What is a disciple? Dallas Willard provided one of the finest explanations I have ever seen: “A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do.” Argentinian pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz provided another great answer to “What is a disciple” when he said, “Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. It is getting to be what he is.” Both these definitions are good news! We can be trained in discipleship.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus should bring four transformations: we are born from above; we are transformed by grace, we acquire his character; and we imitate his works. And look at the results that follow when believers learn the biblical answer to “What is a disciple?” The gospel stories reveal a ragtag group of Jesus-followers beset with infighting and petty pride. These flawed, fighting men became the apostles who turned the world upside down! (“Apostle” usually refers to the original band who followed Jesus. “Disciple” can refer to anyone who embraces Jesus as the Master Teacher of Life.)
The first believers demonstrated they were up to the task—not because they had their act together, but because the life of Jesus had been planted in them as an imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:23). Many Christians today think that being a disciple is a special calling set aside for super-saints. They have been led to believe that there is a difference between being a Christian and being a disciple. But Acts 11:26 reveals that the first disciples were so Christlike that other people began to call them “Christians.”
The seed would grow within them in at least four ways. We can learn the answer to “What is a disciple?” by looking at the transformation of Jesus’ first followers.
What Is a Disciple? 4 Transformations That Show the Way
1. Transformed by New Birth
The first disciples found themselves transformed by their new birth. They really were a new creation. Heaven’s DNA altered their very being. Formerly timid, self-absorbed, working-class, they became men who threatened the Roman Empire, just as their Master had done. So many modern Christians are troubled by their past, troubled by their sin, and troubled by their future. They’ve experienced little or no change. But if the power of God can assure our eternal destiny, shouldn’t it be able to impact our thoughts and actions here and now? That was the record of the early church.
2. Transformed by Grace
Most Christians see grace as a repeatable, sin-cleansing bargain. They find themselves repeating the sin-forgiveness-sin cycle over and over because they’ve missed God’s transforming grace. God’s grace is practical empowerment for discipleship. Titus 2:11-12 tells us that grace not only saves, it also transforms us by teaching us a new way to live.
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Source: Church Leaders