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Discipleship? Part 1

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What’s discipleship all about? How can I be an effective disciple in high school and college?—Just Wondering, 17, FL


Shayna Answers:


Dear Just Wondering, I
n the Bible the word “disciple” simply means “follower.” When Jesus chose the first disciples, Peter and Andrew, He said to them, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Later, when Jesus assembled all 12 disciples, He said to them, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
As for a modern concept of discipleship, we still accept that we are followers of Jesus Christ, that we are supposed to reflect Christ’s character by our love, and that discipleship is often a sacrificial process.
As far as becoming a disciple, though, the process has changed since Bible times. Discipleship requires an active, faith-based relationship with Christ, because He’s no longer here on earth. Let’s talk about the three foundational parts to discipleship.
First, you need to study the Bible. John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In other words, the Word—the Bible—is synonymous with God talking to us directly. The people who authored the Bible, many of whom were disciples, were divinely inspired as they wrote (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
As we study the Bible, it’s like we’re having a conversation with God. In fact, both Proverbs chapter 2 and Jeremiah 33:3 confirm that if we study and ask God for direction, He will reveal His character to us. We need to have a clear picture of who God is before we can follow Him or be effective at the second part of discipleship.
Once we know God, we need to exercise faith. It takes faith just to accept that the Bible is divinely inspired by God. But exercising faith requires more than just an ambiguous belief in God and His Word. When we accept God’s truth into our lives, we will be tried not only so that God can test us and make us stronger (Proverbs 3:11, 12; James 1:1-12), but because there are deeper spiritual battles going on around us (Ephesians 6:12).
Mark 9:40 reminds us that there are only two sides in life—with God or the devil. Exercising faith means that we cling to God’s teachings and remain obedient to His Word through temptations, disappointments, and seemingly hopeless situations.
Second Corinthians 4:8, 9 encourage us to persevere. John 14:23 tells us that we show our love for God when we don’t compromise. In response, God’s promise to us is that He will send us the Holy Spirit to teach us and comfort us (John 14:15-21).
Jesus also told us that if we endure to the end, He will save us in His eternal kingdom (Matthew 24:13). Our obedience to God, regardless of the circumstances, is an essential part of discipleship.
Finally, once we accept the Word of God and are exercising faith, we are supposed to make disciples of other people (Matthew 28:18-20). There are countless ways to witness, and there’s no way that’s better than another.
Next week I’ll give you some advice on the second part of your question: “How can I be an effective disciple in high school or college?”

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