You believe and have confessed Christ as your saviour. You read the bible, pray, fellowship with other believers and even serve in your local church. But do all these make you a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Now, believing and confessing Christ is the entry point to becoming a disciple. Reading your bible, praying, fellowshipping with other believers and serving in your local church are all very important parts of your walk with God. But there is more to being a disciple of Jesus Christ than all of these.
I know you would like to know what makes one a true disciple of Christs, other wise you would not have opened this page at all. Before we go into how one can know if he or she is a true disciple, let’s take a look at some definitions of a disciple.
- A person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower ~ dictionary.com
- One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. ~ Merriam Webster Dictionary
From these definitions we can say that a disciple is one who:
- Believes the leader, master or teacher
- Follows in the leader’s steps
- Spreads the leaders teachings
This is pretty simple to understand isn’t it? But let us take a look into God’s word to find some basic requirements of one who is a true follower of Christ.
A Disciple Of Christ Abides In His Word
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” John 8:31 NKJV
To abide means to; remain, continue, or stay. The Amplified Bible breaks the above verse down for us;
So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples.” John 8:31 AMP
So here we find that a true disciple of Jesus Christ is one who remains in His word. One who lives in accordance to the word of God without swaying to the left or to the right. Sin as enticing as it may appear will not appeal to this person.
Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do [everything] in accordance with the entire law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper and be successful wherever you go. Joshua 1:7 AMP
This person will not change thoughts or opinions in the face of any popular or scientific theory. Not even if it means being unpopular in the world. A true follower of Christ will believe and hold on to God’s word and promises even when experts in medicine, law, economics, government and science say something contrary. He/she will stand with God’s word and will obey His commands notwithstanding the temptations to do evil.
A few examples of men who risked everything to abide in God’s word are the Hebrew friends in Daniel 3:8-18, Joseph in Genesis 39:7-20, Peter and the Apostles in Acts 5:12-29
A True Disciple Of Christ Loves
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 NKJV
Love is the identity of a disciple, not only in the Church but in the world. This is what distinguishes one who follows Christ from one who does not. Jesus did not say our identity is in our church going, prayers, word knowledge or looks. All of these do matter, but if love is not at the core of whatever we do as christians it makes no sense to heaven.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV puts it this way; 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love is the guarantee that we have eternal life in us. It is the evidence that we have passed from death to life and from darkness to light.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. John 3:14-15 NKJV
You Owe Everyone Love
Now, some believers think they owe only those of the same faith love. But that is not scriptural. We must learn to compare Scriptures with scriptures in order to get the fullness of the message.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Galatians 5:14 NKJV
Our neighbour here is not just those who live near us, our church members or those we know. It means all men that we ever have the opportunity to meet or know. Jesus explains it clearer Luke 10:25-37
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” 27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Love Even Your Enemies
Any one who follows Christ would love even those who by words or actions proclaim themselves enemies. Or those who will not reciprocate the love shown to them. Jesus did it, He died for us even when we were sinners, when we did all kinds of wickedness against Him, when we did nothing to respond to His love.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NKJV
Love tells us apart from the world. Jesus wants us to love even those who hate us. Read Matthew 5:44-48 Love can bring judgement on our enemies…
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. ”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21 NKJV
Anyone who does good to all men out of God’s love in their is a true disciple of Christ.
A True Disciple Is Bears Fruit
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:8 NKJV
Fruit bearing is one of the hallmarks of a follower of Christ. We glorify The Father when we bear much fruit. That is why He saved and called all believers.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain… John 15:16a NKJV
He mentions in the above verse that He wants us to bear fruit that will remain. This means that disciples of Christ ought to bear fruits that will remain till His return. Let us examine some kinds of fruit God expects us to bear as Jesus’s disciples.
Kinds Of Fruit
- Fruit Of The Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 3:22-23 AMP
A believer and follower of Christ has a renewed spirit. This renewed spirit should produce the fruits mentioned in the above verse. It should not be here today and there tomorrow, we should abide in producing these fruit. We are not expected to be perfect in the sense that we make no mistake, but we are to be perfect in the sense that we are actively pursuing perfection in producing the fruit of the spirit. When our daily lives reflect these attributes, it is a mark that we are disciples of Jesus.
- Fruit Of Our Lips
Through Him, therefore, let us at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Hebrews 13:15 AMP
Our words are very important to God. What we say is a reflection of who we are. As disciples of Christ, our words ought to bring God glory at all times.
“Not matter the pressure, our words should give God pleasure.” ~ Ugochi Oritsejolomisan
Words of praise, thanksgiving, and love should flow from a disciple of Christ. The only way to make sure to speak the right words is to feed the spirit with the right words and ensure that we renew our minds by God’s word. Once any one is able to control their thought life, their words would be all right.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 AMP
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Philippians 4:8 AMP
In order to make sure that the fruit of your lips always thankfully acknowledges and glorifies God’s name, you must watch what you allow into your hearts and thoughts.
This is because the mouth will always speak what the heart is full of… Luke 6:45
- Fruit Of Souls
Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. Romans 1:13 NKJV
Christ died, was buried and resurrected. He did all of these to save us and He wants to use us too. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
This is a ministry committed into the hands of every single follower of Christ. He wants us to reconcile sinners back to The Father by preaching the gospel to them. Remember, according to the definition we read earlier, a disciple spreads the doctrines of his/her leader.
Christ does not only want us to preach the gospel. Just like He has made us His disciples, He wants us to make other disciples for Him.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 NKJV
A follower of Christ abides in His teachings regardless of the times and seasons. One who loves everyone and bears much fruit, fruit that abides. I know there will be other ways to know or recognize a true disciple of Jesus Christ. But I believe that all other marks of a true disciple will pretty much come under any one of the three discussed here.
The goal of this post is to help you and I constantly measure our discipleship to make sure we are living true to our profession and calling.
The reassuring thing about all of this is that we do not have to do it by ourselves. God has given us all the help we need to be true followers of Christ.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26 NKJV
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8 NKJV
We have help as we keep desiring, pursuing and leaning on God to help us be true followers of Christ so that His name will be glorified. Hallelujah!
The blessedness of following Christ the way he wants us to, is that there is are rewards. We may have unvoiced questions or we may have voiced them like Peter did. Read Jesus’s response in Mark 10:28-30
28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Notice that part of the consequences is the persecution we will have to deal with because we won’t go the way of the world. But we have great rewards nonetheless and we will not be alone when we face the persecution because God’s precious Spirit is with us even in the midst of it.
There’s more… we have a blank cheque;
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. John 15:16 NKJV My emphasis
Isn’t this wonderful?
The greatest of it all however is that we get to spend forever with God, enjoying His glory forever without end!
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:2-4