Discipleship

J. D. Conley
December 15, 2013

Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Lk.9:23).

This is a conditional sentence. Jesus lays down three conditions for becoming His disciple: (1) self denial, (2) taking up the cross, and (3) following Him. Notice that discipleship is far more than mere intellectual assent of Jesus. Modem religious thought is dominated by the concept of salvation by "faith only" - "faith" being defined as merely intellectual assent. Here, and throughout the New Testament, the Gospel of Christ demands much more.

This denying oneself is more than refusing pleasure, enjoyment or an indulgence. Nor does it entail punishment of self. It simply means we give up self. We dethrone self and enthrone God. It means saying no to self and yes to God. A disciple disowns himself in favor of Christ.

A disciple must also take up the cross. This is not the promise of an easy way. Crosses were torture devices, instruments of execution. In the modern vernacular it would be almost as if Jesus said, "To be my disciple, you must take up your own electric chair." Taking up the cross does not mean to suffer some personal misfortune. Jesus' cross was His willing suffering and sacrifice for others. Our cross is to be voluntary.

A disciple must follow Jesus. He studies the life of Jesus, then he imitates Him in every way. If necessary He follows Him to Golgotha where the nails are driven through.

The conditions of discipleship are not easy, but if we desire eternal salvation they are essential.