From the very beginning of Christianity, the very first people that Jesus called to follow him, he said that they would be fishers of men, and in his last words to his disciples before Jesus ascended to His Father in heaven he told them to go and make disciples of all nations. So from the very beginning to be a follower of Christ meant to be a fisher for Christ, that was the plan, the call to come, included the call to go, to go out and spread the good news about Jesus and call others to follow and worship him. Christianity revolves around every disciple making disciples. So how do we do that;
How do we make disciples?
‘Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28: 18-20; 18
First of all, notice the foundation upon which we do all our disciple making?
Christ’s authority is the foundation for our activity. We don’t go in our own authority, we don’t make this happen by our own power or ingenuity, but we align with and submit to the authority and power of Christ in doing what He has called us to do.
His authority compels our obedience.
Our responsibility is to do what Jesus calls us to do, for He has all authority, and he tells us to go and make disciples.
His authority fuels our confidence.
If all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ then that means we can confidently obey His command to make disciples knowing that the powerful name of Jesus will transform lives & knowing that the mission will succeed, because we go in the authority of Christ to do the work of Christ by the power of Christ.
So the foundation of our disciple making is the universal Lordship of Christ.
But then with confidence in His authority and power what are we to do in order to make disciples.
There are basically four main parts to the commission that Jesus gives us: Make disciples is the central command, but then there are three surrounding actions that are involved in fulfilling that central command.
Therefore, go and make disciples, baptising them, and teaching them; Go, baptise and teach.
This implies the need to step out from where we are, to go, not stay, to reach out, to share Jesus in word and deed with those who do not yet know him. To go to where the people are, rather than expect them to come to where we are.
When Jesus gave this commission to the first disciples they didn’t understand Him to mean that they should go down the mountain and start discipling one another for the rest of their lives? If they had been content to congregate in their nice little club, and encourage one another for the remainder of their days, where would that have left us? Obedience to the great commission is essential to the future life of the church. If we stay, the church eventually dies. We’re called to go.
Obviously there is a global implication to this command to go, and we certainly have a responsibility to consider how we are impacting the spread of the gospel into parts of our world that have never even heard of Jesus yet. This is why we support organisations like Wycliffe Bible Translators and Open Doors, because they can do at this stage what we cannot do. They are already in the hard to reach places, they are already set up to try and reach the unreached, and so where we can give and pray to help that happen, then we should do that.
However, we also have a responsibility to go into our own local context and share the gospel in word and deed with those who do not yet know Jesus.
Who are you sharing Jesus with? Who are you praying for?
Why not do what many of the Christians in dangerous places around our world are encouraged to do;
Firstly, make a list of all the people in your sphere of influence who don’t know Christ, family, friends, neighbours, colleagues?
Secondly, circle some of those people, 4 or 5, that seem most open, or that are least likely to hurt or kill you if you share the gospel with them??? And then over the next month try and be more intentional about sharing Christ with them in word and deed.
Thirdly, pray for them and pray for opportunity and boldness to share with them, and see what happens?
Unless we start taking proactive steps we will likely never see disciples made, it doesn’t happen by accident.
What if God has put those people in our lives for a reason. He loves them so much and He desires them to know him, and because He loves them so much He has put you in their life so that you will have opportunity to share the good news of Christ with them. So start praying, and start moving.
Go and share Jesus.
What is baptism? Baptism is the symbolic and public demonstration and declaration that someone is identifying themselves with Christ, they are showing themselves to be followers of Christ, and are identifying themselves with His body, the church, of which they are now a part.
And so part of making disciples is not just helping people know and trust Christ, but it’s helping them see that they are part of His body, the church, and that it’s in relationship with members of His body that they will learn what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
We don’t just go out and lead people to faith in Christ and then leave them to their own devices, and assume we’ve made disciples, but we help them get connected to and identify with a local church and then we, as a member of a local church ourselves, show them what it looks like to follow Jesus in action. Baptism is all about demonstration. So we don’t just share Jesus, but we show others what it means to follow Jesus.
Imagine you were to lead someone to Christ tomorrow. How is that new believer going to begin to grow in Christ? For example, how will they learn the importance of the Bible and how to read and study the Bible for themselves so that they can grow in relationship with Jesus?
You could certainly recommend studies or books for them to read, you could tell them to listen to a sermon, but wouldn’t it be far more helpful if you could share with them personally the important place the bible has in your life, and wouldn’t it be better if you could show them visibly how you study the bible, by sitting down with them and letting them in on what you’re learning and reading? Surely that’s how it’s supposed to work?
But of course this implies that we are following & growing in Christ ourselves and that we have something we can share with them and something we can show them, and if we don’t, then something, somewhere has gone wrong?
People have to see what growth looks like in our lives, and we have to show them.
Who are you intentionally showing what it looks like to follow Jesus?
So we go, and we baptise, we share Jesus, and we show what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Teaching people to obey all that Christ commanded.
The default place we might be tempted to go here is to the pulpit, this is for the preachers and teachers, this is a professional ministry that we can delegate to the church?
There is, of course, a place for this kind of public, pulpit teaching, but what Jesus is referring to in his commission is more about the teaching that we all have responsibility for as we build relationships and make disciples. This kind of teaching should be woven into our relationships and conversations, we should do this as we serve together and eat together and run together and pray together.
As disciples we need to continually be helping others understand more and more about what it means to follow Christ and live a life that honours Him. This is a whole church responsibility.
So where are we doing that? With whom are we doing that?
Where am I teaching others what it means to know, love and obey Christ?
We need to teach what we know, and we need to teach others what they need to know, so every relationship and context will look different & sound different, but it should still be happening right across the church.
Perhaps the most important question to ask ourselves in relation to this call to teach is:
Are you just a receiver of the word or are you a reproducer?
It is of course, important for us to receive the word, to listen to the word, to hear teaching for ourselves, so we should all be receivers of the Word, but what is the end goal of that teaching, that listening, and receiving?
If part of the call of every disciple of Jesus is to teach others what it means to follow Jesus then we all have a responsibility to listen and learn not just so that we might receive something for ourselves, but that we might have something to reproduce and share with others.
David Platt sums it up by saying ‘Will the word stop with you or will it spread through you?’
Go, Baptise, teach.
Share, show, reproduce.
This is the same call to every Christian, the same responsibility of every disciple.
To whom are you going to share Jesus with, to whom are you showing what it means to follow Jesus, and to whom are you reproducing what you are receiving from Jesus?
Don’t forget having commanded his disciples to go, baptise and teach Jesus gives them, and us, a wonderful promise, ‘And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.’
This is exciting. Jesus is saying you will experience the power of my presence at work in your life as you give yourself to this command. There is no place that you will sense and experience my presence more than when you are making disciples. If you want to grow in intimacy with Christ and experience more of His presence, then why not start stepping out more in fulfilment of His great commission.
This is Gods plan for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth and He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
May God align us with his heart once again.
Post by: Martin Coleman