There is often a gap between our understanding of a New Testament disciple and what we experience in our churches. In the NT, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their knowledge of God.
A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4. Then, empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple boldly declares the word of God and more and more people become followers of Jesus. However, it is interesting that Paul never uses the word “disciple” when writing about the brethren. Instead, he refers to the people following God as saints or children and use metaphors of athletes, soldiers, and farmers. Nevertheless, the idea of a “disciple” is embedded throughout Paul’s writing and through our study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see eleven characteristics common to all the saints:
First, they surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
Second, they declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
Third, they are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
Fourth, they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
Fifth, they are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
Sixth, they are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives (Eph 5:22-6:4).
Seventh, they pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
Eighth, they are respectful of people and culture when they do evangelism (Acts 19:7, 37).
Ninth, they learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who are able to teach (1 Tim 4:7).
Tenth, they are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
Eleventh, they are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
As a pastor, elder, and leader in your church, what you input into your congregation is what you will see as an output. If building disciples, you’ll see disciple makers. If building programs, you’ll see volunteers. Disciple makers multiply; volunteers stay busy.
Learn more on our episode 7 podcast as well as from our free resources.