What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus?

I want to talk about something quite controversial today. I know it goes a little against the grain but it’s on my heart to talk about so here goes!

I want to start by asking you 2 question’s. Answer them honestly, pray about them and consult your bible should you need to. I want you to answer them once at the beginning of this blog post, and once at the end. Depending on the answers you give, you may find yourself quite challenged during this blog post. I pray the spirit of the Lord is with you and reveals his truth to your heart. I would love to hear from anyone who this post impacts, but of course if you’re not comfortable sharing I pray this post will bring you closer to the father and that his light may shine through you and bring him glory.

My question’s to you are these;

1) Are we solely saved by faith in Jesus Christ?

2) What is required of us to be called a disciple of Jesus?

Now, I don’t pretend to know everything, or believe that I am right and any who share a contrary view are wrong. Precisely the opposite, My greatest fear is being wrong and displeasing the Father. Before I write anything, I wait for the Father to reveal his truths to me and invite him into the writing and editing process right here alongside me. For, where I fall short, the Father does not! His message is so clear in my heart right now I feel compelled to share it with you! Understand, this information neither serves my own agenda, or makes my life any ‘easier’. There is no hidden agenda and I am certainly not trying please myself to make being a Christian any easier on myself. In fact my life would be much easier believing my salvation rested solely on the shoulders of belief in Jesus Christ. However I have learnt the meaning of ‘no servant is greater than their master’ John 15:20. And as Jesus did, and commands, so too must we.

Firstly I want to start by explaining that I am a disciple of Jesus and so all scripture quoted in this post will be the words of Jesus. For Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through him. John 14:6.

Now to begin.

I want to dispute the position of Christians who believe that, no matter their actions in this life they are forgiven because they have Faith in Jesus Christ. (Controversial I know!) That regardless of how they treat others, live their life, or the loosely barren relationship they have with the Father they are safe under the umbrella of faith in Jesus which shields them from the repercussions their actions may warrant. Ultimately believing they are automatically forgiven and blameless. I know there are aspects of the Bible which point to this being the case but I want to draw people to the teachings of Jesus in which he is clear that to be recognised as his disciple and ‘in the vine’ there are ways in which one must distinguish oneself which ultimately shows us to be a disciple of Jesus.

John 15:1-17 records Jesus saying;

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept 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: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

I really love this passage, as it is such a clear message from Jesus, when often his teachings took the form of parables. Very clearly Jesus declares:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept 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.

Clear as day: If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.

Faith in Jesus definitely comes first, it enters us into the vine. However, in order to stay in it we must live by Jesus’s commands.

So, what are Jesus’s commands to his disciples?

Matthew 22:37-40.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This command is the greatest, in Jesus’s own words. We are called to love God above all else (simple, but not always easy!) This means to put his will for our lives above our own, and to love and care for him above ourselves and others. How can the Fathers will be done if we don’t allow or accept it in our lives? Secondly we must love everyone as we love ourselves (again simple, but not easy!)

Matthew 10:37

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 7:1-2

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Echoed here in Matthew 18:23-35. The parable of the unmerciful servant:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

At no point did Jesus ever elude to our words and actions being consequence free, in fact quite the opposite. Jesus told that it is not what enters into our bodies which defile us, but what comes out of them!

Matthew 15:11

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Jesus freely gave healing and forgiveness to all who asked for it, as is the amazing grace and faithfulness of the Father! Jesus’s departing words were often “sin no more.” If faith in his Holy name was all that is required of us then why would Jesus teach otherwise?

I refer also to the testimony of Ian McCormack which I have shared on my previous blog post. God himself told Ian that he must live in a new light when he returns from heaven. Again I ask the question, If faith in Jesus’s Holy name was all that is required of us then why would God himself ask for anything else?

I am increasingly aware that this blog post will be quite long, I ask you to read the parables of Jesus as they all contain varying forms of the same message. Forgiveness , mercy, love And obedience to the Father. Two I would like to draw considerable attention to are; The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 in which the master gives talents to his servants , with expectancy of considerable profits. The second is that of the wedding banquet parable in Matthew 22 in which many are invited, few are chosen. Those not clothed correctly are thrown out. In heaven our clothing is that of the spirit. We must wear what pleases God. Humility, kindness, love, faithfulness, joy, forgiveness, peace, patience, self-control and goodness (As per the fruits of the spirit and Jesus’s commands.)

Finally I leave you with the message of Repentance from Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15, and Matthew 4:17. This is a crucially important aspect of discipleship. The biblical meaning of repentance, cited from the unlikely source of Wikipedia explains; “The repentance (metanoia) called for throughout the Bible is a summons to a personal, absolute and ultimate unconditional surrender to God as Sovereign. Though it includes sorrow and regret, it is more than that. … In repenting, one makes a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God.

Please remember that God’s Love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for those he loves, and whom love him is endless! Jesus’s message is that we are not above him (John 15:20) and as Jesus commands and does, so must we do also. On the days we unwittingly fail we are cradled with grace and mercy should we repent. However this is not an excuse to abuse God’s love and mercy by living our lives as we see fit, rather than as Jesus calls us to live. In order to know the Fathers will, and live in his will we must have a close personal relationship with him so that he can reveal his plan and purpose for our life. We cannot accept what we assume to be what he wants of us, as Jesus says in Matthew 7:22-23; “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ I argue strongly that it is not enough to simply call Jesus the Lord of your life, you must live as his disciple in the way that pleases him, by keeping his commands.

John 14:21.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

I look forward to your answers should you wish to share them.

God bless.

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