Discipleship is about following Jesus Christ and teaching others to follow Him too.
Jesus’ best known disciples were Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (also known as Lebbaeus, and as Judas, the son of James), Simon the Zealot (also known as Simon the Canaanite), and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. These men are commonly referred to as the twelve disciples or apostles. Judas Iscariot was replaced by the Apostles as recorded in Acts 1 by drawing lots. Matthias was chosen. Paul wrote many times in his letters to churches that he too was an Apostle. And in First Corinthians 11:1, he expresses the heart of discipleship saying, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Following Jesus requires accepting and acting on His ideas and commands. Without acceptance and application, there is no discipleship. Being a follower of Jesus means you imitate Him. His goals are your goals, His plans are your plans. His doctrine is your doctrine. His ministry is your ministry. As a disciple, you should be identified with Jesus in conversation, behavior, and appearance. If you are not doing this, you are not following Him.
Discipleship requires a minimum of two: a teacher and a pupil. A teacher without a willing pupil is not discipling, and a pupil without a teacher is not being discipled. As with most things in life, there are stages of discipleship. But the bottom line is that a disciple is either training others or training to train others. This is what Jesus did, and this is what Paul did.
Disciples of Jesus Christ follow Him in obedience to His first command: to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus, as the teacher, instructs His pupils by way of His Word, His Spirit, and other disciples in His church. In order to avoid losing disciples, Jesus emphasized to Peter that the criteria to feeding His sheep was to love Him (John 21). In this way, disciples of Christ can disciple others for Christ and say follow me even as I follow Christ (1Cor 11:1). As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you disciple others to follow Jesus not you.
Do you know what Jesus said was the ultimate characteristic of His disciples? In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If you love Him, you will love others.
What is Jesus looking for in a disciple? Jesus indicates that there are varying degrees of commitment (30% 50%, etc). But the first and great commandment above all else is loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is God’s will and plan for your life. And as He points out in Matthew 22:36-40, everything falls into place when you fulfill the first two commandments. That simplifies everything!
If you want to get a good start on discipleship, check out Dr. Briney’s book titled, “Multiply Your Life for Christ.” This book is full of Bible references of what Jesus and the disciples said about discipleship. It is a great way to start your training as a disciple, and it will help you understand better how to disciple others. Following Christ’s instructions, as recorded in the Bible, will improve your life.
More books by Dr. Briney to help you establish essential habits for spiritual growth.
- Facts for New Christians (Japanese ), Thirteen vital, spiritual growth principles are simply and briefly stated. A great little booklet to help a new Christian begin growing in the faith with direction, goals, and tools to start right and stay right.
- Follow-up Lessons for Spiritual Growth (study guide) (Spanish), Christians, especially new ones, need to establish fundamental habits and disciplines essential for spiritual growth. This study orients disciples properly in the first two commands, shows how to find and fulfill God’s plan for their lives, and explains the vital importance of the three unfailing resources God has given us for growth and how to use them.
Audio lessons on discipleship.