Marks of a Disciple

Pastor C.A. Cranfill   -  

A disciple is someone who is continually learning to be changed by Jesus, be with Jesus, and be on mission alongside Jesus.

First, a disciple is continually learning to be changed by Jesus…

  1. Transformed Heart – A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. Therefore, to be a disciple a person must first believe in Christ. How can you follow someone that you don’t believe in? However, belief alone is not enough. We must surrender to His Lordship. To follow someone means that they are leading the way. Romans 10:9-10 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” So, the first mark of a disciple is that they are someone that has experienced the saving work of Christ.
  2. Renewed Mind – Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The third chapter of James makes a distinction between the wisdom from above and the wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. A disciple of Christ is someone that has received and continues to receive the wisdom from above.
  3. New Affections – Psalm 37:4 writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We might read this as though it says, “Enjoy God and He will give you a Bentley.” But that is not what the Psalmist is saying. He is saying that if God becomes our delight (our affection) then that will expel our old and materialistic desires and give us new desires. Desires that have their fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
  4. Changed Will – A disciple is continually learning to be changed by Christ. This means that the will of the disciple is surrendered to the One doing the changing. Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane demonstrates this submitted will in beautiful fashion, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
  5. Altered Relationships – A disciple will continually grow in their walk with Christ and become more like Him. Therefore, a disciple will not be able to treat others the way that the world does. A disciple will begin to treat one another with love, humility, patience, forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, etc.

A Disciple is continually learning to be with Jesus…

  1. In Prayer – A disciple knows that to be with Jesus means that prayer is non-negotiable. To be in relationship with Christ, we must be in prayer continually. Paul challenges the church at Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing.”
  2. In Scripture – If the Bible is the infallible Word of God and the only absolutely authentic revelation of God’s will for mankind, how could a disciple of Christ neglect it? In Amos 3:3 we learn that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. Therefore, we must find ourselves in agreement with Christ in order to walk with Him. How do we know if we are in agreement? Through the Word of God.
  3. In Worship – Colossians 3:16-17 is a beautiful text on worship, it says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” True worship is not possible without Jesus because Jesus is the One we worship and the channel through which we are able to worship.
  4. In Private – Jesus challenges us in Matthew 6 that “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” A few verses later He repeats the challenge in a different context, “when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Clearly we should not allow our relationship with Christ to be limited to the public arena.
  5. In Public – While our relationship with Christ should not be limited to the public arena, it should not be hidden from the public either. Christ challenges us in Luke 9 with this sobering warning, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

A disciple is continually learning to be on mission alongside Jesus…

  1. In Seeking – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Christ’s mission was to seek out the lost and save them. To reconcile them back to God. It is our portion to engage in this work of seeking out those without Christ.
  2. In Praying – “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) We should not only be praying for those that are lost but we should continually be praying for God to raise up others to engage in the mission as well.
  3. In Proclaiming – “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) The Gospel cannot be preached without words. So we must proclaim the work of God to those that are without knowledge of Him.
  4. In Showing – After an amazing description of the Gospel, Paul reminds Titus to “insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” He says that Titus should insist on the good works mentioned earlier in the chapter and that the Gospel is the motivation for it. By these good works all people would profit. Other passages such as Philippians 2:14-15 and 1 Peter 2:12 show that our works shine as a light in the darkness and work to convert the gentiles and evildoers.
  5. In Equipping – Ephesians 4:11-16 lays out an incredible structure of the five-fold ministry. Its purpose? To equip the saints for the work of ministry. To be a disciple means that we are continually equipping others and being equipped ourselves.
  6. In Giving – A disciple of Christ knows that he/she is only a steward of that which ultimately belongs to God. Therefore, they are willing to give sacrificially and faithfully. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)