Summary: This is the second part of a message that looks at what makes a disciple
Last week we started to take a look at what being a disciple looked like, We discovered that the word Christian came from the original word Χριστιανός or Christianŏs and it originally showed up in Acts 11:26 where we read It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. We discovered that the term was originally a nickname that literally meant "These Christ-folk" and was a little bit of a slur. Still looking into the original language we discovered that that word Christianŏs was only used three times in the entire bible while the Greek word μαθητής or mathētēs (math-a-tees) which literally means “A learner or pupil” and that we translate as disciple was used 269 times in the first five books of the New Testament. Interesting.
And so I hope I left you last week understanding that while the terms Christian and Disciple might not be synonymous today. (I mean really if you aren’t a Muslim, Hindu or an Atheist you must be a Christian.) That if we are Christ Followers, that is if we truly profess to follow Christ than we should be by definition a disciple of Christ’s.
And so last week we took a look at a couple of things that that began the definition of what a disciple is. And my first point last week was 1) A Disciple Knows About God And that is really just common sense, we aren’t talking about what Hockey Team or Political Party you support we are talking about your eternity here. So you should know about the God you serve. What is He like? What does he require of you? And what does he offer you?
The second point was vitally more important though and it was 2) A Disciple Knows God And as we all well know it is much easier to know about someone then it is to know someone. There are people out there who know all about the royal family, there names and titles, their likes and dislikes, who they married and unmarried etc. But they don’t really know the royal family. Some of you know about Steve Murphy, you watch him on the six o’clock news, maybe you read the book he wrote, you might know that he is from Saint John and graduated from Saint John high, you might know his wife’s name and how many children he has, but hey I’m having lunch with Steve tomorrow. I don’t just know about him I know him and have for over thirty years.
And so it’s not enough to academically know about God without relationally knowing God. So moving on
Acts 2:44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
3) A Disciple Knows God’s People The early disciples knew the importance of “Body Life” of being together. The very name of their group “Church” is from the Greek Word ἐκκλησία or ĕkklēsia. And the early church didn’t reuse a word that was already a religious word, so this isn’t a word that was used for say a Temple or synagogue. Instead it was a secular word that was used by the Greeks to indicate an assembly of citizens and the literal meaning was “to call out”. And so this word ĕkklēsia was used by early Christ followers to define the gathering of Christians, and it is not and never was a solitary word. The secular word was never applied to a single person and in it’s new use the early believers never intended it to be used outside of a group setting.
The genius of this word is that it points to the fact that in the mind of God the church of Jesus Christ is not just made up of one person but instead it is made up of people. And the church isn’t just made of just any people it is made up of God’s people. You folks may call Cornerstone your church and you may consider yourself a part of the church, and we want you to feel that you are a part of Cornerstone. But to be entirely accurate if you have never accepted the forgiveness and grace of Christ you aren’t part of God’s family which means you aren’t really a part of “The” church.
A.W. Tozer said “100 religious people knit into unity by careful organization do not constitute a church anymore than eleven dead men make up a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” And it was John Wesley who said “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”
The only growing, healthy, vital church is one that encourages God’s people to be together and not just in Sunday morning worship. A religious institution that encourages solitude will eventually die out. Likewise if you are going to maintain a vital healthy relationship with God that will only happen as you maintain a vital healthy relationship with God’s people.