From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 23 – Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ – Some introductory points
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)
34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?Mark 8:34-37 (NASB)
Another neglected and unfashionable aspect of Christianity is the process of becoming a “disciple”. Much of modern Western evangelism, (i.e. telling people about the gospel), consists of little more than inviting you to “make a decision for Christ” and to “invite Jesus Christ into your heart”. These modern, man-made phrases are not found anywhere in the Bible. However, having done these things, many people are then immediately urged to regard themselves as Christians, and not to doubt that they are saved. But they may not be.
To make it even worse, very many such people are not told that they need to become disciples. They are led to believe that the job is finished at conversion. In fact, it has only just begun. Jesus is calling us to become not just converts, but disciples. And, He wants us to continue as disciples, growing and maturing and bearing fruit until the day we die.
A disciple is someone who follows in the footsteps of another person in order to become like them. Therefore a disciple of Jesus is someone who diligently follows Jesus Christ with a view to becoming like Him. In Old Testament Judaism, Rabbis would travel around Israel and young men would attach themselves to them by literally following them on foot. They would then learn from that Rabbi as he travelled the country teaching and preaching. They would also help the Rabbi and gain knowledge of the Scriptures. They would also learn how to teach and preach, plus many other practical skills, by following, watching and imitating.