Jesus Tells Us How to Know if We Are Truly His Disciple

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Jesus tells us the way to know for sure if we are His disciples or whether we are not.

A True Disciple

Jesus tells us the way to know for sure if we are His disciples or whether we are not. By the way, being a disciple does not mean we are a spiritual person or religious. God doesn’t want any more religious people (remember the Pharisees?). He wants disciples after His own heart with the express purpose of being more like Christ, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). If people or possessions are more important than Jesus, then we are not truly a disciple of His.

What is a Disciple?

What exactly is a disciple? It comes from the Old English discipul (fem. discipula) which comes from the Latin discipulus, meaning, “pupil, student, follower,” and said to be from discere “to learn” from which we get the word “discern” and that comes from the root word, dek which means “to take, accept” (hint: Matt 28:18-20).

Like Teacher, Like Student

You’ve heard the saying, “Like father, like son,” and that’s not far from what Jesus said in Luke 6:40, saying that “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” What is a disciple? A disciple is someone called to live “in” Christ, equipped to live “like” Christ, and sent to witness “for” Christ. “Calling” includes salvation and abiding in Christ (John 8:31–32). “Equipping” includes spiritual formation and growth (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

A Follower of Jesus

“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). We know where Jesus went (Calvary) so in this context, the cross represented persecution. He chose suffering and shame for the glory of God in order to save us. We too will be persecuted, but not to that extent of course. Jesus reminds us that “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Jesus submitted to the Father, we must submit to the Son. Jesus suffered severe persecution, and those who are like Christ will suffer persecution because they live like Christ (that is, if they do).

No Easy Believism

Taking up your cross daily

The gospel is free for us, but it comes at a tremendous cost to God (John 3:16). But once we’ve trusted in Christ, we must realize it will cost us too! Jesus said, “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).  That doesn’t sound easy to me, but if your own family keeps you from serving and worshiping God, then you love them more than God, for “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Difficult and Narrow

Every Christian should know that it is a very narrow path to eternal life, and it will be difficult alone the way. That’s why few will find it (Matt 7:13-14), and why only 1 in 4 seeds of the Word took root in the heart. We can’t bail out. We must continue until the end, because “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book on the cost of being a disciple of Jesus, and then almost prophetically lived it out in a Nazi prison camp. He said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” and “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” A true disciple of Christ puts their hand to the plow and does not look back with regret like Lot’s wife did (Luke 9:62; 17:32).Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Growing in Grace

We must be more than Sunday morning Christians. We must be Christ-followers, 24/7! A disciple is willing to grow in Christ. A disciple is willing to go for Christ! A disciple is willing to die-to-self for Christ! But not just on Sundays! Jesus must be preeminent in our life all week. It is as He said that “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). It’s easy to say you’re a disciple of Christ, but the test is do we pick our own cross and follow Him…beyond Sunday mornings?

Jesus’ Warning

One final warning comes from Jesus’ own lips that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt 7:21-23). It’s not whether you know the Lord but rather, does the Lord know you!

Love is Proof

If we say we love God but hate our brother, we are only deceiving ourselves (1 John 4:20) and we are not a disciple of Jesus. If we say we love Christ but don’t do what He commands, we’re actually lying to God (1 John 2:4) and cannot say we are His disciples! Love is how people will know who Jesus’ disciples are (John 13:34-35). This love may be expressed in feeding the poor, clothing the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison, and even showing mercy to a stranger (Matt 25:35-36), but this is the way Jesus sees it; “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).

Promised Persecution

Jesus promised His disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20), “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 10:22). Christ followers know that none were ever hated more than Jesus Who said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). We should expect persecution because “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). He said “all,” not most.  If there is never any persecution, it might be a good time to examine oneself to see if they’re in the faith (2 Cor 13:5; 2 Pet 1:10-11).


If you haven’t trusted in Christ yet, you are not His disciple, but worse, right now you are one breath, one heartbeat…one accident away from eternity when it will be too late to repent. Right now is best of days to believe (2 Cor 6:2) because tomorrow is no guarantee for any of us. If Jesus Christ came today, read your fate (Matt 7:21-23). This is why I plead with you as you read this right now, repent today. Put your trust in Jesus Christ. If not, you will face God’s judgment after death guaranteed (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), which could happen at any moment.

Here is some related reading for you: Are You a Disciple of Christ? Here’s How to Know

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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