A disciple is someone in the process of learning the teachings of Jesus and following His example in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of others.
Let’s break that down:
- . . . in the process . . . Salvation is an instant and free gift of God, but discipleship is a process that requires time and effort.
- . . . teachings of Jesus . . . John tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. To understand God’s Word is to know Jesus, and to know Jesus is to know God’s Word.
- . . . following His example . . . Knowing the teachings of Jesus is not the same as living them. To be conformed to the image of Christ means that His Word is made flesh in us by the way we think, speak, act, and love. It isn’t enough to know; we must do.
- . . . in the power of the Holy Spirit . . . While spiritual maturity does require intentionality and effort on the part of the disciple, it is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is like the efforts of a teacher or a coach with his or her student or player. The Holy Spirit gifts, convicts, comforts, and teaches, but we must cooperate with the Spirit if we are to grow as disciples.
- . . . for the sake of others . . . Discipleship for the sole benefit of the disciple is nothing more than religious exercise. Disciples bring glory to God by being a loving witness of Jesus to the world.