Disciples of Christ

Luke 9:23-26 NIV

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’”


If we want to become one of Jesus’ disciples, then we must live as he described here in these verses in Luke chapter nine, by his grace, in his strength, power, and wisdom. But these are not the only words of Jesus in the Scriptures defining what it means to be one of his disciples. And please understand here that “disciple” is not optional for a true believer in Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

And this is not a mushy gushy kind of love like they show you in the movies or on TV. This is a love which comes from God and it prefers what God prefers. And God prefers what is holy, righteous, morally pure, honest, trustworthy, kind, and obedient to him. For the believer in Jesus, it means to live through Christ, to choose his choices, and to obey his commands.

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’” (John 14:21,23 NIV).

Jesus stressed over and again the importance of obedience to him and to his teachings, to his commands (New Covenant). If we love him, we will obey him. We will do what he says. And we will be loved by God the Father and by Jesus, and Jesus will reveal himself to us, and God the Father and Jesus Christ will make their home with us (cf. Jn 15:10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10).

Deny and Die

If we want to be a disciple (a believer, a follower) of Christ we must deny self. We must refuse, disallow, and forbid self, and say “no” to self, i.e. we must say “no” to the self-life, the life that is all about us and what we want and about our selfish desires. And we must say “yes” to Jesus and to what he wants for our lives, and to what he wants to do with us.

So, if he wants us to get up in the middle of the night, for example, to pray, or to read the Scriptures, or to write something, then we must get up and do what he says. We must not resist him. If he leads us to write something or to say something we know is going to get us hated and rejected, then we must do what he says, even knowing it may not go well for us.

And we must take up our cross daily. When Jesus took up his cross it meant his death. And he died to take away the sins of the world. He died so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. And when we believe in Jesus our old self life is crucified with him in order that we might no longer be slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.

So, to take up our cross daily means that daily we forgo the self-life, and we choose to follow Jesus Christ wherever he leads us. Daily by the Spirit we are to be putting to death the deeds of our flesh, saying “no” to sin and “yes” to God and to his righteousness. We now walk (in conduct) by the Spirit, and we no longer walk (in practice) according to the flesh.

And we follow Jesus in obedience to his teachings and to his commands under the New Covenant, many of which are repeated from the teachings in the Old Testament. We don’t have to obey the Old Covenant liturgical and ceremonial laws, but we do have to obey God’s moral laws and the instructions given to us believers in the New Testament.

Saving and Losing

If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. We will not have eternal life with God no matter what we have confessed with our lips or are convinced that we have believed in our hearts. For, Jesus said that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of God the Father.

And here is that subject of obedience again. We must walk in obedience to the Lord and to his teachings and to his commands if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. And we must forsake our sinful practices and make righteousness our practice in the power, strength, and wisdom of God (Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21).

And holding on to (saving) our old lives of living for sin and for self means we choose our flesh over God. We choose to obey our flesh over obedience to our Lord. We choose to go our own way instead of God’s ways. We make up our own plans for our lives and we follow them instead of following God’s plans for our lives. It is saying “No” to God and “Yes” to our flesh.

So, instead, we are to lose our lives for Jesus, which means forfeiting the self-life in order to follow Jesus in obedience to his will and to his ways. It is this dying daily to sin and to self and walking in the ways of God. And it will result in eternal life with God. But it may also result in much suffering and rejection and persecution, too.

But if you are ashamed of the Lord Jesus and his words, which is evident by a refusal to obey what he says, either because you want to continue in your sinful practices, or because it is more important to you to be liked by other humans than to be approved by God, then Jesus will be ashamed of you when he comes for his bride, and you will not be included.

So, follow Jesus in obedience. Do what he commands. Go with him wherever he sends you and say what he gives you to say even if it means people will not like you, or they will reject you, or they may even do evil against you or turn others against you, too. Forsake self and let Jesus be Lord (master) of your lives. And one day he will take you home to be with him forever.

When I Go Home

By G. M. Eldridge

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4

In the moment He appears
And the light from heaven shines,
I’ll forget ev’ry fear,
Ev’ry pain I’ll leave behind.
Then I’ll see Him as He is
And I’ll know Him as I’m known.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.

Ever present is the tho’t
That a moment waits for me
When unworthy as I am,
His glory I will see.
I will empty all my praise
Before my Father’s throne.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.

If the trial I endure,
And your presence I can’t find,
Be near me, Lord, I pray,
Bring back unto my mind
That your promises are firm
And I’m never on my own.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.

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*Full lyrics used by permission

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