I am getting ready to teach Lesson 3 from the Bible study course, “Being a disciple: Counting the Real COST” to my preschool teachers. I love these lessons because they are very challenging to all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ.
It is always good to examine ourselves and our way of life to make sure that we measure up to the high calling that God has given to us, to follow Christ. This is one reason that the Lord’s Supper exists. We examine our daily lives to see if we are living up to God’s standards. This lesson is a great lesson for self-examination and I pray that God will use it to search your heart the way that He did to search my heart.
Here is a quick review of what we learned about a genuine disciple of Christ from the previous two lessons:
- he has repented (had a change of mind that lead to a change of actions)
- he has become a fisher of men
- he is a follower (continuous) of Jesus Christ, moment by moment, day by day
- he is a living testimony for Jesus Christ everywhere he goes
- he constantly confesses Christ before men by sharing the Word of God
- he constantly denies himself, he dies to his way of life, and he follows Jesus moment by moment
- he has counted the cost of following Christ and given up everything to do so
Is it possible to believe that you are a Christian (disciple of Christ) and be deceived? Is it possible to know if you are genuine or not? In both cases, the answer is YES! Let’s examine the Scriptures and find out.
Our passage of study for this lesson is from the Sermon on the Mount. Take a moment to read Matthew 7:13-29. I want to examine this passage from the perspective of false and genuine believers as well as look at some principles of discipleship.
I. False believers
According to verse 13, these false believers are searching for the path that leads to the kingdom of heaven. They do not find the narrow path because they take the broad path through the wide gate. They are many in number. They seem to be right because it is the way that everyone else seems to be going. They rationalize their actions with things like, “all these people cannot be wrong, I must be going the right way”. They choose the easy way. In fact, they stay on the path that they were born on. All of us are born into lawlessness and we remain there until the narrow gate is revealed to us. They believe and are surrounded by others who claim to believe. They portray one way of life but live a different way of life in secret, on the inside. There is a big difference in the way that they claim to be and the way that they actually are. They call Jesus Lord. They know the lingo, “Lord, prophesy, demons, miracles etc” and claim to serve the Lord yet at the same time, they practice lawlessness. They are slaves to their sin nature and have never been set free. As Jesus says in another passage, they are whitewashed tombs full of decay. The outside and the inside do not match up. The words and the actions do not match up. They hear the Word of God yet they do not apply the Word of God. They are foolish. Their way of life leads to destruction. They are deceived and they deceive others. What about you, do you claim to believe? Have you learned the lingo? Are you serving? Do your words and actions line up? Does what is on the inside match up with what is on the outside? Are you a slave to your sin nature? Has your life ever been radically changed by God revealing the narrow gate to you and setting you free from sin’s power?
What about genuine believers, what do they look like, according to this passage?
II. Genuine believers
A genuine believer is one who seeks after the narrow gate to make sure that he is own the narrow path. There are not many genuine believers. Genuine believers are aware of false believers and false teachers. False believers and their teachings are pseudo. They seem like the real thing but they are fake, false. Genuine believers do not accept the false teachings of the pseudo believers. Genuine believers also call Jesus Christ Lord (Master) and they demonstrate that He is Lord by doing what He says. They live out the will of the Father. They will enter the kingdom of heaven because they live as citizens of heaven here on this earth. They have had their lifestyles transformed and no longer live as slaves to their sin nature. They no longer practice lawlessness as the text says. They hear the Word of God and put It into practice in their daily lives. Christ calls them wise because of their decision to follow Him and His teachings. Their way of life is producing good fruit. They serve just like the pseudo believers but their motives are different and their lifestyles are different.
My dear friend, are these qualities part of your daily life? Do you seek the narrow gate and path? Are you aware of the false believers and their teachings because of what the teachings of Christ have done in your life? Is good fruit a part of your daily life? Is Jesus your Lord? Do you do the will of the Father each and every day? Have you been freed from your sin nature or are you still a slave? When you hear the Words of Christ, how do you respond? Do you act on them right away or not? Would Christ call you a wise or a foolish person?
III. Principles of discipleship
There are some important principles that we need to learn and apply about discipleship.
- I do not just fall into being a disciple. I have to put forth effort. I must seek the narrow path and follow it once the Lord reveals it to me.
- I must know that I am born on the broad path and must be transformed.
- The evidence of being on the broad path is the fact that I am a slave to my sin nature.
- Being a disciple means hearing the teachings of Christ and living by them.
- I must know that there are many false teachings and those false teachings will appeal to my sin nature.
- A disciple is a follower of Christ, one who sees Christ as his Master.
- A disciple learns the will of God and lives it out moment by moment.
- A genuine disciple has been set free from slavery to his sin nature.
- A genuine disciple serves the Lord.
I must live these teachings out as a disciple and I must teach these things to others so that they can become disciples of Christ. This does not just happen. I have to be intentional about living as a disciple and I have to be intentional about teaching others to become disciples of Christ.
May the Lord help us live as genuine disciples and teach others how to be genuine disciples of Christ by knowing His Word and following Him through His Word.