"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age".
This statement was made by Jesus to his apostles shortly before he ascended to Heaven. This is what is commonly called the great commission. If you will notice the emphasis here is on making disciples, not just making converts. It says go and make disciples, not go make converts, now don’t get me wrong, first you must be saved to be a disciple, but just because you are a believer doesn’t automatically make you a disciple.
In Matthew 10:24-25 Jesus described what a disciple should look like.
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.”
The word disciple literally means a learner or student. Vine’s dictionary of new testament words describes it as "one who follows anothers teachings". The word disciple implies discipline. Not only is a disciple one who is a learner or student, but one who follows or adheres to someone’s teachings. That is why in the early church the disciples were called Christians or more literally imitators of Christ. To be a disciple is then to strive to be like Christ. In Romans 8:29 Paul said Gods goal for redeeming or saving mankind was that they were to be conformed into the image of his son. When we today look at the early Christians, we might consider them radicals with a radical form of Christianity, but from their view point theirs was normal Christianity and what we have is a watered down form of Christianity. Now I ask you, are you striving to be a learner or student of Christ. Are you trying to be like Him; if not, are you truly a disciple of Christ?
How can we expect to fulfill the "great commission" if we don’t have a clear understanding of what a disciple is? According to Gods word, the Bible, disciples will have certain characteristics. .
John 8:31 says: 31Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
A disciple of Christ is one who abides in Jesus’ words. According to strong’s dictionary of hebrew and greek the word used here for “abide”, means “to stay” and could also be translated - continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, or tarry. It speaks of someone who not only studies the Bible, but also applies or lives by it.
And in John 13:34-35 It says A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A disciple is one who loves others, first of all with the type of love Jesus showed us. "As I have loved you" And secondly with a love that is visible. "By this all will know"
Now we must realize, a disciple is one who wants to become like his teacher. Was Jesus willing to sacrifice time and effort for his fellow believers? Yes, and so should we if we are disciples. We should make every effort to get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ, and encourage and build them up as often as we can. Does this sound like you so far?