The foundation scripture that defines a disciple can be found in Matthew 4:19:
"And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (KJ 2000 Bible)
This passage can be divided into three sections and seen together, gives us a picture of what it means to be a disciple. Let's examine each section.
Jesus begins with the words "Follow me." On their face, these words are quite clear. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus you must follow him. You can't follow a church or a preacher. You can't follow some idea in your head that you dreamed up or read about to be a disciple. If you want to be a disciple, then you have to follow Jesus. To follow means first of all becoming a convert. You have to put your whole trust and faith in Jesus to save you and put you back into a right relationship with God. Then you need to give your life to him and seek, day by day, to take up your own cross, and follow after him. This means a death to self and a rebirth to new life in Christ.
The next step in discipleship is the step of transformation. Once we decide to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, he begins to transform our lives. The words "...and I will make..." indicate that Jesus is going to take us and mold us or shape us into something different than we were prior to knowing him and deciding to follow him. He will transform us from our old way of living and looking at the world and into this new creature that he died to create. He will begin to shape our desires. He will give us new reason for living. He will call us into ministry and mission on behalf of God's kingdom. We will no longer be like we once were, but will, day by day, become more and more like him.
The final step in the discipleship process is found in the words "...fishers of men." We give our life to him. He takes us and remakes us into a new creature and he then plants within us the focus of what this new creature is to do. We are to fish for men. We are to be proclaimers of God's Word and Kingdom and we are to begin the process of telling others about Jesus Christ so that they can be converted, transformed, and set free to tell others.
In other words, disciples are people that make more disciples. If you are not making disciples, then I think you must seriously question if you are a disciple or simply a convert. It's great to be a convert and experience the salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ. However, unless you are in the process of making new disciples, then you cannot call yourself a disciple.
What do you think about this? Are you a convert or a disciple of Jesus Christ? Share with me you thoughts in the comment section.