May 17, 2013
I just returned from a 2-day Acts 29 Pastors’ Conference. It was a powerful time of worship, learning, reconnecting with other pastors, and hanging out with three other guys from Mercy Hill.
But my main take-away involves the Great Commission. Recently I’ve been studying the Great Commission with other leaders at Mercy Hill, thinking about how it’s easily misunderstood, and pondering how we can more faithfully obey it.
And God used this conference to crystallize these thoughts — so I’ll share them here.
Here’s 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.” (Matt 28:18-20)
Here are my thoughts –
This is one of the main points of Matthew’s Gospel.
Matthew quoted this as Jesus’ final words in this gospel — and the final words of this gospel. Which means he wants us to finish reading this gospel with the Great Commission ringing in our ears. When we finish reading his Gospel, Matthew expects us to head out and start making disciples.
Making disciples is not just discipling believers.
As Jesus says, the making of disciples starts with baptism. And baptism means someone has just come to faith. So the command to make disciples is the command to go out and find people who are not disciples, and help bring them to faith so they become disciples. And then we teach them to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. And at the same time we head out to make more disciples from those who are not yet disciples.
Making disciples means making disciples.
It does not mean talking about making disciples, or teaching about making disciples, or praying about making disciples. It means going to people who are not disciples, and loving them and sharing the good news with them so they repent of their sin, and trust Jesus as their Savior (Matt 1:21), Lord (Matt 7:21), and Treasure (Matt 13:44) — and become disciples. It means — making disciples.
This command is for every believer.
Some people think Jesus only gave this command to the apostles. But note that last promise: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The apostles did not live to the end of the age. So Jesus is not just speaking to the apostles, He is speaking to every believer alive to the end of the age. So He is speaking to me, and to you, and saying — Go and make disciples.
Jesus commands each of us to make disciples.
This is not optional. It’s a command from our King. It’s as weighty a command as “love your enemies” (Matt 5:44). It’s not that we are to make disciples if we have time, or if we feel like it, or if it’s easy. He’s commanding us — make disciples.
We must not let anything distract us from making disciples.
There is massive suffering in the world — hunger, poverty, sex trafficking. And followers of Jesus will do all we can to relieve suffering. But the infinitely worst suffering is eternal hell. And the only way we can help someone escape eternal suffering is by helping them become a disciple. So don’t let anything distract you from this all-important task of making disciples.
We must not let anything excuse us from making disciples.
Jesus’ final command is to go and make disciples. He’s expecting each of us to focus our lives on making disciples. So if we are too busy to make disciples, or too tired to make disciples, then there’s something else we need to stop doing so we can start making disciples.
To help us obey, Jesus reminds us that He has all authority.
Jesus always gives us promises to help us obey His commands. Here, one of the promises is that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. So the One commanding us to make disciples is the One who has all authority over us. And since He has all authority, we have authorization to go everywhere to make disciples. And — since He has all authority, we have nothing to fear as we step out to make disciples. No one can do anything to us that isn’t part of Jesus’ good and loving will.
To help us obey, Jesus promises to be with us always.
There is nothing more satisfying than the presence of Jesus Christ. Here Jesus promises a special outpouring of His presence as we step out to make disciples. Do you want more of Jesus? You’ll experience more of Him as you tell your neighbors about Jesus, or as you invite a work-associate out to lunch.
Jesus will help us make disciples.
Do you feel incapable? Me, too. But as we step out in obedience, the One who has all authority will be with us. Those promises imply that He will help us make disciples. As we pray, He will show us who to pursue. As we trust Him, He will empower our love and words. As we pray, His power will change people’s hearts. So step out and start making disciples. He will help you.
Making disciples requires going.
We do not wait for people to come to us. Jesus calls us to go to them. He calls us to walk out our front doors, go next door, and knock on our neighbor’s door. He calls us to pick up our phone, call our friend, and invite them over. He calls us to leave our cubicle, go to the cubicle next to ours, and invite someone to coffee. Going is usually uncomfortable. But remember, Jesus promises to be with you in a special way. So go.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- A Different Way To Share The Gospel
- How God Saved A Hardened Atheist
- A Story To Motivate Your Evangelism
- Jesus Promises That You Will Be A Fisher Of Men