The Meaning of True Discipleship
Why should you follow Jesus Christ as the Lord (Master and Ruler) of your life? Why should discipleship be the top priority in your life? This is a study of the teachings of Jesus, revealed in the gospel, as the proper authority or guide in the lives of disciples. We emphasize the need for obedience to Scripture, rather than human wisdom as revealed in creeds, traditions, family religion, feelings, or church laws. Are you a true, faithful disciple of Christ?
No one greater than Jesus of Nazareth ever lived on earth.
* Millions of people have claimed Him as their Master.
* All history is measured from the time of His birth.
* He revealed the highest moral standard ever known.
* The Bible, which records His words, has been the best known and most influential book in civilized countries for nearly 2000 years.
Surely Jesus deserves our careful attention.
The purpose of this study is to consider why we ought to honor Jesus as Lord, and what it really means to be His disciple.
Should we obey the gospel of Christ, as revealed in the Scriptures, as the guide and standard of authority in our lives, rather than other standards such as man-made laws and guides, church creeds, traditions, family religion, etc.?
We begin with some definitions.
“Lord” means a person who has authority over others; a master, chief, or ruler. [Matt. 28:18- 20; Eph. 1:19-23; Luke 6:46]
“Disciple” means a follower, pupil, student, learner – one who adheres to the teachings of the master. [Matt. 10:24,25; 16:24]
As you consider Jesus’ lordship, please look up the >>>emphasized Scriptures<<<
in your Bible. Then answer each question that has a number enclosed in asterisks (*1*, *2*, etc.). Note
: Correct answers for the questions are listed at the end of this article. This lesson isnot
designed to be submitted to us for grading. If you wish to study this course online and submit the lessons to us for grading, please go to www.BibleStudyLessons.com
. Thank you.
I. Why Should Jesus Be Lord of Your Life?
Why should you follow Jesus rather than someone else?
A. Jesus Is Our Savior
“He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Sin is disobedience to God’s law (1 John 3:4). Note how Jesus saves people.
>>> Read Romans 3:23; 6:23. <<<
*1* How many people commit sin? (a) a few, (b) a majority, (c) all.
*2* What is the consequence of sin? (a) death, (b) joy, (c) life.
*3* Through whom can we receive eternal life? (a) Mohammed, (b) Jesus, (c) our parents.
All of us deserve eternal punishment because we have disobeyed God. This punishment is what we need to be saved from. Jesus is our Savior because He can give us eternal life in spite of our sins.
>>> Read Romans 5:6-9. <<<
*4* What did Jesus do to save us? (a) offered an animal sacrifice, (b) prayed to God, (c) died for us.
*5* What characteristic of God does this demonstrate? (a) His love, (b) His indifference, (c) His weakness, (d) all the preceding.
*6* Are you guilty of sin? When Jesus died, was He dying for you? (a) yes, (b) no.
Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). We sinned, so we deserve to be punished, but Jesus, who did not sin, died in our place so we can be forgiven and receive eternal life.
>>> Read Matthew 27:22-35,50-54. <<<
*7* When Jesus suffered, whose sins was He suffering for? (a) His own sins, (b) sins of other people, including you and me?
“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). No one but Jesus can tell how to receive eternal life. [See also John 3:16; 6:68; 14:6; 4:42; Eph. 1:7].
B. Jesus Is the Divine Son of God
The Father said about Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5). [Heb. 1:1,2; 2:1ff]
>>> Read John 20:26-31. <<<
*8* How did Thomas know Jesus had been raised? (a) he saw and touched Him, (b) he just heard about it, (c) he dreamed about it.
*9* Whom did Thomas confess Jesus to be? (a) a prophet, (b) a good man, (c) Lord and God.
*10* How can we believe Jesus is Lord and God even though we have not seen Him? (a) by guessing, (b) by examining the evidence in the Bible, (c) by taking a preacher’s word for it.
Though Jesus died, He was raised from the dead. His resurrection, along with His other miracles and the prophecies He fulfilled, prove that He is God’s Son (Cf. Acts 2:22-36; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:1-8). Because He is God’s Son, He possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth,” so we should obey all His commands (Matthew 28:18-20). [See also Matt. 16:15-17; John 1:1-18; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9.]
C. Jesus Will Be Our Judge.
Jesus will someday come again and judge all people.
>>> Read 2 Corinthians 5:10. <<<
*11* How many people will be judged? (a) all, (b) most, (c) none.
*12* Who will judge us? (a) our priest, (b) Buddha, (c) Jesus.
*13* On what basis will Jesus decide our reward? (a) what our parents did, (b) what Adam did, (c) what we did, (d) all the preceding.
Jesus’ words will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). We need to learn His will and follow it so we can be prepared. [See also Acts 17:30,31; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15.]
>>> Read Matthew 7:13-15,21-27. <<<
*14* What final destinies face us? (a) either eternal life or eternal destruction, (b) all go to heaven, (c) death is the end of our existence.
*15* How many follow the broad road? (a) a few, (b) many, (c) none.
*16* How many follow the narrow way? (a) all, (b) most, (c) a few.
*17* What must we do to enter the kingdom of heaven? (a) just have faith, (b) call Jesus “Lord,” (c) do God’s will, (d) just be religious.
We must hear Jesus in everything He teaches or we will be destroyed (Acts 3:22,23). In religion, as in many areas of life, there are truth and error, right and wrong. For example, 2 + 2 = 4, red light means stop, etc. Other answers to these questions would be error. So in religion Jesus’ teachings are truth, and anything different is error. [See also 1 John 4:1,6; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2 Thess. 1:6-9.]
II. How Should Jesus’ Lordship Affect Your Life?
Many people say Jesus is Lord, yet this does not seem to affect the way they live. Some groups even teach that Jesus will save people if they just believe He is the Savior, even if they do not obey Him. What does it really mean to follow Jesus as Lord? How will it change your outlook on life? Can a person be saved without obeying Jesus?
A. A Disciple Must Learn and Obey the Lord’s Will.
A person cannot possibly earn salvation, yet there are conditions one must meet in order to become and remain Jesus’ disciple.
>>> Read John 8:31,32. <<<
*18* To be Jesus’ disciple, what must we do? (a) just believe in Him, (b) just learn His will, (c) learn His will and obey it (abide in it)?
*19* If we know and abide in Jesus’ word, what will it do for us (note also v34)? (a) make us free from sin, (b) make us self-righteous, (c) make us think we earned our salvation, (d) all the preceding.
To be freed from sin, we must obey Jesus from the heart (Romans 6:16-18). Truly a disciple must believe in his master, but the only kind of faith that God rewards is obedient faith (Hebrews 10:39; 11:6-8,30). [See also Gal. 5:6; Jas. 2:14-26; John 12:42,43; etc.]
>>> Read Luke 6:46. <<<
*20* Is Jesus really our Lord if we do not obey Him? (a) yes, (b) no.
*21* If we have been practicing an act that is nowhere taught in the Scriptures, what should we do? (a) quit serving God, (b) find a preacher who justifies the practice, (c) quit participating in it.
We purify our souls in obeying the truth (1 Peter 1:22-25). Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). To be forgiven of sins and become a disciple we must: believe in Jesus, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 17:30; Romans 10:9,10; 6:3,4; etc.) Then we must continue to serve Jesus faithfully throughout life.
[See also Acts 10:34,35; Jas. 1:21-25; Matt. 7:21-27; Rom. 2:5-11; 2 Thess. 1:8,9; 1 John 2:3-6,17; 3:6-10.]
B. A Disciple Must Imitate His Lord.
>>> Read Luke 6:40. <<<
*22* Who has the highest position? (a) the disciple, (b) the Lord.
*23* What is the goal of a disciple or servant? (a) live as we please and have a good time, (b) imitate the Lord (teacher), (c) accumulate wealth.
To be Jesus’ disciple, we must deny self and follow Him (Matthew 16:24,25). Often people want forgiveness and the blessings of discipleship, but they do not want to give up their own desires and live according to Jesus’ teachings. This is not true discipleship.
>>> Read 1 Peter 2:21-24. <<<
*24* What did Jesus do for us? (a) He set a good example for us to imitate, (b) He did as He pleased regardless of the effect on others, (c) He refused to die because He was innocent, (d) all the preceding.
*25* How did Jesus live? (a) selfishly, (b) wickedly, (c) sinlessly.
Jesus died so that we should no longer live for ourselves, “but for Him who died” and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15). Jesus gave His life so we could receive eternal life instead of eternal punishment. The least we can do is to love Him enough to follow His example. In every circumstance we should ask, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” Then do as He would do. [See also Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 11:1.]
C. A Disciple Must Put His Lord’s Will First.
Choices in life often consist of setting priorities. What will I do with my time, abilities, money, etc.? For a disciple of Jesus, top priority must always be serving Jesus and doing His will. One who is not willing to make this sacrifice, cannot be Jesus’ disciple.
>>> Read Luke 14:26-33. <<< (cf. Matthew 10:34-38).
*26* Should a person jump into discipleship without serious thought? (a) yes, (b) no.
*27* What must a person be willing to give up to be Jesus’ disciple? (a) loved ones, (b) possessions, (c) his life, (d) all the preceding.
We should present our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God … And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:1,2). Discipleship is total sacrifice, total transformation of self, total lifetime commitment. Jesus must take precedence over every thing else. When we realize what Jesus has done for us, such demands are not unreasonable.
>>> Read Matthew 6:24,33. <<<
*28* How many spiritual masters (lords) can a person serve? (a) two, (b) as many as he wants, (c) just one.
*29* What should be our greatest concern in life? (a) money, (b) pleasure, (c) the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The decision to become a disciple of Jesus is the most important decision in life. It will profoundly impact your whole outlook and every aspect of your life. Anything less is not true discipleship.
[See also Mark 10:28-30; Rev. 2:10; 1 Cor. 6:19,20; 15:58; 2 Cor. 8:5; Rom. chap. 6; Col. chap. 3; John 15:8.]
III. How Can We Learn Jesus’ Will?
Jesus should be our Lord, but He is no longer on earth to personally teach us. Where can we go to learn His will today?
A. Jesus’ Teachings Were Recorded in the Bible.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13; cf. Luke 10:16). The message they received from the Spirit, they recorded in the Scriptures.
>>> Read 2 Timothy 3:16,17. <<<
*30* What is the origin of the Scriptures? (a) God inspired them, (b) intelligent men invented them, (c) a church made them up.
*31* What are they profitable for? (a) teaching and instructing us in righteousness, (b) reproving and correcting us, (c) completely providing all good works, (d) all the preceding.
*32* If we could not understand the Bible, would it be “profitable” to instruct us and provide all good works? (a) yes, (b) no.
*33* In order to know God’s will, do we need some religious guide in addition to the Bible? (a) yes, (b) no.
The Scriptures are commands of the Lord, not of men (1 Corinthians 14:37). They reveal all truth, so no one today can reveal good works that are not in the Bible. Since God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), we can understand the Bible (Mark 7:14).
[See also Matt. 10:19,20; 1 Cor. 2:11-13; Gal. 1:11,12; Eph. 3:3-5; 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:21; Acts 20:20,27; 17:11; John 14:26; Isa. 55:11.]
B. God Has Accurately Preserved the Bible.
People sometimes wonder whether the Bible has been accurately transmitted so we today have Jesus’ teachings as originally given.
>>> Read 1 Peter 1:22-25. <<<
*34* How can we purify our souls? (a) by just doing as we please, (b) by just believing in Jesus, (c) by obeying the truth.
*35* What is the seed by which we are born again? (a) God’s word, (b) man-made doctrine, (c) our own opinions, (d) it doesn’t matter.
*36* How long will God’s word endure? (a) forever, (b) 1000 years, (c) it was lost in the middle ages.
God intended for the faith to be delivered to His people only “once” (Jude 3). God did this in the first century, then He preserved that revelation through the centuries till today. It does not need to be delivered again. [See also 2 John 2; Psa. 12:6,7; Heb. 12:27]
C. Only New Testament Laws Are in Effect Today.
What about the commands revealed in the Old Testament? Are they still binding on people today? Must we offer animal sacrifices, rest from work on the seventh day, etc., as the old law required?
>>> Read Romans 7:2-6. <<<
*37* When is a woman free from her husband? (a) when she divorces him, (b) when she becomes a Christian, (c) when he dies.
*38* What is our relation to the law? (a) we are subject to it, (b) we are freed from it and joined to Christ, (c) we should keep part of it.
Jesus took away the first covenant that He might establish the second (Hebrews 10:9,10). The Old Testament as law applied only to the nation of Israel and only till Jesus died. [See also Heb. 7:11-18; 8:8-13; 9:1-4; Gal. 3:23-25; 5:1-6; Col. 2:14-17.]
The teaching of Jesus for people today is recorded in the New Testament, the gospel. It is a complete, understandable, and accurate revelation of Jesus’ will. It is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). It is the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).
IV. Should We Follow Man-Made Authorities?
Many modern religious practices and organizations are not authorized in the gospel. Since the New Testament provides us to all good works, practices not authorized there cannot be from Jesus. They must, therefore, be human in origin [cf. Matt. 21:25].
A. What Does Jesus Think of Man-Made Doctrines?
>>> Read Matthew 15:9,14. <<<
*39* How does Jesus describe our worship if it is based on human doctrine? (a) it is vain, (b) it is acceptable, (c) it doesn’t matter.
*40* What happens if we follow men who teach such doctrines? (a) we go to heaven, (b) we fall in the ditch, (c) we get a second chance after death.
Fallible men cannot know what pleases God without revelation from God. The “way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Only by following the teaching of Jesus can we know what is pleasing to God.
>>> Read Galatians 1:6-9. <<<
*41* What were the Galatians guilty of doing? (a) following the Bible, (b) following a different gospel, (c) denying God’s existence.
*42* What is the state of one who preaches a different gospel? (a) accursed, (b) blessed, (c) he will be in error but will still be saved.
Some people think that God will accept anything that they think is “good.” “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
If we follow Jesus as Lord, we must do only the things taught in His word. To follow practices He has not authorized is to show disrespect for His lordship. We would be following men instead of following Jesus. The fact that Jesus nowhere specifically says not to participate in an activity, does not necessarily mean that practice is acceptable. Instead, we should ask, “Where did Jesus say we should do this?” If it is not authorized in His word, we should not practice it.
[See also Rev. 22:18,19; Col. 3:17; Prov. 3:5,6; 2 Cor. 10:12,18; 1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Cor. 1:18-25.]
B. Some Examples of Human Authority in Religion
Many people accept religious practices without realizing why they accept them. Often they are following human authorities such as those we are about to consider. (Note that some of the things we are about to mention do have a right to exist, but the danger comes when they are viewed as authority which people follow to determine what they believe or practice.) On the basis of the Scriptures we have studied, please consider the following guides some people follow.
Some people think, “It was good enough for my mother (or wife, etc.), so it’s good enough for me.” This makes the family our authority, instead of Jesus. We should be glad if our families follow the Bible, but most people’s families are in error (Matthew 7:13,14). Nearly all people who became Christians in the New Testament had to leave their family religion. [Note Matt. 10:34-37; Acts 5:29; Gal. 1:13,14.]
*43* If our family is involved in practices not found in the gospel, should we still practice as they do? (a) yes, (b) no.
Conscience, feelings, sincerity
We need to have a good conscience and be sincere, but these become the standard for some people. “Just let your conscience be your guide. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.”
Some people sincerely follow their consciences yet are wrong, as in the case of Paul – Acts 23:1; 26:9; 1 Timothy 1:13-15. Your conscience only tells you whether or not you are doing what you believe to be right. Like a clock, it will not be reliable unless it has been set properly. [See also Prov. 14:12; 28:26; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 10:18.]
*44* If we are sincere and have a good conscience, do we please God if we continue practices not found in the gospel? (a) yes, (b) no.
Some people just accept what their preacher says. “My preacher is well educated, and he would not mislead me…” “Most scholars say…” Preachers can help us learn Jesus’ will, but they must not become the standard of authority. Preachers are wrong when they differ from what Jesus said. [See also Acts 17:11; 20:29,30; Matt. 7:15; 15:14; 1 John 4:1,6; 2 Cor. 11:13-15.]
*45* Should we accept what our preacher says if he cannot show it in the Bible? (a) yes, (b) no.
Church creeds, traditions, and decrees of councils
Many denominations write books that the group follows as authority or doctrinal standards. Any creed that contains more than the Bible contains too much. Any creed that contains less than the Bible contains too little. All human creeds and church laws are made on the assumption that fallible humans can write a better standard than the Bible! [See all the passages above on human authority.]
*46* If a practice is authorized by a church creed or tradition, but is not authorized in the gospel, should we practice it? (a) yes, (b) no.
“And by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3-6). A true disciple is one who devotes his lifetime to serving his Master’s will. Jesus deserves our service because He died to save us, because He is God’s Divine Son, and because someday He will be our Judge. Shouldn’t you be His disciple?
During your lifetime you have a choice whether or not you will serve Him. If you are not Jesus’ disciple, He calls on you to repent and serve Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 1 John 5:3). Do you love Jesus enough to be His disciple?
Correct answers to the questions are as follows:
*1* = C, *2* = A, *3* = B, *4* = C, *5* = A, *6* = A, *7* = B, *8* = A, *9* = C, *10* = B, *11* = A, *12* = C, *13* = C, *14* = A, *15* = B, *16* = C, *17* = C, *18* = C, *19* = A, *20* = B, *21* = C, *22* = B, *23* = B, *24* = A, *25* = C, *26* = B, *27* = D, *28* = C, *29* = C, *30* = A, *31* = D, *32* = B, *33* = B, *34* = C, *35* = A, *36* = A, *37* = C, *38* = B, *39* = A, *40* = B, *41* = B, *42* = A, *43* = B, *44* – B, *45* = B, *46* = B