for those who think these people are saved.  He says they are like a house built on sand. They will be destroyed. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Mat 7:26-27). They may call Him Lord, but it still makes no difference. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Mat 7:22-23)

This is why we must continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the LORD, and not simply “accept” Him as Savior. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."  (2Pe 3:18)  Those who turn the grace of our LORD into a license for sin actually deny our Master and LORD. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jud 1:4). For those carnal believers in the Corinthian church, Paul explained what needed to happen so they could be saved.  It was not that they just needed to say a prayer once. "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."  (1Co 5:5)

All Ten Virgins Going to Heaven?
"Communion with the Lord", C.V. Lacroix
Those with a liberal perspective believe that all ten virgins go to heaven. But that is not true. The five foolish virgins who were not ready when the Bridegroom returned were shut out of His presence.  In this parable, these five foolish ones have no part in the wedding. 

Some believe that all ten virgins are saved but only five were part of "the Bride." However, the words of the Bridegroom to the five foolish virgins were that He never knew them, even though they called Him Lord. We can observe a similarity between this parable and other parables in which certain people who called Jesus “Lord, Lord” were told to depart from Him. "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'"  (Mat 25:10-12).  Also see Matt 7:22-23; 25:44.

Is it possible to have dead and fruitless faith?
Do you think you can get to heaven with a dead and fruitless faith? James tells us about a faith that is dead.  Dead means it produces no life at all.  (James 2:26). It is a faith without works. Jesus said that if we do not abide in Him, we are like a branch that is cut off from the tree that cannot produce fruit.  Such branches are thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:2,6).  There is no such thing as believers in Christ remaining in the vine throughout their entire lives without bearing fruit and then entering into heaven for eternity.  We must bear fruit for the Father's glory during our lives on earth.

Areas where Christians often Disobey the Lord
I'd like to mention some common areas where we as Christians often disobey the Lord without realizing it. One of them is keeping Sundays holy.  According to brother Yong-Doo Kim's book series, Baptize by Blazing Fire, some are in hell, because they treated the Sabbath or Sunday carelessly. On Sundays they would spend money for their pleasure. These people are in hell for not keeping Sundays Holy. There are some who ran businesses and assumed that the Lord would forgive them. They were deceived. Brother Kim said, "The Lord had commanded us to keep Sundays Holy in every way. He rebuked watching television, dining out with family, and other secular activities."

He continued, "Furthermore, the Lord did not permit Christians to run any business of any kind for profit on Sundays. He also did not approve Saints to do any shopping on Sundays." You should avoid personal activities on Sunday such as fishing, outdoor activities, watching secular television, surfing on the internet, playing games, and etc. This is not legalism.  Even though the gospel was introduced into the world, the Law has not been abolished (Matt 5:17-18; Rom 3:31).

Another common area where Christians disobey the Lord carelessly is tithing. Yet people who do not properly tithe are ending up in hell. Another area is grumbling and complaining. Some saints publicly appear to be devoted and obedient, but they are grumblers and complainers behind closed doors.  If they die in this state, they will go to hell.  Hot tempers is another big pitfall. There are no reasons to fight or argue.  There are many other Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, as I said in my article by that name, including smoking cigarettes, partying by drinking alcohol, listening to non-Christian music, dirty thoughts, using profane language, being ashamed of the Lord in front of your friends, sexual immorality, etc.

Putting it All Together
There are some who claim that it is possible to be saved without making Jesus LORD of your life, without putting Him on the throne of your heart.  This is false.  We are called into fellowship with our Lord.  We are saved, we are baptized, we are reconciled, and we have eternal life all through our LORD Jesus. Paul preached Jesus as Lord.

There are some who claim to believe in Jesus but whose faith is dead.  There are so-called disciples of Jesus who do not believe and who turn away from following Him. The requirements of coming after Jesus for salvation and being His disciple are the same and are very strict.  There is no easy and comfortable believing in Jesus.  The cost of discipleship is high.

Those who have believed unto salvation evidenced by a living, fruit-producing faith in Christ, they are disciples.  To be saved is to be a faithful and obedient disciple and to be a faithful and obedient disciple is to be saved.  We must all continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the LORD. As we go, we must make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us to do.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "Communing with the Lord," "At the Cross," and "Communion with the Lord" by my sixteen-year-old daughter, C.V. Lacroix.  You can find more of her Christian artwork at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read Michael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing Fire Taken to Hell Angelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the Dead Nigerian Pastor Raised from the Dead Revelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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