Life-giving water Life-giving water: The freshness of a town-square fountain on a hot day (Cahors, Dordogne region, France)

The seven characteristics of a disciple

  • This topic was introduced on Blue Run.
  • Red Run: A Bible study of Jesus’ definition of a disciple in His last words, to precede this post.

1. Disciples are people who ‘abide’ John 15:4-5.
Abide is a word which conveys living and staying. Abiding in Jesus is like hanging out with Jesus and hanging IN with Jesus — both together. It is about doing life with Jesus. Exactly what the first disciples experienced. Jesus doing life with them. When we do this, the rest comes naturally.

2. Disciples know their need of empowerment John 20:21-22; Acts 1:4-5, 8
When Jesus said, “Go! I am sending! He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. That was the initial impartation – that was like us being born again. They knew they needed more. More was promised, and they waited for it patiently. We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit just like they needed it. We also need frequent ‘refills’ just as they were reported to have been filled again Acts 4:31. The early church teaching was of the need to "be being filled" (literally) with the Holy Spirit, constantly Eph. 5:18. The world knocks it out of us. God puts it back in, with extra.

3. Disciples ARE carrying what is life-giving John 7:37
They are those who are carrying fresh, life-giving water. Some people can seem to deaden any meeting or event. But you have met the other kind, that are lifesavers, that always seem to bring life to whatever they are involved in. Everyone wants them on the team. Disciples are people who are to be lifesavers: As Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me… rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this He meant the Spirit…. It is the flow of the Holy Spirit out from us. That is how disciples bring the presence of Jesus.

4. Disciples ARE NOT carrying unresolved issues Eph. 4:32(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eph.+4%3A32&version=ESVUK;MSG).
Disciples do not have the sharp corners of resentment and insecurities that the enemy can easily exploit. Those kinds of vulnerabilities and have brought into the light and released into healing. Disciples are people who keep short accounts, and who sort things out without delay “…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.

5. Disciples are visible and approachable Acts 2:42-47.
Disciples are generally comfortable people to be around. Jesus did life with the disciples. The disciples knew how to do life with others. That’s the story at the end of Acts 2 which describes how the early church grew rapidly, but everyone was together in this growth and people shared what they had and met each others’ needs. A picture of doing life together. Disciples know how to do life, not just with friends within the fellowship who are like them, but also with people where there isn't that spiritual affinity.

6. Disciples’ mission is to bring change Mark 1:14-15.
What is that change? The just rule and good order of the kingdom of God, which is what Jesus announced the moment He came out of the his 40-day desert retreat. That’s what disciples are to announce and bring, looking for where God is working, the just rule of the kingdom of God, and moving mountains which are barriers Matt. 6:33, Mark 11:23-24.

7. Disciples are continually growing and learning Proverbs 1:5,7
Some Christians don’t feel they need to grow – they’ve been there and got several t-shirts, and they don’t feel like learning more. But God is always about doing a new thing, bringing streams in various deserts Isa. 43:19 and upsetting everything we thought we had neat and tidy. Disciples are permanent mathetes – apprentices – and apprentices are always learning and perfecting their craft under the Master. You’ll know a disciple because they are always teachable and always hungry for more.

Disciples have the presence of God about them, but in a way that makes them approachable – they are the ones who have nothing to prove, a will to serve and everything to give. And sometimes you'll catch them in church....!