3 Marks of a Disciple — Do these Describe You?

I remember my first day of ministry in San Jose, California. Katie and I were married in May, had our honeymoon, drove across the country, and found ourselves in Northern California in early June. My first day in the office I thought: “What do I need to do now?”

courtesy pexels.com

courtesy pexels.com

Following Jesus can be that way. You love God. You want to follow Jesus. You’ve committed your life to him. But, what are you supposed to be doing? What does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus?

In John’s gospel, Jesus gives three clear marks of a disciple. Here they are…

1. Staying Committed to God’s Word

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31, ESV).

This is simple enough. One of the marks of following Jesus is being committed to God’s word, the Bible. Recently, someone said to me, “No one has ever showed me how to read the Bible.” I’m sure there are plenty of people who could say the same thing.

In Milton Jones’ book, Discipling: The Multiplying Ministry, he uses a great analogy for scripture:

“A disciple’s element is the Word. He must continue in the Word as a fish continues in the water. If a disciple is removed from his element, the Word, he is like a fish out of water and will die.”

Milton breaks abiding in the Word down to three categories: read, contemplate, and apply. Following this pattern, here are some practical and (hopefully) helpful ways to abide in God’s word.


  • Read the Bible regularly. My goal is always once a day, first thing, as soon as I sit down at my desk.
  • Gather w/ other Christians to study
  • Listen to preaching


  • Memorize scripture
  • Think about God’s word regularly

“The Word is on the mind of the disciple to such a great extent that it becomes the mindset.” — Milton Jones


  • Simply obeying the teachings of Jesus
  • Make Jesus’ teachings an integral part of your daily life

2. Loving Other Disciples

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).

It’s been en vogue at times to say things like, “I love Jesus but not the church.” I understand the sentiment because the church has grossly misrepresented Jesus at times. But, according to Jesus, you aren’t a disciple if you don’t love other disciples.

I’ve also heard things like, “My relationship with God is private. So, I don’t want to interact with other Christians.” This is incompatible with Jesus’ mark of discipleship. According to him, loving other disciples is how people know you are a disciple.

Bottom line: You can’t be a disciple in isolation.

In fact, you can’t love God if you don’t love other disciples (1 John 4:20).

3. Bearing Fruit

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8, NIV).

The third mark of discipleship in John is bearing fruit. Essentially, fruit means evidence. An apple serves as evidence that the tree it’s on is, in fact, an apple tree. “Bearing fruit” serves as proof that we’re actually disciples.

Primarily, you see this fruit in two ways: living a Christ-like life and making other disciples.

Mike Breen refers to this as character and competency. In other words, being like Christ AND doing what he did.

So, how do you know if you’re a disciple? According to Jesus, you’re a disciple when you’re committed to God’s word, love other disciples, and bear fruit.

What are some ways to abide in the Word, love one another, and bear fruit? I’d love to hear from you!

This post came from the conclusion to my new eBook. You can get it for free here!

  1 comment for “3 Marks of a Disciple — Do these Describe You?

  1. Ben
    January 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Great article my friend! Might use some of your points in a lesson some Sunday if that is alright with you.

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