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                    "ARE YOU A DISCPLE OF JESUS?"


INTRODUCTION

1. In The Great Commission, notice Jesus' command... - Mt 28:18-20
   a. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..."
   b. To "make disciples" is the GOAL of evangelizing the world for
      Christ

2. Are you a disciple of Jesus...?
   a. Perhaps you believe in Jesus
   b. You might even be one to attend church services regularly

[But is that what it means to be His disciple?  The purpose in this
study is to make clear what is involved in being a true disciple of
Jesus Christ.  Let's start with...]

I. THE DEFINITION OF DISCIPLESHIP

   A. THE WORD DISCIPLE...
      1. Literally means a learner
      2. It denotes "one who follows another's teaching" - Vine's
      3. A disciple was not only a learner, he was also an adherent
      4. For this reason disciples were spoken of as imitators of their
         teachers

   B. THE GOAL OF A DISCIPLE...
      1. Stated by Jesus himself:  to be like his or her teacher - Lk
         6:40
      2. To be Jesus' disciple, then, is to strive to be like Him!
      3. This coincides with God's goal in the redemption of mankind,
         that we be conformed to the image of His Son - Ro 8:29

[Are you trying to follow Jesus and become like Him?  Unless you do, it
cannot be said that you are His disciple! Jesus gave us some identifying
marks which help to further identify a true disciple...]

II. THE MARKS OF DISCIPLESHIP

   A. ABIDES IN JESUS' WORDS...
      1. Note what Jesus said to those who believed in Him - Jn 8:31
      2. This would imply being a diligent student of the teachings of
         Christ
      3. It also requires one to be a "doer" of the Word - Mt 7:21-27;
         Ja 1:21-25

   B. LOVES THE BRETHREN...
      1. Consider what Jesus said to His followers - Jn 13:34-35
      2. With a love patterned after the love of Jesus ("as I have loved
         you")
      3. With a love that is visible to the world ("by this all will
         know")

   C. BEARS MUCH FRUIT...
      1. Read what Jesus told His disciples - Jn 15:8
      2. Notice the word "much" (also found in verse 5)
         a. Jesus is not talking about an occasional good deed
         b. But a lifestyle which prompts people to glorify God! - Mt
            5:16; 1Pe 2:12
      3. Failure to bear much fruit will result in being severed from
         Christ - Jn 15:1-2

[To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means more that just a casual church
member.  It requires commitment,  especially in regards to: 1) the
teachings of Christ, 2) the love of brethren, and 3) bearing fruit.  The
commitment involved is seen further when we consider...]

III. THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

   A. JESUS MUST COME FIRST...
      1. Made strikingly clear by Jesus Himself - Lk 14:25-26
      2. Before anyone else, including members of our own family - Mt
         10:34-37
      3. Even before one's own self - Lk 9:23-25

   B. WILLING TO SUFFER FOR JESUS...
      1. Taking up our own cross to follow Him - Lk 14:27
      2. Trying to live godly lives in an ungodly world, we may find
         that following Christ sometimes involves ridicule and
         persecution - 2Ti 3:12
      3. Even if we are blessed to escape such things, we must still be
         willing to expend time and energy in promoting the cause of
         Christ in positive ways

   C. FORSAKING ALL TO FOLLOW JESUS...
      1. Having counted the cost - Lk 14:28-33
      2. In other words, Jesus must be King and Lord of our lives
      3. Nothing can take precedent over Him and His Will for us

[This cost of discipleship required by Jesus caused many to turn from
following Him.  But Jesus wasn't trying to attract large crowds, He
wanted disciples!  Is the cost worth it?  I believe so, for consider..]

IV. THE REWARDS OF DISCIPLESHIP

   A. FUTURE BLESSINGS...
      1. We shall be saved from the wrath of God which is to come - Ac
         17:31; Ro 5:9
      2. We can look forward with joyful anticipation of eternity with
         God, free from sorrow, pain and death - Re 21:1-8

   B. PRESENT BLESSINGS...
      1. Jesus offers peace the world cannot give, to calm the troubled
         heart - Jn 14:27
      2. His words inspire joy to lift our spirits out of any depression
         - Jn 15:11
      3. He offers to those who follow Him the abiding love of God,
         which casts out fear - Jn 15:9; 1Jn 4:18
      4. He makes it possible for us to be members of the family of God
         - Mk 10:28-30

[There are many other blessings we could mention that are enjoyed by
disciples of Jesus; but these suffice to demonstrate that though
discipleship is costly, the rewards far exceed the cost!

Now that we understand the nature of discipleship, its cost and rewards,
I hope that we want to be true disciples of Jesus Christ.  How does one
begin?  For the answer we return to our text (Mt 28:19-20)...]

V. THE BEGINNING OF DISCIPLESHIP

   A. INVOLVES BAPTISM...
      1. Why baptism? - cf. Mt 28:19
         a. Remember the goal of discipleship:  to be like Jesus
         b. He was holy and sinless, yet we are to be like Him
         c. Baptism is an act of faith which puts us in contact with the
            cleansing blood of Jesus so we can be forgiven - cf.
            Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3-4
         d. It is also the means by which one "puts on Christ" - Ga 3:27
         e. So baptism is the logical starting place for true
            discipleship!
      2. What is baptism?
         a. An act of submission which must be preceded by faith in
            Jesus and repentance for our sins - Ac 2:36-38; 8:36-37
            1) This precludes infant baptism
            2) For infants are incapable of believing and repenting
         b. An act of submission which involves a burial in water, in
            which one then rises to walk in newness of life through the
            power of God - Ac 8:38; Ro 6:3-4; Col 2:12
            1) This precludes sprinkling or pouring as a mode of baptism
            2) For neither of these involve a burial nor an immersion
               (which is the meaning of the Greek word "baptidzo")
         c. When done according to the Word of God, baptism is an act of
            faith on our part which results in a wonderful working of
            God in our lives!
            1) Our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus - Ac
               22:16; Ep 5:25-27
            2) We are regenerated and renewed by the Spirit of God so we
               can now live for God! - Tit 3:5-6
            3) It is truly a rebirth involving both water and the Spirit
               - Jn 3:5

   B. INCLUDES FURTHER TEACHING, OBEDIENCE...
      1. Note carefully what follows baptism - cf. Mt 28:20
      2. This brings us back to the very definition of discipleship
      3. For Jesus clearly states:
         a. We are to be taught (to be learners)
         b. We are to observe (to be adherents or doers)
      4. Thus we embark on a life devoted to learning and doing all
         Jesus commanded!

CONCLUSION

1. Only those scripturally baptized and demonstrating the marks of
   discipleship, despite the costs, can truly be called disciples of
   Jesus!

2. Only they can look forward to the rewards of discipleship, and take
   comfort in Jesus' promise:

   "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" - Mt 28:20

Have you taken the initial steps in becoming a disciple of Jesus (faith,
repentance, and baptism)?  Are you becoming more like Him by
demonstrating the marks of discipleship in your life...?
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