Summary: I fear many fail to consider the seriousness of Jesus' command to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are all commanded to make other disciples. Thankfully, our Lord provided insight to His great command.
The Command in Discipleship
After several weeks of discussion and consideration, I hope to conclude our series on discipleship. Hopefully we have been enlightened regarding discipleship, having a greater knowledge of what is expected, and how to be better equipped as disciples. It is impossible to function independently or corporately in a way that pleases the Lord apart from discipleship.
Our text verses today are very familiar, and yet a study of discipleship would be incomplete without their consideration. These verses record what is considered the Great Commission. Sadly for many modern believers, these verses are viewed as the great suggestion. If we will be honest, for the most part in recent church history, they have become the great omission. If Fellowship is to remain vibrant in the future, seeing souls saved and believers equipped for ministry, we must embrace and follow the teaching of Christ in the Great Commission. I want to examine the facets of service Christ reveals as we consider: The Command in Discipleship.
I. Our Attention to Discipleship (Matt.28:19-20) – Here Jesus reveals the great responsibility every believer possesses. If we are to be pleasing to the Lord and effective in service, we must give great attention to discipleship efforts. Consider:
A. The Exhortation (19) – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. We have spent several weeks discussing discipleship. I hope I have shared something that has encouraged and challenged you regarding discipleship. I hope you have a better understanding of the concept of discipleship. I trust you are aware of the great need for discipleship today. However, knowing is not enough. We must be willing to put our knowledge into action.
Jesus commands the disciples to go out into all nations in ministry. The word literally means “to transport one’s self; to go from one place to another.” This involves determined and committed action. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to go forth into the world for Christ!
B. The Instruction (19) – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Jesus reveals the disciples were to go into all the world and make disciples. The word teach has the idea of “instructing with the purpose of making disciples.” We are not called to simply share the knowledge we possess and move on to the next listening ear. We are to teach with the intention of making another disciple for Christ.
As I considered the command of Christ, I was reminded of what is involved in making disciples. We must:
Evangelize – If our intent is to make disciples, it stands to reason that we must share the Gospel and win them to Christ first. One cannot follow Christ apart from a personal relationship with Him.
Baptize – The Lord calls for new believers to be baptized following their conversion. As Baptists, this is essential for church membership. We do not teach that baptism saves, but we do encourage others to follow through with baptism, publicly professing their faith in Christ, and becoming an active member in a local body of believers. We must strive to encourage those we reach for Christ to be baptized and join the local church.
Equip – Once they are baptized, and join the local assembly of believers, we then become responsible to equip them in the faith. As we are called to make disciples, the new convert receives the same call. We are to make disciples, who in turn make other disciples. The body is responsible to equip new believers in the faith.
C. The Investment (20a) – Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. This is actually part of the equipping process, but it deserves a closer look. We are called to teach the new disciple all the things we have been taught of the Lord. As you think of that command, you quickly realize it can’t be done in a hurry or in a short amount of time. Those who commit to making disciples for Christ are committing to making an ongoing investment in the life of the new disciple. This involves instruction by word of mouth, literally sharing the truth we have received with them. We must be willing to invest our wisdom in the lives of others.
When considering this process, one would rightly discern that it would take a lifetime to share all that one has gleaned from the Word of God. Genuine discipleship really has no beginning date and targeted end date. We must be willing to continue to invest in their lives as long as we have opportunity. Each of us, regardless of our maturity level, should continue to be discipled as well. I pastor the church here, but I am being actively discipled by others who have much to share with me. As I continue to learn, I continue to invest in those I am discipling. Discipleship involves long-term commitment and investment.