Jesus calls all believers to make disciples.
Jesus chose His last words on earth carefully. He had spent three years pouring into His apostles. Before ascending into Heaven, He gathered them for final instructions which we call the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
In His final instruction, Christ was describing the divine plan to multiply worshippers through their spiritual legacies –including yours.
The Great Commission contains only one command: make disciples. All of the other words and phrases define that command.
- “Go” is where we make disciples.
- “All nations” is who we disciple.
- “Baptizing” and “Teaching” is how we disciple.
- “All authority” and “I am with you” is the power to disciple.
In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we must align ourselves with the command to make disciples.
When Jesus said, “Go,” it wasn’t because the disciples were idle. They were already going. Instead, He was telling them what to do as they were going.
Jesus knew the disciples would come into contact with people everywhere they went. Like us, they were going to work, going to the market, and going to visit friends. Every person we encounter in life is a potential disciple.
We must not fall into a “wait until they come to us” mentality. Instead, disciple-makers must “seek out” opportunities to invest in others. That’s the idea of go.
A disciple is a learner who becomes like his/her teacher. When Jesus commissioned the apostles, they knew exactly what He meant by the word “disciple” because Jesus had discipled them.
Christ’s method of discipleship went beyond sharing information. Jesus transformed the apostles by sharing His life with them. That is what He calls us to: Life-on-life training, pouring ourselves into others. If we want to see real change in our disciple’s lives, we must open our houses, simplify our calendars, share our possessions, and offer our attention. Consistent interaction is required for iron to sharpen iron. (Proverbs 27:17)
Discipleship goes beyond telling someone how they should act; its spending enough time together that they can watch how you react. It’s more than telling someone how to think, but letting them watch you process a situation. It’s weightier than describing the character of Christ, its displaying the character of Christ. of life is a learning opportunity and as a general rule, more is caught than taught.
As you pour your life into others your efforts are multiplied and each disciple becomes a part of your spiritual legacy. And as your spiritual legacy grows and multiplies, it combines with other legacies until disciples are made in all nations.
Our hearts must be set on continuing the work of discipleship until disciples are made of all nations. Short of this, our work is not complete.
Christ’s goal is both ambitious and attainable through the work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, Jesus prophesied, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
When Christ returns, He will completely rule every tribe, tongue and nation! (not just some tribes, many tongues, or most nations)
The ceremony of baptism began long before Christ came to earth. It symbolized a person’s complete immersion into a way of life. It pictures the old man being buried and the new man being raised to life as a new creation in Christ.
For believers, baptism is a public proclamation of a person’s commitment to follow Christ on a life-long journey of transformation.
Notice Jesus doesn’t say teach “to know,” but teach “to observe.” The goal of teaching to know is data recall. If a disciple is given the impression that following Christ is merely about learning information, he will become a “hearer of the word” and not a “doer of the word.” (James 1:23) In contrast, teaching to observe aims at transformation. The word “observed” is used here to mean “obey.” We use the word in this sense when we talk about observing traffic laws and ordinances. It is more than knowing, its doing.
Discipleship is God’s method for transforming believers into Christ-like followers. Discipleship is not one segment of the Christian life, it is the whole of the Christian life. Instead of thinking of discipleship as one piece of the pie, think of it as the topping -it covers everything –how to worship, pray, serve, love… (its all inclusive) A call to new life in Christ is a call to be His disciple. And a call to be Christ’s disciple is a call to make disciples.
All Authority, I am With You
Of course, this task is too difficult for any human to accomplish. No matter how strong our influence, we don’t have the power to change a person’s heart: only God can. So Jesus prefaces the Great Commission by reminding His men that He has authority over all things. And He concludes by reminding them that He will be with them as they make disciples through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Discipleship, therefore, is a partnership between God and man. God is the worker and man is His tool. Think of yourself as a crescent wrench that the Spirit attaches to another person. God uses your life to grip their heart through the time you spend together. And as He draws your lives closer together, the Spirit begins to turn the wrench, resulting in life change. There is no question about it: God will make disciples through faithful, Spirit-led men. The only question is if you will be one of them.
Of course a wrench only works when it is moving. In order to be effective, not only will the disciple be moved by the Holy Spirit, but you will too. In fact, making disciples is actually a step toward maturity in your own discipleship with Christ. Just like the best way to learn is to teach, disciplemakers grow from making disciples.
If we are not seeing disciples made in our lives, the problem is with us –not God. The Holy Spirit has been in the disciple-making business for over 2,000 years. If disciples are not being made through our lives, we must ask if we are really led by spirit. Only by His power can we make biblical disciples.