Summary: Jesus didn't stop with teaching about the freedom that leads to bondage; He also spoke of a bondage that leads to freedom.. A true disciple is one who has renounced his or her way to follow the way of Christ.
Title: Characteristics of Discipleship
Text: “” (John 8:31)
Bible Reading: John 8:30-59
Children have a funny way of looking at things.
I read a cute little story which points out that fact.
It seems Little Jeremy was on a walk with his grandfather when a stranger smiled at him and asked, “How old are you?”
Jeremy replied, “Three.”
The man then asked, “When will you be four?”
Jeremy answered, “When I’m through being three.”
Well, children are cute and they can also be funny, but praise God, they can be saved and grow up following Jesus.
But, what does it really mean to follow Jesus?
Somehow, in the early part of the twenty-first century people have lost sight of what it really means to follow Jesus; that is to say, to be a disciple of His.
Discipleship, in today’s world is being linked to the external routine of religion, rather than having to do with a saving experience with Jesus Christ.
During Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, many people tried to follow Him.
When He spoke, many put their faith in Him.
Some were infatuated with His miracles and teachings.
Others were just curious.
But, Jesus didn’t want people to follow Him for any other reason than they were generally committed to Him.
In order to tell the true followers from the false, Jesus gave His disciples some of the characteristics of true followers.
So, our message today is about those characteristics of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
There are four of them, and the first one is found in verses 31-33:
31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, ‘You will be made free’?”
The First Characteristic of a True Disciple is Persistence.
One of the best definitions of perseverance or persistence that I’ve ever heard, was given by the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon.
He said, “It was perseverance that got the snails to the ark.”
Jesus realized that some people made an impulsive decision to follow Him.
He knew they followed mainly to see His miracles or just to be part of the crowd.
He also knew that many would decide not to follow Him.
After Jesus taught the crowds that He was the bread of life, “many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him” (John 6:66).
There’s a reason they drew back and deserted the Lord Jesus.
The crowd that followed Him was very large, but they began to discover that His teachings were difficult to put into practice.
That’s the reason-It was too hard!
In fact, following Him pointed to the possibility of sharing in His suffering and violent death.
Slowly, His disciples began to fall away.
Perhaps those who left Jesus could foresee or anticipate the “tragedy” that would take place at the hands of the Roman government.
Others, perhaps, lost interest or hope in Jesus.
Their action prompted Jesus to ask the 12 apostles if they, too, would “go away.”
Jesus was not surprised by the many that turned away from Him.
He knew of their discontentment, because He could read their hearts, and see they lacked commitment.
Jesus pointed out that perseverance would be the sign of a true disciple.
He said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.”
Folks, discipleship is not the excitement of one moment.
It is a patient determination to continue in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
The famous pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski started playing the piano at the age of three.
He developed slowly, but he was determined to become a master of the piano.
He practiced six hours almost every day of his life.
And he finally reached his goal through discipline and determination.
To a crowd of potential followers, Jesus gave this sure sign of a disciple.
He said, “A disciple is a person who continuously follows Him.”
The genuine evidence of discipleship is in the sustained effort made by the individual.
When they believed on Him, as their Savior, they gave up themselves to be his disciples.
Back then, as well as now, there are many who said they were Christ’s disciples who are not his disciples, except in show and name only.
Those who are willing to be Christ’s disciples ought to be told that it would be better for them to never come to Him, unless they come with a dedication to be faithful and to stay with Him.
They shouldn’t think there is ever going to be the possibility for them to revoke their membership in God’s family.