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Scholar, religious man or disciple?
- Jacob Ninan
To become a Bible scholar is good provided we are also disciples of Jesus. Even if we are not Bible scholars we can still be pleasing to God if we are disciples. A disciple of Jesus is so much in love with Him that he makes himself a bondslave to Jesus and Jesus becomes His Lord (Ex.21:5,6). Now he does all he can to obey Him and to become like Him (Lk.9:23). A scholar knows many things about the Bible including what it says about Jesus. But if we are not disciples also, being scholars may even keep us outside the kingdom of God (1Co.8:1).
The Pharisees were the Bible scholars of the day. They had their 'deep' understanding of the Old Testament scriptures and ordinary people considered them as authorities on the Bible. They were the ones who could explain the detailed meanings of Bible passages and their applications. But with all this background, they still could not recognise the Son of God when He stood before them, taught with authority and demonstrated His glory through signs and wonders. It was they along with other religious leaders who instigated Pilate to put Jesus to death.
There are many others whom people generally refer to as 'god fearing' or pious people because they spend a lot of time with prayer, Bible studies, and 'Christian' activities. They are held in awe by ordinary people thinking that surely God must be very close to them. But many of them are actually following a way of works, hoping to please God by their good works.
But a disciple is one who has seen something of great value in the Master and chosen it as his life's goal to follow Him, do what He says, and to become like Him at the end (Mt.13:45,46;Jn.6:67,68). They are the ones who see themselves as sinners, who meet with their Saviour, surrender to Him and follow Him. They realise that without this Saviour they would be lost, and in their gratitude of having been saved from that fate, they give up their own life and follow Jesus (2Co.5:14,15;Ro.12:1).
We may not be always able to distinguish those who are merely scholars or religious people when we look at others (Mt.13:29). But we can know about ourselves where we stand. It is absolutely crucial for our destiny that we know this now. If we humbly come before the Saviour, repent from our sins and submit to Him, He will grant us grace to be assured in our own heart about our salvation (1Jn.5:13;Ro.8:15). One way we can get a clue about the possibility that we have not yet come into salvation is if we are fearful and uncertain about what would happen to us after we die. If it is like that for any of you, do take the time now to make your relationship with Jesus real and personal.
When we truly become children of God, we can see God changing our hearts from inside and our external life following His direction away from a self-centred life to a God-centred and other-centred life (Jas.1:27). This is very different from those who follow the way of works or knowledge hoping to get salvation.