In this classic article by Dallas Willard, originally published in Christianity Today in October 1980, we take a journey through time to explore the indispensability of Christian discipleship. In the intro to the article, Dallas writes:
The word “disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament. “Christian” is found three times and was first introduced to refer precisely to disciples—in a situation where it was no longer possible to regard them as a sect of the Jews (Acts 11:26). The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ.
But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it. The disciple of Jesus is not the deluxe or heavy-duty model of the Christian—especially padded, textured, streamlined, and empowered for the fast lane on the straight and narrow way. He stands on the pages of the New Testament as the first level of basic transportation in the Kingdom of God.
Read the article in it’s entirety at conversatio.org.