Summary: Discipleship is the mission of the people of God.
Today, we begin a new series on discipleship. Our goal is to gain an better understanding of what discipleship is so that each of us might answer the call to be a disciple who makes disciples for Christ. We know this because of what Jesus commanded His followers in what is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” (READ TEXT)
According to our Lord’s command here, discipleship is our mission as the people of God. Let’s dig into the passage a little deeper to see what we can learn about this mission given to us by our Savior.
1. The purpose of our mission – v. 18
The purpose of our mission to go and make disciples has to do with the expansion of the kingdom of God. You see, when God first created His kingdom, He created it in two spheres:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” - Genesis 1:1 (NIV)
God made angels to serve Him in the heavenly sphere of His kingdom and the human race to serve Him in the earthly sphere of His kingdom. But Scripture says a rebellion that had its beginning in heaven led to the usurping of God’s authority on earth.
An archangel named Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15) chose to serve himself rather than God and declared himself worthy of taking God’s place. The Bible indicates one third of the angels joined him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:4), leaving two thirds of the angels loyal to God. Thus, the heavenly sphere of God’s kingdom remained under His authority. But, Lucifer, also called “Satan” which means “adversary” succeeded in persuading 100% of the human race to join his rebellion, leading the earthly sphere of God’s kingdom to rebel against Him. Lucifer usurped God’s authority on earth.
Jesus came to undo the effects of Lucifer’s rebellion by redeeming mankind. He purchased us from enslavement to sin and rebellion that we were trapped in because of our ancestor’s choice to join Lucifer’s rebellion against God’s authority. Through His sacrifice for the sins of the world, Jesus Christ, who was God come in human flesh, provided forgiveness for all mankind through paying the penalty for our sin in our place. And because of this forgiveness that has been provided to all, all can now choose to enter into a relationship with God through faith the One who died for us and was raised from the dead for us.
The nature of our relationship with God is then one of Father and child; but also of Master and servant, as Paul explains:
“You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God!” - 1 Corinthians 6:20 (The Voice)
“A high price has been paid for your freedom, so don’t devalue God’s investment by becoming a slave to people.” - 1 Corinthians 7:23 (The Voice)
This is what Jesus is talking about in verse 18. Note the emphasis that all authority has been given to Him in heaven AND earth. As people come to Christ, God re-establishes His authority on earth, one person at a time. And as God’s children “do His will on earth, even as it is done in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), God’s kingdom comes to earth. Through the work of making disciples, heaven is invading earth!