Are You a Disciple of Christ? Here’s How to Know

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? How can you be sure? Here’s how you can know you are truly Jesus’ disciple?

What is a Disciple?

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? How can you be sure? Here’s how you can know you are truly Jesus’ disciple? A disciple is someone called to live “in” Christ, equipped to live “like” Christ, and sent to live “for” Christ and called to “share” Christ. “Calling” includes salvation and abiding in Christ (John 8:31–32, 15:1-11). “Equipping” includes the spiritual formation and growth that God commands each one of us (2 Timothy 3:16–17). “Sending” includes making new disciples and discipling them (Matt 28:18), and doing good works that God has set out before us in this life (Eph 2:10). Disciples must be bearing Spirit-powered fruit (John 15:8; Gal 5:22-23) while loving others as Jesus loved the disciples and loved us (John 13:34-35). And remember, God had to make the first move (1 John 4:10), so we must do the same.  Tragically, less than 1% of Christ followers will share the gospel with a stranger in their entire lifetime!

Used by God

Clearly, Jesus gave His disciples and He gives all disciples the imperative command known as the Great Commission. We are all commanded to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), while not forgetting to go next door. That’s our own part of “the world.” We may not be able to go overseas on a mission trip, but we can be on mission where we live and still be used by God to make disciples. We are to bloom where God plants us, but we know that God alone saves and without Him and without the Word of God, no one can be saved. Even so, God is pleased to use us as His means to His ends; to make disciples, saving souls in the process, so they in turn can make other disciples. It’s an ever-expanding circle like ripples in a pond. Jesus is the Head of the Church and He alone can draw men to Himself, but He can use us at part of His process. God alone saves whom He chooses (John 6:37-39, 44; Eph 1:1-5), but as disciples of Jesus, we are His hands, feet, ears, eyes and voice. That means we must resign as chairman of our own board and put God first. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “If any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33), meaning we must love God even more than our own family, work, sports, and even ourselves. Just as we read of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son Isaac, we must be willing to renounce anything that comes between us and God.

A Disciplined Student

If you are a disciple of Jesus, then you will be a student of the Bible. The word disciple means to be “a pupil, student,” or “follower” of Jesus Christ. The root word for disciple is discere, which means “to learn” and where we get our word “discern” from. This means we strive to grasp the knowledge of Jesus Christ and then analyze His teachings thoroughly so as to take hold of it. A true disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who obeys His teachings (Matt 28:18-20), and has as their main goal being, that “when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). That’s the goal; to become more and more like Jesus until when people see us, they see Jesus too! The word discipline is also derived from the word discipline and it’s easy to see why. It takes discipline to study, abide in (John 15:7), and obey the Word of God. We are basically a disciplined student of Jesus; disciplined or corrected by the Word.

Fruits and Roots

Jesus told His disciples to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15), but how will you recognize the false ones from true pastors and teachers of God’s Word? Jesus said that “you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt 7:20). Even in nature, Jesus pointed out an analogy where He says, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles” (Matt 7:16)? The fruit reveals the root; whether abiding in the Vine (John 15:1-5) or abiding in the world which ends in death. The fruit may appear real, but only later is it discovered to be wax fruit (Matt 7:21-23). Every disciple of Jesus Christ will bear fruit…even if it’s a little shriveled up raison. All believers who abide in Christ will produce fruit, but without Him, it’s not possible (John 15:5) to bear anything but carnal or fleshly fruit.

Broken Heart for the Lost

I believe our hearts should be broken over the things that break God’s heart, and one thing for sure is God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezk 18:23, 33:11), nor is it His desire than any perish apart from Christ (2 Pet 3:9). I remember reading where Jesus wept over the lost sheep of Israel. They were lost sheep without the Good Shepherd. Doesn’t your heart ache for those you know who are presently separated from God and have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36b)? I remember reading where Jesus “drew near and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:41). Why? It was because they all lost like sheep and blind to the truth and missing out on eternal life (Luke 19:42). Jesus knew the terrible fate that awaited the unsaved Jews (Luke 19:43) and He wept because of that. Do we weep over the lost who are destined for hell? True disciples of Jesus are like their teacher; they too desire that all be saved.

Counting the Cost

“Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24), and what was it that followed Jesus? It was severe persecution; unlike anything we’ll ever face. Jesus was clear that those who are like Christ will suffer persecution like Christ, again proving the point that “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Jesus’ statement that “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27) seems hard for me.  What is that cross?  It is living like Jesus, sharing the gospel, and suffering persecution because of it.  That’s what the cross represents; Jesus and our suffering for His name’s sake.  It sounds impossible to me to denounce everything for Him and share the gospel like Him and suffer persecution like Him (not to the same extent of course), so I’m going to need some help. Thankfully, that help is promised (John 15:5; Phil 4:13).


Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a disciple of Jesus if ever there was one. He said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Discipleship is never done alone or as a solitary Christian living apart from the church, the Body of Christ. There are over 100 “one another’s” in the New Testament, 48 of which are imperative commands. This shows we need one another, so discipleship cannot happen in a vacuum or by living the Christian life alone. It’s not possible to love one another when you’re by yourself and outside of the Body of Christ, so discipleship is impossible if we forsake the assembling of ourselves from church (Heb 10:24-35). A true disciple will be discipling others, attempting to make disciples, while being discipled by others and by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. That’s how you’ll know you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Here is some related reading for you: What is Discipleship? Should Every Christian Disciple Others?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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