According to research, many “Christians” no longer believe that God is the supreme Creator and Ruler of the universe. Such “Christians” believe that everyone is god or that maybe god is simply the realization of one’s human potential. Over half of “Christians” don’t believe that the Holy Spirit or Satan is real, and tens of millions of them don’t believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Finally, almost half of “Christians” don’t believe the Bible is completely true.
I put Christians in quotation marks for what I hope by now is an obvious reason: such “Christians” are not Christians. It is impossible to follow Jesus yet disregard, discredit, and disbelieve his Word. Simply put, to follow Jesus is to believe Jesus.
Now we’ve already observed how intellectual belief in Christ does not equate with saving faith in Christ. As we noted, even demons believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave. Becoming and being a disciple of Jesus involves far more than mere intellectual belief in him. But it certainly doesn’t involve anything less.
Believing Jesus has been fundamental to following Jesus from the beginning. When you read through the Gospels and observe Jesus’ interaction with his disciples, you see him continually teaching them truth and challenging their thinking. In every story and every conversation, Jesus is turning these disciples’ minds upside down with his words. Though Jesus never enrolled his disciples in a formal school or sat them down in a classroom, he used every situation, every conversation, every miracle, and every moment to mold their minds to become like his.
Then, when Jesus prepared his disciples for his death and departure, he promised them his Spirit (note: the Holy Spirit is real according to Jesus), “the Spirit of truth,” who “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” To be a disciple of Jesus was (and is) to be devoted to the words of Jesus. “If you abide in my word,” Jesus says, “you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”93 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” From the start, the promises and privileges of following Jesus with your life were tied to believing Jesus with your mind.
As the New Testament continues beyond the life of Jesus on earth, Paul talks about how disciples, through the Spirit of Christ, have the mind of Christ. He urges the Roman Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their minds,96 and he implores the Colossian Christians to “put off the old self with its practices and . . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” He writes about spiritual warfare, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”98 According to Scripture, the minds, hearts, and lives of Christians revolve entirely around the words of Christ.
David Platt and Francis Chan, Follow Me: A Call to Die. a Call to Live. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2013).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on the theme: Discipleship and Mission
These lessons are available on Amazon, as we as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups TalkingSubscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.