Disciple—You’ve heard this term thrown around but you’re unsure what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
You may be wondering…
- What does the Bible say about discipleship?
- What characteristics make a disciple?
- How do I become a true disciple of Christ?
If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
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What does the Bible say about discipleship?
Although discipleship isn’t mentioned in the Old Testament, it’s mentioned quite a bit in the New Testament. Here are a few key Bible verses on being a disciple of Jesus.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31 ESV).
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV).
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27 ESV).
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40 ESV).
Greek Word for Disciple
The New Testament was written in Greek so I find it helpful to go to the original word used. It helps you learn more about the meaning of words in their original context.
The greek word for disciple is mathitís. This original word means student or learner. This word was used to describe someone who learns from a teacher and imitates them. This means that if we want to become disciples, we are to imitate Christ.
5 Marks of a Disciple
The Bible outlines the qualities of a disciple. Here are 5 marks of a disciple.
#1 A disciple is obedient to Christ.
While Jesus was talking with his disciples, he told them, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15 ESV).
A disciple is someone obedient to Christ. If you’re not being obedient to the Word, I would suggest you self-examine yourself and look within.
Of course, no one is perfect. However, we should be making a habit of daily repentance which means to turn away from sin and turn toward Christ.
#2 A disciple loves God.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV).
True disciples love God with their whole being. They put Him above everything else and treat Him as number one in their lives. Jesus says this is the greatest commandment – to love God.
#3 A disciple loves others.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:19 ESV).
Similar to the last point, a true disciple loves others. Jesus tells us this is the second greatest commandment, right after telling the first which is to love God.
If we don’t love others, we aren’t displaying the love God has given us. True disciples love others because of the love God has given them. It moves us to love others!
#4 A disciple is on mission.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).
A true disciple is on mission. While Jesus was on earth, his main objective was to save people. He brought salvation to people. The verses above are well-known and commonly referred to as the great commission. The great commission is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to others. Disciples have tasted the goodness of God and want others to as well!
#5 A disciple bears good fruit.
“By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18 NIV).
A true disciple bears good fruit. Maybe you’re not sure what “good fruit” means exactly. Essentially the passage above says that an unsaved person can’t do righteous things on his own accord. We can only do good works through the power of Jesus Christ. God transforms us, which allows us to do good works.
How to Become a Disciple of Jesus
Now that you have a better idea of what it means to be a disciple, you may be wondering how you become a disciple of Jesus. Here are the 4 steps to becoming a disciple of Christ.
Step #1 Believe in Jesus.
The first step to becoming a disciple is to believe in Jesus and what he’s done for you.
A little over 2,000 years ago, God came to earth as a human. This human is Jesus Christ. He came to bring salvation to people. We’re all sinners in need of a savior. You might think you’re a good person, but that’s simply not true.
Even if you’ve only done one thing wrong, you’re guilty. The Bible says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10 ESV).
Here are just a few sins: lying, stealing, lusting, having sex before marriage, getting drunk, and blasphemy. There are other sins, but you get the picture. If you’re guilty of any sin, you’re guilty.
The good news is that although you’re guilty, there’s someone who can wipe your slate clean—Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He paid the debt you deserved to pay. If you repent and believe in Jesus, you’re saved and have become a disciple.
Step #2 Repent and obey his word.
The first step is to believe but believing isn’t the end-all. You must also repent. Repentance might be a word you’re not familiar with.
Repentance means to turn away from sin and turn to Christ. It’s a complete 180°. It means you’re deciding to not indulge in sin anymore and to follow and obey Christ.
Let me just caution you. This doesn’t mean you will be perfect. You will still struggle with sin, but your life will no longer be marked by sin.
Step #3 Get involved in a local congregation.
The next step is to get involved in a local congregation. Don’t think that you have to have your act together to go to church though. You can go to church, even if you don’t believe in Jesus.
You might just be exploring and want to learn more before committing your life to Christ, and that’s completely okay. Going to a good congregation helps you learn more about God. I recommend 9Marks Church Directory if you’re looking for a solid church.
Step #4 Find someone willing to disciple you one-on-one.
Finally, find someone willing to disciple you one-on-one. Having someone there who’s ahead of you in the faith is beneficial. You can go to them for advice, questions, or concerns.
If you can’t find anyone willing to do this, ask your pastor. I’m sure he’d be more than happy to find someone to disciple you. Believe me, it’s worth it.
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