Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How many times have we heard that? The answer is obvious. They both come first. Why? The chicken is born with all the eggs she’ll ever need. She doesn’t lay them all at once, obviously, but a few or one at a time until they run out. Also, she doesn’t need a rooster to lay her eggs.
To me, this is a perfect analogy for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. For many years, Christ’s teaching on being His disciple has morphed away from what He clearly taught.
Think of the chicken as representing the believer and the egg representing being a disciple. They both come first. In other words, we become a believer and a disciple at the same time. Our salvation produces a believer who is a true disciple, or if you will, a true disciple who is a true believer.
Many today are teaching that being a disciple is optional. They teach that not all Christians are a disciple, but they should be. They say that only those who move on to obedience in the Word and follow Him are disciples.
Now, I grant you that being Christ’s disciple does mean to be obedient, to grow in the Word and follow Him. However, all true Christians are disciples, and all true disciples are true Christians. They are as one once they rest their faith in Jesus Christ and are saved by His grace. They are believer/disciple at that very moment.
Robert Jeffress, in his article “The Test of Discipleship,” states the following:
“A disciple is somebody who not only believes the right things about Jesus but also obeys and follows Jesus Christ. This idea of being a disciple is not optional. The greatest heresy that has entered the church of Jesus Christ is the heresy that you can become a Christian and not have one single change in your life as a result. That is what James calls dead faith.”
John MacArthur, in his article “What is a Disciple of Jesus Christ?” states the following:
“In the past hundred years or so, it has become popular to speak of discipleship as a higher level of Christian experience. In the new terminology, a person becomes a believer at salvation; he becomes a disciple later when he moves past faith to obedience.
Such a view conveniently relegates the difficult demands of Jesus to a post-salvation experience. It maintains that when He challenged the multitudes to deny self, to take up a cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34); to forsake all (Luke 14:33); and to leave father and mother (Matthew 19:29, He was simply asking believers to step up to the second level and become disciples.
But how does that square with Jesus’ own words, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners?” (Matthew 9:13). The heart of His ministry was evangelism, and those difficult demands are evangelistic appeals.
Every believer is a disciple and vice versa. A careful reading of Acts shows that the word disciple has been a synonym for Christian from the earliest days of the church (cf. 6:1-2, 7; 11:26; 14:20, 22; 15:10).”
Before going on, I already know there will be those screaming that I am teaching that we’re saved by our works. Nothing could be further from the truth. Saying that all true Christians are disciples has no conflict with Ephesians 2:8-9. I have written many times that salvation only honors the works of Jesus Christ and not of man. We are saved by putting our faith (trust) in Jesus, and every part of salvation and all of salvation is by the grace of God, not by any works of man.
I love Ephesians 2:8-9 and often quote these two verses because it reminds me that I am saved exclusively by God’s grace and that my faith (trust) in Him was just the instrument that brought me to His grace. With that said, we often omit the next verse, Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” These three verses are actually one thought and should always be taken together.
The problem allies with false teaching that says lip service is all that is needed to be saved. By “lip service,” I mean acknowledgment of Jesus but no real faith in Him. Easy believism is taught today, but Jesus made it clear that the way is not easy.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
This same “easy believism” or “lip service” teaches there may not be any change in the new believer’s life, but as long as they have mouthed the magic words, they’re saved. This, too, is a false gospel. What does Jesus say?
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
The New Testament is saturated with this very same message about obtaining salvation. These are just two I have shown.
Jesus says if one is to be saved, “come after me,” he must (1) deny himself, (2) take up his cross, and (3) follow me. That is real faith. That has nothing to do with works, but to the contrary, it has everything to do with true, legitimate faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Someone says, “But that’s “Lordship salvation.” Yes, it is, and it still has nothing to do with works. It is real faith.
“Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.'” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life'” (John 6:61-68).
Peter, and the others who stayed, were the real believers and true disciples of Christ.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html