A friend of mine is adamant that discipling is unbiblical and is saying that the Holy Spirit alone is sufficient to teach us and people can lead us astray. He is using this scripture ( 1 John 2:27-28) to prove his point.. He is trying hard to negatively influence me about being in a church which emphasizes discipling. Disciples teaching each other and one another relationships are all over the Bible..but how should I respond if someone just uses this scripture to prove his point? 1 John 2:26-27: I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. Thanks.
I believe that if this were the only scripture on the topic and if we take it out of its context, this would be a pretty good proof-text for your friend’s position that we do not need discipling. The problem with this is two-fold.
First of all, he is taking this passage out of context. In the context, John is not discussing whether or not we need help from one another in order to grow in Christ. In the context, he is talking about false doctrine. Scholars tell us that John was refuting believers who had gotten caught up into what is called Gnosticism. Some were denying that Jesus had a body–claiming that he was spiritual, but not physical. This is why John makes it clear right from the beginning of 1st John that they touched Jesus! He is opposing the Gnostic idea that physical things are evil. If you look in the immediate context of 1 John 2:26-27 you will see this. For example, look at 1 John 2:22-23 and you will see that John is talking about refuting a false christology. Those trying to lead John’s hearers astray were teaching false doctrine about the nature of Jesus. John is telling his hearers that they have been taught the correct doctrine and do not need another teacher to come in and teach them something different. John is NOT talking about spiritual growth, which is what discipling is about. So, this passage, in its context, is not saying that we do not need others to help us to grow up in Christ. It is about refuting a false doctrine and the fact that what they already knew was sufficient for that.
Second, if this person says that discipling is not biblical, then he is going to have to ignore many dozens of scriptures, which is not a good thing to do! In the New Testament we are commanded to encourage one another daily so that we will not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Heb 3:12). This sounds like discipling to me. We are also commanded to teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). This sounds like discipling. We are also told to teach other to obey all that Jesus commanded us to do (Matthew 28:20). Paul tells us that we are competent to counsel one another (Romans 15:4) This sound like discipling to me. I could go on and on, and that is just in the New Testament. There are dozens of scriptures in Proverbs alone about being taught by one another, seeking advice from one another and so forth.
Let me define discipling as a process of putting the one another passages into practice (teach one another, pray for one another, teach and admonish one another, encourage one another, spur one another on…) so that we can help one another to grow in Christ. If so, then discipling of one another is definitely a biblical command.
This does not cancel out what John said in 1 John 2:26-27. This passage is true, but it does not cancel out the passages about discipling. It is true that we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit. It is true, as Jesus said, that the Holy Spirit helps to guide us into truth–that the Holy Spirit teaches us. However, we cannot use one scripture as an excuse to ignore other scriptures, which is what your friend is trying to do. You should not accept what he is saying–not at all. That the New Testament teaches us to teach, encourage, help, counsel, rebuke and admonish one another so that we will grow up in Christ is certainly a biblical command. I will finish with what Paul said on the subject. “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all the energy which he so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28). It looks to me that Paul did a lot of discipling so that everyone he worked with could be more completely formed in Christ. Please do not be influenced by your friend. He is not being helpful at all, but rather is taking one scripture out of context as a proof-text, which is NOT how to study or understand the Bible.