Defining Discipleship

We talk about making disciples, but do we know how to do it?  In this...
January 7, 2018

We talk about making disciples, but do we know how to do it?  In this series of lessons on Personal Discipleship, let’s pray that we start obeying the biblical mandate regarding discipleship.

Before we can make a disciple, we need to figure out what one looks like.

Download Handout – PD 01 – Defining Discipleship

What Is a Disciple?

  • Definition
    • In its simplest form, “disciple” means “learner.”
    • “Disciple” was not a unique spiritual term during Jesus’ day.  It was used to describe whenever one was learning something from another.
    • Working Definition: The intentional investment of biblical teaching and modeling into the life of another for the sake of Christian maturity.
  • Distinctives
    • When we think of a student in our context, we automatically envision a classroom setting.
    • While classroom learning did exist in that time somewhat, most education was done in a modeling, equipping, and practicing type of environment.
    • A disciple became a follower of the mentor and learned by observing his life up close.

The Great Commission

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” (Matt. 28:18-20).

As you study this familiar passage, there are a few things to highlight in order to understand Jesus’ expectations for discipleship.

  1. Jesus is still the initiator.
  2. Jesus has all authority.
  3. Jesus did not call for the people to come to the Church, but for the Church to go to the people.
  4. Jesus did not ask us to make converts but to make disciples.
  5. Jesus will not return until all nations have responded to the gospel (cf. Matt. 24:14; 2 Pet. 3:9).
  6. The mandate for baptism reveals the external evidence of a life change and commitment to the Church.
  7. Disciples are followers of Jesus who obey biblical instruction.
  8. In the discipleship process, Jesus assures them with the greatest resource imaginable – His presence!

6 Components in the Life of a Disciple

What are the greatest components that made you who you are today?  What is your faith story?  Most likely, your summarized testimony would include many (if not all) of these elements.

  1. Event – Do you have a milestone in your life when the gospel changed you?
  2. Environment – What regular faith gatherings are shaping who you are today?
  3. Example – Who is the mentor you aspire to follow?
  4. Encourager – Who is the friend walking beside you and pushing you towards Christ?
  5. Equipment – What spiritual disciplines are training you to grow in godliness?
  6. Engagement – How are you intentionally investing in another with what you have learned?

Devotion, Doctrine, and Discipline

If you were responsible to mature someone in Christ, where would you begin?  All disciples should be aiming to have similar devotions, doctrinal stances, and spiritual disciplines, but we are not all on the same place in the journey.  Some of us need to focus on certain elements that others don’t have to worry about as much.

So, if you had to come up with a list of what a disciple’s devotion, doctrine, and discipline should look like, what would you include?

  1. What should be a disciple’s devotion?
  2. What is necessary for a disciple’s doctrine?
  3. What should be included in a disciple’s discipline?