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Deep Disciples of Jesus Shaping Article

You, a Christian? Really?!

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

Do you call yourself ‘Christian’? Do you brand yourself as a Christian?

What does that word mean? To answer that question we must turn to the Bible – the book which used that word first. In the Bible, the word ‘Christian’ is used three times. When we study those three instances we get to see three characteristics that cannot be separated from any true ‘Christian’ – a biblical Christian.

Converted

Let’s race to passage number one: Paul stands before King Agrippa as a prisoner. His crime – preaching Jesus. Paul gives Agrippa a blow by blow account of his conversion experience: the ride on the road to Damascus… his passion to persecute followers of Jesus… the blinding light from heaven… the voice that said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!”…. his U-turn… his repentance…etc etc.

After having shared his terrific testimony Paul did not stop. He did not shut up.  He went on. He got a touch personal with King Agrippa. He posed a personal question to him: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe!” You see, Paul was not just trying to save himself from further imprisonment by sharing his testimony – he wanted to save King Agrippa from going to hell too! After this abrupt and daring invasion of his private space by Paul, King Agrippa said, “In a short time, would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).  There you bump into the word we are trying to understand the meaning of – the word ‘Christian’. Ask King Agrippa what he meant when he used the word ‘Christian’. This would be his answer: “To be a Christian for me is to be someone like Paul – to be someone with a CONVERSION experience!”

You cannot be called a Christian without a convertion experience!

Yup, the word Conversion and ‘Christian’ go together. A Biblical Christian cannot be a Christian without the conversion experience. Absolutely. Do you call yourself a ‘Christian’ without an experience of conversion?! If so – forgive me for being blunt – you simply are not a Christian. You are just pretending to be one! You don’t have to hire a horse and ride on the road to Damascus to make this experience your own. Right now, I invite you to kneel down by your bedside with a repentant heart and ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart and life. If you have done that, you too are converted! You too are a Christian!

Committed

Let’s talk about yet another time the Bible used the word ‘Christian’: The setting now is the city of Antioch. A new preacher is sent to this church from the church in Jerusalem – the headquarters. His name? Barnabas. What was his message? “Remain faithful to the Lord!” In other words, he was trying to help believers graduate from merely being a believer into a disciple. One believer he searched out and discipled was Paul. For one full year, Barnabas preached messages that typified what his name meant: encourager. He preached messages that encouraged wobbly believers to become solid disciples. Who could be called Jesus’ disciples? Those who remain faithful to Him – no matter what the cost is or how challenging the condition is. Such COMMITTED folks were nicknamed Christians by the folks in Antioch (Acts 11:26)! 

Are you the sort that will desert Jesus at the slightest provocation – such as in times of a tantalizing temptation or perturbing persecution? Then you can’t be called a Christian according to the Bible. Christians, according to the Bible, are those who stay committed to Christ, even when the going gets tough!

Celebrating

Christian or a celebrating Christian?!

This aspect of being a Christian was so important that another Bible writer also talks about it. Yes, Peter also brought together these two words: commitment and Christian. He did by writing his first letter thus: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name!” (I Pet 4:15, 16).  If you have carefully read those two verses you will grasp that Peter’s understanding of the word, ‘Christian’, goes one step further than that of Luke – the author of the book of Acts, the source of our first two references for word, ‘Christian’, in the Bible. Here is how: a Christian is someone who CELEBRATES God even while suffering because he stays stubbornly COMMITTED to Christ! Yes – a Biblical Christian is someone who glorifies God even when the going gets rough and tough! Are you that sort of Christian? Are you a complaining Christian or a celebrating Christian?!

It can be said, when the going gets tough, the true Christian will get going!

Stop. Think. Introspect. Look inwards. Are you a Christian merely by name? I pray that after you have read this piece, your understanding of the word ‘Christian’ is never the same! Would you surrender your life to Christ so that He will change you into a Biblical Christian? Would you do that, right now?!

(This article was published in the Aim Magazine – October 2021 edition. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).

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Strong Believers Creating Articles

YOU, A JESUS DISCIPLE? Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

Dr. Duke Jeyaraj put the biblical ingredients of discipleship in an acronym D-I-S-C-I-P-E

Who is a disciple of Jesus? What the Bible teaches on this can be put in acronym, D-I-S-C-I-P-L-E.

D for“Dearest”

Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26—“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” is THE requirement for Discipleship. We love our phones and even perhaps our ministry more than Jesus! Sad! No one or nothing should take the position of Jesus in their lives. He should be the one who is truly the dearest in their lives.

I for “Instruction-follower

Someone wrote, Used thirty times in the Book of Acts, the word “disciple” speaks of one who is “learner, seeker or student” is “learner” learns the Words of Christ. This “seeker” seeks knowledge about Christ. He obeys instructions without asking questions. He says, “We must obey God rather than man!” (Acts 5:29).

S for “Stay-in-Jesus-Presence”

Mark records the purpose why Jesus chose disciples: “And he (Jesus) appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him…. (Mark 3:14).” Suzanne Watts Henderson writes, “he (Jesus) establishes (here) the Twelve (disciples) for the primary purpose of continuing in his presence.” To do much for God, we must be must with God (as they say).

C for Carrying the Cross

This brings us to another call that Jesus issued to those who desired to be his disciples: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).” But hasn’t Jesus carried our Cross and thundered “it is finished”? John Stott’s explanation here is helpful: “In this way, one might say, every Christian is both a Simon of Cyrene and a Barnabas. Like Barnabas we escape the cross, for Christ died in our place. Like Simon of Cyrene we carry the cross, for he calls us to take it up and follow him.”

I for Invite via Evangelism Efforts

The disciples were called by Jesus to invite others to the Kingdom of God (Mark 3:14). He further writes, “…the character of discipleship as a community organized to support missionaries reaching out to others with evangelistic urgency and to maintain a witness by the very quality of a community life was there from the beginning.”

P for People-Lover

Certain Bible characters who were addressed as “disciples” have excelled in serving people they met in practical ways. Herbert Lockyer writes these lines about little-known Bible character Mnason: “This early disciple from Cyprus accompanied Paul on his last journey, and Paul lodged at his hospitable home (Acts 21:16).”

L for “Led”- Being Led by the Lord and the Spirit

Luke records that the “disciple” Ananias was led by the Lord through a vision to be of spiritual help to a new convert of the Christian faith, Saul (Acts 9:10-17). Disciple Ananias clearly told Saul it was the Lord Jesus who sent him to be of help to him (Acts 9:17).

E for Endurance

Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 14:62). A true disciple of Jesus must be willing to endure till the end, come what may. Rose Dowsett put it this way: “Jesus’ call to his disciples is a call to embark on a journey, a pilgrimage, lasting all the rest of our lives.”

Let us be faithful-unto-death disciples of Jesus in the One life we have!

Are you a Jesus Disciple?

(Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, who lives in Hyderabad, India, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org.)