Becoming A True Disciple & Water Baptism

‘Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.’ ~ Luke 14:27-33

Faith and repentance are the initial responses of a good heart to the message of the Gospel. The desired end is that we would become disciples of Jesus and by doing so inherit the Kingdom.

Are followers of Jesus Christians or Disciples? What will it cost to become a true Disciple? How does one become a disciple and is water baptism necessary or just a ritual?

1.1        ‘Disciple’ Is The Biblical Name For True Believers

Matthew 28:19-20 ~ Go ye therefore, and teach [to make a disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

  • The Greek word for ‘teach’ in this verse is ‘matheteuo’. It is a form of the word ‘Disciple’ which in Greek is ‘mathetes’. It literally means to ‘make a disciple’ and most every other version of the scriptures translates it as ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.
  • Jesus never intended anyone to have in mind a class of people called Christians who were different from what he termed Disciples.
  • Before Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, he gave us a great work to do. This great work was not to go make Christians but rather to go and make Disciples of all the nations.

Acts 9:26 ~ When Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

  • The Bible speaks much of those who had believed the message of Christ and when it tells their story, it always refers to them as Disciples.
  • These disciples were afraid of Paul because they were not sure whether he was a true Disciple. This was the language of the early church.

Acts 11:26&29 ~ And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch… Then the disciples determined to send relief…

  • There did come a time when other people started calling the Disciples Christians. This being so, it is not what Jesus or the apostles called followers of Jesus.
  • Notice that just three verses down, after telling us that people were calling disciples Christians, the Bible narrative continues referring to followers of Jesus as Disciples.

Acts 14:21-22 ~ They returned again… Confirming the souls of the disciples.

  • Again, those who were in the church in need of biblical confirmation and exhortation were termed Disciples.

Acts 21:16 ~ There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple.

  • Near the end of Acts, which is many years after Jesus death, we see Jesus followers still referred to as Disciples.
  • This man Mnason was referred to as an old Disciple not someone who had been a Christian for a long time.

1.2        Radical Denial Of Self Is Required To Become A Disciple

The Scriptures require faith and repentance in order to be saved or to become a Disciple. Jesus took many occasions to clarify what that true faith and repentance required would look like in someone’s life.

Luke 14:26-27 ~ If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

  • If someone wants to become a Disciple of Jesus, they must put God and his Kingdom before all things, even their closest family members.
  • A true Disciple will not let his family members influence his great desire to please God and bear fruit for his Kingdom.
  • Anyone who will not deny themselves of this worlds pleasures, and even their family relationships when needed, and live solely as a fervent follower of Jesus and his ways, cannot be his Disciple.

Matthew 10:37-38 ~ He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

  • If a person loves anything more then he loves Jesus, then he absolutely cannot be a Disciple.
  • If we want to be worthy of Jesus and be his Disciples, we must deny our own desires and put him and his work before all things.

Matthew 7:21 ~ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

  • Many people will have faith and declare that Jesus is Lord but they will not inherit the Kingdom of God because their life is not centered on God and the work of his Kingdom.
  • The only people who will inherit God’s Kingdom are true Disciples of Jesus who have taken up their cross and now do the will of God.

Luke 9:57-62 ~ And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

  • Many people who wanted to follow Jesus and become his Disciple had other desires, which came into conflict with this desire. These desires were not sinful in themselves but simply consisted of wanting to bury their dead, have a place to sleep, say goodbye to their families.
  • Even so, Jesus told these people that unless they forsake these simple natural desires and put him and his Kingdom first, that they were not fit to be his disciples and inherit the Kingdom.
  • If we want to become true Disciples that are fit for God’s Kingdom, we must deny ourselves not only right-out sinful pleasures, but also those seemingly innocent things that steal our time and talents away from being used for God and his purposes.

Matthew 16:24-26 ~ If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

  • If any person wants to be a Disciple of Jesus it is required that they completely deny themselves of all their personal ambitions and desires in life regardless of whether they look sinful or not.
  • Without taking up your cross and denying yourself of these things, you absolutely cannot be a Disciple and you will lose your soul.
  • Nothing in life is important enough to miss being a Disciple and gaining eternal life in the great coming Kingdom of God on earth!

1.3        We Should First Count The Cost Of Becoming A Disciple

Luke 14:27-33 ~ Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

  • It is a very serious thing to become a Disciple of Jesus and we are here taught that a person should solemnly contemplate the things we have just learned and what is truly required to be his Disciple.
  • We need to determine whether we are truly able and willing to give up everything for Jesus and his Kingdom before we even start the journey. Else, we may not only look foolish but also actually end up worse than when we started.

2 Peter 2:21 ~ For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

  • If we were not going to be true Disciples, then it would be better for us to not even know the truth and never begin the journey.
  • That being so, we cannot undo what has been done. We do now know the truth and there is really only one road to follow!

1.4        Baptism Is The Act Required That Initiates One As A Disciple

Matthew 28:19-20 ~ Go ye therefore, and teach [to make a disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

  • Jesus knew nothing of the modern altar call. Jesus did not tell us to have people who believed the message come forward and say a prayer to be saved.
  • Rather, Jesus said that the way that we would make Disciples is that we would teach them the truth and when they responded we would baptize them in water in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • This baptism is the point at which a person becomes a Disciple. It is a sort of physical initiation ordained by God.

Mark 16:15-16 ~ And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

  • The gospel is to be preached to all people in all nations and the proper response to the gospel is faith and baptism.
  • When a person believes the message of the gospel Jesus said they must both believe and be baptized in order to be saved.

Acts 2:37-38 ~ Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • When people heard Peter preach his first gospel message and wanted to become Disciples, they asked him what they should do.
  • It is obvious that Peter took Jesus words to heart because his response was that if these people wanted forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit they must not only repent but they must also be baptized.

Acts 22:16 ~ And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

  • The scriptures teach that all who call upon the Lord shall be saved [Romans 10:13] and what the Bible is showing us here, is that Baptism is the Scriptural way in which God has shown us that we are to initially call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
  • It is at this point of baptism that we wash away our sins, but this washing occurs not because we are physically going under water but rather it is because we are calling upon the name of the Lord by faith in the exact manner in which God has prescribed.

1 Peter 3:21 ~ The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us [not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  • Peter tells us that baptism is necessary to save us and brings greater clarity to exactly why it is necessary and why it saves us.
  • He states that baptism is not about going under water [putting away the filth of the flesh], but rather, it is about responding to God in a clear conscience in the way which he has prescribed.
  • Let us be very clear therefore that Baptism is simply the way in which God requires us to answer him with a good conscience and call upon the name of the Lord. These things save us, not the water baptism itself.

2 Corinthians 8:12 ~ For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

  • We must here note that it is acknowledged that many are in situations that prevent their full immersion in water for baptism. Some are suffering sicknesses leaving them bed ridden and others are locked up in jails where no baptism is offered.
  • For these souls, realize that God is a merciful God and he requires only what you physically have available to you and what is possible for you to do. Remember that what God is really looking for in baptism, is for people to call upon His name in a good repentant conscience. Baptism is truly a matter of the heart!
  • What this means is this: Do you have a great ocean or live river of water to be baptized in? Then amen, go and be baptized by being fully immersed into this ocean. If not, do you have a pond or pool to be baptized in? Then amen, go and be baptized by being fully immersed in this pond or pool. If you have neither of these, do you have a cup of water to be poured over you? Then amen, go and be baptized by having this water poured over your head and if and when you are able to do more, then do so at that time. Our God is a merciful God and looks upon the heart!
  • Lastly, it is recommended that when you are baptized, you be baptized in the name of the Father, ‘Jesus’ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is because there are some who insist that the name of Jesus be used in baptism and there are others who insist Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are used. Now God looks upon the heart and damns no one for improper word use but still, let us be all things to all men that we may save some [1 Corinthians 9:19-23]!

And now, as the scriptures say, why tarriest thou? You now have a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God, the message of Jesus Christ, and salvation through him.

What could be more important than receiving this message with all your heart, repenting from all your sins, being baptized in the name of Jesus, and inheriting eternal life in the Kingdom of God with all those who have taken this path before you.

Is there anything in this world that you would allow to rob you of this? What would it profit you to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul?