There is a big difference between a Convert and a Disciple. The difference is like giving birth and raising your child. Believing in Jesus Christ will make you a convert, not necessarily a disciple.
The easy part is to get born-again; the hard part is living for Christ, once saved.
A disciple is a student who follows the example of his teacher. He learns discipline. Luke 6:40; Matthew 7:21
There is a three-fold mark on a disciple: – ‘Faithfulness, Fellowship, and Fruitfulness’
FAITHFULNESS: John 8:31 – A genuine disciple puts the Word of God first in his life. You need to survey the kind of magazines, books, Cds in your home. Do you find the Bible and other biblical books in a prominent place? What kind of television programs do you view? These can be check points to show your faithfulness.
FELLOWSHIP: John 13:35 [With Believers] – Who do you fellowship with? What kind of conversation do you have with them? Many Christians forget their own sins, but gossip about the sins of others. Do we do the same?
FRUITFULNESS: John 15:8, 16; Acts 1:8 – In the end, what matters is the fruit we bear for the Lord. Every Christian is called to be a disciple of Jesus, to learn from Him and live according to His example – imitate His teacher. Disciples follow their Master, converts may change their minds. The Goal of discipleship is to make disciples not converts and expand God’s Kingdom, the Body of Christ. Expansion speaks of growth.
There are also basic principles that need to be adhered to in order to be a disciple such as:
- Obedience to God’s Word
- Total commitment to Jesus the Master
- Fruit bearing relationship with Jesus
- Loving others unconditionally
- Fulfilling the Great Commission.
In every situation, a disciple asks the question– “What would Jesus do?”
You as a disciple should make a firm decision to do what Jesus would do. There are times when you need to submit important decisions to those in spiritual authority over you.
You must be a ‘Kingdom Seeker’ seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness Matthew 6:33.
God will keep His promises and provide for you.
As a disciple, you will experience God’s pruning, refining and purifying process. Love must rule your actions, words, and attitudes. Forgiveness, compassion, and concern must be part of your love walk. You need to resist every temptation to return to your old evil habits. It is only through mature discipleship and loving example that the disciple can convey the character of Jesus to the world. Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Matthew 12:29;
Cost And Benefit – Discipleship is important because it is God’s strategy to reach the world. Jesus trained twelve disciples for 3 ½ years of His public ministry. He commissioned all His followers to train disciples. Even a few disciples can achieve far more than a large number of converts. The end result should be spiritually mature Christians. Winning converts adds to the number of born again believers, while discipling multiplies born again ones. It is costly to be a disciple of Jesus. We need to deny ourselves, carry our own cross and follow Him. We need to give our whole lives and everything we have to God for Him to use, as He wants. God comes first in a disciple’s life.
A true disciple realizes and accepts the Lordship of Jesus in every area of his life. He lives and dies for the principles of God’s Kingdom Luke 14:27; 8:57-62; John 6:60-66; Mark 10:17-31; John 13:13. There is a cost and benefit in being a disciple. No pain, no gain!
We reap what we sow consistently following instructions of the teacher and doing regular spiritual exercises will bring significant spiritual growth. The disciple learns by doing what the Master orders. He should have utmost respect for Him and faithfully carry out all His instructions and orders without question.
The benefits of discipleship far surpass the cost of discipleship. During the period of discipleship, the disciples have unlimited opportunities to learn and grow in power, wisdom, and love of Jesus so that they are able to continue the works Jesus did. When Jesus called the first disciples to follow Him, everyone seized the opportunity and followed Him instantly.