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Christian Discipleship: An Inside Look at Biblical Discipleship Characteristics

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Discipleship is a knowledge transformation occurring after converting to Christianity. Discipleship characteristics include Godly fellowship and correctly studying scripture. The main difference is sanctification occurs through the Holy Spirit while discipleship takes place through the assistance of another person. A person can have several people working to disciple them across the span of their lifetime in different areas of their life. For some, they might have someone discipling them on a financial area while they also have another person discipling them in gaining triumph over a habitual sin. Whatever the case, discipleship is a topic rooted deep in Jesus' teachings. In this post we'll examine what discipleship is and why Jesus mentioned it. We'll use text from both Matthew 8:18-22 and Matthew 10:24-39

Devotional on Discipleship: Matthew 8:18-22

"Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus *said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' And another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus *said to him, 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"

Biblical Discipleship Characteristics

Biblical discipleship is seen through true conversion. This passage highlights three different types of disciples: the rash disciple (verses 19-20), the procrastinating disciple (verses 22-22) and the wavering disciple (elaborated on in Luke’s Gospel account in Luke 9:61-62).

The rash disciple is titled disciple as more of a loose follower, more of one who claims to be a disciple but without firm conviction. His fellowship is more of one on impulse, having heard the teaching of God and had been charmed for a season and eventually would fall away. When we come to Christ, we are recognizing our own unworthiness and our depravity and a need for spiritual redemption. We repent to gain Jesus and nothing else (seen in verse 21).

The procrastinating disciple was called to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:60) but did not voluntarily go where Jesus was calling him to go. He was willing, but his priority in the moment was tied to a lesser important thing according to God. In order to adequately follow Jesus, we have to lay aside our pride and ambitions in repentance. This is needed for initial justification (through repentance) and throughout sanctification (growing in Christlikeness).

The wavering disciple is further mentioned in Luke 9:61-62. Luke contrasts the first disciple with the last disciple in having their priorities on earthly things instead of the kingdom of heaven.

The title given to this person of a scribe describes that he had a studious knowledge of Christ and either did not have a true genuine conversion or was too engrossed with earthly matters to further his growth (seen in verses 21-22).

Discipleship Characteristics Continued: Matthew 10:24-39

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he may become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they insult the members of his household!

“So do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are two sparrows not sold for an assertion? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.

“Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before people, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.

“The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it" (Matthew 10:24-39, NASB).

The Cost of Discipleship and What the Disciples of Jesus Looked Forward To

Christ’s main point in this passage is true discipleship and what the face of it looks like and what its intent is. He also pinpoints that those who do not hold God above all else (even family) are not worthy to be called His disciples. God must be the first-love and out of this will be right priorities in every day life and relations.

Beelzebub is the Greek form of "Beelzebul.” This is the name of a demon that was worshiped by Ekron (mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2). Christ explains that all idolatry was to be regarded as devil worship (Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalm 106:37, 1 Corinthians 10:20). Christ was charged several times by the Pharisees for being in league with this demon, which would also charge him for being in league with Satan, the prince of all demonic forces.

Christ reminds His disciples that men can only kill the body. They have no control over the soul and cannot send it to heaven or hell. He is reminding them that God has more power and He is to be feared above men. This is also meant to equip them with courage at their undertaking. God will hold accountable those who persecute His sheep at His designated timing since they are of more value than sparrows.

What is done in secret will eventually be made public. Christ and His nature expose sin. He sees everything (every act, every thought, every deed) and searches the heart and mind of every human. Nothing escapes His notice.

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  • The Price of Freedom

  • Knowing Freedom

  • The Fight to Preserve Freedom

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