According to the general understanding, a disciple is anyone who embraces or assists in the spreading of someone’s teaching. In Christianity, discipleship is defined as the process of accepting the ethic and life of Jesus Christ, who brought hope and eternal life to humanity through the gospel. It can also mean the process of becoming Christ-like, and having the zeal to see others become disciples of Jesus. This definition is evident in what Christians refer to as the ‘Great Commission’: Jesus directed the twelve to travel around the world and make disciples. This was a call by Jesus for his disciples to cultivate the same passion and commitment to Him as they had portrayed during His time on earth.
Apostle Paul talked about discipleship in his letters and to him a disciple had to undergo a process “not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Roman 12:2). This means that a disciple is not just anyone who changes their moral behavior in reference to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but according to God’s work in their lives. This causes a positive shift towards their ethics in every way. This argument is the subject of doctrinal divisions in the church, as some believers highlight that an individual’s discipline makes them disciples and it is not the direct work of God. The scriptures, however, refute this statement, as they state it is God who calls people to Himself.
Every time the word ‘disciple’ is used in the New Testament, it refers to a relationship with Jesus Christ that is unashamedly declared. It does not mean a level of religious achievement or spiritual attainment. According to the New Testament, anyone who proclaimed to be a Christian was understood to be a disciple of Jesus. A Christian, therefore, was not conformed to any subdivision of the Christian community, but was regarded as a disciple (McGrath 2010, 116).
Christian discipleship is a journey of obedience to Jesus that transforms a person’s behavior, beliefs, value, and norms spiritually. This lifelong voyage results in ministry in the world, church, and one’s home. In Luke 14: 28-32 (KJV), Jesus gave a narrative of a man who did not calculate the cost of completing a tower and laid the foundation and could not finish building. He also gave another narrative of a king who before going to war with another king calculated his risk of losing all his soldiers in battle and considered making terms of peace. These narratives were meant to explain that the call to follow Him was not for a certain period of time (Maiden 2008, 62). It was an invitation for someone to commit their whole life to serving Him. We have secularized our faith by willing to follow Jesus but with our own conditions for doing so. In Luke 14, Jesus was looking for prospective disciples who would not make emotional decisions of following Him and later on change their mind, but those who would consider the cost of following Him. This is an indicator that Christianity is not based on emotional convictions, rather on rational justifications on the existence of God and the need to inform others of His doings.
Lee C. Camp in his book Mere Discipleship, states that disciples prioritize God’s kingdom and forsake their selfish agendas of the kingdom of the world. He also argues that discipleship is not a burdensome calling to a perfectionist life but a call to leave ones old ways of darkness and destruction and walk in the way of abundant life and light. The light being Christ himself, and when on this path disciples are loved when they do not deserve to be loved, they are forgiven with an extravagant love and are called to forgive others the same way.
Lee camp’s thoughts and arguments are in line with the biblical teachings and understanding of discipleship. His Vision and insights to being a disciple are precisely what the Bible talks about being a follower of Christ (Camp 2003). Discipleship has a holistic outlook when it comes to an individual’s training. It involves training the disciple in the word of God, having a relationship with God and ministry. Discipleship has seven basic elements namely; accountability, fellowship, Bible study, training seminars, listening to sermons, hanging out with an older believer, evangelizing and making converts.
Jesus showed his disciples the importance the scriptures have in their daily lives, His own personal devotion and in bringing others to the kingdom. As a disciple of Christ obeying and learning the Bible is essential for an individual’s growth. Jesus Christ showed this in the following books of the New Testament (Luke 11:28, mark 4:14-20, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and John 5:38).
Luke 14:26, “If anyone come to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, and even his own life- he cannot be My disciple”. This scripture was used by Jesus to show the kind of relationship He expects to have with His disciples. Jesus meant that his disciples had to love Him more than they love any other person. Their love should be passionate to the extent it reveals itself in their daily life. The only way to have such love with Jesus is by spending time with Him. He showed us the intimacy He had with the father by making time for Him while here on earth and being alone with Him (Wenham & William 2002, 81). Jesus had daily schedules but still had time to spend with his Father; in the same way, disciples should find time in their daily programs to have fellowship, prayer, meditation, and Bible study. Disciples ought to be unique in the way they live because they are the salt and light of the world. Light and salt make a difference whenever they are used or applied. Association gained the disciples’ knowledge of Christ before it was understood by explanation.
Jesus demonstrated ministry in his own life and never told anybody to be or do anything he had not done himself. He led by example, the initial twelve disciples did not do much other than watch Jesus. The model of ministry had been set for them to follow (Hanks 2002, 43). The mission of equipping believers to communicate Christianity to the world was a component of discipleship in Jesus’ approach. The main goal of discipleship is help to Christians walk by faith, communicate and share their faith, and multiply their faith. This objective is considered an exponential strategy to grow the family of believers, and to ensure that multitudes make it to heaven.
Should Christians tolerate/ use Christian attorney’s who administrate divorce in light of Matthew 5:31
It is not clear how and where divorce came from. The Bible clearly shows that divorce was not a part of God’s idea of marriage. This shows how God’s original plan for the marriage bond has been rejected by man. Jesus explained that it was because of the hardness of man’s heart that Moses allowed divorce (Matt 19:8). He further explained that divorce represented a change in God’s order because from the beginning it was not so. Moses regulated the practice of divorce in order to prevent its abuse.
Deut 24: 1-4 shows Moses trying to curb the vice of divorce by requiring the husband give a wife a bill of divorce to protect her after a previously failed marriage. (Malachi 2: 13-16) “For I hate divorce, says the lord the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of Hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.” Malachi emphasizes the effect divorce has on God’s original plan for marriage, but also the marriage covenant that God is a witness. In light of God’s thought’s on divorce, Christian attorney’s should not allow or practice divorce law. It will be against their belief and Christian faith. Marriage is in several instances in the Bible compared to the relationship between God and humanity. If the Bible was to encourage divorce, it would mean that God can get tired of His creation and abandon it. On the contrary, scriptures informs that humanity is always angering God, but because of His grace He sustains the relationship.
How does 'eye for an eye' (Matthew 5:38-39; 43-48) influence modern arguments for/against capital punishment?
God has instituted capital punishment in the Bible; therefore, it would be audacious for human kind to think they could put a higher standard. God is perfect and has the highest standards thereby meaning he has mercy to an immeasurable degree, loves to an unbounded degree and has wrath to an unlimited degree. All these are maintained in a balance making Him perfect. The Old Testament law commanded capital punishment for various acts such as murder, bestiality, homosexuality, kidnapping, adultery, prostitution, rape, and false prophecy. Nevertheless, God showed His love and mercy to those who deserved the death penalty like David committed the sin of murder and adultery. In Romans 13: 1-7 and Genesis 9:6 God states that He has given authority to governments to determine when capital punishment is due. Christians should therefore, not fight governments when they execute perpetrators of evil crimes.
Camp, Lee. 2003. Mere discipleship: radical Christianity in a rebellious world. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press.
Hanks, Gardner. 2002. Capital punishment and the Bible. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press.
Maiden, Peter. 2008. Discipleship. Milton Keynes: Authentic Media.
McGrath, Alister. 2010. Mere theology: Christian faith and the discipleship of the mind. London: SPCK.
McGrath, Alister E. 2010. The passionate intellect: Christian faith and the discipleship of the mind. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books.
Wenham, Gordon J., and William A. 2002. Jesus and divorce. Updated ed. Carlisle: Paternoster.