In John 6, many false disciples end up turning away from Jesus after following Him from town to town simply because the message of the gospel was hard. They sought to trust in their own goodness over trust in Jesus, and take up their cross and follow Him alone. Today, we see the same trend happening as seeker sensitive mega-churches, charismatic and emotionally-driven gatherings, and false teachers continue to spread throughout the world.
The same characteristics that were witnessed 2,000 years ago still apply today. There are 6 characteristics found in that great chapter of false disciples.
The false disciples found in John 6 loved the crowds. They loved to be swept along with the excitement, temporary, and fickle nature of the crowd. Many false disciples today love the crowds because they can stay independent while indulging in the excitement of the gathering. There is no collective commitment to the Word or bearing one another’s burdens or taking up one’s cross.
2) False disciples are fascinated by the supernatural
The false disciples of Jesus’ day loved the healings and feedings and were fascinated by the miracles. Today, in charismatic churches people come because of supernatural promises. Promises of healings, miracles, speaking in tongues, etc. False disciples do not want hard teaching, Biblically-informed teaching, or to rely upon the true power of the Holy Spirit or on Scripture alone.
3) False disciples are focused on temporal benefits
The Jewish disciples wanted food for that day,therefore they wanted earthly benefits from Jesus. They even wanted to make Jesus king as to have Him serve them earthly riches and temporary food. Today, false disciples seek after health, wealth, and prosperity. Entire false teacher ministries and other mainstream ministries seek to “meet the needs of the people” which are anything but the true needs of living bread.
They did not want to worship the true king, the true Messiah, the true God and today false disciples are more interested in entertainment and smoke and mirrors in their worship than true, Biblically-informed worship. Rock concert bands and dim lights and spotlights on a worship rock star is not true worship and many that are drawn to this are false disciples.
The people of Jesus’ day as well as today want their needs met. They want Jesus to meet their demands and give them “purpose” in their life. This is not the purposes of God, but the purposes of man. After wanting purpose, they seek to make demands upon God Himself. Jesus is their bank, their genie, and they look to Him to deliver on whatever they want. A false disciple in his heart seeks for his desires to be met, not for the tough truths of Scripture to be met in their life.
A true disciple will as Peter says in John 6 proclaim, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” He is one who relies upon God’s Word, seeks the living bread, and drinks upon the living water. He denies himself, takes up his cross and follows Christ. He loses his life for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s sake. He goes against the crowd, seeks after the Word, focuses on eternal things, is interested in true Biblically-informed worship, and submits to the demands of Scripture in obedience.
Note: The main points of this blog entry was taken from sermons by John MacArthur.