Who is a Christian Disciple? What is Christian Discpleship?

In defining who a Christian disciple is, the popular online encyclopedia (Wikipedia) says it "...refers to a follower of Jesus." And I believe this to be true. This is all a christian disciple is, and should be.

The encyclopedia goes on to throw more light on the origin of the word, disciple: "The term disciple is derived from the New Testament Greek word "μαθητής" (mathetes), which means a pupil (of a teacher) or an apprentice (to a master craftsman), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning "a learner".
A disciple is different from an apostle, which instead means a "messenger, he that is sent". While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, in other words a student, an apostle is one sent to deliver those teachings or a message such as the Great Commission to others."

Christian Disciple: Who fits it? What is it?

The word "disciple" is found in great abundance in the New Testament Gospels and Acts. From the definitions above, it seems pretty obvious who a Christian disciple is and what Christian discipleship should be or mean.

Simply put, the Christian Disciple is the one who obediently follows the life and teachings of Christ, striving in every way to learn from, and imitate the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christian Discipleship is the process of attaining and perfecting the followership of Christ, the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life making the disciple become more and more Christlike.

In one word, a disciple is a believer.

Jesus Sits by the Seashore and Preaches
(credit: James Tissot - 1836–1902)
On our own, it is impossible to faithfully follow Christ, but God in His great Love and Wisdom, infills all His children on earth with the Holy Spirit for empowerment to live as the Lord Jesus Christ did. This requires that believers respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the revealed Will of God.

To compare one's life and living with God's revealed Will requires the daily study of God's Word — studying it, praying in it, praying over it and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in the way of Christ.

This is who a true disciple walking in true discipleship is.

Scriptural definitions

According to Scripture, a Christian disciple and discipleship involves personal growth characterized by the following:

1. Put Jesus first in all things (Mark 8:34-38). The disciple of Christ needs to be set apart from the world. Our focus should be on our Lord and pleasing Him in every area of our lives. We must put off self-centeredness and put on Christ-centeredness.

2. Follow Jesus' teachings (John 8:31-32). We must be obedient children and doers of the Word. Obedience is the supreme test of faith in God (1 Samuel 28:18), and Jesus is the perfect example of obedience as He lived a life on earth of complete obedience to the Father even to the point of death (Philippians 3:6-8).

3. Fruitfulness (John 15:5-8). Our job is not producing fruit. Our job is to abide in Christ, and if we do, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit, and this fruit is the result of our obedience. As we become more obedient to the Lord and learn to walk in His ways, our lives will change.
The biggest change will take place in our hearts, and the overflow of this will be new conduct (thoughts, words and actions) representative of that change. The change we seek is done from the inside out, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It isn’t something we can conjure up on our own.

4. Love for other disciples (John 13:34-35). We are told that love of other believers is the evidence of our being a member of God's family (1 John 3:10). Love is defined and elaborated on in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. These verses show us that love is not an emotion; it is action. We must be doing something and involved in the process.
Furthermore, we are told to think more highly of others than of ourselves and to look out for their interests (Philippians 2:3-4). The next verse in Philippians (verse 5) really sums up what we are to do when it comes to everything in life: "our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." What a perfect example He is to us for everything we are to do in our Christian walk.

5. Evangelism - Making disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to share our faith and tell non-believers about the wonderful changes Jesus Christ has made in our lives. No matter what our maturity level in the Christian life, we have something to offer.
Too often, we believe the lie from Satan that we don't really know enough or haven't been a Christian long enough to make a difference. Not true! Some of the most enthusiastic representatives of the Christian life are new believers who have just discovered the awesome love of God. They may not know a lot of Bible verses or the "accepted" way of saying things, but they have experienced the love of the living God, and that is exactly what we are to share.