And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17).
Christ gave His disciples “another helper”. That helper (παράκλητος – advocate, helpers, intercessor) was the Holy Spirit. He would be with them and be in them. He is not a “thing” or simply an “idea”. He is the personal presence of God with us. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to send a paraclete, a helper, an advocate. His presence would provide all the riches of God’s grace and resources necessary to fully live out the Christian life in a broken and sinful world.
He is the Spirit of truth. Clearly this reflects objective, divine truth about God. His presence gives us the capacity to welcome and embrace truth about God and value it so that truth shapes and influences the way we think and live.
The world cannot receive Him because they do not know Him. Conversely, believers receive Him because they have come to know Him. Because they have come to know Him, they receive Him. Jesus promised that He would be with them, and He (Spirit) would be in them. His presence is a seal of God’s ownership on the life of a follower of Christ.
Bill Mowery, in his book, The Alongsider, uses this “coming alongside” as the best picture to explain the nature of discipleship. As the Holy Spirit comes alongside believers, so also believers come alongside other believers. The Spirit’s role is to be our guide and coach, helping us navigate what the Christian life looks like in a broken world. The role of a disciple-maker is to move alongside those who desire to grow in Christ and help guide, coach, and empower them on their journey. Make no mistake, no human being can do what only the Holy Spirit can do in someone’s life. But this is a wonderful picture of what human discipleship should look like. While the Spirt alone can cause spiritual transformation, it is clear that He can use ordinary human beings to impact others.
Discipleship is about moving alongside someone in their journey. We do not come alongside others as one who thinks they have to have all the right answers. We do not have to be the expert at everything. We move alongside to encourage, coach and comfort those who are learning how to follow Jesus away from their own brokenness. For humans, coming alongside provides as much encouragement and comfort for the benefit of both individuals, not just the one learning. In fact, the nature of discipleship has a certain mutual benefit in being part of each other’s journey.
Discipleship is for amateurs not (just) professionals. If the Holy Spirit is in you and with you, then you now have the capacity for this kind of ministry (2 Cor. 3:4-6). The Holy Spirit is the one who makes anyone sufficient for this ministry. He is the one that makes this ministry viable. It is not about our gifts as much as it is about our obedience to Christ.
Discipleship is about a symbiotic relationship between two people. Bill Mowery states it this way: R / 2D / 3A = Relationship with God and at least one human + two (2) people discovering and discussing truth from God’s Word provides a context for application, affirmation, and accountability.
Discipleship is about spiritual parenting. While disciple-making (for humans) is very much a symbiotic relationship, the wisdom, experience, and history that mature believers have walking in the Spirit can be a rich resource for a younger or newer believer. But this is not just about helping someone growing and feeling secure in their relationship with Jesus. This is about producing a person who matures to the point they have the heart, vision, and know-how to invest in others.
Discipleship is about evangelism and growing in Christ. Churches have often split discipleship and evangelism, seeing them as different purposes for the church. This has created lots of collateral damage to churches. A church that is committed to discipleship must be actively committed to the spread of the gospel AND to then teach new believers how to obey Jesus in every aspect of life (Matt. 28:16-20).
In Christ, Pastor Brad.