Discipleship is not an optional extra to people who are already born-again. I don’t believe that you can make Jesus your Savior, and later on, at your discretion and at your convenience, make Him Lord. I believe He must be Lord OF all, or He isn’t Lord AT all. Many people just want to trust in Jesus to save them from their sins and take them to heaven when they die, but they don’t want the process of discipleship. They are willing to enter into the Gate, but they are not willing to walk the Path. That’s what it amounts to. Many Christians have entered the Gate, but very few of them are actually walking the Path. There they are, sitting just inside the Gate, rejoicing in a future hope, rejoicing in a future heaven, rejoicing in a future reward, but they don’t realize that being a disciple of Jesus does not simply mean praying a prayer or believing something or joining something. It is a process. It is the Path, in fact, that leads you to Life. The Gate does not lead you anywhere – it is only the beginning of the journey, it is not the destination.
Now, what is a disciple? What really is a disciple? Well, a disciple, according to the Scripture, according to the usage of the term if you’ll look this up in Strong’s Concordance, a disciple is a learner. A pupil. A student, if you will. Let me ask you a question. If Jesus call us to be His disciples, and a disciple is a learner, a pupil, a student, what does that mean? It means…
“COME TO ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and LEARN FROM ME” (Matthew 11:28).
Underline that, highlight that, write that down, but make special note of that phraseology. “Take My yoke upon you and learn OF Me,” King James says. “Learn FROM Me,” New King James says. “For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light.”
Now that word “learn” there, where He says “learn of Me” or “learn from Me”, that is the same root word as “disciple”. A disciple is one who learns. When He says, “learn of Me” He is saying, “Be discipled by Me. Learn Of Me. Be my pupil. Be my student. Come to Me and be discipled by Me.” That is discipleship. “Come to Me and be discipled by Me.” We could say “Come to Me” is the Gate, and “Be discipled by Me” is the Path. We could say, “Come to Me (enter into the Gate) and learn of Me (walk the Narrow Path).” Do you see that? The Gate, and the Path. It’s not just coming to Jesus, it is LEARNING of Jesus! Coming to Jesus, everyone [is] coming to Jesus – but how many are LEARNING of Him? “Come to Me and be discipled by Me. Come to Me and learn of Me.”
What’s my point? To be a disciple of Jesus means you are a student of Jesus. A pupil of Jesus. A learner of Jesus Himself, as opposed to going someplace to learn ABOUT Jesus from someone else. It’s a very fine, fine distinction. See, most churches will want you to come to church and learn about God, learn about the Bible, learn about church doctrine, learn about their denomination, learn about their religious ways and customs and philosophies and traditions. But that is not what Jesus said at all. He says, “Come to Me and learn of Me.” “Come to Me and learn of Me.” “Come to Me (that is the Gate); learn of Me (that is the difficult Path).”
So what was He doing? Was He teaching them teachings? Was He giving them doctrines? No, He said, “Come and be with Me.” It says in Mark that He selected twelve disciples. Why did He select them? Not just to give them some teachings. Not to give them some doctrines. But it says “He selected Twelve that they should be with Him and that He might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14). Your primary calling as a disciple is to BE with Jesus, because that is how you LEARN OF HIM. It is not learning about the Christian faith – that is a thing. It is not learning about Bible doctrine – that is a thing. We’re not talking about things, we’re talking about a Person. It is not learning about Christian things or religious things or spiritual things. It is not learning about the Bible. It’s not even learning ABOUT Jesus, it is learning OF Jesus FROM Jesus. Can you see that? Can you see the difference between coming TO Jesus and learning OF Him, versus coming to someone else and learning ABOUT Him? The difference is night and day, and for the majority of Christians, they don’t know a thing in the world directly FROM Jesus, they only know what they have heard the church say, what brother so-and-so said, what sister so-and-so said, some book, some article, some tape they got off of the Internet or off the television set. They don’t have a personal, intimate, experiential, knowledge and knowing of who the Lord is for themselves because they have never come to HIM to learn of HIM. They go everywhere else but Jesus to learn ABOUT Him, but they never come to Jesus to learn from Jesus. And that’s what being a disciple of Jesus is all about. If you go anywhere else you are their disciple, you are not the disciple of Jesus.
It is learning OF Jesus FROM Jesus. Here’s what I believe – now, you check yourself out and see if you believe this as well. I believe Jesus is alive. I believe He LIVES. He is not a million miles away off in heaven either. But He is an ever-present help in time trouble. He says I will never leave you, I will never forsake you, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. I believe He is risen, I believe He is alive, and I believe He is well able to teach us and disciple us HIMSELF if only we will come to Him. If only we will come to Him and learn of Him. He is alive. He did not just hand down some teachings because He knew He was going to die, and so He gave some teachings to the disciples so they could keep the message alive and keep the Gospel going forth in His absence. Absolutely not! He is alive, and He is teaching us, and He wants to disciple us, if only we will come to Him and learn of Him.