But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…. (2 Timothy 3:14–16—NKJV)

We all become disciples. It is the way of learning. We learn mechanical wizardry from those who are more experienced than we. We learn knowledge and skills from those who are willing to teach us. We sit at the kitchen table of our parents and listen to the wisdom of our elders. Whether formal or casual, regulated or incidental, we learn from those who are willing to teach us.

Wouldn’t it be an amazing privilege to have been one of twelve disciples and be taught by The Perfect Teacher? Think of the impeccable instruction patented specifically for your need and free to be swallowed without reservation, imperative to be incorporated into the foundational decisions of your life, worth sacrificing your life and your livelihood for, and equal to resting the eternal welfare of your soul upon. According to Galatians 1, the apostle Paul benefited from exactly this kind of discipling from Christ.

Since no first generation Christians are around to dependably teach you today, it is a good thing that Paul left you the words you find in the text above in order to be able to discern good disciplers. Paul is speaking to Timothy and reviewing the method by which trusty doctrine for life was committed to him. Timothy had already been reminded of the fact that he was a third generation Christian who had been taught truth at the feet of a godly mother and grandmother. Now he is being reminded of the discipling he had received through Paul.

Paul reminds Timothy (verse 15) that it is through the Holy Scriptures that he was born again. The first step in searching for a spiritual instructor is to ascertain the reality of your salvation and, of course, the salvation of the instructor. Without transforming salvation truth being firmly demonstrated in both of your lives, there can be no godly, spiritual instruction going on. Your spiritual instruction will be like the Lord’s illustration of “the blind leading the blind,” and both fall into the ditch.

The main test of choosing someone to disciple you is how true he is to the Scriptures. Verses 16 and 17 express the source of the truth that is the Word of God. All Scripture is God-breathed, meaning His Word was given as a revelation directly spoken by Him. Just as you treasure words spoken by your best friend, so the Word of God is treasured as coming directly from the heart of God. His Word’s purpose is to make you complete and thoroughly equip you as a servant of God. The Word is profitable for doctrine (teaches what is right), reproof (teaches what is not right), correction (sets right), and instruction in righteousness (keeps right). The Bible is the final rule of faith and practice. Any teaching that robs you of the Bible’s simplicity, straightforward nature, worthiness of child-like trust, implicit expectation of total obedience, and hearty adherence to righteousness, is not worthy of your consideration.

Further, Paul asserts that the effectiveness of a discipler must be backed up by his example. Since there are increasingly more charlatans (perniciously evil men and howling enchanters deceiving and being deceived—verse 13) who are clamoring for their voices to be heard by you, it is imperative that you investigate the life of the one who is going to disciple you. In verses 10 and 11, Paul teaches Timothy to closely trace him (travel the same road): investigate his teaching, his guiding principles of conduct that teach life lessons, his example set before his family and world, his faith, his patience with people, his Holy Spirit engendered love, his patience in trials, his coolness under fire and under pressures.

Once you have vetted a disciplemaker through these parameters, while maintaining a preeminent allegiance to the Lord and His Word, then you may revel in learning (verse 14—being discipled through inquiry and observation, like being taught to play an instrument; i.e. to “learn Christ” in Ephesians 4:20) and growing in assurance (confirm, ascertain, receive assurance) from this faithful servant of the Lord. Be sure the things the teacher teaches are so.

Have you done your homework in searching out teachers for your soul? Are you being fed in the things of the Lord by those whom you allow to disciple you? Trust and obey.