We believe that there are words and phrases that have been used in the church throughout its history that have either lost their original meaning or that their original meaning has become ill defined. For example, if you were to ask twenty professing Christians to define the gospel, the gospel that Jesus and His apostles preached, you would likely get twenty different answers. If you were to ask, "What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?" you would also likely get a variety of answers, some varying greatly. In order to teach and disciple effectively, the pastor and elders at Cypress Gonzales have put together some definitions of the phrases we use. We have used Scripture as the basis for all our definitions. We also do not intend to convey the idea that these are perfect or that they are the only correct definitions. We only desire that those who attend Cypress Gonzales to have an understanding of these words and phrases that are as close to their original meaning as possible.
Definition of the Gospel
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth[i] to be His dwelling place[ii]. He created mankind to be His image bearers[iii] to dwell in, and have dominion over, the good world[iv] that He had created[v]. Through angelic and human disobedience[vi], the human race fell from their position of unhindered fellowship with God, into a fallen state of spiritual death and separation from God[vii]. In order to restore mankind into a right relationship with Himself God sent His Son to die upon a cross as the perfect sin offering and through His resurrection, to restore mankind into a perfect relationship with Himself[viii], and restore the kingdom of God upon the earth[ix].
Through a series of promises beginning in the book of Genesis[x], God promised that His Messiah would come through the descendants of one man, Abraham[xi], and God chose Abraham’s descendants to be His chosen people out of all the people groups on the face of the earth[xii]. God chose Abraham’s descendants, the nation of Israel, to enter into a covenant with Him, and to reveal Himself to them, dwell among them, and give them His commandments[xiii]. Israel was to be a light to the nations[xiv], bringing the knowledge of God to the nations of the world. Israel did not succeed in this mission.
Jesus the Messiah, the promised “seed” of Abraham[xv], at the proper time[xvi], was born of a virgin[xvii], conceived by the Holy Spirit[xviii], lived a sinless life[xix], and took upon Himself the sentence of death for the sins of the world[xx] by dying upon a cross[xxi]. Jesus was buried[xxii], and rose to life on the third day[xxiii]. He ascended to the right hand of the Father as both Lord and Christ[xxiv], defeating His spiritual enemies, the angels who had rebelled against God[xxv], and poured out His Spirit to dwell in, and upon, all who repent of their sins and follow Him[xxvi]. His resurrection from the dead marked the beginning of the restoration of all things[xxvii]; a restoration that will culminate when He returns to establish His kingdom upon earth. At that time He will usher in the New Jerusalem, the new heavens and earth, and the age to come[xxviii].
All who repent of their sins, believe in this gospel[xxix], and follow Jesus as a disciple, will be forgiven of their sins, receive the gift of eternal life[xxx], and will be granted entrance into His kingdom[xxxi]. They will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit—to dwell in them[xxxii]. They become united with Jesus in His resurrection[xxxiii], and partakers of His resurrection life.
At the end of this age, all will be resurrected and judged according to their deeds[xxxiv]. Those who belong to Christ will be resurrected to eternal life, their bodies raised incorruptible, and the wicked will be raised to condemnation and eternal death[xxxv]. In the age to come, the eternal state, there will be no more death, disease, or sorrow. All these things will be abolished, and God will dwell with His people fulfilling His original plan for the human race, ruling in the new heavens and earth forever through an obedient and restored humanity[xxxvi].
[xiii] Deut. 10:12-15 [xiv] Is. 49:1-7 [xv] Gal. 3:16 [xvi] Gal. 4:4 [xvii] Is. 7:14, Matt. 1:23 [xviii] Matt. 1:20 [xix] 2 Cor. 5:21 [xx] 1 John 2:2 [xxi] Gal. 3:13 [xxii] 1 Cor. 15:4 [xxiii] Ibid., Acts 2:32 [xxiv] Acts 2:32-33, 36 [xxv] Heb. 1:13, 10:12-13, 1 Cor. 15:22-28, Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 2:15 [xxvi] Acts 2:38-39 [xxvii] Luke 20:35, Phil. 3:11-12, Col. 1:13-20, 2 Pet. 3:10-13 [xxviii] Rev. ch. 19-22 [xxix] Mark 1:14-15, 17,
Definition of a disciple of Jesus
A disciple’s life is characterized by abiding in Christ through reading, meditating, and obeying God’s word[vi], and a daily conversation with God through prayer[vii]. A disciple of Jesus recognizes their need for inner transformation by the Holy Spirit and the word of God in order to become more like Jesus. A disciple recognizes their need for fellowship with other believers[viii], and regularly attends church[ix] with the attitude of a servant seeking to love others[x] and use their spiritual gifts to meet the spiritual and physical needs of others[xi]. A disciple cheerfully gives financially to the church to support the needs of the ministry.
Can you be a Christian and not be a disciple of Jesus?
In the Gospels, Jesus called men and women to follow Him. He always referred to His followers as His disciples. The word translated “disciple” in our Bibles is the Greek word methetes, which means “a learner.” A disciple was not only a pupil; their goal was to become like their teacher. The word “disciple” is used over 250 times in the New Testament. The equivalent word in Hebrew is “talmid.”The Bible does not recognize a separate class of believers called “carnal Christians.” Those who are “fleshly” or “carnal” are called “infants in Christ” by the Apostle Paul[xii]. The word “Christian” is just another word for a disciple: "...and the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." Acts 11:26 Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a Christian who is not a disciple!
[i] Mark 1:17, Mark 6:1, Luke 14:25-33 [ii] John 14:15, 1 John 2:4-5 [iii] Matt. 11:28-30 [iv] Matt. 28:18-20 [v] 1Cor. 11:1 [vi] John 8:31, John 15:7-8 [vii] John 15:7-11 [viii] Acts 20:7 [ix] Heb. 10:25 [x] John 13:34-35, John 13:12-17 [xi] 1 Cor. 13:1-7 [xii] 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
Definition of Discipleship
“Discipleship is intentional servant leadership training to become a disciple maker*, which is most effective in groups of two to four people.”