The Spirit And Discipleship

But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.  1 John 2:27 ESV

Jesus left and the Holy Spirit came.  

You can’t have satisfactory discipleship without the anointing of the Spirit. Discipleship is following Jesus by having a relationship with the Holy Spirit. When you hear and obey God’s Spirit, you are a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples!” Most Christians have never been discipled and most Christians have never discipled. Leaders talk incessantly about discipleship, but few have actually discipled a new believer – or know how to disciple a new believer.

The church lost discipleship because the church lost its connection with the Spirit.

Most Christians don’t clearly discern the Spirit’s voice and leading. Leaders have lost adequate understanding of what the Spirit can and won’t do, resulting in the proverbial those not understanding leading those who do not know.

Okay, I will stop the rant.

When you read the Old Testament, you wonder why Israel soon departed from the Law – in spite of the Law being given on a mountain through fire (Exodus 19:18). The church also soon departed from the Spirit, despite the Spirit’s initial release by fire (Acts 2).

Sorry, I’m still ranting.

Following the Spirit, with power and revelation, Christians should have been honed to be a powerful church after 2000 years. Historically, it can be said that the Spirit was lost and then re-discovered with Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1905.  

Even in the last 100 years, following the Spirit has been marred by quenching, grieving, false prophecies, wrong doctrines, and all sorts of mayhem. Entire denominations say it begins with speaking in tongues while other denominations teach that tongues stopped in the first century. 

Same with the power of the Spirit – some believing “on” while others declaring “off.”  

When will I stop this ranting?

Meanwhile, no true discipleship happens because following Jesus is thoroughly influenced by the Spirit. Paul prays that the church through the ages would:

Be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19

I rant because the church today does not disciple, doesn’t know how to disciple, and hasn’t developed a relationship with the Spirit. Yes, the Spirit who was sent by Jesus to lead discipleship.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, but send the Spirit again first.

Are You Really A Disciple of Jesus?

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.  Matthew 28:19 NASB95

Since “go and make disciples” is the last and greatest command of Jesus, we should ask two questions:

  1. What is discipleship or how do you know if you are a disciple?
  2. How do you disciple? If we are given the command to go and disciple, exactly how do you disciple?

What is discipleship?

Some consider discipleship as becoming mature in the faith. Again, the same problem – what does maturity mean? When Jesus told all of us to go and make disciples, He did not define it or tell us exactly what to do.

After 49 years of studying discipleship, let me give you my definition: following Jesus

But how?

Jesus teaches how to follow when he says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:28). Paul echoes the “hearing and following” when he writes that we are “to keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

The word “disciple” used often in the Gospels is not used by Paul, Peter, James, or John in their letters. Discipleship is still valuable and useful.  

Discipleship changed after the ascension of Jesus from the disciples following Jesus to the church following the Spirit. Jesus said that it was better for Him to go so that the Spirit could come, teach, and convict the church.

Let me expand my definition of discipleship as following Jesus by having a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

As the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:17, “May Jesus give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” Paul adds, “For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are sons and daughters of God” (Romans 8:14).

Jesus did not have to tell us how to go and make disciples because He left the Spirit to guide us!

How do you disciple?

If discipleship means following the Spirit, and a sizable percentage of church denominations deny the relational and miracle-working presence of God’s Spirit, discipleship is quenched.

In 2015, George Barna conducted the most comprehensive study on discipleship. In his executive review, he said, “Only one percent of church leaders say today’s churches are doing well at discipling new and young believers.”

Wow. Pause. Uh, oh.

The command of Jesus is to go and make disciples and only one percent of leaders in America say we are doing a good job. I realize the survey is from 2015, but does anyone believe we are doing a better job in 2021?

Following Jesus or following the Spirit is easy. Keep in step. A step or two behind is best so that you can see which direction He leads. There are two opposite but equal errors in following the Spirit – running ahead or lagging behind.

Discipleship is following Jesus by having a relationship with the Holy Spirit. When you hear and obey God’s Spirit, you are a disciple of Jesus.

Okay, Pastor Grant’s very ambitious claim: a solid foundation of the Spirit is the basis for discipleship. Most churches don’t, many denominations don’t, most Christians don’t, and many Christian leaders don’t.

Which explains the lack of discipleship.