One definition of a “disciple” is “a FOLLOWER or STUDENT of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.” A “Christian disciple” is a “FOLLOWER and STUDENT of Jesus Christ.” In short, a disciple of Jesus Christ is one who “learns the teachings of Jesus Christ and follows those teachings by obeying them.” After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He gathered His disciples together and told them, “Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20…NKJV). The disciples were obedient to this commission for we see them “making disciples of Jesus Christ” throughout the Book of Acts. First, they would preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to souls and after they believed on Christ as their Savior, they would then “make disciples of them” by “baptizing and teaching them.”

To illustrate this, let’s read Acts 10:43-44 where Peter was preaching the Word to a group of Gentiles: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” Peter was preaching the good news that all who believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior will receive the forgiveness of sins and as he was still speaking everyone present BELIEVED the gospel message. How do we know that? We know that because the Holy Spirit fell upon them; in other words, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of them as Jesus promised in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and WILL BE IN YOU.” The Apostle Paul wrote of this in Ephesians 1:13, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, HAVING BELIEVED, YOU WERE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE.” Notice, Paul says the moment one believes the “gospel of your salvation” you are “sealed with the Holy Spirit.” That is exactly what happened to the Gentiles that Peter preached the gospel to; they heard the gospel of salvation, they believed it, and the Holy Spirit came to live in them.

After the Spirit was given to them Peter said, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just was we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (verses 47-48). Why did Peter do this? Because he knew they would now be willing to LEARN the teachings of Jesus Christ and then FOLLOW those teachings by being OBEDIENT to them. So, they were immediately “baptized in the name of the Lord,” which is the first step in becoming a Christian disciple. In their baptism they were publicly confessing Christ as their Lord and Savior and telling the world that they wanted to FOLLOW Jesus. It needs to be said that they were NOT saved by their baptism, for they were already saved by “BELIEVING the gospel of salvation.” We need to see the difference between SALVATION and DISCIPLESHIP. Salvation is a GIFT, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross when He died for our sins (Romans 5:6-8; 6:23; and Ephesians 2:8-9). Discipleship will COST us something, for as we follow Christ and obey His teachings we will hated by men and persecuted. Jesus said in John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

Let me close by saying how privileged it is to be called a “Christian disciple.” We read in Acts 11:26, “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Because of their love for the Lord Jesus and their willingness to follow Him and His teachings, the world labeled them “Christians.” The “ian” in Christian means “a follower of” so the world looked at them as those who were “Christ followers.” This name was more than likely coined to make fun of them (for the world, as we have seen, hates Christ), but to the believer it is a name we should love and never be ashamed of. The Apostle Peter speaks of this in 1st Peter 4:16, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”  As one has said, “So although the name may have been given in mockery, it was a wonderful name, and its real origin was divine. The name stuck and became a badge of honor. It is the name by which the Lord’s people are known today. The name identifies us with Christ and Him with us.”  (DO)  (510.5)