“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Christian for five minutes or five years, you are not a true disciple of Jesus until you fully commit your life to him. You can’t keep one foot in this world while trying to walk with Jesus – that won’t work. It’s all or nothing.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
Discipleship should be the ultimate goal of every believer; however, there are many Christians who simply don’t know how to pursue this goal or have not yet found the spiritual strength to travel this road and separate themselves from this world. The good news is you don’t need to find the strength. The strength has been provided for you in the person of the Holy Spirit living inside of every believer. What’s needed is a commitment on your part – a dedication to living your life for Jesus rather than yourself.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
The path to discipleship is not a road you travel on your own. Along the way you will need to solicit advice, assistance, and spiritual direction from trusted mentors. Some of this help can be gathered from books and video presentations by qualified teachers. However, at some point, you will need to reach out to a more mature Christian believer who is willing to listen to the goals you have set for yourself and help guide you on your journey. If you are lucky enough to find more than one mentor, that will be a great blessing. Listening to different points of view will be an important way for you to weigh all the options and find the route that is specifically designed for your personal connection to God. In the end, every step of your journey needs to be your choice and not a direction from someone else. You need to listen to your teachers and mentors, then study the Word of God for clarity and finally pray for God to give you clear direction. How you take each step will be between you and God and no one else.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)
Below is a list of six disciplines that will establish clear parameters for pursuing your discipleship journey. I will only briefly outline each discipline in this post and over the next few days I will develop an individual post for each discipline. If you’ve been a Christian for many years, much of what is to follow will sound familiar and will likely be something you are already involved in to some degree. The path to discipleship will require you to focus more precisely on each discipline and to make each discipline a permanent part of your daily life living for Jesus.
If you are a new Christian, there is no reason why you can’t immediately start your journey toward discipleship. As you study each discipline in more detail in the posts to come, you will discover every single person will approach this journey in a different way. Every path to discipleship is narrowly focused on one person – no two paths are the same. The path to discipleship is not a destination – it is an ongoing journey that only ends when Jesus returns. Once you have placed yourself firmly on the road, you will have done all that is necessary to become a disciple of Christ.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline One is to know and understand who Jesus is, what He expects from you, and to develop your personal relationship with Him.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline Two is to know where the Bible comes from, whom it was written for, why we trust it, and to develop an ongoing study of the Bible with specific goals.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline Three is to develop a regular practice of prayer individually, one-on-one, and in groups.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline Four is to develop relationships with other believers, support other believers, seek support from other believers, and to develop strategies to do God’s work together with other believers.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline Five is to develop the ability to articulate why you are a Christian, why others should trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and to assist in sharing the gospel in some way. The ultimate goal is for you to personally participate in sharing the gospel and to contribute to an ongoing effort to share the gospel.
The goal of Discipleship Discipline Six is to develop your personal talents that can be used for ministry, to participate in ministry using your talents, and to develop new ways to minister to others using your talents.
There are many different ways to pursue each of these six disciplines. You can probably see that these disciplines often overlap. Prayer and Bible study can be done with a group of other believers, thereby involving three or four disciplines if you include some measure of worship in your meeting. This is the kind of total integration that will define your discipleship. In the end, you don’t want this to be a list of things you do – you want this to be who you are.
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6 (NIV)
You can start your journey on the path to discipleship right now by finding a quiet place to sit down with Jesus and pray. Acknowledge Him to be King of King, and Lord of Lords. Once again, admit to your sinful nature and ask to be forgiven. Thank Him for the gift of salvation. Thank Him for all the blessings in your life. Once again surrender your life to Him. Ask Him to fill your mind with His wisdom and fill your heart with His love. Tell Him you are ready to take up your cross and follow Him. Ask Him to guide you on your path to discipleship.
All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context. Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations. In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon. Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.