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What is a Disciple?



Ben Stuart introduces a collection focusing on what it looks like to be a disciple. In this talk, he encourages followers of Christ to evangelize and equips them with the knowledge to share the Gospel using Ephesians 2.

Key Takeaway

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission show us a picture of what it means to be a disciple. People can be disciples of many different people and things, but there is something very different about being a disciple of Jesus.

What does it mean to be a disciple and make disciples?

Various churches offer different programs and opportunities to learn more about Jesus and get involved. At Passion City DC, all of our programs need to be based on principles and precepts in God's Word. Thankfully, our King has given us simple orders.

The Great Commission was given in Matthew 28:16-20. We are to make disciples. These are the marching orders of Jesus. The word "disciple" comes from Latin, meaning student, pupil, or learner. It's following a person's way of life, coming under their teaching, and then modeling your life the same as theirs. So, whose voice is shaping the way you view the world? Who's discipling you?

Jesus wasn't just another man with disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is different. His disciples worshiped Him. (Matthew 28:17) All authority belongs to Him. (Matthew 28:18) He is with us until the end of the age. He never stops living. (Matthew 28:20)

He also gave us the Great Commandment. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Simply put, you love God with your entire being, and from that, you love and cherish those around you. Love embraced becomes love extended.

When you put the Great Commandment and the Great Commission together, you get an idea of what it's like to be a disciple.

5 Elements of a Disciple- these are related in a circular manner, they're not levels.

  1. Evangelism—reaching others with the good news. All authority belongs to Jesus and we are to go and make disciples. Declare the good news!
  2. Community—connect people into the family. Jesus said to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) Baptism is a symbol of connection. Ephesians 2:19-22 says we are knit together as a temple, members with one another.
  3. Discipleship—teaching them to obey all that He commands (Matthew 29:20) So, we enter into a relationship with God, associate with Him and His people, and then we begin to learn what it is to know and walk with Him.
  4. Service—we love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) We meet the needs of others.
  5. Worship—we love the Lord with everything. My whole being is about declaring the glory of God who has changed me. (Matthew 22:37)


If you think a disciple is just a learner, then you are missing something. In John 3, we see Nicodemus, a highly regarded man of the law and ruler of the people. He would have memorized the law, but when he came to learn from Jesus, Jesus didn't say, "Just be a good learner." In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. Jesus looked at an educated and motivated man and told him he needed to be born, something he couldn't do on his own. Birth was a critical part of your life journey. How can you be born again? Jesus answers John 3:16, God gave His Son, and whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

Christianity is both an event (I'm alive!) and a process (I'm being conformed into the image of His Son.)

Ephesians 2 is one of the most direct presentations of the good news. Good news is good depending on the situation you're in and your awareness of it,

Ephesians 2:1—you were dead, a corpse, in your sin He compares our life to a morgue. Spiritually you're dead. We are rightly to be judged.

Ephesians 2:4—But God! He is rich in mercy and have loved us. He made us alive with Him. Jesus died, was buried, and raised to the Heavenly places. He looks at you and says, "That's you! Because you believe in Jesus, you are positionally different forever." You're born again. He makes you something else.

Paul goes on to bring up all sorts of tensions and issues. He makes it a point to show how the Gospel has brought all parties together. He has reconciled all our differences as one. The Cross doesn't just reconcile us with God; it reconciles us with humanity.


"I exists to know God and make Him known."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Ephesians 2:1-22
  • Matthew 22:37-40
  • Matthew 28:16-20
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.