I was wondering if having a discipler was essential for salvation. I know that the Bible says getting discipling and advice and counseling is essential, but there are many ways to get discipled without having an official discipler. So isn't it okay not to have a discipler, as long as we get discipled by each other? -- Robert (Virginia)

You are right, the Bible speaks of "many advisers," not one single individual helping us along. (Though it usually does begin with one person who really cares.) There are two opposite errors to avoid. One is to have so many diffuse relationships that no one ends up challenging us. This contradicts the spirit of Colossians 1:28-2:1, and in fact all the "one another passages."

The other extreme is to limit our openness to one person only. James 5:16, for example, insists we share with one another. (Confession, yes, but no "confessional," please!) So to answer your question, the N.T. portrays a vibrantly interactive fellowship where in love all members give to and receive from others. Discipleship is not limited to only one individual. If we are smart--as the Proverbs repeatedly remind us--we will be getting advice, perspective, training, correction, and inspiration from a number of persons.

Now if someone doesn't want anybody involved in his or her life, we do have a problem! (If that is the sad situation, scriptures like John 3:19-21 come to mind, don't they?) Let's all go after all the discipling we can get, without making rules where the Bible lays down no rule. Yet for most of us, the needs is probably for more input, not for less!

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