Luke 9:18-27; 1 Timothy 4:6-10
In Christian understanding, discipleship is the process of making someone to become Christlike. In Ephesians 4:11-13 we read “It is he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be Evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. The purpose of Christian discipleship is to produce or to make men and women whose agenda in life is not only to reflect the image of God, but to always do, speak and think in such manner that God is known and glorified. A true disciple of Jesus Christ is not just involved in church work, but committed to take up his own cross and follow Christ to the end, (see Luke 9:23-27). But why is turning a follower into Christ’s disciple important? The word disciple occurs in the New Testament 269 times (some versions have 261), Christian only 3 times and believers 2 times. What this means is that the business of the church, the task of individual members is to make disciples. Jesus commissioned the apostles with these words, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. …” Mathew 28:19-20a.
According to J. Oswald Sanders, the word disciple means “a leaner”. In Scripture this refers to “a leaner” or pupil who accepts the teaching of Christ, not only in belief but also in lifestyle. It means learning with a determination to obey what is learned. It involves a deliberate choice, a definite denial, and devoted obedience. Of importance to note is the fact that not all followers are believers and not all believers are Disciples of Christ (see Luke 14:25-33).
In summary I would say, firstly, Christian discipleship is a process. It is a journey of faith in God, and the willingness to learn from him with a resolve to be like him. This process sometimes have obstacles, rejection, pain, insults, suffering of many kind, but the disciple of Christ will always focus on his master and hold on to his promise of deliverance. There is no instant discipleship (see John 6:66). Jesus did not promise his disciples life without challenges, he however promised to be with them to the end (see Mathew 28:20). Secondly, a true disciple of Christ accepts the word of God and commits to share the same with others.
The good news of God’s salvation is not to be kept to self (see Acts 1:8). Finally, in discipleship, we seek to grow in Christ, by the help of the Holy Spirit who resides in us, to help us overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more like Christ. To win souls for Christ, to train them in the ways of God and to send them out into the field to win more souls is a classic definition of Christian Discipleship.