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What Name Do You Go By? - 7.3.2022 Bulletin

What Name Do You Go By?

If someone were to ask you, “How would you identify yourself religiously?” the most common answer among those who belong to the church of Christ would be, “I am a Christian.” Which is a sound, Biblical answer. There is nothing wrong answering the question in this manner because the name “Christian” is divinely approved [1 Peter 4.16]. But one might find it interesting the name “Christian” is only used three times in the Bible. Acts 11.26: “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Acts 26.28: Agrippa speaking to Paul said, “in a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” Finally, 1 Peter 4.16: “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

There is another response that may better answer the initial question. “Disciple” or more specifically “Disciple of Christ.” The name “disciple” is used over 250 times in the Bible. A disciple is “a learner, one who follows one’s teaching” [Vines Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words]. Disciple is the name used by Christ during His ministry, not Christian. There may have been 10-11 years between when the church was first established on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and when the name Christian was first given to those in Antioch in Acts 11.26. What is not being said is the name Christian is inadequate, for reasons already given, but instead “disciple of Christ” better describes the people we are supposed to be. Let’s consider what it takes to be a disciple of Christ.

To be a disciple of Christ a person must have their priorities in the right order. Disciples are to have different priorities than the rest of the world. In Luke 9.59-60, Jesus calls on a man to follow Him, but the man responds he must first bury is father. Jesus answers back “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God [v. 60]. Jesus is concerned not with dead bodies but with dead souls. A disciple of Christ must share this same concern and view proclaiming the gospel as a top priority as Jesus did. In Luke 14.26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Jesus is not telling us to hate our family or our own life. On the contrary, our family, and our life are to be cherished. Jesus’ statement demonstrates the extent a disciple must be ready to go to follow Christ. Disciples must be willing to remove anything from their life that stands in the way of serving Christ. Christ becomes first over all else.

To be a disciple of Christ a person must consider the cost of becoming a disciple. This is a prerequisite for becoming a disciple, a learner, a student of Christ. In Luke 14.28-32, Jesus uses two examples to show the necessity of counting the cost. It is easy to understand the examples given from a physical standpoint. It would be unwise to start a construction project without first crunching the numbers to make sure there are enough funds to finish the project. It would also be extremely reckless for a king to enter a battle without first considering how many troops are needed to fight the size of the opposing army. The same kind of consideration must be given before becoming a disciple of Christ. If after counting the cost one chooses to become a disciple of Christ, they must then dedicate themselves entirely to Christ [Luke 14.33; Matthew 22.37-38]. Anyone who is unwilling to do so is unfit to be a disciple of Christ. A disciple cannot live partly for the world, and partly for Christ, they must choose one or the other [Matthew 6.24].

Being a disciple requires commitment. It is not easy being a disciple, Jesus says in Luke 14.27: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” To carry the cross means a person must take on what comes with being a disciple. It may include verbal abuse, insults, mocking, shaming or reproach, but theses things must be endured to be a disciple. In Luke 14, Jesus is speaking to “large crowds” [v. 25]. Christ made known to many what was required of His disciples, it was not kept a secret. On another occasion after hearing Jesus speak, John 6.66 says, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” It is difficult to be a disciple, many who hear are unwilling to submit to a life that leads to reproach. Others are unwilling to realign their priorities to put the things of Christ first, and live as He instructs. They instead would rather live for the world because it is easier. Included in commitment is a desire to grow in God’s word [John 8.31-32]. Continual growth keeps one from drifting away from Christ back into the world. Growing in God’s word helps keep a disciple on the right track, remaining focused on what is most important.

Being a disciple is completely worth it [Philippians 3.7-8]. Being a disciple of Christ will not bring a person worldly fame or fortune, nor will it make one popular, or liked by everyone. The things of this world are of no value compared to the reward found in Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Philippians 3.8: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” What a beautiful statement. We should all want to know the Lord, and become His disciple. If that means giving up what the world prioritizes as important, so be it, because Christ has a better reward than anything the world has to offer, a home in heaven.

 

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