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3 Marks of Discipleship from the Gospel of John

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Text: John 8:31-32; 13:33-34; 15:7-8

Thesis: To note that a true disciple of Christ is one who continually lives according to

              Words of Jesus.


(1)    We are to be disciples of Christ.

(a)    A disciple is “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another” (Webster’s).

(b)    The apostles were told to go out into the world and “make disciples” (Matt. 28.19-20).

(c)    Basically, a disciple is the New Testament equivalent to Christian.

(2)    In the gospel according to John, 3 marks of discipleship are given.


#1: The Continuance Principle –

I.                   Receive the word

A.    This is where discipleship begins.

1.      The hearing of the word brings about faith (Rom. 10.17).

2.      It is “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1.16).

B.     Receiving the Word is the equivalent to receiving the Lord.

1.      Jesus is the incarnate Word (John 1.1-5, 14).

2.      To reject the Word is to reject the Lord (John 12.48).

II.                Mediate upon the word

A.    “Continuance is Christ’s Word is not automatic; it is the result of strong purpose and self-discipline” (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Discipleship 28).

1.      Therefore, we must “study” and be “a workman” (2 Tim. 2.15).

2.      We should read it all of our days while carefully observing what is being said to us (Deut. 17.19).

3.      David told us that the man who is blessed is one who mediates on the Law day and night (Psa. 1.2).

4.      A simple 4-step study method is (R. J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline 65-66):

a.       Repetition

b.      Concentration

c.       Comprehension

d.      Reflection

B.     We must let the Word become a part of us.

1.      We are commanded to let the Word “richly dwell within” us (Col. 3.16).

2.      This principle goes back to the Old Testament where Moses told the Israelites to write the Law on the gates and door posts and to bind them to their wrists (Deut. 11.18).

3.      David stated that he had laid up the Word of God in his heart so that he might not sin (Psa. 119.11).

4.      The Word of God is intended to make one complete (2 Tim. 3.17).

5.      As one wrote: “To abide in the word of Jesus meant that the disciple must persevere and continue to understand and comprehend His teaching” (M. Jones, Discipling 20).

6.      Also, “the disciple studies the scriptures for the purpose of learning the mind of Christ” (J. Jones, Discipleship in God’s Eternal Purpose 51).

III.             Live the word

A.    James tells us that we must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers (James 1.22).

B.     This is the essence of “continue in” (i.e., to make it their rule of life in daily practice) (Sanders 28).

C.     At times, the teachings are difficult either to understand or practice (e.g., John 6 – Jesus’ teaching about flesh and blood).

1.      When this occurs, many disciples withdraw (John 6.66).

2.      However, “a true disciple continued to abide in the Word of Jesus even when it was difficult to understand or difficult to obey” (M. Jones 20).

#2: The Love Principle –

I.                   A Selfless love –

A.    An example of Jesus’ selflessness is His washing the disciples’ feet (John 13.1ff.).

B.     To have the love of Christ, we must think of others above ourselves.

1.      The Good Samaritan is another good example of this kind of love (Luke 10:25ff.).

2.      Basically, we must humble ourselves and help others when we see a need.

3.      Also, we are not to love others only because of what we can get out of it.

II.                A Forgiving love –

A.    Jesus was/is a forgiving Master.

1.      Think of Jesus’ words upon the cross.

2.      Think of Jesus’ dealings with Peter after the denial.

B.     To have the love of Christ, we must be willing to forgive.

1.      How often? 70 times 7?

2.      If we do not forgive others, then we ourselves will not be forgiven (Matt. 18:21f.).

III.             A Sacrificial love –

A.    Jesus sacrificed everything for us because He loved us.

B.     To have the love of Christ, we must sacrifice.

1.      One correctly wrote: “…it is impossible to truly love without sacrifice” (J. Jones, Discipleship in God’s Eternal Purpose 53).

2.      Parents sacrifice for children. Mates sacrifice for each other. Christians also sacrifice for each other (e.g., Gal. 6:10).

#3: The Fruit Principle –

I.                   What is the fruit that we are to bear?

A.    Most people immediately think of saving the lost.

1.      This is a form of bearing fruit.

a.       Phil. 4:17 – I seek the fruit that increases to your credit

b.      Rom. 1:13 – I might obtain some fruit among you

c.       Phil. 1:22 – fruitful labor for me

2.      However, a new convert is a new branch on the vine.

B.     Therefore, the fruit that we are to bear would be the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

1) Love     2) Joy     3) Peace     4) Patience     5) Kindness

6) Goodness     7)Faithfulness     8) Gentleness     9) Self-control

II.                How do we bear fruit?

A.    “Abide in me” – 8 times in 1st 7 verses

1.      Warren W. Wiersbe defines “abide” as “to keep in fellowship with Christ so that His life can work in and through us to produce fruit” (355).

a.       The word for “abide” is “meno,” which was especially used by John “to denote an inward, enduring personal communion” (Bauer 504).

b.      It is also translated as “tarry” (e.g., Matt. 26.28), “remain” (e.g., Luke 10.7), “dwellest” (e.g., John 1.38-39), “endureth” (e.g., John 6.27), and “might stand” (Rom. 9.11).

2.      Another way of saying this is recorded in 1 John 1.7.

B.     How do we do this?

1.      We allow Christ through His words to dwell in us and lead us (John 15.5, 7).

2.      We must walk in His footsteps (1 Pet. 2.21), which have been revealed in the New Testament.


-          Are you a true disciple of Christ?

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