What is your definition of a follower of Jesus Christ? I found several good examples worth remembering. However, after much thought, this is the definition I penned down.

A follower of Jesus is—A person who has trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of sin and strives to humbly obey the teachings of the Bible as they engage in being on mission with God.

The characteristics of a follower of Jesus Christ are implied in my definition. However, let’s look at them more closely—salvation, sanctification, and service.

  1. Salvation: The first step of a follower of Jesus Christ is to know that one has been born again. Jesus said in John 3:3 “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[1] Without faith in Christ there is no saving relationship, and a person will not see the kingdom of God, nor properly worshipping God apart from salvation. Dr. Robert Coleman argues, “Conversion is the first step in the discipleship process. A convert is one who turns around. Meaning, a person is moving one direction, becomes convicted of sin, turns the other direction, and comes to Christ. By simple faith, the person receives the gift of salvation. Conversion is the beginning of a journey, whereas discipleship is ongoing.”[2] Again, salvation is the starting point of all believers—faith in the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At this stage, the new believer will listen to biblical wisdom, investigate the claims of Christ, and contemplate the demands of discipleship. Through the process of time spent in God’s Word and communion with God in prayer, the truth of God’s Will, Work, and Word begins to marinate and season the believer’s heart with obedience.
  2. Sanctification: The term can be defined as a person being “set apart” for the Master’s use. This is the process where all believers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ after they have trusted Christ. (cf. II Peter 3:18.) Earley and Dempsey contend, “In the process of sanctification, a believer grows by investing time and effort in certain spiritual habits or disciplines that connect them to the grace of God. Habits like hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Word of God enable believers to have the ‘mind of Christ.’”[3] However, as one writer stated, “Yet, unlike justification, sanctification also continues until it will be consummated when Jesus Christ returns. For then we will be like him (1 John 3:2)—perfect and complete”[4] Thus, sanctification is progressive in nature, and it will ultimately come to a full and final consummation in Heaven with the Lord.
  3. Service: The third characteristic is spiritual service. Paul said, in Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” God has called us to “good works” as we humbly serve Him in obedience. Ed Stetzer presents this challenge, “As we join God in this task, we become missional—on mission with God to see his kingdom expanded. We become participants in the missio dei. Who knows what God will do through us!”[5]

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[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (John 3:3) Authorized Version. 1769 addition of the 1611 version of the Bible. Unless otherwise noted all Scripture in the post is selected from the KJV.

[2] Jim Putman, Bobby William Harrington, and Robert Coleman, Discipleshift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013). (p. 44.)

[3] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is . . .: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville: B&H, 2013).

[4] Bradford A. Mullen, “Sanctification,” Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 711.

[5] Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 332.

 

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