What Is Discipleship? (Part 1)
Have you ever thought about discipleship and what it means? What it means for you, defines how you live.
Discipleship can improve every aspect of your life when you practice it well, allowing you to walk in your true identity as sons and daughters of God.
The Greek word for discipleship is mathēteuō (pronounced math-ayt-yoo’-o) and literally means to make disciples. The word is used in the context of to be a disciple of one, to follow His precepts and instruction, to make a disciple, to teach, to instruct.
Jesus described discipleship this way: “By this, My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have, I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” – John 15:8-10
In this first part of the article, your trusted Christian mission organization is going to take a closer look at discipleship and its true meaning.
The Discipleship Jesus Modeled
You don’t need to look further than Jesus Himself, the greatest example of what true discipleship looks like. Our call as followers of Christ is to become more like the one we are following, Jesus Christ. He is our benchmark, our standard, the one we hope to model our lives after.
One of the first things Jesus does at the outset of His ministry is gather a bunch of men who he does life with for the next three years of His ministry. All of the men from different backgrounds, all of them imperfect, all of them sharing the same desire to follow Jesus wherever he would take them. A healthy reminder that Jesus takes us just as we are but calls us to live differently.
Obedience to God
Jesus followed God’s commands just as we now are called to do too. A beautiful picture of this is on the Mount of Olives where Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) The cross is a reminder that Jesus exemplified complete obedience.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. – John 14:15
Faithfulness to Gods’ Word
The Apostle Paul gives a final charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10-17 and reminds him of the importance of God’s Word.
All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Paul’s reminder to Timothy is that scripture is divine inspiration and is useful for;
- Conviction of sin
- correction of error
- restoration to obedience
- training in righteousness
- learning to live in conformity to God’s will
- behaving honorably
- personal integrity
- moral courage
There are multiple scriptures throughout the bible calling us to be like Christ,
- For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps – 1 Peter 2:21
- Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked – 1 John 2:6
- Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1
- To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24
Sharing the Gospel
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to share the Gospel. The truth of the Gospel is found in the richness of His teachings. Jesus’ final command – the Great Commission, is a call to every follower of Christ to share the Good News both locally and globally. It is important to remember that God has placed us each in the families, the neighborhoods, the communities, and the workplaces we are in on purpose and for a purpose. God has positioned each of us exactly in the right position for us to share the Gospel of Grace with those who are in our circles of influence.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:19-20
Helping Others in their walk with God
Jesus has designed his church to function like a healthy body (1 Corinthians 12:12-29). Each of us has a part to play and like a healthy body, we function best when we are working together and in unity.
Who are you discipling?
Who are you actively helping in their walk with God?
We are called to build each other and encourage one another in our faith. As disciples, we are called to be intentional about helping others so that they in turn can disciple others too.
Dependance on Grace
It is by Grace we are saved! The greatest joy of discipleship is to be reminded once again of the undeserved favor and mercy of God that we have been made spiritually alive in Him.
“But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. ” – Ephesians 2:4-9
The joy of our Christian faith is that we don’t have a list of do’s and don’ts but instead we have an open invitation from Christ to follow him in this work of art where we are the canvas and He is the artist.
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” – Ephesians 2:10
Here are some of Jesus’ instructions when it comes to discipleship:
- Make disciples of all the nations – Matthew 28:19
- Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – Matthew 28:19
- Teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us. – Matthew 28:20
- Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you. – John 20:21
- Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:22
- Forgive the sins of many, do not withhold their sin, but release it. – John 20:23
- Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation. – Mark 16:15
- Repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in Jesus’ name to all nations – Luke 24:47
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus calls us to join Him in discipleship. The passage says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Can this be any clearer?
Jesus wants to teach us what true discipleship is. He is with us every step of the journey and is the best teacher we could have ever asked for.
Hopefully, the first part of this two-part post gives you an idea of what true discipleship means and that it encourages you to become one, too. To know more about what discipleship is as Jesus had shown us, read our “What is Discipleship? (Part 2)” follow-up article.
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective training and coaching strategy, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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