I always liked the Bereans. They didn’t just accept what was preached to them, but they “searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11).
Jesus gave a command to study his words.
John 8:31-32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Above all I want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I want to live like Jesus lived and to be like him. I want to obey Jesus’ commands, because I love him and he is my King. I also want to live free from sin, and to be holy, as God is holy. Jesus showed the way.
John 8:33-36 “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: How do you say, you shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abides not in the house forever: but the Son abides forever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
That is what I want. I don’t want to be the servant of sin, but to be free! So, by continuing to study Jesus’ words, I become his disciple indeed, and I gain knowledge of the truth, and the truth makes me free. Look at how the disciples inter-related with Jesus.
Matthew 5:1-2 “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying.”
The multitudes followed Jesus, but his disciples had private sessions with him. Did you ever stop to think that the Sermon on the Mount was given only to the disciples of Jesus? The disciples got to ask Jesus questions, and he answered them. Jesus spoke openly to his disciples in private. To the multitudes he spoke in parables. So naturally the disciples were curious as to why Jesus spoke openly to them, but in parables to the multitudes.
Matthew 13:10-17 “And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speak you unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophesy of Esaias, which says, by hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: for this peoples heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.”
Jesus said a lot here. First, it is only given to disciples to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. To everyone else it is not given. Second, the parables of Jesus are actually to HIDE the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven from everyone who is not a disciple. Third, blessed are the disciples eyes, for they see; and the disciples ears, for they hear; and the disciples hearts, for they understand. So I desired and yearned to be a disciple of Jesus. I wanted to follow Jesus, to live with Jesus, to love Jesus, to obey Jesus, and to know Jesus. According to Jesus’ own words, only a disciple can do this. So how do I go about being a disciple of Jesus in this modern time? I looked to the words of Jesus to tell me. I discovered that asking questions is the key to everything.
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”
So I started to ask questions, seek answers, and knock on heaven’s gate. I asked, How did Jesus come to know his disciples?
Matthew 4:18-22 “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”
Notice that Jesus calls people to be disciples. Jesus also said, “For many are called but few are chosen.” Jesus calls but only those who answer the call are chosen. What does Jesus call people to do? To become disciples. In Laodicea there was an entire church full of people who didn’t answer Jesus’ call. They didn’t even have Jesus in their hearts.
Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
What did Peter, Andrew, James, and John do? They immediately left their nets, their ships, and their father; and followed Jesus. So they left their jobs, their businesses, their family, and their homes to be with Jesus.
Luke 14:26-33 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest happily, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, and all that behold it begin to mock him. Saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends ambassadors, and desires conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.”
So to be a disciple I have to hate my own life! Wow! How different from modern best selling books like Victoria Osteen’s book, “Love Your Life.” Then I have to bear my cross and follow Jesus. In Roman times when a man was condemned to death, he was given a cross to bear. From that moment on he was a dead man walking. He was still alive, but his life was over. Never again would he go home, work, play, relax, enjoy a good meal, be with family or friends, sleep, or anything else that he had previously done. His new life experience was suffering, pain, shame, scorn, and imminent death. This is the picture that Jesus is painting. He wants you to know that it won’t be easy to be his disciple. The entire life that you knew before will now end abruptly. So Jesus tells us to count the cost. To think about it for awhile. Meditate on it. Ask yourself if you become a disciple, will you have what it takes to continue, to the end of your life on earth. Then Jesus says that he that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple. Now Peter and the others did this.
Matthew 19:27-29 “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; What shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
Notice the benefits of being a disciple. You receive a hundred times what you gave up, and you inherit everlasting life. According to Jesus Christ, only disciples inherit eternal life. So I thought about these things over several months. I yearned more and more to EXPERIENCE Christianity. I wanted to KNOW if it was really true by experiencing it for myself. I was full of fear and turmoil, but one day I made my decision. I told the Lord if I ever missed even one meal I would quit, because it doesn’t work. I told him that I would be his disciple, according to his terms, for the rest of my life. Little did I know the adventure I was about to begin. I quit my job. I gave away everything that wouldn’t fit into a Ford Focus, and I began to live by faith. I became a street preacher and traveled the southern half of the United States. I never have missed a meal or been stranded anywhere yet. I pray and I trust God for all my needs being met. This is what Jesus did. Why does Jesus call us to be disciples?
Matthew 6:24-34 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of he air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Jesus said that you cannot serve God and mammon. Do you realize that people who work jobs or have a business are working mainly for themselves? Jesus calls it serving mammon. Why do you work? To have a house, a car, kids, clothes, expensive food, vacations, pay bills, etc. It is all mainly for you! Jesus doesn’t want you to seek these things. Jesus wants your time freed up so you can seek God’s kingdom and have his righteousness. Today, people think that they are already in God’s kingdom and have his righteousness. So they don’t seek for what they think they already have. This is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ command to be his disciple. So to be a disciple is to get free of the world’s entanglements, to live by faith, and to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness. In March of 2010 I did this. I quit my job, I gave up everything I had, and I began to live with Jesus Christ as his disciple. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. I can now devote them to Jesus and to do his work in the earth. Thus began the greatest time of growth and learning of my entire Christian experience. I began to know Jesus and Jesus began to know me.