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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  10  No. 12 December 2008  Page 12                    powered by FreeFind

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Who Is a Disciple?

By Adam Blaney

Adam Blaney

The term “disciple” is thrown around quite often in the world today, especially in religious circles. We find many programs and groups denoted “Discipleship Ministries.” We are familiar with a particular denomination which calls itself “Disciples of Christ.” Alexander Campbell, near the beginning of his movement to restore New Testament Christianity, resolved with his group to call themselves simply, “Disciples.” If asked, most of us would express some desire to be a disciple of Christ. However, we need to ask the question, “What is a disciple?” Or, more personally, “Who is a disciple?”

A disciple is, by definition: A Learner – One of the primary definitions of disciple is to be one who is devoted to learning. One who has his mind shut to learning how he or she may improve his or her life cannot be a disciple of Christ. Jesus, in speaking to the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles, told them that the key to knowing God’s will was dependant upon having a desire to know it (cf. John 7:17). If we will be disciples, we must open our eyes to our shortcomings, and open our hearts to learn how to correct them. A Follower – To be a disciple, is to be “a follower; and adherent to the doctrines of another.” To be a disciple, in the fullest sense of the word, is to be a follower. Notice that it isn’t a partial or part-time follower, but an adherent! To be an adherent is to be one who clings to the idea, and allows that adherence to be influential in his life. Jesus spoke many times of the importance of following. Among those statements, He often included the fact that following sometimes requires sacrifice—homes, family members, worldly goods, etc. If there are people or things that keep our attention over and above our following Jesus, then we aren’t following the way we should. If we aren’t being a follower, then we ought to ask, “Am I a disciple?”

Similar to the first two, Jesus’ definition of a disciple is one who “observe[s] all things that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20). To be a disciple is to be obedient. Again, it isn’t partial obedience, but rather a person who is obedient to all things that He commanded. Of course, if we are to be obedient to all things that He commanded, it fits that we ought to be striving to know what things He commanded. This inherently demands our effort and energy to be learning and knowing the only source we have for these commandments—the Bible. There can be no faith without the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and one cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). We might then ask, “Can one be a disciple and really please God if he or she knows not the Word of God?”

Are you a disciple? It is a simple question that demands that we look at our lives, our thoughts, our motives and our actions, to see whether we fit the description. Why not examine yourself today (2 Corinthians 13:5)? 

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