What makes a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ?  Am I a true disciple of Jesus Christ?  Am I raising disciples of Jesus in my home or am I raising church-goers (who may or may not continue to attend after they leave our homes)?

As most know, the term disciple literally means “learner” or “follower.”  That definition suggests that one can be a disciple of anyone he follows.  However, in ancient Greece, a disciple was considered an apprentice.  That is one training under a teacher of some sort. Therefore, a Christian is not just a mere follower; he is training under the instruction and example of the Messiah.  As a matter of fact, there was a popular Jewish saying years ago that may even be used in some circles today: “May you be covered in His dust.”  As we raise our families in this world, it is imperative that we help them walk, think, behave, and talk like the one who lived and died for us.

If we are called to be disciples of Christ (Mark 1:17) and if we are called to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19), then we need to go to the Word to find out what a disciple looks like.  Jesus makes it clear what true discipleship is in the Gospels.

Let’s ask ourselves four questions:

Number One: Do I abide in the Word?

Jesus says in John 8:31, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”  Just going to worship on Sundays does not make you a disciple of Christ any more than being in a garage can make you a car.  We must abide or live in God’s word.  The Scriptures must be a part of our daily schedule.  No one can walk daily with God without living in the Word.  When we hear the Word of God preached or taught in Bible class, we should have the attitude that the Bereans had in Acts 17:11, which reads, “These (the Bereans) were nobler than those in Thessalonica in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily whether these things were so.”   In other words, instead of just taking the preacher’s word for it (which so many do today), they studied it for themselves – daily!  A true disciple is going to be a dedicated Bible student!

Furthermore, a true disciple is going to study and obey what he has studied (James 1:22).  Abiding in God’s word is obeying God’s word….all of it.  Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).  A true disciple is a person who lives in the Book and obeys that Book. Do my children see me living in Word?

Number Two: Do I love the body of Christ?

Listen to Jesus’ words in John 13:35,

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Love for the body of Christ is discipleship! How easy it is to spot a person who is trying to follow Jesus, but it’s the person who is pouring out acts of loving kindness in the church of God.  I knew an elder and his wife that, no matter where they went, they spoke highly of the church of Jesus.  They would brag on the ministers, they would brag on the members, they would brag about the great things happening.  Discouraging words were never mentioned when they spoke about the body of Christ.  Brethren, that’s love for the body!

Disciples are defined by their love for one another. John, the disciple of love, wrote,

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” …1 John 3:11-18

By the way, it’s hard to love the body of Christ if one is not fellowshipping the body and working in the body.  A true disciple is a person with a genuine love for the family of God and teaches others to do the same.  Your children will likely not want to be part of the church later in life if you are bashing the members or the preacher at lunch on Sunday. Do my children hear me speak often of the love I have for the body?

Number Three: Do I bear good fruit?

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.” (John 15:8).

Can people see the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control overflowing from my life that Paul lists as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22?  In other words, what kind of results am I producing with my influence and attitude?  We understand that the way to recognize a tree is by its fruit.  Someone once said, “He that plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.”

Colossians 1:6 says, (the gospel) which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;  10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Bearing fruit also means taking every opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ whenever possible.  Are we praying for the Lord to send some searching nonbelievers across our path this week?  Do people around us hear us talking about Jesus, our Savior, who understands and cares for us, who helps us when we are in need and saves us from our sins?  A true disciple is one who bears the fruit of the Spirit, reaches out to the lost, and teaches others to do the same.  Do my children see me bearing this fruit of righteousness?

Number Four: Have I surrendered everything?

Pay close attention to Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke.

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).

Mark Batterson, in his book All In, tells the account of what happened about a century ago….

“a band of brave souls became known as One Way missionaries. They purchased single tickets to the mission field without the return half. And instead of suitcases, they packed their earthly belongings into coffins. As they sailed out of port, they waved goodbye to everyone they loved, everything they knew. They knew they’d never return home.  A. W. Milne was one of those missionaries. He set sail for the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, knowing full well that the headhunters who lived there had murdered every missionary before him. A. W. did not fear for his life because he had already died for himself. His coffin was packed. For 35 years, he lived among the tribe and loved them. When he died, tribe members buried him in the middle of their village and inscribed this epitaph on his tombstone: ‘When he came there was no light. When he left, there was no darkness.’”

Our spouses and children need to witness me being all in with Jesus like those missionaries.  The old song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus…no turning back, I’ll follow Him.”  We sing it on Sunday, but do we show them on Monday?  Our faith in God, through Jesus, outweighs all other things in life. Our wealth, our friends, our careers, our children. These are all secondary compared to our devotion to our Creator.

Discipleship is costly.  Discipleship is hard.  But when our children see that we genuinely follow the Savior, they will want to follow, too.

Steve Minor
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Steve was born in Hollis, OK.  Steve graduated from Oklahoma Christian with a degree in Youth Ministry in 1998.  OC is where Steve met the love of his life, Stephani Jimenez, and married in 1996.  The Lord gave them three amazing children: Micah (husband, Joel Turner), Mason, and Makenna.

Steve & Stephani have worked for congregations in Texas and Oklahoma.  Steve is the founder and director of Legacy Family Camp each October to equip and strengthen families and the MIGHTY Men’s Mentoring Conference each January to train and strengthen men to be leaders.

Steve is the preaching minister for the Wylie Church of Christ in Wylie, Texas.