What is a Disciple?

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  -Matthew 4:19

If making disciples is the mission of the church, then the church better know what a disciple is!  If you were to ask the average Christian what a disciple is, I imagine that you would get a variety of answers.  Not knowing the goal or the destination is a sure way to never get there.  In the business world, a company can have a good mission statement and even know why the company exists.  However, if that company does not know what kind of product it is to produce, all the planning and strategy in the world makes no difference.  The church must know what a disciple is and what a disciple looks like.  Jesus gives us a simple definition of a disciple in this brief verse that records the call of His first disciples.  Jesus simply says to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  This concise statement reveals what Jesus intends to do with those who are His disciples.  Jim Putnam points out how this reveals three key truths about a disciple.

First, a disciple is one who knows and follows Christ.  This involves HEAD level change.  The disciple has made the personal commitment to trust Christ and follow Christ wherever He leads.  In John 12:26, Jesus said, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am, My servant also will be.”  This means that a disciple recognizes who Jesus is and places himself under Christ’s authority.  To follow Jesus is to obey Jesus.  People like the idea of being forgiven by Jesus, but following Jesus may not be important to them.  It is impossible to have Jesus as your Savior without bowing to Him as your Lord.

Second, a disciple is one who is being changed by Christ.  This involves HEART level change.  Jesus says, “Follow Me, and I will make you…”  This means He is doing something transformational in the life of the disciple.  Jesus took twelve ordinary men and used them to turn the world upside down with the gospel.  After they had spent over three years with Him, they were given His Spirit and sent out into the world.  Jesus is not content with leaving us where He found us!  He desires to transform us and make us more like Himself.  Are you a disciple who has been transformed?  How has what you know transformed how you behave?

Third, a disciple is one who is on mission with Christ.  This involves HAND level change.  Jesus says, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  The intention He had in calling His first disciples was to transform them from being fishermen to fishing for men.  He wanted their lives to be centered around His mission of seeking and saving the lost.  A person is not a fully mature follower of Jesus Christ until his or her life is centered around Christ’s mission of making disciples.  God intends to use you to win people in your sphere of influence to faith in Christ.  Do you have a passion to see God glorified by seeing people saved and disciples made from every nation on earth?

In summary, a disciple is one who knows and follows Jesus, one who is being changed by Jesus, and one who lives on mission with Jesus.  This involves transformation of the total person–head, heart, and hands.

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