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WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 13, 2019

“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect [mature, complete] shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40; p. 1081 Scofield).


What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who follows and imitates his master. If you do that, you will become like your master. A disciple follows and imitates Christ, for He is our Lord. If you do that, you will become like Jesus. What a wonderful thing! Imagine that – I can become like Jesus! You can become like Jesus! You say, “But I’m just an ordinary person. I’m young. I’m not a super-Christian.” You don’t have to be. Any Christian – you, whoever you are, can have the blessing of becoming like Jesus!

What did Jesus do? How did He live? The Bible says,

“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”
       (I Peter 2:21; p. 1313).

Christ suffered for you. He gave you an example of suffering. The Bible calls you to follow His steps. I say to you, “Be ready to suffer. Follow Jesus.” If you follow Jesus, it won’t always be easy. You’ll have to do things you don’t feel like doing. But you will become a strong Christian. You’ll become like Jesus. And you will reign with Him in His Kingdom!

Jesus had twelve Disciples. They were with Him for three years, but they didn’t do well. Judas betrayed Christ for money. Peter denied Jesus three times. The other Disciples forsook Him and fled. They ran away.

Why were they bad disciples? They ran away from what was hard. They ran away from what would make them good – standing with Jesus when it wasn’t easy. They ran away when the test came. They failed when it would cost them something to stay with Jesus.

Oh, don’t be like them! If you run away when it’s hard, you’ll never be a good Christian. The test isn’t when it’s easy. All the Disciples said they would stay with Jesus no matter what happened. Peter said, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:35; p. 1038). Yet Peter denied Christ three times that night. He was fine when they were eating the Last Supper together. Yet he failed when the test came. What will you do? Anyone can say he trusts Jesus. Anyone can say he’ll be faithful – when he’s eating dinner with his friends! You can say beautiful words. You can give a testimony. You can applaud. But what will you do when the test comes? The test won’t come at a time you expect. It won’t come in a way you expect. But the test will come. Will you be ready for it? Will your eyes be open? Will you stay close to Christ? You can do it. Yes, you can! I hope you will.

Later the Apostles had disciples of their own. The Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1; p. 1221). He told the Corinthians to be his disciples, to imitate him (Paul) as he imitated Christ.

One of Paul’s disciples was a young man named Timothy. He was a good disciple of Paul. I want to tell you how you too can be a good disciple.

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I. First, go to work for Christ right away.

When Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, “a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus...Which was well reported of by the brethren” (Acts 16:1-2; p. 1171). Timothy was a new Christian. The Gospel hadn’t been preached there for very long (see Acts 14:6ff). Timothy was a young man. The Bible says his grandmother had been saved before him, not long ago (see II Timothy 1:5). Timothy had to be young, or his grandmother wouldn’t have been alive.

Timothy was a fine Christian before Paul met him. He had a good report from the brethren. This young man went right to work for Christ!

What about you? Why not go to work for Christ right away? Why wait! If you wait until you’re older, you’ll never do much of anything. When you’re older, you’ll be busy and you’ll be used to not doing much. And you never will.

You may say, “I’m not a pastor.” Nobody said you were. But you can be a soul winner! Why not? Any Christian can be a soul winner! Why not bring one person to church? I’m not talking about you coming to the meetings. I’m talking about bringing one person to church. We’re going to start a new Chinese church in the San Gabriel Valley. Will you bring one person there? Why not start now? Why not make it a part of your life to invite someone and bring him to church? It will take time. It will take planning. But you can do it! And do it now!

II. Second, work for Christ in spite of your human weaknesses.

That’s what Timothy did. He wasn’t a strong man. He had stomach trouble. He was often sick. Paul had to tell him, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23; p. 1277). But he followed Christ anyway. That didn’t stop him! Maybe you have weaknesses. But if God can use Timothy, He can use you!

Timothy was not naturally courageous. He wasn’t bold. He wasn’t outgoing. He was quiet. He was afraid. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear” (I Corinthians 16:10; p. 1228). It could be translated, “don’t intimidate him” or “put him at ease among you.” Paul told Timothy not to hang back because he was young, “Let no man despise thy youth” (I Timothy 4:12; p. 1276). Paul told Timothy not to hang back because of his fear, when he said,

“I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God [the ministry of preaching]...For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:6-7; p. 1279).

You say, “I can’t share the Gospel. I can’t bring a person to church. I’m young. And I’m shy. I’m quiet. I’m not social. I don’t reach out to people easily.” Ah, but God understands you as He understood Timothy. God cares for you as He cared for Timothy. God will help you as He helped Timothy. If God can use Timothy, God can use you. Timothy was like you. He had his fears. He would rather be quiet. But Timothy worked for Jesus anyway. Sometimes I have fears. After all, nobody likes to be rejected. Many times I have had to “gather up my guts” (those are the words I use) and walk over to the person anyway. Let me say it again: God can use you. Don’t think you can’t win a soul just because you’re shy and quiet. Sure you can! Walk over to the person and talk. Anyone can do that. Anyone can make a phone call. Quiet people can be the best soul winners of all. May God bless you as you do it!

III. Third, follow the teachings and life of Christ and of good Christians.

First, imitate Christ. The Bible says,

“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”
        (I Peter 2:21; p. 1313).

Follow Christ. Do what He said in the Bible. If you suffer, remember that He suffered for you. Next, imitate your pastor. The Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1; p. 1221). That’s what Timothy did. At the end of his life, Paul said to Timothy,

“Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions” (II Timothy 3:10-11; p. 1281).

A modern translation says, “You followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings” (NASB). Timothy followed Paul’s teaching and his conduct in life. So Paul knew that Timothy would listen when he warned him about the selfishness of the last days,

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:1-5; pp. 1280-1281).

Most new-evangelicals today are like that. They are lovers of their own selves, unthankful, and unholy. They are trucebreakers. They don’t keep their promises, like the apostate Chan and those who followed him. They are traitors, like the apostate Chan and those who followed him. They have a form of godliness without its power, like Chan and Olivas who set up churches in a “form of godliness” but without the power to win anyone to Christ.

I thank God that Dr. Hymers has never been like that. He stays when it’s hard. He stays when he’s old and sick. He stays when it’s no fun. He keeps his word. He loves Christ and the church more than himself. His godliness is real. It’s not an empty form, and you all know it. And he has the power of God, for he has won you to Christ through his preaching. Thank God for Dr. Hymers!

Why not be like him? No, you’re not a pastor. But you’re a Christian, aren’t you? Why not be a good and faithful Christian? Why not follow Dr. Hymers in his faithfulness? Go thou and do likewise!

Don’t be like weak new-evangelicals! Follow Christ even if you suffer. Follow Paul. Follow your pastor. Paul said Timothy had followed him and lived like him. That’s a real disciple! Be the same way too! Go thou and do likewise!

IV. Fourth, stay faithful to the end.

Paul suffered greatly for Christ. He was put in prison again and again. Finally he was beheaded under the persecution of the Emperor Nero.

Timothy was faithful to Paul to the end. Paul wrote II Timothy to him when he was about to die, saying, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (II Timothy 4:6; p. 1281). Then he asked Timothy, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me” (II Timothy 4:9). Other people walked away. Paul said, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10). But Paul called Timothy to come to him one last time. History tells us that Timothy became the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Timothy was faithful to Christ to the end. He died as a martyr himself.

Most new-evangelicals aren’t like him. They’re like Demas, who ran away when it got rough. That’s what the apostate Chan and others did. When life was just a little rough, they ran away. “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” I ask you, Will you be like Demas or like Timothy? Enough of Demas and people like him! Isn’t it time for Timothy? Let’s have people like Timothy! Be a true disciple!

Some of you have not trusted Jesus, though He died for you on the Cross. Are you unwilling to become His disciple? May it not be so. May you trust Jesus and follow Him in your Christian life. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come to the front of the room now. Amen.


THE OUTLINE OF

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect [mature, complete] shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40; p. 1081 Scofield).

(I Peter 2:21; Matthew 26:35; I Corinthians 11:1)

I.    First, go to work for Christ right away, Acts 16:1-2.

II.   Second, work for Christ in spite of your human weaknesses,
I Timothy 5:23; I Corinthians 16:10; I Timothy 4:12;
II Timothy 1:6-7.

III.  Third, follow the teachings and life of Christ and of good Christians,
I Peter 2:21; I Corinthians 11:1; II Timothy 3:10-11; 1-5.

IV.  Fourth, stay faithful to the end, II Timothy 4:6, 9, 10.