The term ‘disciple’ literally means, “disciplined one”. A disciple is a person who comes under the discipline and authority of another in order to learn from them and be trained by them for a specific purpose. To be a disciple of Christ is to come under His authority and to submit to Him, not in just some areas of life, but in all of life. It is to take His yoke upon us and to learn from Him (Mat. 11:29). It is to look up to Him as our great Prophet, Priest, and King.
A true disciple follows Christ as his mighty Prophet. That is, the disciple looks to Christ to hear the very words of God and listens. As God promised Moses: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Christ is the one who speaks into the disciple’s life words of wisdom, words of knowledge, words of counsel, words of direction and guidance. And when the disciple gets out of line, he will listen to Christ’s word of rebuke and humble himself before God, since Christ is the Prophet of all prophets. He searches the hearts of men just like He searched the secrets of the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2, 3) and speaks with the full authority of Heaven and earth into men’s lives. He is the one before every disciple shouting, “This is the way, walk ye in it!” (Isa. 30:21). The true disciple will earnestly long for the word of Christ as his Prophet, and will study His Word and obey it to show himself approved unto God. The disciple will love the word of Christ, the Bible. He will walk in the counsel of the Most High on the narrow path which leads to life, led by the voice of the Son of God, and will show his love for the Lord by obeying Christ’s commandments, which were not just His, but came from the Father Himself (John 12:49).
A true disciple trusts Christ as his holy High Priest. The disciple of Christ is not trusting in his own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. The disciple does not take any credit or think he deserves any merit for the deeds he does of himself, but by faith he looks solely to the merit of Christ, Who stands as our representative before God. The disciple looks up to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and has free access with a living, personal relationship with the Father, through the mediation of Christ. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrews 4:14). The disciple has boldness to confess that he is a child of God, and has regular fellowship with the Father through Christ and has boldness to go before the Throne of grace in the Heavens and make requests from God. The disciple knows he has no righteousness of his own, but is trusting in the blood of the Lamb, which makes atonement for the soul. The disciple is trusting in the finished work of Christ, trusting fully in His life, death and resurrection as the basis of his faith, and looks to Christ as his sole Mediator between him and God. The disciple knows that when he stumbles, he can confess his sins and the Lord will forgive, since Christ is his great Advocate (defense attorney) with the Father who pleads the disciple’s cause, having already appeased the wrath of God through the propitiation of His priestly sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2).
A true disciple submits to Christ as his majestic King. The disciple does not merely want a fire insurance policy, that is, a free ticket out of Hell. The true disciple will walk in salvation from sin, being set free from the power and dominion of sin. And to do this, he will sanctify himself through the washing of water by the Word, not being a hearer of the Word only, but a doer of the Word. He will submit to the authority of Christ as his great King and obey Him as his Master. He will bow the knee of humble submission before all that Christ says in His Word. The disciple will have a heart of willing obedience to Christ, counting it a joy to forsake his own life to follow the great King who laid down His life for us. The disciple’s greatest inward desire is to please Christ. His greatest fear is to hear Christ say, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). And not only does the disciple want to obey Christ himself, but he seeks to see the whole world also obey Christ, and he longs for the day when his King will return and establish His literal kingdom and rule the nations with a rod of iron. The true disciple’s greatest joy is to prostrate himself before Christ the King in all things in life. Christ becomes the identity of the true disciple, as the disciple renounces himself, dies to his own self, takes up his cross, and follows Him. The disciple sees himself as no longer his own, but the property of another, a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a servant of its King.
So in conclusion, a disciple is a man (or woman) of the Word. It is someone who FOLLOWS Christ, and not just professes Him with their lips. It is someone who fellowships with the people that Christ fellowships with, loves the people of God, and delights to be around his fellow peers who are also following Christ. A disciple is someone in learning, and is ever growing in knowledge and holiness as he looks to Jesus.
Or, to summarize everything I just said, and to put it as simply as possible, a disciple is a person who LOVES the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart.
Just the ponderings of a foolish thing of this world.