Summary: How does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ?
How does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ? A common response from many who claim to be Christians is that "all you have to do is believe." The Bible clearly teaches that faith is essential to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6), but it never says "all you have to do is believe." There are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that teach that we must also be obedient to be accepted by God. We cannot ask God to make it any plainer when He put in His Word that Jesus, "became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him"
In spite of this and many other passages, multitudes of preachers continue to tickle their listeners’ ears by telling them that all they have to do is believe and they are guaranteed a place in heaven. Instead of telling them they must, "Pursue... holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), they lull their listeners into a false sense of security by telling them their lifestyle does not affect their salvation. The practical result of this teaching is that churches are filled with people who, "profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work"(Titus 1:16).
The common teaching that we are saved by faith alone may be comforting according to the creeds of men, but any who teach this will find himself in contradiction with Jesus Himself. Try to imagine someone teaching in a modern Protestant church in America today and claiming that you must attain a certain level of righteousness to be saved. That person would immediately be branded as a false teacher who is teaching that we are saved by works, rather than grace. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount! Think carefully on the words of Jesus when He said, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).Is there anyone who wants to accuse Jesus of teaching salvation is by works rather than grace? After saying this, Jesus continued teaching on the need of obedience for salvation. In Matthew 7:21, He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
Jesus never taught that we must only believe the Father’s will, but he taught that we must also do it. He finished this sermon by warning us,
"whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matthew 7:24-27). Does this sound like Jesus was teaching that all you have to do to be saved is believe? In the last two verses of Matthew 7, we are told that the people were astonished because Jesus didn’t teach like the scribes they were used to hearing. If Jesus was teaching in many churches today, people would still be astonished. Jesus wouldn’t be teaching "all you have to do is believe" like the modern preachers they are used to hearing! In order to have the crowds follow them, many modern preachers go to extreme measures to convince people that Christianity requires minimal commitment. They soothe the people with pleasant words by telling them all you have to do is believe, and the blood of Christ will take care of everything else.
Although it is true that the shedding of the blood of Christ provides the only way we can be forgiven by God (when we obey Acts 2:38), the blood of Christ does not cleanse everybody! To be a blood-bought disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be obedient to our Lord and conform our will to His. When Jesus had multitudes of people following Him, He did not try to comfort the crowds with easy and pleasant words to make sure that the large numbers continued. Instead, He told them the truth so those who loved the truth, and were willing to obey the truth, could be saved. In Luke 14:25-27, we are told, "Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." In Luke 14:33, Jesus continued by saying, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." How often have you heard denominational preachers teach these requirements of salvation? A person can claim to be a disciple of Jesus all they want, but the proof is in the life they live. If we do not follow the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives, it doesn’t make any difference what we believe, how many times we go to church, how many times we may pray, nor how many times we have been baptized, we are not true disciples of Jesus Christ!