Mentoring Produces the Grace, Knowledge, & Authority of God

“God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 MSG).

by John David Hicks

This command of Jesus, often called the Great Commission, communicates some of His final words before His ascension. It is as though He wanted to impress this instruction on the disciples and make sure they wouldn’t forget it. Jesus envisioned that discipleship would be the main ministry of the church. It was one of the main thrusts of His ministry on earth—training others to do the work He could not finish: “Do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Discipleship can be compared to a plant’s life. An apple tree’s purpose, for example, is not to bear fruit but to produce seeds to get another apple tree. It’s a commitment to future generations. The delicious fruit is the by-product. When you plant the seeds, you get more fruit. Each person has value and potential to produce more life and “seeds” if he is discipled.

In Scripture “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). It is a life-giving “word” to the plant/person. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Again, Paul says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13).

The metaphor of the “seed” as the Word, the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit all are at work in the life of a plant/person. Thus, it is the person who has received the implanted seed of God that needs mentoring in order to produce fruit and to implant the life of God in other believers. For “God’s seed remains in him…he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

The three stages of growth in plant life are germination, growth, and reproduction. Germination starts with a seed that is buried in the soil. The plant’s embryo then develops its roots and begins to grow. From its environment, it draws nutrients and other elements. With sunshine, the right temperature, and water, the plant becomes rooted and grounded. The more nutrient-rich the soil, the better the plant will grow. The tree continues to grow and puts forth blossoms. These flowers fade and die away as the tree puts its energy into producing fruit containing seeds.

Christian growth as a disciple can be seen to have the same three phases. In 1 John 2:12-14, the apostle uses a metaphor with three phases to illustrate the stages. He likens it to children, young men, and fathers.

John says the children know that their sins are forgiven and that they are in the family of God. The task of the child, i.e. the new Christian, is to become rooted and begin to grow. Paul in Ephesians 3:17-19 said, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

God uses the Word and your experiences to teach you so you can learn from your failures—I call that wisdom. Mentors are good for pointing out healthier and more productive ways to come into maturity…sometimes warning you, if you are open to receive that. Applying God’s Word and the fellowship of other believers is what helps feed the plant. Keeping an eye on your plant in discipleship is an essential part of growing and catching problems early.

John says that the young men are those who are beginning to show some maturity in their Christian lives. They are strong and into the Word of God and have overcome the evil one. It is like the second stage of growth in plant life, as we continue to see flowers open, each one a potential piece of fruit. As in the first stage, fertilization in the truth of God’s Word is vital for growth in grace and knowledge of Jesus. Jesus prayed for this in John 17:15-17, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

These first two stages are best accomplished through small discipleship groups. The spiritual children and young men need the input of other Christians into their lives. God never intended for you to live the Christian life by yourself, but instead to live a lifestyle of relationship with Him and other Christians. The New Testament model of the church is a small group of Christians, encouraging and ministering to one another.

For the sake of your own growth and effectiveness, get involved with an inner circle of Christians, sharing God’s life and love and your faith. A small group is God’s perfect place for working out love in everyday relationships. As the body of Christ, the church is an organism; it has life in it. It functions and moves by the Holy Spirit. God works in each of our lives as we minister to one another.

John says that the final stage of spiritual development is to be a father. These are mature Christians who cry out, “Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you” (Psalm 86:11 NLT). Paul says that the mature walk in wisdom and the counsel of God. They are like apple trees in the final, fruiting stage. The plant has grown into maturity and it produces and manifests its own fruit and seeds. Seed dispersal is essential for the next generation.

Fathers are leaders in the church of God. They are soul-winners and discipling new converts. The mature are complete in Him. Mature leaders in the church are given “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).

The Lord was first to establish a mentoring relationship in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:26-32; 2:15-25). But their disobedience to God’s guidance led to the fall of mankind. They found that their wrong thinking and pride can distort your judgment. Even fear can make you reject a helping hand from others and God. Jesus said that a disciple of His would be like a child, teachable, humble, open, and willing to receive guidance and godly counsel. Mentoring has been a part of God’s plan from the start.

Germination and Growth
The seed of the gospel, when planted, will “conform you into the image of Christ.” Christ-like character is revealed by concentrating on who you are in Christ, not worrying about what others think. Godly character begins when you give the Holy Spirit complete control of your life (Rom. 12:1-2). When you make mistakes and mess up, you make amends and deal honestly with them. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). That is how to maintain integrity with God and man.

Discipleship is nothing more than striving to model the heart and character of God and demonstrate God’s power by faith (1 Thess. 1:5-6). In the seed of plant/person the Holy Spirit works within you to take on the character of Jesus and reflect His power and presence (John 14:12-18). By grace, you will say, like Jesus, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

This seed of God within you is nourished by the Word of God. Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus quoted Scripture to overcome evil because He recognized its power—power to make you holy and to set you free. He tells us in John 8, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). And later Jesus prayed, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17 NLT). Learning and studying Scripture and biblical precepts in a discipleship group should be a high priority in your life. For “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

But there is a cost to discipleship and Jesus admonishes you to count the cost. Too often the church has settled for an attitude of, “Just believe in Jesus or God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer declared that “cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” This has made the gospel irrelevant in the world according to Bonhoeffer. A.W. Tozer said that this heresy has made “Vampire Christians” that take the blood of Jesus for forgiveness of their sin, but then want nothing more to do with the body of Christ until they get to heaven.

Why Does the Plant/Person Need Mentoring?
In Scripture mentoring is the foundation of servant leadership—leadership that serves others unselfishly (Matt. 20:25-28; 22:37-40).

Mentoring will stretch you and help you to grow (1 Peter 2:1-5). Mentoring will give you a vision of your destiny and calling (Jer. 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:4-11). Mentoring will encourage you to seek and obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Joshua 1:5-9; Luke 12:12; John 14:26; Rom. 8:5). Mentoring will help you activate your spiritual gifts and see your potential (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12; Heb. 5:12-14). Mentoring will provide godly wisdom and support (Psalm 1:1-3; Eph. 5:20-27). Mentoring will motivate your thinking and bring your behavior in line with God’s Word so you can achieve supernatural success (Jer. 29:10-14; Matt. 4:17; Rom. 12:1-2). A mentor will be honest and realistic with you, giving you positive direct feedback.

If the plant/person does not produce, there will be no future fruit. Likewise, the purpose of the church is to produce more disciples. A seed is the reproductive part of the plant which can grow into a new plant. The seeds are inside the fruit—you. “Jesus used a show, tell, deploy, and supervise method of training,” said John Wimber. “After calling the disciples he took them along with him, teaching and healing the sick as he went. Then, after he thought the disciples had seen and learned enough to try for themselves, he then commissioned, empowered, instructed, and sent them out to do the same things.”

A good mentor will impart his character, values, and faith into your life (1 Cor. 4:16–17; 2 Tim. 1:13). His coaching will give you permission to succeed and fail; to try new things; to be different and not conform; to ask questions; to cast a vision. Through his guidance and wisdom, you will grow spiritually. Watchman Nee said, “Every time I have grown spiritually another brother has provoked me.” By that he meant that a brother motivated him to go deeper spiritually.

Jesus modeled discipleship by spending time with His disciples—getting to know them, relaxing with them, sharing with them. Intimate sharing and caring love that is expressed in loyalty, commitment, and mutual acceptance will bond you to others. This is where you can pray and care for one another and focus on the Word of God. It is where you find your place in the body of Christ and learn to play your role in God’s story.

A mentor’s function is to release the individual to be his own unique person. When a person is loved, accepted, and respected, true character can be established. Before beginning the relationship, both parties should clarify their expectations. For mentoring is about growth, purpose, establishing a vision, and development of the plant/person within us with wisdom, teaching, and support. Someone has described mentoring as helping people with their career, specific work projects, or general life guidance out of the goodness of their heart. Mentoring is about developing leadership and long-term development.

An important principle of mentoring is to “shut up and listen.” Otherwise you will be giving answers to questions that no one is asking. You need to know what they are experiencing.

Another principle is fellowship around a table. Food, trust, and security go together; that’s what connects you and earns your right to be heard. The purpose of discipleship is not getting someone to profess a certain doctrine but applying the under-standing of Scripture to life in the kingdom of God here and now.

Discipleship mentoring is a process not a program. Paul gives us an example of a mentor when he says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Mentoring is a process by which a mature, older Christian commits himself for a period of time to a few individual Christians for the purpose of equipping them to reproduce themselves in others—to become fathers spiritually. Every Christian knows that they need accountability and discipline for this, but few crave or seek it. This is why you need a mentor. Look for a mature Christian you admire, respect, and trust. Then spend time with them; most of what you will learn comes through your association.

The mentor’s insights, reflections, questions, and perspectives will advance fathers into deeper maturity. A good mentor does not need to offer all the right answers, but it is essential for him to ask direct questions and offer discernment. When you see fatherhood modeled, it will lay the foundation for greater spiritual development. This is how a mentor empowers leaders for ministry.

Mentoring Produces the Grace, Knowledge, and Authority of God in the Christian’s Life, Resulting in Obedience to the Great Commission
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus encouraged the disciples to wait for the gift the Father promised: “In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). In verse 8, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The sign that you are filled with the Holy Spirit is that you are a witness to what Jesus said and did (John 14:12-14).

When the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit, they could then fulfill the Great Commission, which was to teach and to disciple new converts to carry on the work of the gospel. The fire of the Holy Spirit will release the seeds of truth and guide you into the life of God that is in you (Eph. 3:20-21).

Did you know that pine trees are dying in our national forests because of lack of forest fires? Man has tried to prevent forest fires, which pine trees depend upon. The main thing that kills the trees are pine bark beetles, which infest the trees and lay their eggs. Insecticides are ineffective on infested trees. Only forest fires can kill the bugs and release the seeds of the tree for new growth.

Likewise, you need the fire of the Holy Spirit in your life to kill the bugs that have infested you spiritually and to release the seeds of life into your life.
Paul affirms this: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor. 4:20). For “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5).

Jesus devoted most of His ministry to discipling His disciples to do what He was doing (John 14:12-14) and molding the righteous nature of God into their lives (John 14:9-11). This was His intentional plan—discipleship.

Never forget that for mentoring to take place there must be a bonding in your relationship. This happens when there is security in your relationship. You know that there is a commitment to confidentiality and trust. So, you can be direct, share yourself, and be comfortable with feedback. You have permission to be real, open, and vulnerable and still be loved, accepted, and seen as a maturing, growing person.

Over my many years in ministry I have seen that those Christians who excel in their walk with God were connected to a loving and caring discipleship group. They answered the call to discipleship.

Discipleship is so important to Jesus that He promised, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Discipleship and mentoring is what produces the seeds in the plant/person in God’s kingdom. No wonder it is God’s priority and should be yours and the church’s priority!


The Answer to your Question

The Answer to your Question

(The Three Big Questions — By John David Hicks)

Romans 8:28–29, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

We know that God is committed to your highest good and welfare. We also know that bad things happen to good people. When this happens, it is easy for your focus to be on the problem and to fret over how you might overcome the situation. There are times in life when nothing makes sense and you want to ask, “Why me?” “Why is this happening?” The “Why” question will mess with your emotions and trap you into grief and misery; hindering your growth spiritually. God does not answer the “Why” question in the bible. The book of Job establishes that fact. But God does say that He will be with you in the situation and is working within you to reproduce His nature and is working for your good.

Our text (above) says that your problems are taking you through a process that will make you into the “image of Christ.” Your troubles and difficulties are an opportunity to change your focus from off yourself and give you the occasion to enlarge your concept of God. God shows up in your weakness (1 Cor. 2:2-5). God is bigger than your sin, stupidity, ignorance and failure—grace abounds more (John 1:16). Even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).

Three questions are asked in the book of Acts which God will answer, giving us direction about His purposes. The first two are asked on the day of Pentecost, “What does this mean?” and “What should we do?” (Acts 2:12, 37). The third is asked by Paul to the Ephesian Church, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). In the circumstances of your life, these are the questions you need to ask the Lord.

The first big question at Pentecost came when the people cried out, “What does this mean?” There were many languages being spoken, causing great confusion which got their attention. In your confusion you need to ask the Lord, “What does this mean for me now?” There are many voices, opinions and options out there. But you need to hear from God. This question explores God’s heart towards you. It’s about relationship, His presence. Your faith in God is established by a loving relationship. Your faith and trust are based on “who” God is, not “why did this happen?” The “who” is Jesus, who is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

As you look unto Jesus, He is the “author and perfecter of your faith” (Heb. 12:2). When your focus is on the relationship you will find the pathway to answering that question. It was Paul who wrote, “For I know WHOM I have believed and am persuaded…” (2 Tim. 1:12); rather than, “For I know WHAT I have believed and am persuaded…!” The WHO we know takes precedent over WHAT we know when attempting to answer life’s questions! For “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor.3:6). When you open up to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will empower you to overcome your circumstances from within.

Remember: the focus should not be on the trial or circumstances, but on your relationship with your Lord. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Eph. 3:20 NLT). The Lord’s desire is to move you into His wisdom and with the courage of faith to step into His ways, authority and power. The Lord has promised that His presence will be with you always (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5).

The second big question at Pentecost was after Peter’s sermon, “What should we do?” The people needed to put their faith into action. Peter said that they needed to “repent” and be “baptized,” then they would receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repentance means to change your mind and direction. To be baptized means to die out to your old life and to live by resurrection power. For many this is called “the death of a vision.” You felt called by God, but now it looks impossible for you to accomplish your calling. Even Jesus asked that the cup of suffering would be taken away. But then by faith He said, “Not my will, but thine be done.” When all seems hopeless, God has the last word and raises even dead situations by His resurrection power.

Psalm 118:22-24 speaks of Jesus at the cross: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Know that God’s resurrection power works best in dead situations (Acts 4:33). The book of Acts is called the “Acts of the Apostles.” After the apostles changed their thinking and died to their old life, the power of Holy Spirit was unrestricted.

The Third big question is asked by Paul to the Ephesian Church, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” In Acts 19:1-7, Apollos helped establish the church at Ephesus and then moved on. He only knew the teaching of John the Baptist. When Paul arrived, he asked the question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They stated they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul followed up and asked them about their baptism. They had been baptized by John’s baptism. So, Paul gave them instructions about the Holy Spirit and the cross. When they repented, changed their thinking and were re-baptized so they could live by the power of Holy Spirit, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is to “govern” your life as you experience what it means to live “in Christ.” A truth is not real to you until you experience it. This is where you will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). By experience you learn that you are the Lord’s Beloved (Rom. 1:7), deeply loved, highly favored and greatly blessed by Him (Num. 6:24–26). His love for you has been unchangeable, unshakable and unfailing (Jer. 31:3). He wants you to receive His abundance of grace and His gift of righteousness. With no condemnation, He said that you will reign in life (Rom. 5:17). “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Rom. 5:2 NLT).

Colossians 3:3 says, “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” The Lord’s presence, authority and power is what is transforming you into “His image.” “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

It is the Lord’s passionate love for you that gives you your identity. It is the nature of God, the Holy Spirit, that gives you the anointing, power and wisdom of God (2 Pet 1:3).

Thus, it is out of your tribulation, opposition, warfare, persecution and trials that you can learn to become more like Jesus. On this journey the Lord will bestow on you countless blessings, gifts, opportunities, presence, anointing, power and authority to name a few! “Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!” (Ps. 68:19 NKJV).

The three big questions are: (1) “What does this mean?” In your confusion you hear many voices around you. So, you need to hear from God. Seek His presence and rest in your relationship. (2) “What should we do?” Put your faith into action. Repentance means to change your mind and direction. Be baptized by dying out to your old life and live by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. (3) “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The Ephesians only knew the baptism of John. They need to be introduced to the Holy Spirit. When they repented, changed their thinking and were re-baptized they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians he told them to make verses 1:17–23 their prayer: “Lord, I pray that you will give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know you better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which you have called me, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe. You said that power is like the working of your mighty strength, which you exerted in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. As the Lord God Almighty, you have placed all things under Jesus’ feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Then in Ephesians 3:16–21 the Lord answered that prayer: “I have given you out of my glorious riches, My strength, with authority and power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now Jesus is able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within you, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

You experience God’s grace by faith. As you are “in Christ,” you walk in the Spirit. As you meditate on your identity in the Lord, the Lord will produce a harvest of wisdom and revelation as you experience His fellowship and grace. This grace has the power to overcome every obstacle and to develop your character into the image of Christ. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).