The Discipleship Commission

By DiscipleshipJournal • Discipleship • 30 Sep 2012

Discipleship is imperative!  It is the job of the church to “make disciples”.  At the end of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry He left these words with His followers:

“Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20)

In the fullness of all-heaven-and-earth authority Jesus charges us with the task of carrying on His ministry.  The final command He gave to the Church was to “make disciples”.  As believers this is a non-negotiable labour of our faith.

There are some things that are seen clearly in the Greek words that we can’t see in English words.  In these verses MAKE DISCIPLES! is the only verb, marking it as the central action word and thus, the focus of Jesus’ command.  Jesus command is not “Go!” nor “Baptize!” nor “Teach!” At the very core, Jesus clear instruction to YOU is to “make disciples”.  (The words “go”, “baptizing” and “teaching” —participles—are all dependent on the verb, giving additional parameters in relationship to the verb).

Making disciples is not the same as “going”.
You can “go” but not make disciples.  You can “stay” and successfully make disciples.  The word is not about distance (though this can be part of it), but continuous behaviour.  The gospel writer is being very clear on something: We are to be intentionally active in making disciples.  The command is not “sit around and wait on discipleship happening”.  Instead, we are to go and deliberately seek out people to disciple.  The more we mature in our faith, the more disciple-making should be our normal behaviour

Making disciples is not the same as making converts.
In Scripture, baptism is the first step of obedience a person makes when they put their faith in Christ.  It is an initiation rite, publicly testifying of our commitment to Jesus.  Part of the process, then, of disciple-making involves baptism, but this is not the end goal.  Leading people to faith is only a part of the process.  If we stop there we have made a convert but not a disciple.  Coming to the point of faith in the Saving work of Jesus Christ is a foundational aspect of discipleship, but it goes beyond this to training for a life-time pursuit of Christ.

Making disciples is not the same as teaching.
The other instruction Jesus felt important to give in order to clarify the disciple-making command is that we teach people to live in obedience to His commands.  We are to teach them knowledge of His Word (so they know what to obey), but if our attempts to disciple stop at the impartation of knowledge we are not discipling in the way Jesus intended.  Teaching people to obey expects that move beyond knowledge to whole-life application of those God-given Words.  Making disciples is not simply “teaching” people, nor is it getting people to “apply” Truth.

We’ll break this down a lot more in the coming weeks but for now… According to the Great Commission, the task of Disciple-Making involves:

  1. (I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.)
  2. Actively pursue people to become disciples
  3. A point of transition for them from non-disciple to disciple
  4. Baptism as sign of faith (may already have happened).
  5. Learning whole-life obedience to God’s Words.

Jesus was clear in the task He gave to the church.  We are to be so intentional in making disciples that it should be the natural and expected behaviour of everyone who has faith in Christ.

Are you making disciples?  If the answer is no, what needs to change to live in obedience to this command?

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