Becoming a Disciple

The Way: What it Means to Be a Disciple of Jesus

The Way” (Acts 9:2) was made up of those two were followers of Jesus – the one who is identified as “the way” (John 14:6). This is the essence of discipleship – being a follower of Jesus. The Greek word for disciple means “a learner, pupil” (Thayer). The apostles were commissioned by the Lord to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).

How does one become a disciple? To answer this question, we can look at the instructions the Lord and His apostles gave to those who would be His followers. Looking to the New Testament, we can see that in order to become a disciple, an individual must:

  • Hear the gospel – “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” (Mark 16:15). The gospel must be preached because people must hear it in order to respond to it. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8).
  • Believe that Jesus is the Christ – “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Not only is belief necessary for salvation, but Jesus specifically said that those who do not believe will be lost. He said elsewhere, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Interestingly, the word “He” is not in the original Greek text but was added by the translators. Jesus’ statement meant that we must believe that He is the “I AM” – the name that God called Himself when speaking to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). In other words, it is not enough simply to believe in the existence of Jesus; we must believe that He is Deity (cf. Colossians 2:9).
  • Repent of sins – “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). The belief that we are to have (previous point) must lead us to action. Repentance means to put away sin and begin serving the Lord. Jesus said elsewhere, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). When we make the decision to follow the Lord, we are making a commitment to serve Him daily.
  • Confess faith in Christ – “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). This is the verbal affirmation of our faith. We must do more than mentally acknowledge the Lordship of Christ. In addition to repentance, we must also be willing to make “the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
  • Be baptized into Christ – “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Many people will push back on this point and try to argue that baptism is not necessary in order to be saved or to become a disciple of Jesus. Yet Jesus said that baptism is just as necessary for salvation as belief (Mark 16:16) and is an essential step in the discipleship process (Matthew 28:19). Those who reject this and have “disbelieved” Jesus “shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Paul described baptism as the act in which we put on Christ: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

When we become a disciple, we then belong to Christ. Peter explained this in his first epistle: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God…” (1 Peter 2:9-10). As “a people for His own possession,” we must be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). In other words, we must continue to serve Him and do what is right throughout our lives.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, The Way: What it Means to Be a Disciple of Jesus by Andy Sochor. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!