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Stubbington Baptist Church
Acorn Christian Healing Foundation
Evangelical Alliance Basis of Faith


16th March 2018

What is Christianity? Is it a belief system? Yes. Is it a religion? I'm not sure what a religion is. Is it a state of being? Yes. Is it a community? Yes. But it's more. A person can accept the Christian belief system, belong to the Christian "religion", be forgiven, redeemed and adopted as a child of God, join the community of believers that we call the church, and not know real Christianity. Real Christianity is discipleship.

My friends and I recently discussed the question, "What is the difference between a convert and a disciple?" My answer is this:

  • A convert is a beneficiary of Jesus. He is a person who has been forgiven his sin, has been born again, has been adopted as a child of God, and has become an inheritor of eternal life. A convert willingly accepts the gospel of Jesus.
  • A disciple is a follower of Jesus. He is a convert, but he is also a student at Jesus's feet. He goes where Jesus goes. He seeks to believe everything Jesus says. He seeks to live as Jesus lives. He seeks to obey Jesus his Lord. A disciple willingly accepts the yoke of Jesus.

I'm thrilled when somebody becomes a convert through the ministry of my church, but I want my church to make disciples.

I'm convinced that discipleship is the most fulfilling life possible and that just being a covert is profoundly unfulfilling. If we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into following Jesus, and trusting Jesus, God will show us such wonders that the things of earth will truly grow strangely dim.

But if we accept the benefits of Jesus's sacrifice on the cross but ignore his teaching, or adopt a pick-and-mix approach to believing what He says, we will be what James calls "double-minded" people, will receive little more than our salvation, and will have frustrating lives on earth and little treasure in heaven.

Real Christianity is discipleship, and discipleship involves surrendering my will to God. It involves denying myself, taking up my cross daily, and following Jesus. It involves going wherever Jesus sends me. It involves always letting Jesus lead. It involves believing everything Jesus says, and doing everything Jesus tells us to do.

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" and in Philippians 3:10, "I want to know Christ". So do I!

Believing everything Jesus says is more difficult that it may at first appear. Sooner or later Jesus, or the Bible, which is Jesus's book, will say something we don't believe and don't want to believe. When this happens – and it will – we have to choose to continue to be a disciple and not merely a convert.

Many fail this test.

John 6v53-66
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.