Christianity 201

May 2, 2011

Defining Discipleship

  • Bonhoeffer excludes the idea that knowing about Christ, having an idea or even a well developed systematic theology about Christ and even a general idea about Grace and Forgiveness equals true Discipleship.  Instead, for him Discipleship is where one is ready to follow Christ; no matter what. . .Discipleship is where one will count the cost to live as he calls them to live and in the process of living a new creation is born.       ~Discipleship 59-62  
    Craig Benno  
  • There are many definitions of discipleship, but here’s a simple one I work from: discipleship is learning to trust and follow Jesus.
    Rick Dugan
  • I do think that the potential “disconnect” for lots of Christians arise when we we talk about “following” Jesus and “having a relationship” with Him. Both of those are huge, right, biblical, amazing expressions . . . but it sometimes gets fuzzy when in the Gospels “following” Jesus looked like physically hanging around Him (which we can’t do in the same way) and “having a relationship with Him” looked like, well, like any other relationship people had with someone (which we don’t have in an indentical way)  ~Anonymous comment left at J. T. Hutts
      • Discipleship is not a destination; it’s a journey.
      • Discipleship is not a program; it’s a process.
      • Discipleship is not mechanical; it’s relational.
      • Discipleship is not accidental; it’s intentional.
      • Discipleship is not an option; it’s a mandate.
      • Discipleship does not come easy; it requires discipline.
      • Discipleship does not start with a conversion; it starts with a conversation.

    Bobby Hawk

  • I came across a writing by Dietrich Bonhoeffer this morning that read like this:

    Discipleship means adherence to Christ.

    I know the definition of adherence but I wanted to look it up to be precise. defines adherence in one of the possibilities as “attachment.”  When I think about discipleship, this is the picture I get.  I want to be attached at the hip to Christ.  But adherence to Christ never stops.  I don’t unattach myself from him at the end of the day, week or worship service.  True discipleship happens when we abide in Christ.  When we remain in Christ.  Check out John 15:4,

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

    When a branch becomes disconnected from the plant it shrivels up and dies.  It has no life line, no connection to the life source.  Christ is our life source, our growth vehicle.  If we do not constantly stay connected to Him, we will die.  It may be slow and even at times we may not recognize it is happening, but it is.  Unconnected lives die.  They die emotionally, spiritually, and physicially.

    The key to discipleship: remain attached to Christ.  Adherence + Abiding= discipleship

    Jason Gordon


  1. Today’s post was a cut-and-paste post from the WordPress archives. However, you can never go wrong when you’re doing key word searches if the key word is a good one. Each search yields new truths.

    Two of my favorites — which you WILL see repeated here — are “discipleship” and “holiness.”

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 2, 2011 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  2. While all those definitions of discipleship have truth, I prefer the all-encompassing one which Jesus Himself gave. Jesus said that if any would be His disciple, he MUST take up his cross and follow Him.

    Now, at the time Jesus spoke those words, and in the minds of the people who heard, there could be only ONE definition to taking up a cross. Death! Anyone who took up his cross was on the way to execution, as good as already dead, with NO possible escape.

    With that in mind, can discipleship be anything less than death to self?

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — May 3, 2011 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  3. I appreciate your post and the comments. What about the following:

    (Mat. 28:28-30) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    The following are the “all that I have commanded you” what I would call the terms of discipleship or the commands of Jesus to anyone desiring to follow Him:

    1- Loving Jesus more than self or others. Mat. 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
    Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

    2- Denial of self. Mat. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

    3-Taking up your cross. Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

    Luke 9:23-26 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son
    of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

    4-Love for all who belong to Christ. John 12:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    5-Abiding in His Word. John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”

    6-Forsaking all to follow Him. Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

    The gospel we are called to walk worthy of and contend for, once delivered to faithful men, is lived out in taking up our cross and denying ourselves. The invitation is to come and die. Everything else is better understood in this light. Romans, the Gospel of God, is more easily understood as we obediently bear our cross. Paul asks in chapter 6:2-11, (NKJV) “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Death is understood from our experience of taking up our cross. If the Christian experience/life starts with blood washing away our sin and placing us in right standing before God, then the cross is for our deliverance from sin. 1 Cor. 1: 17-18, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

    Many Christians struggle with sin, sinning and asking forgiveness, over and over never really overcoming the practice of sin. Yes, I realize we still sin and need to ask for forgiveness, but the cross delivers us from its bondage and we are set free from its slavery through death. Paul’s letter to the Galatians chpt.2:20 now becomes the cry of my heart, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” And Gal. 6:14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

    Finally in regards to discipleship, I reference 1John 2:3-6, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

    In Christ,

    Comment by shama2 — June 4, 2011 @ 8:17 am | Reply

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