The word discipleship is gotten from the word disciple. Since this is a bible study, it’s very important we understand the keywords used. As such there is no way we can talk about discipleship without understanding what a disciple is. The aim of this study is to help us understand the 7 steps we must take on our journey of discipleship. At the end of this study, readers should be able to understand the costs and the gains that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Now let’s see who a disciple is.
Who is a disciple?
The word disciple has its origin from Latin and it means to learn or to be a learner.
Google has the following definitions for us to consider.
- Student or follower of some doctrine or teacher.
- One who embraces and assist in spreading the teaching of another.
- *One who submits his or herself to the discipline and teaching of a leader or way.
A disciple is not just a follower. We can decide to follow someone without devoting our lives to that person. You can be a follower of Christ and not be a disciple of Him but you can’t be a disciple without following Christ.
Among the 3 definitions above, the last two are the ones i am keen on. I asterisked the last definition because the word ‘or’ oftentimes refers to choice. However being disciples of Christ requires us to submit to Jesus’ teaching and way. It’s very important that we understand this because there are many doctrines and teachings in the world that suggests that we can pick and chose between loving Jesus and His way.
Jesus said He is the way, the truth and life (John 14:6). The bible is the word of God which is Christ Himself (John 1:1). So the way is the word of God which is the bible. With that said, we can also define a disciple as;
One who submits his or herself to the discipline and teaching of Jesus Christ and the bible.
Goals of a true disciple
A true disciple doesn’t follow his or her master for no reason. There is a saying that if a purpose of a thing is not known, abuse becomes inevitable. So before we get into the journey of discipleship, it’s very important we understand our goals. As I really cannot speak for everyone, I have decided to share my personal goals with you.
- To live wholeheartedly for Christ.
- To make other disciples
- To receive my crown of glory
If you have never thought about your goals as a disciple, please take a minute to mediate and think about your goals. Write them down before moving on to the next paragraph. Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. We will continue when you are reading.
OK. Let’s move on.
I would like to believe that we now have an understanding of what a disciple is. Let’s consider the steps we must take in our journey of discipleship.
7 steps we must take in our journey of discipleship
Bible texts: Matthew 16:24-26; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 14:25-35
All the bible chapters above share the same story but in different ways. To understand a bible scripture well, I suggest you study everywhere that story appears in the bible in order for you to have a deeper understanding of it. This is very important when studying the gospels (which are the first four books of the New Testament). These four books share similar stories around Jesus’ birth, death and ministry. Despite the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it was written by humans. As humans we have different ways of sharing stories hence the slight variations in the four gospels of the bible. But one thing to note is that the core of the stories are the same and the bible is infallible. This is why it is believable and dependable.
Now let’s see the 7 steps.
When the police comes to arrest someone, it is expected that the person puts his/her hands up indicating a sign of surrender. Putting hands up also shows that the individual isn’t physically holding on to anything that will obstruct the arrest.
- To surrender is to give up into the power, control, or possession of something. To give up everything.
- To submit is to yield or give way to another. It means to voluntarily place oneself under the authority of another.
Even though the words surrender and submission are often used interchangeably, I see them as two different words. I see surrender as what we do when we give our lives to Christ. I will put those who have drastic salvation experiences under this category too.
Submission on the other hand is what we do when we are in Christ. It is us now voluntarily deciding to stay under Christ’s leadership.
In Matthew 16:24 (repeated in Mark 16:24), Jesus is seen telling the disciples of what they need to do before they can be His disciples. He emphasises the need for surrender and submission.
I love how Luke clarifies exactly what Matthew and Mark meant. Luke puts it this way. ‘So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.’ Luke 14:33. This includes our will and way. To be a true disciple, we must relinquish our power to control our lives and surrender to God.
I’m sure you have heard those who preach that coming to Christ will fix all your worries and life will become milk and honey for you. I’m sorry to burst that bubble. It is not true. This is why knowledge of this step is very important.
When we know that this walk will certainly cost us something dear to our flesh, then there is no unpleasant surprises. Will we abandon our faith after a little while because we did not count the cost of commitment to Christ? Evaluation brings awareness of what could potentially happen as a result of our new life. Knowing this helps us hold firmly to our faith in trying times. The cross isn’t fun to carry. It is heavy and requires a lot of endurance, patience and determination. We evaluate by studying the lives of those in the bible who devoted their lives to Christ; learning about the sacrifices they had to make. Once evaluation has been done, we can now take the next step.
As we commit, we will notice a shift in the way we live. This definitely causes an opposition in the realms of the spirit which leads to hate. Coming to Christ makes us become light and darkness doesn’t like light because it exposes it. So also the kingdom of darkness doesn’t like children of light. As a result, we are faced with trials, which in turn leads to;
In this bible text, Jesus Christ wasn’t saying the disciples should hate their family. This will contradict other bible verses where He is seen telling the disciples to love their enemies and do good to those who hate them. What Jesus is saying here is that the disciples should be willing not to place anyone above Him. The same applies to us today.
As disciples, we have not only been called out of darkness but we have been called into light. This implies that it’s either someone is in darkness or in the light. There is no in-between as some would assume. It’s either we are being controlled by God or the devil. As we commit, we may experience loss of social status or wealth, hatred, separation from family (especially in instances where our faith isn’t tolerated by family members.), we may have to give up our time, career, space and may even loss our lives for Christ’s sake. This requires;
Discipleship is a personal thing. Someone cannot be a disciple on your behalf. We all will have to carry our own crosses; endure the pain, rejection, mockery and trails that comes alongside it. It doesn’t just end here. All of the above will and should develop a desire in us to tell others about Jesus and that is where the next step comes in.
This includes living out lives that pleases God. The kind that attracts people to the kingdom of God. This also includes talking about Jesus Christ to others. We are now in a world where lifestyle evangelism is all what we hear because we are scared of getting into trouble or we are protecting our ego and we don’t want to be called bigotry. All through the bible, Jesus was not silent about speaking the word of God to others and sharing the love of Christ.
If a seasoning has no flavour, it has no value. If we as Christians make no effort to affect the world around us, we are of no value to God. If we are too much like the world, so much so that it becomes difficult to distinguish us from the world, we are worthless. We are not to blend with others. We are to positively impact others. A disciple does not deny his/her doctrine or alliance with his/her leader.
We are the light of the world. How are we hiding under a bushel today?
- By being quiet when we should speak up
- Going along with the crowd
- Denying the light
- Letting sin dim our light
- Not explaining our light to others
- Ignoring the needs of others
After all of the above steps have been done, we reap…..
Well if you are still reading, i saved the best for last. Here comes the best news of all. Discipleship isn’t all about doom. Nay! God is a God of justice. He has a reward for all of the pains we are/will endure. We aren’t serving Him for nothing. There is an eternal reward. This is what i want. I don’t just want to go to heaven only. I want to hear Him tell me well done. I want my crowns and my mansions. Yes! There are mansions in heaven for us. There is absolutely nothing to compare with the glory awaiting us. This is how Paul put it.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Are you one?
Heaven will be so worth it!