One of the important things the bride of Christ often forgets is that the world around us looks at the disciple before it looks at the church’s doctrine. I have written about that very issue before in a discussion of the 7 Versions of the Bible. I noted that Version 7 was certainly at the top of the list … The Living Epistles. That’s who the bride is. She may be the only image of Jesus that the world sees (Rom 8:29).
I got to thinking about that the other morning as I was reading something D.G. Barnhouse wrote that is worthy of our consideration … There are three texts in Scriptures that show the marks of the disciple. Briefly, here are those three texts to meditate on:
Continuation In The Word
John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples ESV
Jesus’ disciples did not understand everything, but they believed what they knew and they continued in His doctrine. When they learned more, they believed that also. That’s a method for us to follow as we move on from being children wanting the sincere milk of the Word to growing into mature Christians that desire the meat of the Word (1 Peter 2:2). As our bridegroom’s disciples we take Him at His Word and whatever He says, we will obey. Even if we can’t fully comprehend what He is teaching us, as His disciples we abide (continue) in His Word.
Love One Another
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ESV
The fact that we are willing to make sacrifices for fellow members of the bride tells the world that we are truly His disciples. The Holy Spirit lives in us and He is constantly drawing all of us together through our love for one another; Jesus’ love. Paul delivered that message in his letter to the Philippians:
Phil 1:7-8 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection [love] of Christ Jesus. ESV
Jesus was going to leave His disciples and return to the Father and Satan would immediately attempt to scatter them. In the face of that opposition He said that the mark of true loyalty, of true discipleship, would be that when the Holy Spirit comes they would love one another.
John 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. ESV
The context of bearing much fruit involves a series of steps to follow:
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ESV
The reason that there is often no fruit in the life of the bride is because there is not true discipleship. That is the key to fruit-bearing, that we abide in Jesus:
John 15:7-8 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. ESV
I think that is exactly what James was referring to … that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
James 2:24-26 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. ESV
So, what works are we show? I think we find the answer in: Continuing in the Word – Loving One Another – Bearing Fruit.