Disciple or Believer

Today’s question is, What is the difference between a believer and a disciple of Jesus?

Christians use the words believer and disciple a great deal. They are often interchanged, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. According to the AHD (American Heritage Dictionary) a disciple is a person who embraces and helps in spreading the teachings of another. For example a young man in high school who is taking an English class because he believes it is important to know; he is not a disciple of the English teacher. On the other hand, a teacher who inspires a young man to learn as much as possible and to go on and be an English teacher himself is a disciple. The Christian definition of a disciple is a person who understands the teachings of Christ, follows those teachings and helps propagate those teachings.

Again in the AHD a believer is someone who accepts something as truth. For instance I believe that the world is round although I have never personally proved that it is round. Both of the young men in the English class example were believers. A believer in Christian terms is someone who accepts that Jesus Christ was the Son of God along with many other facts.

All disciples are believers but all believers are not disciples. In Matthew 28:19, NKJV it is written, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus command to His disciples was to go and make more disciples. Don’t let these disciples here confuse you. Often people mistakenly call the twelve apostles, the twelve disciples. Jesus had more than twelve disciples. In Luke chapter 10, Jesus appoints seventy to go and teach the word. At the giving of the Great Commission, which includes Matthew 28:19, Jesus had about one hundred and twenty disciples.

In Luke 12:42-47, Jesus teaches that believing is not enough to inherit the Kingdom of God. This means that just believing is not enough to be saved from the wrath of God. Jesus explained that the blessed servant is the one that the master finds doing the things that the servant knows to do. This is a disciple. He believes in what Jesus taught, he does what Jesus taught, and he teaches others to do likewise. 

The evil servant is the one who knows the will of his master and does not do it. If a person knows the will of the master then he believes certain facts. Not doing them means the servant is not a disciple. According to Jesus, this servant will have his portion with unbelievers. Unbelievers will suffer the wrath of God for all of eternity. However, there is one difference for this servant from the unbeliever. His punishment will be more severe.

Some would reject this and say that all you have to do is believe. It is true that the Bible teaches that if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved, but the whole counsel of God never stops with just believing the facts. It teaches that a person must strive to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word says that if you do not pursue holiness you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Or to paraphrase James 2:18, show me your believe without being a disciple and I will show you that I believe by being a disciple. We are called to be disciples. We are not to just hear the Word, but do the Word.