The call of discipleship is a costly call. Discipleship is desperately needed in the Church today. When Luther went to Rome his fellow monks assumed that Luther would find the beauty of Rome to be irresistible. However, Luther became quickly aware not only of the vast immorality, but also the ignorance displayed in parish life. The people did not know what it meant to be a disciple because priests failed their task of maturing their sheep. In John 8:31, our Lord says that “if you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples.” Near to the heart of discipleship is a life tied to the ministry of the Word. John Calvin directly addresses this issue in his commentary:
… it is not enough for any one to have begun well, if their progress to the end do not correspond to it; and for this reason he exhorts to perseverance in the faith those who have tasted of his doctrine. When he says that they who are firmly rooted in his word, so as to continue in him, will truly be his disciples, he means that many profess to be disciples who yet are not so in reality, and have no right to be accounted such. He distinguishes his followers from hypocrites by this mark, that they who falsely boasted of faith give way as soon as they have entered into the course, or at least in the middle of it; but believers persevere constantly to the end. If, therefore, we wish that Christ should reckon us to be his disciples, we must endeavor to persevere.
The Reformation was a call to discipleship. The badge of discipleship must not be worn lightly.