Many christians seem come think the all who think in Jesus for eternal life will automatically becomes a disciple of Jesus, and if someone states they believe in Jesus however don’t do a great job complying with Jesus, this proves they space not important a believer. Yet this is not what scripture teaches.

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The holy bible shows the there is a difference between believing in Jesus because that eternal life and following Jesus ~ above the route of discipleship. That is feasible to be a believer but not a disciple, and it is feasible to be a disciple and also not a believer.


The Gospel of john is the gospel that belief. That presents, far better than any type of other book in the Bible, the single condition for receiving eternal life. The Gospel that John mirrors that eternal life is provided to anyone who simply and also only trust in Jesus because that it (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; etc.).

But the Gospel of man is also good for discipleship. If the Gospel the John reflects that eternal life is the free gift the God come anyone that believes in Jesus for it, it likewise shows that the route of discipleship has plenty of other conditions and also requirements. The Gospel of john does a great job reflecting the various conditions and results between eternal life and discipleship.

Over and over we watch that after ~ a person believes in Jesus because that eternal life, He climate invites this believers to follow Him top top the path of discipleship. We likewise see that once some unbelievers have actually been adhering to Him together disciples because that a while, he invites castle to believe in Him for eternal life.

Once you check out the difference between believing in Jesus because that eternal life and following Jesus on the path of discipleship, countless texts in Scripture will make much an ext sense.

Understanding the differences in between eternal life and discipleship will likewise liberate you from fear and also legalism. Friend will check out that God offers you eternal life freely. No good works are required to earn it, keep it, or prove the you have actually it. And you will view that all the i in the bible which speak to for obedience and an excellent works room not conditions for eternal life, but for the course of discipleship and following Jesus.

Several passages from the Gospel of man make this difference quite clear. Let us look in ~ a few.


Disciples who came to be believers (John 2:11)

This start of indications Jesus go in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and also His disciples believed in Him.

John 2 gift the an initial sign in the Gospel of John, the transforming of water right into wine in ~ the wedding feast in Cana the Galilee (John 2:1-12). In ~ the end of this sign, John records that some of Jesus’ disciples believed in that (John 2:11).

In this way, John clearly reveals the these guys were disciples before they were believers, yet now that they had adhered to Jesus for a time, heard some of His teachings, and also seen one of His miracles, they thought in Jesus.

Now, they to be no longer just disciples; they were disciples who also believed.

So friend see? it is possible to it is in a disciple of Jesus who has actually not believed in Jesus because that eternal life. Jesus calls every such people to believe in Him because that eternal life, and when castle do, they continue on the path of discipleship together believing disciples.

But the is also possible to be a believer and also not a disciple! man 2:23-25 reflects this.


Believers who did not become disciples (John 2:23-25)

Now when He was in Jerusalem in ~ the Passover, during the feast, many thought in His name as soon as they observed the signs which that did. But Jesus did not commit himself to them, due to the fact that He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Some look in ~ this text and think the these civilization who believed in Jesus were no “true believers” since Jesus did not commit himself to them. But nothing in the text suggests that lock were no true believers.

Since man writes the they believed in Jesus, and since John consistently writes that anyone that believes in Jesus receive eternal life, the many logical and also straightforward analysis of this message is come take john at his word and understand that these people thought in Jesus, and therefore, had eternal life.

But if this is so, climate why walk Jesus no commit himself to them?

The factor is stated within the text.

Jesus did not commit self to them since he knew what remained in men. And what is in men? it is that human beings are reliably unreliable. You deserve to trust that humans are untrustworthy.

So when John writes the Jesus did not yet commit self to these new believers, this does not average that they were not truly believers. No, it means that Jesus knew that few of these believers might not follow Him for an extremely long, or could not was standing by Him as soon as things came to be difficult.

Jesus was no yet prepared to decide which of this believing disciples would kind His twelve apostles. The was no yet all set to to trust these brand-new believers with every one of His plans and goals for His ministry.

Jesus knew that these world who thought in Him had eternal life. Yet He additionally knew that many of them had actually expectations and also ideas around what the Messiah would certainly do, and also very tiny idea about what Jesus in reality intended come do.

And for this reason while many of them would have instantly “signed top top the dotted line” to end up being a member that Jesus’ within circle, Jesus wisely waited. The knew that numerous of them would stop adhering to Him after they learned a small bit much more about Him and also what that had involved do.

But again, remember, also though they can stop following Him, this does not median that castle never believed in the an initial place. The text claims they did, and also only those who deny what the text says deserve to argue that these people were not “true believers.”

And Jesus was way to no entrust himself to this believers, for a couple of chapters later, several of them do undoubtedly turn far from Him. In fact, man 6:60-66 mirrors that there are five possible combinations that believers and disciples.


There are five combinations that Believers and Disciples (John 6:60-66)

Therefore plenty of of His disciples, once they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who deserve to understand it?” when Jesus knew in Himself that His practical worker complained about this, He claimed to them, “Does this offend you? … but there are several of you who perform not believe.” for Jesus knew indigenous the beginning who they were that did no believe, and also who would betray Him. … From that time countless of His practical worker went back and walked through Him no more (John 6:60-61, 64, 66).

As John’s Gospel account of Jesus continues into john 6, us are introduced to several of the difficult teachings that Jesus that brought about some of his disciples come stop complying with Him. Jesus taught the His disciples the they have to eat His flesh and drink His blood if they to be going to participate with Him.

He was, the course, speaking figuratively, yet some the His disciples did not choose what that said, and also so they turned away and also stopped following Him.

Yet many of the listening Jewish audience also did not choose to hear together things.

We carry out not understand how countless disciples were existing when Jesus said this, yet man writes the Jesus knew i beg your pardon of them thought in Him and also which did not. This method that among this big group that disciples, few of them to be believers while others to be unbelievers. However they to be still every disciples.

However, ~ the tough teaching that Jesus, numerous of these people stopped being a disciple. The text states they “walked v Him no more.”

While the reader is tempted come think that it was only the unbelieving disciples that turned far from Jesus, john flips the table on such an knowledge by revealing in john 6:71 that Judas Iscariot was among those who stayed. Because Judas shows up to be an unbelieving disciple who proceeds to follow Jesus, it seems feasible that there to be believing disciples that stopped following Jesus.

Believing in Jesus is no insurance of continuous discipleship to Jesus.

So right here in the context of man 6, there are 5 groups of world who relate differently to Jesus:

First, there room the unbelieving non-disciples that Jesus who execute not follow Him and also do not think in that (John 6:41-59).

Second and third, there space believing and also unbelieving disciples who stop following Jesus (John 6:66).

Fourth, there room unbelieving hands-on worker who continue to follow Jesus. Judas might have been just one of these, though the message does not say if there to be others (John 6:70-71).

Finally, there were the believing disciples that committed themselves to following Jesus no matter where that led, since He had the native of eternal life (John 6:67-69).

The leader of this message is claimed to questioning which team they themselves belong to. Which group do friend belong to?

John 8:30-32

As that spoke this words, many thought in Him. Then Jesus stated to those Jews who thought in Him, “If girlfriend abide in my word, you room My practical worker indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the fact shall make you free.”

This i is important since it clearly shows the 2 different problems for becoming a believer and becoming a disciple.

In john 8:30, a team of people think in Jesus, and since we understand from somewhere else in the Gospel of john that whoever believes in Jesus obtain everlasting life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47) we have the right to know the those who thought in Jesus here received everlasting life (see Everlasting Life).

However, in the really next verse, Jesus speaks to those who believed in Him and says that if they abide in His word, they will additionally be His hands-on worker (John 8:31). To “abide” means to remain, stay, continue, or dwell (see Abide).


If they remained with Jesus in this way, castle would come to know the truth, and also the reality would collection them free. The implicitly is the they were no yet His disciples, however if they remained with Jesus, and followed His teachings, then they would end up being His disciples.

Of course, the contrary is likewise true. If they stopped abiding in the teachings of Jesus Christ, climate they would certainly no much longer be His disciples. They would not find out the truth, and would rather remain enslaved to sin and also their rebellious ways.

But would certainly they still have actually eternal life? Yes, that course!

Abiding is no a condition of eternal life; eternal life is a free gift the God’s elegant to every who believe in Jesus for it.

Bob Wilkin says this:

The context clearly distinguishes between being a believer (John 8:30) and being a disciple (John 8:31-32). The previous occurs at a suggest in time and is conditioned just upon believing in Christ. The latter occurs end time and also is conditioned upon recurring obedience and an excellent works.

Many pastors and scholars go on to note, however, the in the following context, Jesus speaks to some Jewish leaders that were there and also says the they space of your father the devil, and also even states that they do not think Him (John 8:44-45).

These pastors teach the these nonbelieving Jews room the same as the believing Jews the Jesus speaks to in man 8:30-32. But how deserve to this be? If John claims that this Jews go believe, and also then a couple of verses later, Jesus says they did no believe, this is a clear contradiction in the Bible.

There finest solution to this difficulty is to acknowledge that there appears to it is in two different groups of Jews in the context: believing Jews and also non-believing Jews.

Most that the dialogue in the context is between Jesus and also the nonbelieving Jews. Numerous of them are amongst the religious Pharisees (John 8:13) who just want to challenge what Jesus says and also does.

They carry out not believe in Him, nor execute they monitor Him. In the context, castle raise one objection after another to everything Jesus claims (cf. Man 8:19, 22, 25, 33, 39, 41). Charlie Bing says that together objections room “totally out of character with the inclination the those stated in john 8:31-32.”

So there room two groups of Jews in the text: a team of believing Jews, whom Jesus addresses in john 8:31-32, and also a team of unbelieving, antagonistic Jews, who Jesus addresses in the remainder of the passage.

Admittedly, the pronouns in the message make it appear that Jesus is speaking to one group throughout the entire text, yet if this is so, climate the scriptures has a contradiction within just a couple of verses, where John states they carry out believe and also Jesus states they don’t.

It is far far better to acknowledge that there room two varieties of human being in a bigger group. In this one huge group, there are some who believe and some who don’t (this also fits with modern-day church contexts).

Jesus warns those who perform not think in Him the they will die in your sins (John 8:24) and are of your father the adversary who leads just to murder and also violence (John 8:44), while in ~ the very same time, He motivates those who believe in him to follow Him more into freedom and liberty (John 8:32, 36).

Believing in Jesus is the sole condition for receiving eternal life, however abiding in Jesus and also His indigenous is one of plenty of the problems of being His disciple so that us can completely experience flexibility in Him.

So if you have thought in Jesus because that eternal life, what are some of the problems for complying with Jesus together a disciple? The Gospel the John contains many that these as well.


Love one another to it is in a Disciple the Jesus (John 13:35)

“By this every will know that you space my disciples, if you have actually love for one another.”

In john 13:35, Jesus offers the specifying characteristic of among His disciples. He claims that they will love one another.

Love for others is how civilization can acknowledge true disciples of Jesus Christ.

It is critically crucial to recognize that love one an additional is no a problem for receiving eternal life, or rather nobody would have eternal life, because that nobody fully loves every the believer they connect with.

Many christians are rather difficult, if no impossible, to repeatedly love, and so if this were a problem for receiving eternal life, no one would have actually it.

So thankfully, Jesus is no talking here about how to obtain eternal life, but how come be well-known as one of His disciples.

Note too that this is no even about saying the you love other Christians, but around being well-known by others for her love.

Far too often, the people looks in ~ Christians and also says that we are unloving.

Oddly, the default Christian an answer to such an accusation indigenous the world is to argue. We say things like, “Well, you only say that due to the fact that we don’t condone sin. Us are just standing up because that what is right. It’s not loving come hide the truth. Ns love the sinner, yet I dislike the sin. If you come to our church, then you will certainly see how truly loving we are.”

If a non-Christian says that Christians space not loving, and our only an answer is to argue, we must not wonder why castle don’t think us.

In fact, far from being known for our love, some Christians it seems ~ to effort to be known for your hate. They seem come think that a true Christian will certainly be hated.

I overheard two males in the store the other day who were both attract Christian t-shirts. One to be saying come the other, “Yeah, castle all hate me at work, however that’s okay, due to the fact that I’m was standing up for Christ.”

But Jesus states that we need to be known by ours love, which way that we will not only love others, yet will also be loved by others. Similar to Jesus was. The only world who hated Jesus to be the religious elites. For this reason if religious people love you, but “sinners” hate you, friend are most likely not following Jesus.

As a next note, the ironic thing about Christian T-shirts us is that people often rely on them come tell others that they follow Jesus.

But Jesus says that if you are His disciple, girlfriend won’t need to tell people. Castle will know it by her love. If you need to depend ~ above a T-shirt come tell others that you are adhering to of Jesus, you might not be complying with Him an extremely well.

Jesus does say, that course, the His disciples will be well-known by their love for one another. Part take this to median that love for various other Christians is our priority, and also we do not do it worry around whether or not non-Christians feel loved through us.

Jesus go say, ~ all, the since the world hated Him, it will additionally hate His pendant (John 15:18; cf. 1 john 3:13). John writes somewhere else that we need to not love the people or something in the world, because that friendship v the people is enmity v God (1 john 2:15-17; cf. James 4:4).

The best means to recognize these texts, however, is to acknowledge that the hatchet “world” is introduce to the “world dominance system” the is opposed to God and His ways. We must love all the people in the world, yet not just how they are enslaved to the values and domination system of this world.

In fact, religious people often tend to be an ext enslaved come the world domination system than non-religious people. This is why it is mostly religious people, quite than the “sinners,” that hated Jesus during His ministry.

In the Gospels, the only world who really hated Jesus to be the spiritual leaders who had sold the end to the civilization domination system and also were using it to control and manipulate others. It to be those whom countless would take into consideration “worldly” that loved Jesus and were love by Him. So if sinful, “worldly” civilization hate friend but spiritual people love you, you can not be adhering to Jesus.


If you space not a girlfriend to sinners, you are not a friend to Jesus.

So yes, christians will an initial and foremost be well-known by their love for “one another.” but this love must overflow into love because that “the other,” that is, right into love for world in this world.

If we desire to tell people we space followers of Jesus, we carry out it by loving them and loving one another.

The person who loves others unconditionally but doesn’t case to monitor Jesus is closer come the Kingdom of God than those who claim to follow Jesus however doesn’t love rather unconditionally.

If love is that God, and also everybody that loves is born that God and knows God because God is love (1 man 4:7-8), climate it just makes sense that love will be the prevailing properties of one who is born the God and know God.

It is no a person’s words that make the or her a Christian, or what they short article on on facebook or stay on your T-shirts, or also how many bible verses they have the right to quote, how often they to visit church and also Bible studies, or whether they deserve to “take a stand for Christ.”

They will understand we are Christians by our love.

If you have actually not love, they will never understand you space a Christian, no matter exactly how much friend tell them friend are.

In light of man 13:35, then, the question we must be asking is no “Am i a monitor of Jesus?” yet rather, “Do i love others prefer Jesus so the they understand I to be His disciple?” This question leads to associated questions:

Do my words sound prefer words Jesus could say?Do mine actions look prefer things Jesus can do?Do ns love unconditionally, forgive freely, serve sacrificially, and accept all?Do I difficulty the spiritual status-quo for setup up barriers to God and creating groups of united state vs. Them?Do I breakdown the walls of faith by eating with the so-called ‘tax-collectors and sinners’?

These space the kind of means that rather will know that you room a disciple the Jesus. As soon as we love rather in this way, we will be bearing much fruit as a disciple the Jesus Christ. This is what he talks about in man 15:8.


Bear Fruit to it is in a Disciple the Jesus (John 15:8)

“By this My father is glorified, the you bear much fruit; so you will certainly be my disciples.”

There is a lot of dispute over vine and also branches imagery of man 15, and also whether or no the branches which carry out not be afflicted with fruit room truly christians or not.

Note that this i is not about how to get eternal life, however rather about living as a disciple that Jesus Christ. Those who abide in Jesus Christ and His teachings will bear fruit (see Abide), and also in this way, they will present that they room His disciples.

If a human being does not bear fruit, all it proves is that they are not His disciple. Nothing is stated one way or the other around whether or no such a human being has thought in Jesus because that eternal life.

Just together both believers and also unbelievers can follow the teachings the Jesus and also see optimistic results in their stays (and the lives of others), for this reason also, both believers and also unbelievers deserve to ignore the teachings of Jesus and also experience negative consequences in their lives as a result. These an unfavorable consequences room symbolized by the fire in man 15:6 (see Fire).

So neither an excellent works nor the lack of an excellent works prove anything around whether or no a person has eternal life.

Good works can indicate even if it is or not a human is following the teachings the Jesus, and while many disciples are also believers, this is not always the case, and also so we have to avoid make the efforts to identify someone’s eternal destiny based upon their works.

Instead, we have to invite all people to look come Jesus Christ alone, and believe in Him because that eternal life. When they have actually done this, we can also invite lock to monitor Jesus so that they will certainly bear much fruit and live the plentiful life (see Abundant Life).


Be a Believer and a Disciple

For the ideal experience that this life, the is necessary to BOTH think in Jesus for eternal life and also follow Jesus on the route of discipleship.

But we must constantly make sure we know the differences between these two.

Eternal life is the absolutely totally free gift of God by His grace to anyone and everyone that simply and also only trust in Jesus because that it. There room no strings attached. There is no fine print. There space no ongoing an excellent works enclosed on the ago end.

Eternal life is freely received, and also once the is given, it cannot be revoked or take away back.

Discipleship, however, is wherein the genuine joy and also fulfillment in Christianity come from. That has countless conditions, and requires lot sacrifice and also persistence. The is not free. That calls you come love, serve, and also give.

Following Jesus together a disciple is the greatest difficulty you will challenge in life, but likewise the biggest thrill, and it prepares united state for what life will certainly be like with God in eternity.

So for the finest experience currently in this life, and also the best foretaste that what life will be favor in eternity, believe in Jesus because that eternal life AND also seek to follow Jesus on the course of discipleship.

When you recognize the difference in between these two offers, every one of Scripture will certainly make an ext sense, and also you will much better understand where you space at through God and also as a monitor of Jesus.

Questions? allow me recognize in the comment ar below! And also join the discipleship group, whereby we learn a lot much more about these varieties of topics and questions.

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