Marks of a True Disciple of Jesus

February 4, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are interested in being a faithful disciple of Jesus. Making “disciples” is the mission of the church. Before any believer was called a “Christian” he was called a disciple. Therefore, identifying a “true disciple” is vital to our faith. Are you a true disciple? Do you know how to “make disciples”? 

In John 8:31-32, Jesus gives us a clear picture of what a true disciple looks like. He says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I identify seven marks of a true disciple in Jesus’ words; the first four expand on the meaning of the word “abide.” 

  1. A True Disciple Spends Time in the Word (the temporal aspect of abide). There is no abiding in Christ’s word without committing time to his word. 
  1. A True Disciple is Influenced by the Word (the spatial aspect of abide). A true disciple gives Jesus’ word priority in his life. This is not only spending time in the word but also seeking to obey and submit to his word. 
  1. A True Disciple’s Mind is Saturated in the Word (the mental aspect of abide). Abiding in Jesus’ word is a mental activity. This is not merely reading his word on a regular basis, but also studying his word, memorizing it and meditating on it. 
  1. A True Disciple’s Heart is Enflamed by the Word (the heart aspect of abide). Many scholars have studied God’s word but have not been true disciples. Their minds are engaged, but their hearts are far from enjoying Christ. Therefore, to “abide” in Jesus’ word is to delight in his word (cf. Ps. 1:2 & 119:97). 
  1. A True Disciple Grows in Intimacy with Christ. As a result of abiding in his word, Jesus says that “you will know the truth.” This is not necessarily growing in intelligence, but growing in familiarity with truth, growing in wisdom. Jesus will say later in the gospel, “I am the Truth.” To be familiar with the truth is to be intimate with Christ. A true disciple grows in knowing Christ more and more. 
  1. A True Disciple Grows in Freedom from Sin. The result of knowing the truth is freedom. There are two dynamics of freedom: free from something and free for something. A true disciple of Jesus is free from the guilt of sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice. The power and corruption of sin, now broken by Christ, linger in the life of a disciple. A true disciple, however, abiding in his word and growing in intimacy with Christ, will grow in freedom from the power and corruption of sin. 
  1. A True Disciple Grows in Freedom for Service & Fruitfulness. Jesus says in John 15:4, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” So, a true disciple who is abiding in Christ and his word, will bear fruit. Free from sin. Free for serving and bearing fruit. These two freedoms grow incrementally in the life of a true disciple. 

Are these marks true of you? When we open the book of Acts, these are the marks seen in the early church as they seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus. Throughout the history of the church, these seven marks have set apart the faithful followers of Christ. These are the marks for us to strive after as we seek to be true disciples of Jesus.


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