NOTE: The following article is taken from Chapter 11 of Peter Whyte’s book “The King and His Kingdom”, written in 1979.
The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). The name “Christian” means an adherent of Christ.
Today we have such muddled terminology that we apply the term to any church member, regardless of whether he or she is a dedicated follower, a disciple, of Christ.
We need to become disciples of the King and His Kingdom, and church membership can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a help. Loyalty to a man-made church will usually prevent total loyalty to the Kingdom of God. The claims of the organization usually take priority over the claims of the Kingdom when any conflict of interest arises. You cannot serve two masters.
- Becoming a disciple involves first AN ACT OF MY WILL.
I WILL TO DO THE WILL OF GOD.
I WILL to be a disciple of King Jesus and His Kingdom.
Becoming a disciple means I STOP TALKING AND START DOING.
It may not be difficult for us to see the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, but we are an unholy nation of scribes and Pharisees. Our normal reaction, if we accept the truth, is to agree with it Then we study it for ourselves in the Bible, read books and hear teachings on the King and His Kingdom.
We then make the fatal error of talking about it, and NEVER become TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DOING IT PERSONALLY.
We are so “concept-bound” that we will immediately start sharing the “new concepts” with anyone who will listen.
If I am a preacher, I start preaching it to my congregation.
If I am a “mature” Christian, I start teaching it to those in my care.
The example of Jesus Christ must be our example, and He was both a DOER and a TEACHER.
George Bernard Shaw said: “Those that can, DO. Those that can’t, TEACH.” It is too often true in our churches that “those that can, DO; but those who can’t, PREACH.”
It is no use teaching the Kingdom concepts of married life if your marriage is a mess. It is no use teaching patience if you are impatient. It is no use teaching the Way of Christ if it is not the way you live. First of all YOU WILL TO DO WHAT THE KING SAYS, AND THEN YOU DO IT.
Only then do you pass it on to whomsoever the Lord gives you to disciple. The life you live is imparted spiritually by association, and that is more important than theological concepts.
After the resurrection Jesus appeared to the eleven on a mountain in Galilee. There He gave a kingly command which, if obeyed, will turn the world upside down.
- “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, l am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
It is certain that the disciples obeyed His instructions, which contain THE ONLY METHOD by which Jesus extends HIS Kingdom!
Jesus said, “MAKE disciples, and teach them to DO all that I commanded you.” This must be our first objective in becoming a disciple. We MUST LEARN all that Jesus taught and practice DOING what He says to the best of our ability.
A few days after He gave the instructions of Matthew 28:18-20, we have the events recorded in the second chapter of Acts. Thousands were added to the Church, and they were “continually devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.”
The apostles’ doctrine of Acts 2:42 was simply that of teaching the people to DO IN THEIR DAILY LIVES THE THINGS THAT CHRIST HAD TAUGHT THEM.
This is simple, and so logical that it seems superfluous to point it out, yet it is nearly impossible to find a church in the 20th century that actually does this.
Becoming a disciple is a process, just as becoming a son of God is a process. It requires the FORMATION of your life.
The first place for me to live out the teaching of Christ is in my own home. The second place is where I am employed.
Until the Kingdom of God is working in my own life, in my attitudes and relationships, I have not BECOME a disciple.
Becoming a disciple means applying the teaching to myself and changing myself.
This does not mean a humanistic self-reformation, but following in Jesus’ steps and obeying His Spirit within me.
Unless I have the Spirit of Christ, I have no part in Him.
If I do have His Spirit in me then I can change myself, because I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.
The problem is that we find it easier to see the need for change in OTHER PEOPLE.
Jesus never told us to go and teach everything we find in the Bible, or men’s opinions of what Scripture means, or all the traditions of our particular church. He said, “Teach ME.”
I can therefore easily exhort others to change, yet never become a disciple because I fail to change myself.
Praying without ceasing is an attitude, and to become a disciple I must continually have this prayer attitude:
- “LORD, CHANGE ME!”
Once this prayer attitude is established I will see that, although I must will to change myself, it will in reality be the Lord working in me unresisted that changes me. Every circumstance of my life becomes a thrilling learning experience. I will understand that God uses everybody around me and every circumstance to mold and refine me. Trials and tribulations, suffering, pleasure, success or failure, all become learning experiences, working together for MY GOOD.
God has predestined me to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus, and so ALL things are working in my life to change me from glory to glory.
Change is very important because it involves growth. If I am not continually being changed from glory to glory, I am not growing more like Jesus.
Only as we become more like our Master are we profitable servants, able to fulfill our function correctly as His Body upon the earth.
Peter’s complete book “The King and His Kingdom” is available at THIS LINK. Highly recommended!