We all know that our Blessed Lord declared that ‘it is HARD for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 19:24) and also that ‘one CANNOT be His disciple if one does not give up all of his possessions’ (Luke 14:33).
However, the Bible records an instance of a ‘saved’ rich man. Ironically, he was ‘not’ the law-keeping one who couldn’t do Christ’s exhortation to be ‘PERFECT’ (Matthew 19:21 —> whose state of salvation Scripture does ‘not’ reveal literally).
He was the most unlikely type: A sinner and a fraud. Scripture records his ‘act of repentance’ as follows and Christ declares him ‘saved’ for it (note the word ‘salvation’ to learn this –> below):
“When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:7 – 10)
Again, key points to note:
(1) Christ declares him ‘saved’ (the word ‘salvation’ and the last line (verse 10) implies that our Lord has ‘saved a lost’).
(2) Zaccheus did “not” give up ‘all’ his possessions for Christ to declare him ‘saved’.
(3) But Zaccheus gave up at least 50% (or ‘half of his possessions’ and ‘4 times pay back to each person whom he has defrauded’).
(4) Thus, repentance here was ‘not’ just a simple word of ‘sorry’ but also involved a great ‘giving up’ of a fraud’s own wealth.
(5) The money or wealth was given to the ‘poor’ and “not” the temple treasury, the disciple’s money box collection nor anywhere else.
(6) Zaccheus calls Jesus as ‘Lord’ (truly) which is only possible by His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3)
It may be possible to be ‘saved’ without giving up ‘all’ of one’s possessions (e.g. Zaccheus gave up at least 50% here) but one still CANNOT be His disciple if one does ‘not’ give up ‘all’ his possessions (Luke 14:33).
Thus, in context: A disciple might be referring to a more ‘PERFECT’ one among the ‘saved-believers’.
Now, revisiting the ‘Great Commission’ verse (below), has the church made ‘disciples’ or just ‘saved-believers’?
“Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19)
Probably, entire Christianity (including us) has only a ‘few’ (small handful number) of ‘disciples’ as opposed to just plain believers*.
I most likely see that the ‘set of disciples’ is an extremely ‘small set’ (in number) from the ‘set of believers’ (in Christ).
Lastly, the call is open to every believer:
“Do you want to be a disciple of His or just a saved-believer only?”
I can’t even answer it honestly for myself at this point in time (truth).
“Jesus told him, “If you want to be PERFECT, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)