What is Disciple-Making (4)
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciplesof all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Two weeks ago, we stated that the first step in the process of making disciples is encapsulated in the word “Go” or perhaps understood by the translation “as you are going.” Going means more than traveling across geographical borders, although this is part of Jesus’ meaning. The point is that we believers are active; we are not passive. Going means crossing boundaries to make disciples—going across the street, going to dinner with an unbelieving friend, going into the inner city, going beyond one’s comfort zone to make the gospel accessible to the lost. Living life is “going” with a purpose, every day. Simply stated “going” is for all of us … living life purposefully introducing people to Jesus Christ.”
Last week we looked at the second facet in disciple-making. It is found in the word “baptizing.” Baptizing new disciples means having them publicly profess their faith. Through this one time, public witness, they make their declaration of allegiance to Christ. This is a new believer, disciple, going public and identifying with other disciples.
Baptism is a one-time event. In verse 20 we see the third step in the process of disciple-making – “Teaching them to Observe (Obey) Everything Jesus Commanded.” This is a lifelong process!
The kingdom of God is meant to grow through the principle of discipleship. The principle is the impact of one life on others—the character, skill, and perspective of one godly person passed on to another willing person. The command and curriculum is “teaching them to obey everything I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Jesus commanded 212 things, which provides us with a very rich curriculum. The aim of the teaching is obedience, which should encourage those of us who believe that faith is action sustained by belief. As Christ-Followers, we cannot be satisfied with just talking about what Jesus commanded, but we must be committed to living it out in community with others. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Bill Hull in his book “Choose the Life: Exploring a Faith that Embraces Discipleship” made a powerful and convicting statement that fleshes out what I am trying to communicate about Christ’s disciple-making commission:
But we have made “go” optional. We have changed “all” to “some.” We have changed “teaching them to obey” to “suggesting that they obey.” The greatest and most debilitating omission, however, is that we have made disciple making an insular process in a closed system. We have not taught our disciples to live among unbelievers because we don’t know how to do it ourselves. We walked into a church and have never really left or gone to the world. Oh, we do go to work and interact with the world as citizens, parents, workers, and so on, but we have not gone to the world en masse as disciple makers.
What I’m proposing is a radical departure from the norm. Most good and godly church members will look at you with befuddlement when this concept is presented. It is so different from what we have been taught and requires a very different focus and effort.
We must choose the life—the life of discipleship as practiced and taught by Jesus and lived out by his first-century followers. We must courageously cast aside our non-discipleship Christianity and submit ourselves to a life of accountability, personal transformation, and making disciples among the unbelieving. This is our primary and exclusive work. This is faith as Jesus taught it. To do anything less is failure.
This is a commitment to not only know the Bible, but to live it out in practice. The Journey starts today!
An old-time Gospel preacher by the name of Vance Havner once said:
Our Lord bade us go not merely to teach them “all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” but to teach them to observe these things. You have not really learned a commandment until you have obeyed it.… The church suffers today from Christians who know volumes more than they practice.”
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
See You Sunday,
By the Way … If there is anyone who would like (as a free gift) my well-marked copy of “Choose the Life: Exploring a Faith that Embraces Discipleship” by Bill Hull – I will give it to the first person who reads this article and e-mails me at firstname.lastname@example.org