Books are open doors to discipleship… that is, the right kind of books. I suppose, largely, the writing of scripture was for just such a purpose; those who wrote opened an invitation for discipleship with those that read.
Of course the apostles, and prophets could not be in all places at once, and their sermons and messages would only lighten the countenance of those who immediately heard it. To a large degree, this is the ultimate, and most superior form of discipleship; the words of the speaker may be forgotten, but the spirit of Truth is what became planted in the hearts of the hearers (It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)).
With such a n expressly personal format, any continuance of the massage to future generations would be through the relationships of their own immediate disciples; the words spoken in their hearing having become spiritual life within the disciples, which grew to full fruition in themselves so that they could, themselves relate the Gospel in their own words.
But a book… why with a book the potential for one to disciple another goes on through the ages (albeit without he personal proximity for the relationship to include a corresponding fellowship). Not only so, but anywhere the book goes, the teacher’s message goes, so while the teacher is not able to go into all the places, and meet with all the people who will read his (or her) book, the message transcends the limitations of personal concourse.
With the writing of books (speaking particularly of scripture for the moment) we have the blessed opportunity to personally disciple under its specific author – and most particularly its Ultimate Author. The Anointing, Himself (the Holy Ghost) is the True Teacher, and even where we disciple under men it ought to be not he man, but the Anointing upon him that we seek to learn from and disciple under. Jesus CHRIST (the anointed One) Himself spoke always under the unction of the Anointing, thus while the apostles were discipling under Jesus the man, they were also, more specifically discipling under the Holy Ghost (Jesus is both God, and man, so take not this paragraph to imply otherwise).
Relationship… oh the elusive fellowship of mortal man with one another. Relationship is the primary basis of discipleship, ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ (Amos 3:3) The teacher, and the disciple must choose to come together, the one to learn, the other to instruct; in the perfect scenerio, both the teacher, and the disciple would come together to maintain a fellowship, and the student could learn so much more than that which is taught in words.
In fact, it was for this purpose that Christ came in the flesh: to disciple man in the context of personal fellowship with them. The WORD became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. He is invested in the ultimate discipleship of a full fellowship, and I hope to charge any reading this trail of thought to understand that His coming in the FLESH was not merely to fellowship-disciple the twelve, but that He might in these days pour out of His SPIRIT upon all FLESH that He may personally fellowship-disciple us all (or ‘each,’ rather). Therefore take not the book to the degree of a dead letter, and call no man ‘father’ on earth, for One is your Father, and He is in heaven; and call no man ‘master’ on earth, for One is your Master, and we all are brethren. (Matt 23:9 & 10)
In the days of this covenant, we are no longer to have teachers, saying ‘know the Lord’ for we are all to know Him (Jer. 31:34), and sit under our own vine and fig tree.
Yet can we not learn from one more used to walking with the Anointing, more familiar with His voice than yet we are? In fact, this is the purpose of New Testament ministry, even as Jesus declared it: ‘Go and make disciples of all people…’
I spent a good many years of my life seeking, as they called it ‘fathering.’ Desiring to be a minister of the Gospel from an early age, I set myself about pilgrimage – not a pilgrimage to places, but I sought after ministers and instructors of experience, wisdom, knowledge, and gifting. Is this bad? Far from it! A tennant of repentance is the very thing, that the hearts of the children turn to the wisdom of the just – and, again, the purpose of New Testament ministry is just that: discipleship.
BUT seeking to be ‘fathered’ by a man (or ‘men,’ or rather: ‘people’) here on earth… why that is a direct disobedience to a scripture I’ve referenced – the Master (Christ) said: call no man ‘father’ on earth. So I was led astray… and the terminology (and practice) of certain Christian movements led me astray. They would call themselves spiritual fathers, and call much of the ministry they did ‘fathering,’ and they taught that disciples needed to find someone who would ‘father’ them. Yet Christ said, ‘call no man father’. No minister on earth is your father, they are our brethren.
So I had sought to be ‘fathered’ and sought and searched, and prayed for spiritual ‘fathers.’ Do you know what happened? Well, first, the Lord blessed me immensely with some awesome teaching, equiping, and empowerment. I found myself richly blessed by some serously anointed instruction because, surely the Lord saw my heart as I sought to be discipled, and He answered my prayers richly above all I could ask, or think. Ah but do you know what happened next?
Why? Because I thought that as a disciple I was supposed to be ‘fathered’ by men. Why did I think that? Because many of them taught me so, and I was a good diciple. So then, I learned via the anointing that was on them, but I also learned the errors they held – for they were but men, and not Christ. Christ alone is perfectly anointed, and without error. Here is a message to consider: your INHERITANCE comes from your father; if a man is your father you will inherit carnality, when Christ alone is your Father you will only inherit Spirit, and truth from Him.
Where was I? Books! Discipleship is good, and I have had the blessing of discipling under a few people with whom I also had fellowship. Can two walk together, except they agree? When you read a book, you agreeing to learn from its author (more particularly, I should hope, from The Author; that is: you agree to learn from God, and you read the book to be blessed by some understanding about God through the writing of the author), just as that author has agreed to disciple, or instruct anyone who reads it.
I used to seek to be fathered, and so I discipled under those from whom I believed I could learn. After much pain and hardship in disillusionment from my wrong perception of the process (encouraged by my instructors), I recall developing the sense that I had been ‘rejected by my spiritual fathers’ when the Lord led me in a direction different from theirs. I had to struggle with whether I could be mistaken of the Lord’s leading on account of viewing men as my ‘fathers,’ rather than as ‘brethren.’ I felt that I had spent so much seeking the Lord, but that He was rejecting me in not supplying me a spiritual father.
But, the Lord revealed to me that throughout the course of my life, and the course of my discipling under various ministries that He was Fathering me. I would read great books from men who were giants of the faith, and often I would think: ‘If only I had lived then, and could learn personally from these; if only I could be fathered by this or that minister…’ but in fact, I was being discipled by these men, for I had agreed, and sought to learn from them, and I extracted what I could from their life, and their writings… but they could not father me any more than those of my personal acquaintance could, nor could they have if I had lived in their time and in their acquaintance.
In fact… I realize that thinking that way was idolatry. Did you know that among the signs and wonders movement, people make pilgrimage to the grave of John G. Lake in order to obtain his anointing? There was a time that I didn’t realize that is idolatry. I’ve discipled under John Lake – that is, I’ve read some of his books, and sought to extract the Gospel Truths from his messages; I don’t get my anointing from John Lake, however – the anointing comes from our own personal concourse with Jesus Christ: He it is that baptizes with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matt 3:11).
The anointing doesn’t come from ministers, it comes from Christ. Likewise, God alone is our Father, and these men are brethren – when we elevate them above that position we are in idolatry.
Books – yes the Lord revealed to me that it was He who was fathering me, and indeed it was He who was ultimately discipling me. He blessed me with opportunities to learn from many brothers and sisters in Christ; He also revealed that while I was not present for certain ministries, yet those ministers could still disciple me (and had) through their books, and writings. And better yet, we can seek the Holy Ghost, our Teacher, to give us understanding as we read their writings, and be Truly discipled by the anointing, rather than by man. That’s a good safeguard anyhow, because sometimes our brethren err, and the Lord who is our Father will instruct us of those errors… but we may miss it if we see that minister as our father, rather than the Lord.
Christ has given us a book, and His Spirit, that we may be discipled by Him… and He will personally Father us if we seek to be His disciples.
Don’t lose heart; the Lord, Himself is your Father. He will disciple you.