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The Adventure of Following Jesus

- The Way of the Disciple -

PART 1 - Know Who You Are

Planning Ahead

What are your goals in life?

What do you want to do? What are your plans? [Write them down.]

Once you reach these goals (or don't reach them), then what? ... then what? (Etc.)

Eventually, you have to reach the end. At some point, the answer to "Then what?" is that you will die... "Then what?" ... judgment and eternity. Are you ready?

NOW is the time to prepare!

The way of no regrets - being a disciple of Jesus

We are going to be looking at the way that leaves no regrets - the "adventure" of life as a disciple of Jesus.

What is a "Disciple of Jesus"?

(The Bible's concept of "Christian.")

We need to know ... if we are a disciple. We must make sure we are following in the way of life.

What does it mean? ... to be a "Christian" or a "disciple of Jesus"?

What are some of the ways people use (or misuse) the words "disciple" and "Christian"? [Write down various views (whether correct or not).] Contrast this with the next question.

What does the Bible say? How does the Bible use the words "disciple" and "Christian"?

All we need to do is to look at the definitions of the words, and this will show us how the Bible uses them!

A "disciple" is someone who "follows" Jesus, so that he can learn from Jesus how to live. Hence, we could say he is a "learner."

The word "Christian" means "belonging to Christ." This is only possible (in the true sense of the word "Christian") for the person who is controlled by the Spirit (instead of being controlled by his own corrupt nature). Otherwise, he does NOT belong to Christ.

Note: A non-disciple - someone who is not controlled by the Spirit of Christ - might even deny that his human nature is naturally corrupt, in spite of what God's Word says about it.

These words ("disciple" and "Christian") are two different ways of describing at the same person. This person has received the Spirit of Christ, and now belongs to Christ. And because of this, he is now learning to follow Christ's example - the life controlled by the Spirit (rather than by his own desires).

Many people misunderstand the word "Christian."

Some people think it refers to a person who holds to certain religious views or beliefs about Jesus. Others think a "Christian" is someone who goes to "church" (another word often misunderstood) or who is born into a "Christian family." Still others think it refers to someone who just lives a "good life."

The way the Bible uses this word, a "Christian" is a "disciple"; there is no such thing as a Christian who is NOT a disciple. Even though many man-made definitions exist today, the Bible's use of the word "Christian" (occurring only three times in the New Testament) is always associated with things characteristic of a disciple. These three occurrences of the word "Christian" are described below. Other verses in the context, which do not use the word "Christian," are included when they help us better understand the meaning of that word.

How can you become a disciple (a Christian)?

If disciples follow Jesus in order to learn something, what is it that they are learning? If they are controlled by the Spirit, what is it that they do differently than before?

Being a disciple could be summarized by the two words: "trust" and "obey" - both operating within the framework of a third word, "love." (This is explained in greater detail, in the next section..)

What a Disciple Does


What this means: We believe what God says; we have faith in him and in what he does.

What it isn't: The basic focus isn't in believing that God exists, for we already know he exists.

What it is: It involves an admission that God can be trusted - in both what he says and what he does. It is the acknowledgment that he is our Creator, and that we owe everything to him - all that we are and have. We admit that he deserves our loyalty and attention, and we are willing to give it to him. [We also admit that we, by nature, don't have the ability to give him the loyalty and attention he deserves. So we also trust him for the power (and the new nature) that enables us to do so.]

A Warning about temporary (or counterfeit) "faith."

This could be described as "skin-deep" faith, for it has not resulted in a changed heart.

Genuine faith demonstrates its character by what it does: It "lives-out" the type of obedience that God requires of us. (See the next section.)


This is the natural result of genuine "faith" or "trust" in God, and is proof that our faith is genuine. (Note: The word "natural" does NOT imply that it takes no effort, or that we can passively wait for it to happen. Obedience is something we must do!)

Illustration: We can claim that we "trust" in a chair's ability to hold us. Yet it is only when we are willing to sit in that chair, that our trust is proved genuine. As long as we are unwilling to do so, there is no evidence that our "faith" in the chair is genuine.

Note: Obedience to God cannot be separated from trust in God (trusting him for the power to obey). Without God, we would be powerless to do anything. We would still be slaves to disobedience! (More about this elsewhere in the study.)

We accept what God says (we trust him, or have faith in him), and allow what he says to determine the way we live (we obey him).

What it involves: A change of conduct toward God and toward people: We want to do what honors and pleases God, as well as what is good for other people. This becomes more important to us, than satisfying our own personal interests.

What it does NOT involve: The mere practice of "religious activities," or blind obedience to religious leaders.

NOTE: People in the world normally use the word "religion" in reference to the practice of activities and rituals, in order to gain the favor of one's "god" (or to become "one in spirit" with it, etc.). For the disciple of Jesus, "religion" refers to what he does after God has poured out his love into his (the disciple's) heart. The people of the world do their religious activities in attempt to gain (or to maintain) "salvation" (or whatever they call the goal of their efforts); the disciple does it as an expression of gratitude, because God has already saved him! Only a disciple of Jesus can do these things in a way that pleases God.

LOVE - It's connection to Trust and Obedience

Both of these - trust (faith) and obedience - are inseparably connected with love.

This is a love that encompasses all of life. It encompasses, or fulfils, every obligation we will ever have.

Note: We must remember that life as a disciple involves growth and maturity. These three characteristics will exist in anyone who is a genuine disciple. However, we must also remember that one's expression of these characteristics may be weaker and have less depth, at the beginning of one's life as a disciple, than later, after he has had years of growing-up.

To Think About...

  1. What does it mean to "trust" God? To "distrust" him?

  2. What does it mean to "obey" God? To "disobey" him?

  3. How can we determine if our trust and obedience (and love) are genuine or if they are counterfeit (or temporary)?

Dennis Hinks © 1999