What is a disciple? – Part 3

Many misunderstand church attendance for discipleship, thinking that if they come to church on a regular basis or every now and again, they are a disciple. Or they mistake their families church attendance for them being a disciple, they are in by connection. Some believe being connected to a social justice cause makes them a disciple. Still others believe discipleship is only for the super spiritual. Or that it is a program that we go through for a matter of weeks or months. There are many ways in which we can misunderstand discipleship. 

In my last two posts (Part 1 / Part 2) I sought to clear up any misunderstandings we might have. In this last post, we look at the final characteristic of a disciple.

What is a disciple?

(3) A disciple is a learner of Jesus

Look at the beginning of verse 29. Jesus says, 

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,”

Mt 11:29a

Here we see that we are to submit to Jesus’ authority so that we can learn from Him. 

There is a reason we live with Jesus as the King of our life. It is not because Jesus is on a power trip. Remember, He is gentle and lowly. Instead, we submit to Jesus as our authority so that we can learn a new way of life from Him. He is more than willing to teach us, so that we might find joy as we live as Kingdom citizens.

A whole new way of life in Jesus

In this way, we can say that when we come to Jesus, a whole new way of life opens up to us. A way of life that was closed to us before. That is because we were living in rebellion to Him. As rebels, we didn’t want Jesus’ way of life. We thought we knew what was good and right. 

But as those who are committed to following Jesus we should have repented of our rebellion. Our hearts should have been changed. We should desire a new way of life. One that Jesus provides.

Discipleship is learnership

Not only does Jesus call us to come to and learn from Him in these verses, but when we look at the term disciple, we discover it means a person who learns from another by instruction. Learning is at the core of what it means to be a disciple. As a result, we can say that discipleship is learnership.

Disciples are the who are constantly seeking to learn Jesus, to learn what it means to think and act like Jesus. 

Discipleship is not just for the academy

Discipleship as learnership doesn’t mean it is full on academic. We certainly need to gain knowledge, but discipleship is not just for knowledge sake. Discipleship involves us learning to live and think like Jesus so that we change the way that we live and think about life. It involves us stepping into a new way of doing life. One that should result in us valuing what Jesus values. Acting like Jesus acts. In other words, learning Jesus should result in us imitating Jesus. In Luke 6:40, we read:

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Lk 6:40)

Imitating Jesus is what we are after. We should not only desire to become more like Jesus, but as we continue in the Christian life, we should see ourselves becoming more like Jesus. 

You have to have the desire

In order to become more like Jesus, we must desire to be more like Jesus. For some of you, you have never become more like Jesus because the desire is not there. You are connected to the church, but only for the benefit it affords you in your personal life, not because you see it as a means to become more like Jesus. If we are going to make progress in the Christian life, if we are going to be a disciple, we have to start by realizing that a disciple is a learner of Jesus.

If you haven’t come to Jesus because you want to learn to think and live like Him, then you are not a disciple of Jesus. 

At the core of discipleship is learnership.

Discipleship is not an overnight endeavor

To be sure learning Jesus doesn’t happen overnight. We don’t come to faith in Christ one day and are immediately like Jesus the next. It takes a lifetime for us to become more like Jesus. 

While it takes time, the key to becoming more like Jesus is knowing that is what it means to be a disciple. Disciples follow Jesus into a whole new way of life. A way of life Jesus opens up for us.

Look at your life:

  • Are you more like Jesus today than when you first came to faith?
  • Do you find yourself thinking different?
  • Acting different?
  • Do you love God’s Word, reading it often?
  • Do you love God’s people, gathering together in a group to study and apply God’s Word?
  • Do you desire to know more about God’s character, seeking to understand some basic theological concepts?
  • Are you self-sacrificial, giving of yourself and your resources?
  • Are you missional, seeking to build relationships with your neighbors so you can talk with them about Jesus?
  • Are you ministry oriented, serving regularly in the local church? 

These are all activities that characterize Jesus in one way or another. They are activities that should characterize us as well as we seek to learn Jesus. 

As we move forward into this New Year, it is my hope that you will not only rest in Jesus, recognizing that He is the only One who can restore your relationship with the Father, that you will submit your life to Jesus, recognizing He is your King, but that you will also learn Jesus by becoming more like Him, thinking, acting, and caring about the things He cares about. 

If we are going to see growth as a church and reach the community in which we have been planted, we must be people who are learning Jesus. Not so that we can fill our heads with knowledge, but so that we live differently. 


Want to keep learning?

Watch the sermon this post is based on.


Are you looking for a church?

Eastridge Baptist Church is a multi-generational thriving community of real people experiencing real life together. We seek to be the church every day and everywhere we go, as we live in community and on mission for Jesus. We are located in the heart of Red Oak, Texas. Our desire is to make Jesus’ name famous as we seek to make “disciple-making” disciples who prize community and Jesus’ mission.

What is a disciple? – Part 2

Misunderstanding discipleship is not an agree to disagree type of misunderstanding. It is a base level understanding that those who call themselves Christians need to understand. Likewise, if we are going to be a church that makes disciple-making disciples, we must all be on the same page as to what we are seeking to make. 

In my last post to open this series, I provided the first of three characteristics of a disciple. Today we explore characteristic number two. 

What is a disciple?

(2) A disciple is someone who submits to Jesus’ authority

Looking at Matthew 11:29 Jesus calls us to:

“Take [his] yoke upon [us], and learn from” him.

(Mt 11:29a)

A yoke is a piece of farm equipment that is attached to an animal such as an ox that allows them to pull farm equipment. It is usually associated with hard work. Imagine being an animal on a farm whose job is to pull a plough through hard soil day in and day out. Not an easy task.

A yoke is typically associated with hard work, but notice what Jesus tells us.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

(Mt 11:30)

That is not typical. Work on the farm is hard. It is labor some. But not so with Jesus. Jesus is not calling us to come to Him so that He can place a heavy burden on us. Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy. His burden is light. While Jesus flips the script on what it means to take on a yoke, we are still to take His yoke and put it on.

Taking Jesus’ yoke on us signifies submission to His authority in our life.

There is this idea (see Lordship Salvation Debate) in evangelical circles that we don’t have to submit our lives to Jesus. All we need to do is believe in Him and everything will be great. But Jesus is not calling us to mental assent. Instead, He is calling us to submit our entire lives to Him.

I know some want to argue otherwise, but if we think about salvation for a minute and why we need it. We need to be saved from the wrath of God because we rebelled against God. We thought we knew what was right and wrong. We followed our own will. As you look at the span of biblical history, it is clear that following our own will does not workout well for us.

If you just take the book of Genesis for instance, you see that man is good at rejecting God’s will. God offers blessing and life to the main characters in the book of Genesis and their default reaction is failure. God starts with Adam, who fails in a big way. Though God has given him dominion over the entire garden and earth, he rejects God’s way of doing things for his own. His failure plunges the human race into sin.

Next is Noah. God essentially restarts the world with Noah. But he can’t keep it together either. Nor can Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. His sons, grandsons and great grandsons fail as well.

Our default reaction is a rejection of God’s will for our own. Our default action doesn’t result in blessing, instead it results in a curse. Part of the salvation process, then, is to admit our failure, our rebellion, and to turn back to God, allowing Him to have the proper place in our life, as our King.

It is important we submit our lives to Jesus because there is no true salvation if we don’t allow Jesus to have authority in our life.

Jesus is the King of kings. To come to Jesus is to allow the King the authority He deserves.

True disciples submit to Jesus’ authority.

They don’t do this begrudgingly, instead they do it out of joy, recognizing that God’s will and wisdom is what is best for them. The book of Psalms opens with these two verses:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

(Ps 1:1–2)

If I am honest with you, when I first read those verses in my youth, I had trouble with them. I couldn’t understand why the Psalmist would delight in the Law of God. To my knowledge, at that point in my life, it was just a bunch of rules. It was a bunch of things you should and shouldn’t do. Up to that point in my life, I didn’t delight in rules. I didn’t like them. But as I matured, I eventually realized God’s Law represents His will and wisdom. It is based off His character, which is good.

When the Psalmist talks about delighting in God’s law, he is saying that he delights in all of who God is. He recognizes that God desires us to experience His goodness, which is why He provides us the Law.

True disciples recognize that as well. Instead of seeking ways to wiggle out from underneath Jesus’ authority, they submit to it, recognizing it is what is best for them.

True disciples submit to Jesus’ authority and they do so joyfully.


Want to keep learning?

Watch the sermon this post is based on.


Are you looking for a church?

Eastridge Baptist Church is a multi-generational thriving community of real people experiencing real life together. We seek to be the church every day and everywhere we go, as we live in community and on mission for Jesus. We are located in the heart of Red Oak, Texas. Our desire is to make Jesus’ name famous as we seek to make “disciple-making” disciples who prize community and Jesus’ mission.

What is a disciple? – Part 1

It is not uncommon for us to misunderstand what it means to be a disciple. We see this in Jesus’ own ministry. Those who followed Him missed that discipleship wasn’t about being the greatest or sitting in the most privileged position (Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45). Some who followed Jesus early on did so because of what He could do for them not necessarily because He was the Christ (Mark 8:27-33). It is possible to misunderstand what it means to be a disciple. It happened in Jesus’ own ministry and it happens today. 

How do we misunderstand what it means to be a disciple?

Many misunderstand church attendance for discipleship, thinking that if they come to church on a regular basis or every now and again, they are a disciple. Or they mistake their families church attendance for them being a disciple, they are in by connection. Some believe being connected to a social justice cause makes them a disciple. Still others believe discipleship is only for the super spiritual. Or that it is a program that we go through for a matter of weeks or months. There are many ways in which we can misunderstand discipleship. 

Misunderstanding discipleship is not an agree to disagree type of misunderstanding. It is a base level understanding that those who call themselves Christians need to understand. Likewise, if we are going to be a church that makes disciple-making disciples, we must all be on the same page as to what we are seeking to make. 

What is a disciple?

Over the next several posts, I am going to provide you with three characteristics of a disciple. We can add more to this list, but these are the three things I see in Matthew 11:28-30. 

(1) A disciple is someone who seeks rest in Jesus

Look at Matthew 11:28-30 with me,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

Mt 11:28–30

I read and handed Gentle and Lowly out to my congregation this last year. The book is written as an extended explanation of these verses. 

I believe Gentle and Lowly is an important book because popular culture has a tendency to paint Jesus as hard and harsh, especially towards those who are sinners. But that is far from the truth. 

Jesus is Gentle

When we allow Jesus to tell us who He is, He reveals that He is gentle and lowly.In other words, He is not a hard and harsh taskmaster. He is not trigger happy, ready to smite us as soon as we sin. Instead, He is gentle. He is tender towards those who are caught up in sin. 

Jesus is Lowly

Not only is He gentle, but He is lowly, meaning He is accessible. We don’t have to jump through hoops. We don’t have to clean ourselves up before we come to Him. He is not tucked away in a white castle surrounded by an impassable mote. He is lowly, accessible. 

Jesus offers rest

We should come to Jesus, we should approach Him because He can offer us rest for our weary souls. Jesus is able to offer rest because He does what we can’t do.

I don’t know about you but sometimes as I am scrolling through Facebook, I come across these videos that highlight incredible workers. It is typically someone who is working with wood, stone, metal or tile. Their skillset is absolutely next level. They are able to make things out of these mediums that seem impossible. Sometimes I watch those videos in amazement. I find myself thinking, “I could never do that.” 

The same thing I think about those workers and what they are able to accomplish, we need to think about Jesus and what He has accomplished — we can never do what He has done. No amount of effort on our behalf could ever get us to the same level as Jesus. It is when we try that we wear ourselves out. 

When we compete with Jesus, what we are trying to do is earn our own salvation through our own self-effort. We need to stop seeking self-salvation. We need “to come” to Jesus for rest. 

True disciples rest in Jesus’ work on their behalf. 

Why we need to rest in Jesus

True Disciples recognize they are sinners. It is their sin that hinders their relationship with the Father. God is holy — He is set apart from us. We can’t come into His presence on our own because we are unholy. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy. There is nothing we can do to pay our debt with the Father. The wages of sin is death. That is what we deserve. We deserve eternal death. Eternal separation from God and all that is good. But Jesus has repaired our relationship by dying on our behalf. All those who believe in Jesus experience rest. 

True disciples come to Jesus for rest. Rest from the consequences of their sin and the burden of seeking self-salvation. 

If you are weary, know that the only way you are going to experience rest and relief is by turning to Jesus. Working longer and harder, trying to be a better person, and giving more will not ultimately result in release. Only Jesus can provide you the rest you desire. True disciples recognize that and they come to Jesus for rest. 


Want to keep learning?

Watch the sermon this post is based on.


Are you looking for a church?

Eastridge Baptist Church is a multi-generational thriving community of real people experiencing real life together. We seek to be the church every day and everywhere we go, as we live in community and on mission for Jesus. We are located in the heart of Red Oak, Texas. Our desire is to make Jesus’ name famous as we seek to make “disciple-making” disciples who prize community and Jesus’ mission.

Why do we need others to live the Christian life?

Growing up I attended a small private school in Savannah, GA. When I was in fifth grade, we were given the option of taking choir. I say we were given the option of taking this class because you had to miss recess in order to attend. Since recess is kind of a big deal for a fifth-grader, they gave you the option. At first, I wasn’t going to take the class. Recess was way more important to me than singing in the choir. But all my friends were signing up. Recess is only fun if your friends are there, so I decided to sign up as well.

My stint in the choir didn’t last all that long. I wasn’t doing well in one of my other subjects, I can’t remember which one it was, but I wasn’t doing well, so I had to go to tutoring. To this day I distinctly remember the comment the choir director made when he heard I wouldn’t be coming back. He said, “Oh, that’s fine. It’s probably for the best anyways.” While hearing him say that hurt my ego a little, it was true. It was for the best because I was always out of step with the rest of the class. I’m tone-deaf. I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

While it hurt my ego to hear that from my choir teacher, I’m glad I learned early that I was out of step when it came to music, or else I might have ended up on American Idol or something like that as one of the blooper reels. I’m glad someone was honest with me.

We need people who are willing to be honest with us.

Not just when it comes to singing but when it comes to how we are living life. We all need others who are willing to come alongside us and speak the truth in love. If we don’t, we will end up going through life thinking we are great at everything. That is not only dangerous when it comes to our talents, but also the Christian life.

We must have others to whom we are accountable.

We must have others who are willing to speak the truth of God’s Word into our life. If we don’t, we won’t grow. Even worse, we might end up following a false teacher or living contrary to the gospel.

When we live contrary to the gospel and God’s Word, we not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt others as well.

It might not be our first instinct to believe our actions harm the community in which we run because we are conditioned by our culture to think of ourselves and ourselves alone. We are very individualistic in our outlook. While that is how our culture has conditioned us to think, that is not reality. Our actions affect the community in which we live, work, and play. That not only applies to other church members, but it also applies to those we are attempting to reach with the gospel.

If we are living out of step with the gospel, and we don’t have anyone who is willing to tell us we are out of step with the gospel, we are in trouble.

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith?

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith? We talk a lot about God building us up. The Spirit working monergistically in us and on us. How are we to build ourselves up in the faith?

One way in which I believe Jude, the author of this short letter, has in mind that we build ourselves up is by understanding that their are false teachers whose desire is to destroy our faith. We build ourselves in the faith as we not only understand their teaching and why it is false, but when we grow in our understanding of our own faith. We will never guard against false teaching if we do not know our own faith.

Knowing our own faith is where many Americans, and Christians, struggle. Many are not able to answer simple questions like, “What is the gospel? Who is God? How were Old Testament saints saved?” We must, however, have a simple understanding of the Bible, its doctrine and theology. We must know how to answer our critics and why a particular teacher’s teaching is false. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to deception.

Christian, build yourself up in the faith!

Love for neighbor creates unity in the community and we should seek unity.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal 5:13)

In Christ we have been set free from the demands of the law. Not that we set the law aside in that we shouldn’t follow God’s Word. No, we must and we should follow God’s Word. A disciple is someone who follows a master. Jesus is our master. We are His disciples. We should follow Him. But we are free from the law’s bondage over us. It is no longer our tutor, teaching, training, restraining and pointing. It has accomplished it’s goal in that it has pointed us to Christ.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. He embodied it perfectly, never breaking a single command. As a result, He is able to be our perfect sacrifice, fulfilling the law on our behalf so as to make those who believe in Him through faith righteous.

Having experienced the freedom Christ provides, we should not use your freedom to satisfy the desires of our flesh. In fact, the opposite is true. Having been set free from the bondage of sin, we should use our freedom to follow Jesus in living according to God’s Word.

Not that it is a bad idea, but we don’t need to memorize all the commands in God’s Word in order to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The whole law, as we are told in verse 14, can be summed in their phrases, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:14). Paul is playing off Jesus’ answer in the gospels to a question regarding what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answered it is to love God and the second greatest was to love your neighbor (Matt 22:36-40). I believe both ideas are implied here, but the specific focus of the passage in on community, which is why the second greatest commandment is quoted.

It is wrong to say that you love God, while at the same time hating your brother. If you love God, you will love your brother. You will not use your freedom to bite and devour them. Instead, you will use your freedom to show love and care for them. If we seek to devour another instead of living in unity with them, we will be devoured ourselves. So as others attempt to take a bite out of us, we should press into love.

Love for neighbor creates unity in the community and we should seek unity. It is what the law, although imperfectly, was seeking and what we are capable of now that we are freed from the bondage of sin in Christ. We are capable of loving and living in unity with our fellow brothers and sisters. We must press into unity in our community by loving others as we would love ourselves.