What is it to be a Disciple of Christ? (Part Three)

The Proof of Discipleship
 
John 13:35 (ESV) ~ “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

John 15:12 (ESV) ~ “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

 

The marks of a true disciple of any master/leader are:

  1. Belief in his master’s words
  2. Attachment to his master’s person
  3. Obedience to his master’s precepts/teachings
  4. Imitation of his master’s example. Obedience and imitation may be summed up in our word – love. If we love Christ we shall believe, obey, and imitate Him; and we must show that love by loving one another.

 

In John 13, Jesus says that He was departing, that He would be with the disciple for only a little while longer. This was the reason that Jesus had to give His disciple a new commandment. He was leaving. There are three reasons the new commandment of love was needed then and is needed today and by all generation of believers.

  • There are times when believers differ. There is always the danger of becoming critical, judgmental, censorious, and divisive. Remember, the disciples had just been arguing over who should receive the highest positions of authority in Jesus’ new government. They had been struggling against each other and were highly critical and judgmental of each other. They had been deeply divided. The need for a new commandment and a new supernatural love existed then even as it does today.
  • There are times when believers feel a keen need for Jesus’ physical presence. Jesus knew this. That is the reason He said that the disciples would seek His presence. True, believers have the Holy Spirit, and He is the all-sufficient Comforter and the abiding Presence of God Himself. But being human, believers need another human presence with them. They need a brother or a sister, a genuine believer who loves them with the supernatural love of Jesus Himself. Jesus knew this, so He commanded believers to love each other. Believers are to meet the needs of each other for companionship and fellowship and for care and concern.
  • There is the need for some supernatural force to hold the disciples together. Jesus’ physical presence had been the cohesive force that had held the disciples together when He was on earth. But once He had gone, His followers would need something else to hold them together. They must stay and serve together in one spirit and purpose. But how? The new commandment is the answer.

 

The new commandment is to love as Christ loved. Note several points.

  • This is not the old commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” It is not a human, neighborly love being commanded. This commandment is a new commandment being given to disciples only. It is the spiritual love that is to exist between believers as brothers and sisters and as servants of God who minister together.
  • The love being commanded is the love of Jesus Himself which is the love of God Himself, the love that can be shed abroad in our hearts only by the Holy Spirit (cp. Romans 5:5). It is not the normal physical love among human neighbors which is being commanded by God. It is a spiritual love that is wrought only by the Spirit of God.
  • The distinctiveness of this love is that it is the love of Jesus Himself that dwells in the heart of the believer. Only the Spirit of God can put the love of Jesus within the heart of the believer. The Holy Spirit can create within the believer the love of Jesus Himself, the very same love which Jesus had while here on earth. The love of Jesus is …
    • the love of spiritual being: the love that causes one to hunger after union with God and God’s people.
    • the love of spiritual life: the love that shares the same life with all believers, both abundant and eternal life.
    • the love of spiritual union: the love that binds and ties believers together in life and purpose.
    • the love of spiritual attachment or fellowship: the love that shares needs and blessings and joys and sorrows and gifts together.
  • The Holy Spirit can create within the believer a love that can melt and mold his heart to the hearts of other believers. But note: it is a commandment; therefore, it is conditional. The Holy Spirit can create such a love, but believers have to receive it. When the love of Jesus dwells in the heart of a believer, several things happen. The believer has a love that causes him…
    • to bind his life to the lives of other believers.
    • to tie his life to the same purpose as other believers.
    • to surrender his will and to be of the same mind as other believers.
    • to understand and feel with other believers.
    • to forgive other believers—always.
    • to sacrifice himself for other believers—always.
    • to seek the welfare of other believers before his own.
    • to deny self completely.
  • The new commandment is the mark of a true disciple. The distinguishing mark of a true believer is not the normal human love of neighbors, not even the love of brothers and sisters or of husband and wife. It is the spiritual and supernatural love of Jesus Himself that dwells within the life of the believer. By this love shall all men know that a person is a true disciple of the Lord.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert
{pastorandy@cvcog.church}

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