The First Dimension of a Disciple
When you think of 3D, you think of something three-dimensional — fully orbed and lifelike. Movies in 3D seem to jump off the screen right at you! 3D printers produce fully dimensional products. In the same way, a true disciple of Jesus has three dimensions that make him or her fully mature, fully orbed, and Christ-like.
The first dimension of a disciple is that they are devoted to Jesus. That is, this person has become convinced that Jesus is the Christ, and that salvation is found in no one else but Him. This is where disciple making begins. It begins when a person turns from their sin and turns to Jesus as the forgiver and leader of their life.
There is no disciple apart from conversion. As He picked up the preaching mantle and began to lead the movement, John the Baptist had begun, Jesus started preaching a simple message. It only had two points: “Repent and believe,” (Mark 1.15 ESV). In that short sermon, Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to be religious, you must come into a personal relationship with me by faith.”
When Nicodemus Came to Jesus
One night, a religious leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus. He didn’t want to be seen by his colleagues; after all he had a reputation to protect. But he also had a burning desire to know what it meant to know God.
Jesus told him plainly, “You must be born again,” (John 3.7 ESV). Just as you are born into your earthly family, in the same way, you must be born into God’s family and that happens through placing your faith in Jesus. Nicodemus was a religious man. He knew Bible facts. As a Jewish Rabbi, he was devoted to rituals and traditions, but Jesus told him, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” (John 3.3 ESV). This is where discipleship starts.
Coming to Faith in Jesus
I recall having coffee with a young man at a crowded Starbucks one evening. He had been attending a church for several years and was feeling an urge to go into vocational ministry. He asked if I would visit with him about it, so we agreed to meet.
As we settled into our seats, I just asked him about his spiritual journey and how God was moving in his life. He was a lean, sharp young man in his early twenties with a tight haircut, untucked shirt, and pressed shorts. He leaned forward, and with excitement in his voice he spent the next half hour talking about how much he loved the people in the church, and how he really enjoyed serving in the church youth group. I listened intently.
Then, while drawing my cup up close for another sip I asked, “So, tell me about when you gave your life to Christ?” He paused and looked at me as if he didn’t understand the question, so I rephrased. “I mean, tell me when you became a Christian. How did that happen?” He mumbled something along the lines of “I’ve always believed in God.” “I was confirmed at the age of twelve.” He was obviously grasping for words.
That night, I spent my time talking to him about Jesus. I shared with him how much God loves him and that God created him to know Him in a deep and personal way. I explained that our problem is that sin has separated us from God, and we are all cut off from him.
I remember saying, “Look around this crowded coffee shop.” His eyes scanned the room, briefly glancing at the faces of the people standing in line to order. “Every one in this room, and every one in our world has fallen short of God’s design for them. Every one of us is separated from God and hopelessly lost.” I could see his demeanor change as he absorbed the heaviness of those words.
I continued, “But, that is why Jesus came. God sent His only Son to die on a cross. On that cross, He absorbed the wrath of God and paid sin’s penalty on our behalf. He died. He was buried. Three days later He rose from the dead, conquering sin and death and the grave. If you will turn from your sin and turn to Jesus, He promises to forgive you and restore your broken relationship with God.”
I let the words hang in the air. Then I asked, “Have you ever done that?” After a good while, he simply said, “No, I haven’t.” In fact, he wasn’t sure he was ready for that kind of commitment. Going to seminary was one thing, but actually following Jesus was altogether different.
As we left that coffee shop, I left wondering how many other people are just like this young man—churched, involved and sincere, but lost. The first step in becoming a disciple is coming to faith in Jesus.
Turning from Sin and Trusting Jesus in Faith
Paul put it simply, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10.9 ESV). A biblical conversion involves an acknowledgment of sin before God, a belief that Jesus is the Son of God and only His death and resurrection can pay for sin. It also involves a turning from sin and trusting Jesus in simple faith.
This is what Jesus meant when He said, “You must be born again.” A true disciple is one who is devoted to Jesus, and has been born into God’s family through faith in Jesus.
Being devoted to Jesus is believing and putting your trust and faith in Jesus. No questions asked, and nothing to hold you back, whatever happens you know you are saved. I challenge you to look deeply within yourself and assess your faith. Are you devoted to Jesus?