Becoming a Disciple
Edited from a message by
John W Follette
We sometimes mistakenly regard terms to be synonymous when
they are not. For example, a half dozen apples means the same
as six apples; but there is a difference between a half a
dozen apples and six oranges. These are not synonymous terms.
Our spiritual nature and character are not synonymous terms.
Our "nature" (who we are) was given to us at the
time of our salvation. We became a new creation through the
new birth. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is
a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things
are become new" II Cor 5:17.
Our "Character" (what we have become) is developed
through our growth into maturity. The Lord will help us in
building our character, but He cannot give "character"
to us. We must grow into spiritual maturity. A child is potentially
a full grown individual, though not presently seen as such.
He develops into the fullness of the potential that was given
him at birth.
Other terms which sometimes are considered to be the same
are also different. These are "Christian" and "disciple."
One must become a Christian before becoming a disciple. A
newly saved Christian is not yet a disciple. These terms are
To become a Christian, the basic requirements of repentance
and faith must be met. We acknowledge our sin, receive Jesus
as our personal Saviour, and through a new birth become a
child of God. Now we may receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,
spiritual gifts, healings, and other graces. We can do nothing
to earn these for they are on the gift level. But there is
another level beyond this which will fashion us into being
The realm in which the requirements for salvation rested
had to do with sin, darkness, and the world. These were left
behind once we we resaved. Whenever Jesus dealt with the multitudes,
He taught them in parables which pertained to natural things
which they understood. But when He was alone with His disciples,
He unfolded to them the deeper spiritual meaning that was
hidden within these things.
The requirements of discipleship are not as apparent as those
which lead to salvation. Consider these words of Jesus: "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" Luke14:26.
Is it wrong then to have a father, mother, sister, or wife?
On the contrary, here, the Lord is not dealing with a sin
problem which rests in the realm of the world, sin, and the
flesh. The requirements to be a disciple have moved up into
another level and rest in legitimate pursuits. These are acceptable
and right things, which we must learn to die to and put into
the hands of the Lord in order to become His disciple.
The first level concerns the world and sin, which through
faith we are to forsake as the source and center of our desires.
After this, there is another level of commitment. Although
we are instructed in the Word to honor our father and mother,
now the Lord tells us that to become His disciple, we are
to hate these. To understand this requires a deeper level
The word "disciple" means "one who is taught."
Therefore, the saved person is not a disciple until he has
developed, or has grown into a level of capacity where he
understands and responds to the deeper meaning that is hidden
within the Word.
A disciple will recognize and come to Jesus as his Teacher.
Jesus, as a teacher, is light over darkness. A disciple, as
a taught one, receive sand embraces this revelation of truth
- the incarnate God in flesh, the Christ, who is the embodiment
of all truth. We can be saved and yet not enter into the flow
of this beautiful light and revelation wherein Jesus Christ
will become within us all that God intends.
As we become spiritually hungry, Jesus will begin to shine
like a light into our heart. We respond, "I desire to
know Him and become His disciple. I will pay the price for
truth to come into my being." This is a dangerous thing
to ask because truth is light. If we are in the shadows, truth
will begin to make a pathway through those shadows to shine
within our heart, exposing all that is not like Him.
The Lord will say, "Are you willing to lay down your
life to become and do all that I ask of you?" You may
respond, "Yes Lord, I am willing to surrender my life
and lay down everything I have to become all that you require.
Lord, I greatly desire this light to continue shining within
my heart." Immediately, father, mother, sister, wife
- these whom you dearly love will say, "The Lord would
never require any such thing from you. You will break our
hearts if you do this. We cannot give you up to this."
Now a shadow begins to form within this beautiful flow of
light. Itssource is not the devil. Rather, it is legitimate,
lawful, correct things that are casting this shadow. To be
a disciple means hating theshadow; not our father and mother,
etc. We must turn from all who seek to impose their wishes
Thus, a disciple is one who comes to hate "whatever"
blurs the vision of light and truth that he has seen. The
Lord is saying, whatever presents an interference with the
light and truth which He desires to pour into us - even the
intrusion of a father's ambition or a spouses love, must be
surrendered, no matter how legitimate or good it may be. Only
then can the light, the radiance of Christ, shine within,
keeping the pathway bright and clear before us. If we give
way to these intrusions, or hindrances, our discipleship will
Jesus, to fulfill the will of His Father, had to go by way
of Calvary. It was dark and terrifying, but He knew this was
the will of His Father for Him. He said to His disciples,
"I have come to bring you life, and that more abundantly,
but this life can only be produced through death, and I am
the instrument through which it is to be accomplished."
On another occasion Jesus clearly said, "I must go up
to Jerusalem and die." His disciples reacted to these
words. Peter turned to Him and said, "Be it far from
Thee," to which Jesus responded, "Get thee hence
Satan." Although Jesus loved Peter, He saw him as an
instrument through which the enemy would project the idea
of sparing His life under the symbol of love.
Jesus continued to love Peter. We are to love our father
and mother. Yet we must hate the idea that they may be used
as an instrument of Satan to disturb, or destroy the very
thing the Lord intends to do. Ask yourself, "Do I have
within me enough of the love and grace of God to hate that
thing?" If so, you have the material for discipleship.
"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after
me, cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:27. Jesus was not
here referring to Salvation, for this "potential"
disciple is already saved. Rather, He is seeking to lift him
up into another level where he will face legitimate, lawful
things to which he must learn to die. As he dies to these,
he will become disentangled from the lower level of life's
demands so he can fully follow Jesus as His disciple.
Jesus' cross was a vicarious, atoning cross. We cannot bear
the cross He bore. Many think that Jesus has laid a cross
on them, but He never laid a cross on anyone. We all experience
trials over which we have no control. These cannot be our
cross. Jesus said that we are to take up our cross. This must
be voluntary, for if we choose to do this, it will become
the instrument of our death to self.
Jesus will interpret our cross to us. If we must know, our
cross will do to us what His did to Him. It crucified Him.
But, it also liberated Him. It released a tremendous stream
of salvation and opened the way to the fountain of life into
which we have entered.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth
not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient
to finish it?" Luke14:28. When a man is building, he
knows to count the materials and the cost. So it is with us,
we cannot be His disciple unless we have first counted the
cost and have determined that we will proceed.
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that for saketh
all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:33.
Let us who are saved both understand and respond to all that
He may require of us, therein becoming His disciple.