Jesus commanded His servants to "make disciples of all the nations". But what is a disciple? Have you ever asked yourself what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? What exactly would that involve?
Typically, when people hear the word “disciple” they conjure up one of two images: (1) The image of a contemplative, almost philosophical-looking person, usually dressed in a flowing robe, walking around with his hand rubbing his chin contemplating the meaning of some “deep aspect of life”; or (2) what some would call a “religious freak,” willing to do anything, even kill for his or her master. But what does it really mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? This guide looks into this important subject in the light of God’s word, the Bible.
JOHN 8:31: "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.'"
1. What do you think Jesus meant when He said “If you abide in my word”?
2. How would you do that? Consider John 15:10. Is it enough to just say you’re a disciple of Jesus Christ, or do you think that there is some action involved? Why?
COMMENT: Vine's New Testament Word Search defines the Greek word (mathetes) that is translated "disciples" as: "lit., 'a learner' … it denotes 'one who follows one's teaching'…. A 'disciple' was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher." So a disciple of Jesus Christ follows His example: 1 Peter 2:21.
MATTHEW 9:14-15: "Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?' And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.'"
3. What does this passage tell us about whether disciples of Christ fast today?
4. What circumstances would make fasting a smart thing to do?
COMMENT: Jesus' disciples learned from Him as they lived with Him for more than 3 years. Jesus taught them by how He lived -- by His example. He instructed them by word, and they asked Him questions. They asked about scripture (Matthew 17:10), about what He meant by what He had said (Luke 8:9), about how to live (Mark 10:10), about their failures (Mark 9:28), and about His will (Luke 9:54).
5. How can we have fellowship and commune with Christ and the Father today? How can we get answers to our questions about the same matters?
2 PETER 3:18: "… but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
6. How long are we to go on learning of Jesus Christ?
MATTHEW 28:19-20: "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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
7. After His death and resurrection, what work did Jesus assign His disciples? How do you know that His disciples should be continuing that assignment even into the 21st century?
8. How can those not in the ministry help with this assignment?
Bring Forth Fruit
JOHN 15:8: "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
1. Christ's disciples "bear much fruit." What did Jesus mean by "fruit"? What kind of "fruit" does a disciple produce?
2. How does a disciple's fruit glorify God the Father? Consider Matthew 5:16.
3. List three things you can do to "let your light shine."
Love One Another
JOHN 13:35: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
1. Define "love."
2. Give some examples of how we can show love for one another in the: (A) home; (B) school; (C) church; (D) community
Feed the Sheep
1. Other than Matthew 28:19-20, what other task did Jesus give His disciples? Read John 21:15-16 and answer. How is this being done in the church today? How can disciples who are not in the ministry help with this task?
ACTS 11:26: "…And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
1. What is another term for "disciples"?
2 TIMOTHY 2:19: "…Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
2. What is "iniquity"? Did Jesus commit any iniquity? Why can't a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, live in iniquity?
3. Read Acts 5:1-10. Ananias and Sapphira met with the church. Do you think they were disciples of Christ? Why or why not?
COMMENT: Christians do sin, but not willfully so. Read 1 John 1:6 - 2:6. True disciples have the choice of continuing in that way of life or straying from it as this couple did.
LUKE 14:26-27,33: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (33) So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
MATTHEW 16:24-26: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'"
1. What does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is it a small price? Is it easy to be a disciple or is it very, very challenging?
2. Define the word "hate" in Luke's passage.
3. What does it mean to "bear his cross" in Matthew's account?
4. What was Peter's eventual cost? Read John 21:18-19 before answering.
5. Explain Christ's paradoxical statement: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
6. Why do you think Jesus demands so much from His disciples?
7. What reward does a disciple receive? Read and explain Matthew 19:27-29. Compare with Revelation 20:4 and 5:10.
1. List three things a disciple can do to become like Jesus Christ.
2. How does a nominal Christian differ from a true disciple?
3. Do you think being a disciple of Jesus Christ is worth the cost? Why?