Often this is called growing in grace, maturing in our spiritual life – discipleship. Christian discipleship is misunderstood today but is closely linked to sanctification.
But if Christian discipleship is misconstrued – one's whole theology becomes distorted.
Many teachers consider discipleship as integral to the initial stage of salvation… making discipleship a requirement of salvation – an add on to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ..” But salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Discipleship, like sanctification, is a term that must be seen in its proper context so that we can understand what the Lord Jesus meant when He challenged His followers:- “Whoever does not come after Me and carry his own cross – cannot be My disciple.” “Whoever does not forsake all he has and come after me – cannot be My disciple”
We need to know what a disciple is, and what Christ requires of a true disciple of His.
We need to realise the biblical criteria for salvation and discipleship are different.
Discipleship is a kissing cousin to sanctification..
but NEVER initial salvation. The concept of discipleship is often misunderstood or misappropriated by Christians. Many think that getting saved means that we automatically become Christ’s disciple – but this is not what the holy scriptures teach about disciples or discipleship.
Meaning of Discipleship
A disciple is a learner – a proselyte – a man or woman who is a student or a pupil.
Some followed for a time – but found discipleship too hard a path and walked with Him no more.
Discipleship involves what we give to God – ourselves: our own life.
But Discipleship is the choice of a believer and NOT a requirement of salvation.
Discipleship will cost us something and it may even cost us everything.
Often this is called growing in grace – maturing in our spiritual life – discipleship. Let us be those that come after Christ and love not the things of this world. Let us be those who carry our own cross and come after Him. Let us be those that forsake all that we have – to become His disciple..
Hebrews alerts us to the many fleshly dangers, sinful temptations, and worldly appetites that can lure a believer away from a life of faithful discipleship into an attitude of discontent, greed, and a lack of brotherly love towards our fellow believers. It gives a series of warnings against unbelief, which comes from a hardened, rebellious heart as well as providing a portrait gallery of dear saints, whose faith we should emulate, for they simply trusted the word of the LORD and in the end, came forth as pure gold.
Before sending them out He taught them the meaning of discipleship to help them understand that genuine and sincere discipleship would not be an easy road... rather it would result in many conflicts, hardships, rejections, persecutions, and possibly death.
However, it was to trigger a sharp rebuke from Jesus, which laid the foundation for Christ to tell all His followers the enormous price of true discipleship in this passage: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
The conditions for true discipleship are hard, and Jesus made clear what was involved.
It is not only knowing that Christ has identified with our sins (sonship), but that we are to identify with Christ (discipleship). We are to identify with His surrender, His sacrifice, and His suffering.
Every aspect of our relationship with Him displays a total dependence upon Him, and we are called upon to demonstrate our discipleship and glorify our Father in heaven by bearing fruit, more fruit, much fruit.
But demonstrating our discipleship, yielding much fruit, and glorifying God, is entirely dependent upon our abiding in Christ.
And so, in His Sermon of the Mount, it was not a great multitude of people that heard Christ's important discourse, for He was teaching His followers the meaning of true discipleship.
Jesus was warning believers that the path to true discipleship is difficult and requires discipline, dedication, and death to SELF: self-indulgence, self-importance, self-centeredness, self-interest, self-seeking, and self-righteousness.