A disciple is a person who becomes a fully functioning follower of Christ. For you to be a disciple means that you will follow Jesus by growing in Him, understanding your gifts and ministry, and functioning in that capacity in a local church. Being a disciple is more than being a believer. It starts with believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it continues by following Christ’s commands in every area of your life. You are embarking on a new way of living. This is a walk of faith that will last the rest of your life. Your life is now hidden in Christ. As Paul wrote, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).
The key words are, “the life I live in the body.” Being a disciple is walking out the will of God in your body. Read the following passage very carefully. This is what Jesus said about being a disciple of His.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters– yes, even his own life– he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”
What Does It Take To Be A Disciple?
1. Jesus must be first in your life. Jesus knew that for the Jews to accept Him they would have to count the cost. It could even include being put out of their own families and being disinherited. That is why He said that even family members cannot come between you and your obedience to follow Christ. Jesus does not mean that we are to maliciously hate our family; He is simply calling us to make Him the number one priority in order to be a disciple. That goes for your own life as well. Your own desires must be submitted to God.
2. You must take up your cross. To take up your cross is to deny yourself. This is part of being a disciple. One day Jesus began to tell His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and be killed and be raised from the dead on the third day. Peter did not like what he heard and took Jesus aside and rebuked Him and said that would never happen. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
The things of men come from the “world,” which comes from Satan. Jesus spoke opposing and denouncing Peter’s thoughts and words. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
To deny yourself does not mean to punish or inflict pain, but it means to submit your will and thoughts to God’s way of thinking as if your self does not exist. When Jesus was arrested and Peter was in the crowd, a girl began to say that Peter was with Jesus. Peter’s response was that he did not know Him. “To deny self is to say, ‘I don’t know that person.’”
Denying yourself may involve denying things, but this is not what Jesus is getting at. Neither does it mean denying your self-worth or your feelings. To deny yourself means to deny your self-lordship. It is saying – ‘I do not know “Lord Me” – I do not bow down to him or her anymore.’”
3. You must count the cost. Being a disciple is a serious and committed aspect of the life of a Christian. Many believers fail to move on to being a disciple because they are not willing to submit to the disciplines of following Christ. They enjoy the grace of Christ for redemption, but they are hesitant to get too serious. They may be afraid of becoming fanatical or something similar, but most often their resistance is due to strongholds from their past life where deep hurts and wounds have left them fearful of commitment. They want to hold onto the “world” rather than become a sold-out Christian.
Jesus said you must count the cost before you start the journey. That is why you have been asked to participate in a cell group and be accountable with your life. Have you counted your cost? Each person has a unique cost, but be assured, everyone has a cost. Pause now and pray. Let God know that you are going to take the necessary steps. Ask Him for strength to take the next steps.
4. You must give up everything. Did Jesus really say that? He not only said that, but he declares an interesting paradox. He said that if you try to save or keep your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for His sake you will find it.
When you give up everything, you are turning your life, thoughts, money, job, friends, relationships, talents, parts of your body, your family, and your future over to God. Some people want to hold on to certain parts of their life. They are not willing to take the risk to see if Jesus is real. Their reluctance keeps them from becoming disciples. Before long they have become snared with the cares of life. While they started out excited about Jesus, they soon became sidetracked. Being a disciple will teach you how to overcome three areas in your life, (1) the world, (2) the devil, and (3) sin.
About the Author:
Glenn Shaffer is the author of Apostolic Government in the 21st Century, Christianity 101 and Discipleship 201. He has a Masters of Ministry degree in leadership studies from Southwestern Christian University and is working toward a Doctorate in Ministry at ORU in Tulsa.
Glenn and his wife, Ami have been married for 40 years with two sons, Matt and Daniel. Together, they co-see the elder pastoral care of Destiny Life Church, one church in two locations (Owasso and Claremore, Oklahoma) where they have been serving for almost 4 decades. It is a non-denominational church, based on a New Testament Apostolic form of church government. Together, they also serve as the directors of ATI- Apostolic Teams International, an emerging network of churches and ministers.