The marching orders of jesus
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
The words above reflect some of the very last instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. These are the final marching orders given to God's people. Christians have called this passage The Great Commission. A version of this command is given in each of the four Gospels in the New Testament.
More Than Just Making Converts
Unfortunately, sometimes many people reduce this passage to simply making converts. And make no mistake about it, this text is absolutely a call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth so that all peoples can turn to Christ in repentance and faith!
But baptizing new converts is only part of the Great Commission; there's much more work to be done after that.
Tracking the Grammar
Allow us to get nerdy for just a moment and talk about grammar. There is one command in this text; namely, "Make Disciples." A disciple is simply a follower. A disciple of Jesus is a follower of Jesus, someone who submits to the teaching and authority of Jesus. A disciple is just another way to describe what it means to be a Christian.
And there are two participles; namely "Baptizing" and "Teaching."
In other words, In order to be obedient to Jesus, we must make disciples not only by baptizing new converts, but also by "teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded." That's a life-long process that takes a lot of effort!
Are you sharing your faith?
Step one in fulfilling the Great Commission is sharing your faith. We call this evangelism or spreading the gospel. After all, the word "gospel" simply means "good news." The gospel message isn't a product we sell; it is news we proclaim. Christ has died for our sin and he's risen again so that we can turn from sin and trust in Him and be saved. If you know the gospel, you can share it! Below are a few resources you could use as you proclaim this message to your friends and neighbors.
Are you Investing In Someone?
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission was intended for you. You have the responsibility to share the gospel and to teach disciples to obey all that Jesus has commanded. The question is, are you doing that?
Who in your life are you teaching the Scriptures? Who is watching you to see how you live, what you believe, how you behave, and how you obey Jesus? Who are you discipling?
If that answer is, "no one," then change that soon! Find someone and begin investing in their lives.
Begin with your family. Do you have a wife or kids? Begin by investing in them. Teach them the Scriptures. Memorize Scripture with them. Share with them what the Lord is doing in your life.
Look for someone at Capitol Hill. Perhaps there is a teenager, a young man or woman, or someone in your Sunday School class. It's wise to disciple someone of your own gender.
Don't add a meeting to your schedule, invite a person into your life. One objection to personal discipleship is that you just don't have time for another meeting in your life. But instead of adding another hour to your day, add a person into your life. Invite someone to a meal you're already having, or a ball game you're already going to, and use that time strategically to talk about life, the gospel, and obedience to God's word.
Start with the Bible Where do you begin with a discipleship relationship? The best place to start is the Bible! Read through a book of the Bible. Discuss what you read. Try to understand how to apply it. Share what you've learned. No one has all the answers, so you don't have to pretend to know it all. Take this journey together. It's okay to say, "I don't know" and it's even better to search for the answers.
Make use of good books. Another option is to read a good Christian book together. Ask your pastor or a Sunday school teacher which books are best, or choose from our recommended resource list. Be careful of the best seller shelf at your local Christian bookstore. The best resources are often not the most popular.
Discipleship is messy. Discipleship relationships often come in spurts. Sometimes they last a lifetime. Often they come in short seasons. But discipleship is hard. Often you invest in someone who might not grow as you had hoped. Sometimes they might fail or fall. But the call to make disciples will rewarding, both in this life and in eternity.
Want to learn more? Check out Mark Dever's book "Discipling."