The Great Commission
Every church can fulfill God’s charge by being involved in three activities given in the Great Commission.
Look at the cake mix on the screen. We have the instructions for making a cake. At the top there is a list of the ingredients. Then you have three steps. If we were going to us this our goal would be to make a cake. In order to make the cake we need to follow the directions. We can’t say that there is one direction which is more important than another. All of the stpes need to be followed in order to make a cake. We need to keep in mind that our goal is to make a cake. In the passage we are studying today there is a single goal that Jesus is stating. Then there are steps to accomplish that goal.
In the great Commission Jesus commands his disciples to “make disciples of all nations.” This was an imperative phrase that Jesus uses. In the Greek language he was emphasizing this little prhase, saying this is of great importance. Make sure you pay close attention to this. The other things in these verses that appear to be commands are participles. The participles are words or phrases that are used to tell us how to carry out the command. So the command that Jesus gives is to make disciples. Disciples are followers or students. The disciples went from here and established the first churches. They had people who followed them. Today this church is to be involved in the same activities. We are to be making disciples. We should have people who are students, learning and reproducing the things that they are taught here. Jesus gives us in this passage three activities that every person can be involved in that will help them to make disciples.
Activity I. Evangelism
A. Jesus begins the great Commission by telling his disciples that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him.” This is a pretty big gift, and responsibility that Jesus has been given. This is something that Jesus has been given. Since he has been given so much, we can go. Some people like to translate this “as you are going”. In other words as you go about your business make disciples. While Alan Jordan was showing his pictures last Sunday two things that stood out were the games of Uno and Twister. These are probably two things that we would not consider church planting tools. They are more in the line of fun things to do. Why not involve people in those things so that they can see how a Christian handles day to day stuff. They can see that it is alright to just have fun. These would be “as you are going” kinds of activities.
B. I started reading a book called “UnChristian.” In the book the author spent a lot of time talking to non-Christian people to get an idea of how Christians are viewed. Some of the people stated that Christians befriend you just so you will go to church with them. I guess the rest of the world is not as dumb as we thought they were. That is they see it, but is that how we see our relationships with non-Christian people? That might be what we are thinking, but we need to get in our head that our goal is not just to get them to church. Our goal should be to help them come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. That might never happen if we can’t just be friends with these people. Maybe they will never come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, does that mean we should not be their friends? We should be friends because that is what Jesus called us to do. If someone comes to Christ as a result of being my friend, that is great, if not then so be it.
C. A lot of people can think of Evangelism as a big deal. It does not need to be a big deal. It can be something as simple as having some friends play a game with you. As Jesus was sending the disciples out on their own he gave them these final words, “"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2. Christians need to be friends with non-Christians. The first goal is to simply be a friend, then if the opportunity presents itself share the love of Jesus with them.
D. This is an area where we are pretty weak as a church. We have very little that we do in this area. I hope that you will join me in praying for someone who would have a passion in this area who would be able to help us to do better in the area of evangelism.
Activity II. Spiritual Growth
A. The second participle is baptize. The command again is to make disciples, and the participle is how that command is accomplished. I am going to use the reference that I am accustomed to. When a person comes to me to be baptized I want to know about when they became a Christian. I want to know about what has been happening in their life. Because I want to know that there is something changed in their life. They need to be experiencing spiritual growth in their life. Baptism is not a magic formula that changes a person’s life. Baptism is the sign of the change that has already taken place. I feel that it is my job to see if there has been real change which has taken place.
B. I cannot know for sure if a person has really had a life changing experience. I can make sure that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it. A person who is baptized is probably not going to be perfect, but they are indicating with their desire for baptism that they are striving to live a godly life. This person is not completely without God and they are not really at a place of perfection. They are somewhere in the middle. That is why I have chosen to use the phrase spiritual growth. They have room to grow and mature in their spiritual life. I think that every person who becomes a Christian has some of this in their life. They have room to learn and grow.
C. A disciple is a student and a follower. The goal of the church is make people who are disciples. Part of the way in which this is accomplished is through basic commitment to Jesus Christ. With almost everything a person does there is some kind of a learning curve connected with it. In this case it means learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
D. Within our church the majority of what we do focuses on this very thing. We go to Sunday School and we learn about what it means to be a Christian. We come to church and the majority of the time the focus is on being a Christian. Even in our Bible Studies we spend our time focusing on being a Christian. Most of what we deal with at church is very basic stuff for the Christian life. It is all about how we can be a good Christian.
Activity III. Reproduction
A. The last part of what we call the Great Commission is about reproduction. Jesus said, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus taught the disciples and after he had spent some time teaching them he sent them on their way. So it was not just about gaining more knowledge. It was about teaching to do something. Jesus spent time with the disciples then he gave them to command to go and make disciples. Then he sent them out into the world.
B. A person can decide that they are going to be a marathon runner. So they decide the first step is for them to check out some books from the library to see what is required of a marathon runner. They learn about training, and diets. They learn about everything that is needed to best prepare to run a marathon, but it ends there. They never lift a finger or a foot to do any training. They never change their diet. They just study. They might be able to impress someone with their knowledge, but they will never accomplish what they set out to do if they don’t do put into practice what they have learned.
C. I think there are a lot of Christians in our world who are like the marathoner who never put on a running shoe. We know what it means to be a Christian, and we know how to describe a good Christian, but we just don’t don anything with that knowledge. We’ve got all of the information, and we might be able to impress some people with our knowledge, but we have not done one single thing. Rather than acting on what we know we sit down and we ask for more information. At some point we need to accept the fact that we have more than enough information and it is time to do something.
D. Some of the people who make it this far might go on to be pastors or missionaries. Not all of them. They might just turn out to be good leaders in their churches. They are people who have done something with the information they have gained. They have gotten to the place where they are involved in making disciples as well.
Perhaps the last command Jesus gave to his disciples was for them to make disciples. As I said earlier a disciples is a student or a follower of someone. Jesus wants us to become followers of him. As a church we need to be about the business of developing followers.