BECOMING A DISCIPLE; THE DOORWAY TO SONSHIP
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved (delivered, protected, healed, saved, preserved, made whole) and shall enter in and proceed forth, and find pasture. John 10:9
There are conditions for becoming a child of God; accept and admit the fact that you are a sinner and destined for death and condemnation. Believe, by faith, that the sinless Son of God, Jesus, shed His blood on the cross taking your punishment; acknowledge that Jesus died and was resurrected, displaying His victory over sin and death so that you might be forgiven, made righteous and reconciled to God. Then, upon this acknowledgement, receive God’s gift of Grace through faith and profess your newfound relationship with God as His child!
Jesus said I am the door and if we enter we shall proceed forth (into the rooms of His House or the Kingdom). This door and our proceeding forth speaks of the progressive and continual development of our faith-walk with Christ. We begin our walk as infants, then children, then onward as disciples or as full-grown Sons, if we so choose.
I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.
I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.
I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (1 John 2:13)
There are also conditions set forth for becoming a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is a believer in Jesus who not only believes the teachings of Jesus but is one who is learning from Jesus. Jesus is the master and we are the pupil. Becoming a disciple of Jesus requires that we spend time with Him, sitting at His feet, daily supping and communing with Him! Through this time of devotion with the Lord we will be transformed in heart and mind so that our life-walk will demonstrate a clear witness of the character and nature of Jesus. Only a disciple of Jesus can produce more disciples for Jesus.
And he said to all, If any will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
The first thing Jesus declares about becoming a disciple is that this is an inclusive invitation; “if ANY will come”. The word “man” is not found in the original Greek, so this invitation applies to ALL; men, women and children!
Secondly, becoming a disciple of Jesus requires the discipline of choice whereby we receive continued teaching and training from the Master. “If any WILL…” Our coming to Jesus as a disciple is an act of our will or a choice that we must make daily if we are to learn from Jesus and receive His mind.
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: -Col. 3:10 “…the inward man is renewed day by day.” -2 Cor. 4:16
Thirdly, this invitation is for all who believe in Jesus to COME after Him. “If any will COME”. This word “come” is the Greek word Erchomai. Erchomai is a primary verb, the third person singular, present indicative. In other words, Erchomai means I come as a present tense reality. The verb is present indicative. I come. I am in the act of coming. I am now coming! In other words, I have been coming, I am still in the act of coming, and I continue to come. This is tremendously vital!
Here in Ghana, when you are awaiting the arrival of a friend or visitor, they may call and tell you, “Please, I am coming!” When I was new to Ghana and their customary idioms, I assumed that when someone told me, “I am coming” that they were very near to arriving. However, I would soon learn that when someone communicated “I am coming” that what they actually meant was that they might not arrive for many hours! Over time I learned that what was meant by this was that they were in the act of coming. In other words, they have been coming, they are still in the act of coming and they continue to come! From the moment they bought their bus ticket, and while they were packing their bags to the point of them actually stepping foot on my front porch, they were “coming”!! This is ERCHOMAI! (Pronounced: Er-khōm-ahēē)
One condition for being a disciple is that we are coming to Jesus. Not just once or twice, but rather, we are in the act of continually coming to Jesus. We are still in the act of coming and we continue to come to Jesus! In other words, we never stop coming!
Fourthly, “if any will come AFTER…” This word, “after” means to follow. But it means more than just following. I can be a follower of a professional football team but never personally step foot on a football field or ever play professional football. This is merely spectating. Jesus is not looking for spectators! Jesus is actually saying that if you choose to come and keep on coming, you will be those that will follow in my footsteps! You will be those that make the same choices, walk the same walk, and work the same works!
The next condition for being a disciple of Jesus is the condition of self-denial. “If any will come after me, let him (choose to) DENY HIMSELF…” Again the words “let him” speaks of our choice. The Lord will never force us to become His Disciple. It is an absolute choice of our will - choosing to DENY SELF! Jesus, the God-man or son of man walked in a constant state of self-denial. He told his disciples the following: “Of my own self I can do nothing”. He prayed to His Father in Heaven, “Not my will but thine be done.” He told His disciples: 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. (John 5:19) Jesus had surrendered His own works, his own actions, thoughts and ways over to the Father! He lived a life that was a continual Divine exchange. As a man He denied His self-ways for the Father’s ways, Words and Works; demonstrating for us the walk of sons! We are born sinners and therefore are born serving and exalting self. When we come to Christ, desiring to be His disciple we must choose and agree to turn from a self-centered life to a Christ-centered life. This is a continual choice. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Cor. 7:1)
GOING FARTHER STILL – Hard Words to Swallow
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26).
The words, “hate not” means “love more than”. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment was this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. –Matt. 22:37-38. If we love our family and our own self MORE THAN JESUS, we cannot be His disciple! We cannot serve two masters, we will love the one and hate (or love less) the other. If we would be a disciple of Jesus it is imperative that we love Jesus more than anything and anyone!
Finally, Jesus said that in order for us to be His disciple we must “take up your cross daily and follow Him.”
The cross Jesus spoke of is OUR CROSS; it is a very personal and individual cross. No one ever picked up a Roman cross unless he knew he was on his way to death. Paul said, I die daily". Jesus said "if any would be my disciple, let him deny himself." The cross is an instrument of death. To deny ourselves is to deny our own ways, our own desires and motivations etc. To be His disciple, we must bear our cross; willingly and daily deny ourselves and SURRENDER OUR WILL unto His will, "put on Christ", take the mind of Christ! Then we will live the exchanged, surrendered life and be those disciples who are taking up our cross. I must decrease...HE must increase!! Amen! Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ”! He was a dead man…he had died and was now living his life through and by another! “…nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” – Gal. 2:20
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath,
he cannot be my disciple. -Luke 14:33