Disciple or Apostle?

Which are you? Which do you want your kids to be?

In the adult Bible class I lead we were looking at the three Gospel accounts listing the twelve disciples. What a ragtag group!

One of the interesting components of the gospel accounts is the use of the categories disciples and apostles. In Luke it talks about Jesus selecting twelve from among the many disciples and how he only called those his apostles. So while the terms seem interchangeable they apparently were not.

Disciples were followers, those seeking what Jesus had to offer (teaching, healing, etc.) and committed to His ministry. When referencing the apostles there is a particular word that stands out. That is authority. Jesus gave his apostles authority to carry out His ministry. To heal. To preach. To cast out that which was evil.

We often talk about SPLS being a combination mission out post and disciple training program. We bring the great news of salvation through Christ to students and families. That is our mission. But we also encourage believers, young and old, to follow Jesus, to seek Him and His wisdom and grace. That is, we train disciples.

But what if we thought about training up apostles? Of course, you would point out that the distinction is that apostles are given authority to carry out Christ’s work. You might rightly ask, who would give kids authority?

Well, guess who did! God did. And the apostle Peter confirms it in speaking not just to the other apostles but to all believers.

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (The Message)

Those who seek to be servants of God in life have been given His authority. In particular, they have authority to announce God’s forgiveness (the work of a holy priesthood). They have authority to speak God’s Word (being God’s instruments). They have authority to model Christian living (a holy people).

So while young believers at SPLS may not be imitating the twelve by casting out demons or healing the sick, they can be more than disciples. They can be apostles given the authority to bless others and make a profound difference in their lives.

In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd

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