By Benjamin H. Liles
I believe, first off, we need to define who a Christian disciple is. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus. Knowing this, because of what I've attempted to do over these past couple of years within this website is to be a valid testimony of Jesus Christ and what He has done. While my focus hasn't always been razor sharp focus until recent events, I can say I'm more a Christian disciple now than I was say a week ago.
Therefore, we can reason that Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides within our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. In other words, true authentic disciples of Christ are able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to put off numerous things, such as:
1) Sin - but we're capable of sinning, but we don't tolerate within ourselves. Our focus remains on Christ who is the Author and Perfector of our faith. To state this better, Christ gives us His Spirit to overcome the daily pressure to sin as our focus is more on Him than on fulfilling selfish desires.
2) Filth - this means we watch our mouths. Also with the help of the Holy Spirit we give our mouths over to Christ to be used in a better manner. We look for ways to build up, to exhort, to call out, challenge, and to cheer on one another. As James writes to all believers, "With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be! Can both fresh water and bitter water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree grow olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water" (James 3:9-12, Berean Study). It is all the more important we use our mouths to both bless our Lord and Father as well as men.
3) Immoral - This includes things that take us away from the presence of God and are not just limited to: being thankful and grateful, worship of idols whether money, work, hobbies, you get the picture, as well as desiring things that don't belong to you.
Folks, we need to watch ourselves carefully within God's Word, the Bible. By doing the commands of Jesus, which are not hard to do as He gave us these commands, "Love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your mind and all your strength; the second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40, New King James).
Getting back to Christian discipleship we see five things a Christian disciple does in their personal growth and maturity, which are characterized by the following:
1) Putting Jesus first in all things (Mark 8:34-38).
2) Following Jesus'; teachings (John 8:31-32).
3) Fruitfulness (John 15:5-8).
4) Love for other disciples (John 13:34-35).
and finally 5) Evangelism - Making disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20).
Discipleship is a natural outpouring for what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He bore the cross to take our shame and chastisement. He was allowed by the Father to also take up His life again as well (John 10:18). The result is that because Jesus Christ was self-sacrificing we can follow in His footsteps and do these same things, which He did to honor the Father as well as others.
Jesus performed that five step outline without once ever sinning. He put God, the Father first in all things, and that included alone time to pray to Him; He followed God's commands; the result is that Jesus' ministry was more than fruitful: He healed many by those who put their absolute faith in Him; He also had an uncanny love towards everyone, including the Religious authority (Pharisees and Sadducees, they chose their own way because they didn't want this Suffering Messiah). Lastly, Jesus bore witness of what the Father was doing in the midst of Israel at the time of Roman occupation.
Therefore, we have given a successful definition of Christian discipleship, what it is and what that entails and how we as disciples of Christ grow in maturity making new disciples as Jesus Christ commanded us. I hope this blesses and encourages you to grow in the same manner as it has for me. The most important aspect as Christ's follower and disciple is you never quit learning. You remain steadfast in your faith, you remain glued to the Bible, you allow God to develop you, to mature you, and to be able to face mounting difficulties with His grace and peace. In Jesus' name I write this to you, amen.