Have you been with Jesus?
Have you ever considered: How can I be an effective disciple for Jesus? Effective disciples make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ. Effective disciples affect people. You could even say that effective disciples infect people; that is, we are contagious for Christ’s sake! No doubt, Jesus’ earliest disciples made an impression and left an indelible mark for Jesus Christ.
Following His ascension, Jesus’ disciples were left to build the New Testament Church and the family of believers. They were doing great work for Christ's sake and the number of believers was growing daily. In fact, it was clear to everyone who knew them, including those who were adamantly against them, that these disciples had been with Jesus!
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:1-13
BIG IDEA: An effective disciple has been with Jesus!
Peter and John were ordinary men, like you and me; but they got up everyday and lived by enormous faith! And through them, God did extraordinary things. They were effective, impactful, courageous and contagious for Christ! They “had been with Jesus.” What can we learn from them about how to be effective disciples of Jesus? Let’s look at the narrative captured in Acts 3-4 for five marks of an effective disciple.
1. An effective disciple is in the life-change business! (Acts 3:4-10)
Disciples of Jesus want to see lives changed! To do that, we must be wiling to fully engage with the people God puts in front of us. I wonder how many people walked right past this man every day without giving him a passing glance or a second thought. Peter and John didn’t just pass him by, they looked right at him and asked Him to look at them; they fully engaged with Him. They gave him something money could never offer him. By Christ’s power, they gave Him the ability to walk for the first time in His life!
Could it be that God has put people in front of you who you are passing by, paying little or no attention to? Is there anyone you have been ignoring or marginalizing or paying little attention to who you can serve in Christ’s name? A disciple of Jesus is in the life-change business.
2. An effective disciple seizes opportunities to boldly share the gospel. (Acts 3:12-16)
People were astonished by what they had seen happen with this man. Who wouldn’t be? God had done an amazing work through Peter and John. So people came running to see what had happened. Do you know what Peter did? He seized the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
You may say, “I don’t think I am as courageous as Peter. And I seriously doubt that I can draw an audience like that.” That may be true; you may never draw a crowd of 1000 or 100 or even 10 people with whom you can share the gospel; but you really only need 1. Would you invest in just 1 to share the gospel, to help lead to Christ, to teach what it means to follow Him as a fully devoted disciple? Who could be that one in your life you can begin to disciple? That person may be in your own home, or on your team, or where you work or workout.
You may say, “I can’t do it. That is the job of a pastor.” Remember, Peter and John were “ordinary, unschooled men” who God used to do extraordinary things. He can use you too!
3. An effective disciple of Jesus will be persecuted. (Acts 4:2-3)
Peter and John were arrested and thrown into jail because they were proclaiming the gospel and promoting Christianity. The truth is, if you are a disciple of Jesus, some people may not like you. When you walk with Jesus, expect to be persecuted. Jesus said, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. John 15:20
We live in a country and a world that is less and less tolerant of Christian values and beliefs. Don’t be surprised, or discouraged by that. No matter how oppressed you may think you are, you are not nearly as oppressed as first century believers. Be encouraged! Christianity survived and thrived in that culture and environment and it will absolutely survive and thrive in our time too! The gospel will offend plenty of people; we must deliver it with boldness, but also with loving compassion. We can expect to be persecuted when we stand with Christ and affirm biblical values.
4. An effective disciple will know Scripture. (Acts 3:11-26)
Count the number of Scriptural references Peter makes in this powerful sermon. It is clear that an effective disciple is committed to learning and knowing God’s Word! So fill your mind with Scripture.
What are you filling your mind with these days? Many people fill their mind with what they see on the news and social media… they know it well and can repeat it with great passion and veracity; most of which has little or no value for Christ’s sake. I wonder what would happen if we invested that same amount of energy and enthusiasm for knowing and obeying scripture? I want to challenge you to spend at least the same amount of time studying scripture as you spend watching the news or surfing social media. Would you take that challenge so you can know Scripture?
5. An effective disciple will be committed to prayer. (Acts 4:29)
When Peter and John were released from jail, they went straight back to gather with their fellow believers and updated them on everything that had happened. Then, what did they do? They prayed.
I’m not going to sensationalize or minimize the threat against Christianity today. It is real. Clearly our biblical values at best are being questioned and at worst are being marginalized or even cancelled by some. Peter, John and their fellow believers faced tremendous opposition. What did they do? They prayed, asking God to enable them to speak His word with great boldness. Would you make that your prayer today? “God give me boldness to speak your word, not in a way that is obnoxious or repelling, but in a way that is convincing and compelling!”
As believers, we have an opportunity to help bring our country together. Politicians will never do that, no matter what they tell you. We can begin to affect real change that comes as a result of the life change found only in Christ. As those who have “been with Jesus,” we can help unite and heal where politics and ideology only divides and destroys.
For much more, click here to listen to Follow Me: Becoming a Disciple of Jesus - Part 3.