Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
When I thought about a Disciple of Jesus Christ, I thought about two things pretty equally.
First, I think about the Twelve that Jesus Christ chose to be with him. He taught them many things, and Eventually ordained them. He called them his disciples, and then after he ordained them, he also called them his Apostles.
Second, I think about a person who is following Christ, trying to be like him, trying to do what he did.
Neither of these are wrong, but I learned something that ties those two into a single idea.
Elder James E. Faust pointed out:
The word for disciple and the word for discipline both come from the same Latin root — discipulus, which means pupil. It emphasizes practice or exercise.
When I read that, it really stuck out to me. A disciple, in a biblical context, is a pupil of Christ. I love the idea of being Christ’s student. I dug a little deeper.
The latin root also relates to discere, which is to learn.
But the word has a little stronger connotation with respect to ones devotion to the teacher, and to continue in spreading the teaching of their teacher.
So, in simple terms a diciple of Jesus Christ is one who is His student (His pupil), learns from Him, practices or excercises the teachings, is faithful to Him, and continues to spread His teaching.
I can break that down a little simpler I think. A disciple of Jesus Christ:
- Learns from Christ.
- Does what he asks, faithfully.
- Spreads His teaching.
For the remainder, I am going to dive into each one of those things more deeply.
Learn from Christ
In order to learn from Christ, we need to realize that He isn’t gone. He wasn’t just a good teacher that died and is no more. Jesus Christ is our Savior. He was truly resurected and “ascend[ed] unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) That means, He is still alive. He is still teaching us. He is as involved with our lives as He was when He washed the feet of Peter. He still talks to us through revelation.
Revelation comes through the Holy Ghost.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26, emphasis added.)
Christ knew that we would need that messanger to teach us.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16: 7)
In the quite moments that we take to listen to Him, Christ will speak to us through the Holy Ghost. All of us. If you don’t think he speaks to you, then think again. Elder James E. Faust taught, while quoting Doctrine and Covenents 84:
The voice of the Spirit is available to all. The Lord said, “The Spirit enlighteneth every man [and every woman] … that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” He further said that “every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.”
Prophet, and President, Russel M. Nelson said:
If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small…
The key to recieving revelation, then, is being willing to “harken” to that revelation.
President Russel M. Nelson went on to say:
good inspiration is based upon good information
So you need to study things out, and use every means you can to gain good information.
When Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the Restoration, was looking for truth, he did as James directed and asked.
President Nelson went on to say:
…what will your seeking open for you? What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.
Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses — yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.”
…Does God really want to speak to you? Yes!
Those actions are a strong key to recognizing and understanding revelation. You need to do. To act. To change. To grow. Once we are willing to do that, we are ready to be taught.
As we move to the next section, there is one very important way to learn from Christ that I haven’t explicitly stetted yet, but we have been doing it together. That is to read His words through the words of ancient and modern Prophets. Have you noticed that we don’t have any words as written by Jesus Christ Himself. We have records, written through men, Ordained to be his Prophets, to share his message through the Scriptures and still today. Men like Peter, James, John and others in the New Testiment, Adam, Abraham, Isiah and others of the Old Testiment. Nephi, Alma, Mormon and others from the Book of Mormon. Joseph, Brigham, Thomas, Russel and others of the restoration and today. These men, called and ordained as Prophets, give us Christ’s words, and we can learn of Him through those words.
Do what he asks, faithfully
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17).
Faith is a verb. I think merriem webster got this one wrong. In James 2:15–17 we read:
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
And in John 3:21:
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
In order to have faith, we must show it by what we do.
Elder Deiter F. Uchdort, in April of 2018, said it this way:
When we truly behold the Man, we learn of Him and seek to align our lives with Him. We repent and strive to refine our natures and daily grow a little closer to Him. We trust Him. We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and by living up to our sacred covenants.
In other words, we become His disciples.
I love his use of the word become here. To become denotes a progression. A journey from one state of being to another. We can become aware, we move from a moment where we were not aware, to a moment where we have become aware.
This is how good teachers teach. They lead, one step at a time, until the concepts are mastered, but they don’t expect you to know them until you have learned them. Their lesson are small steps at a time. We don’t learn 2+2 and then dive into angular geometry and differential equations. We get just familiar enough with one concept then we are introduced to another, we may not be comfortable, and we may be stretched, sometime tears will flow, but in those times, we need to take a breath, and remember who our teacher is.
Discipleship is a journey, endurance is prolonged effort. Ultimately, what we need to be like the savior is to Love.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7–8)
One thing that I have noticed as we move from lesson to lesson under our Master, Jesus Christ, is that he never forces, when He leads he invites. And that is what we must do to be like him, we need to load and teach as he does.
Spread His teachings
As we learn to Love our Teacher, and love His teachings, and our hearts are filled with the “…pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) It will be our natural desire to let other people know what we have learned.
President Henry B. Eyring in April 2003 taught it this way:
You will be excited about the Lord’s Church and His work, and it will show. You will be His disciple 24 hours a day in every situation. You won’t need to build up your courage for one great moment to speak to someone and then retreat. The fact that most people are not interested in the restored gospel will have little bearing on what you do and say. Speaking what you believe will be part of what you are.
My father was like that. He was a scientist. He lectured to audiences in countries around the world. Once I read a talk he had given to a large scientific convention. In it, he referred to creation and a Creator as he talked about his science. I knew that few, if any, in that audience would have shared his faith. So I said to him with wonder and admiration, “Dad, you bore your testimony.” He looked at me with surprise on his face and said, “Did I?”
He had not even known that he was being brave. He simply said what he knew was true. When he bore testimony, even those who rejected it knew it came not by design but because it was part of him. He was what he was, wherever he was.
That is the mark of every person who is bold and effective in sharing the gospel. They see themselves as children of a loving, living Father in Heaven. And they see themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ.
The key to this is to let the teachings of the Savior ingrain in who you are. Once they are, and you are not afraid, they will just come. You don’t need to filter your beliefs of Christ. Let them shine.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16)
In order to do that, we can’t be afraid others, can’t be afraid to let our faith show…
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind…Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord (2 Timothy 1:7–8)
I am grateful for the opportunity to be a disciple. And we are disciples, not trying to be, or hopefully can be, we are, if we become like Jesus Christ.
Our true claim as disciples comes when we can say with certainty that His ways have become our ways. (Elder Faust)
May we become true followers of … Jesus Christ; that [we] may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. (Moroni 7:48)
I finish with these words from Elder Faust:
One of the greatest blessings of life and eternity is to be counted as one of the devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have a profound testimony of this truth, to which I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.