- Lesson 13 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Mathew 28:18-20.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28 contains one imperative verb, “make disciples,” and three participles: translated “go,” “baptizing” and “teaching.” But all three of these participles carry the urgency of the main verb. We must understand the noun “disciple,” before we can understand the verb “make disciples.” A “disciple” is the usual term for an “apprentice.” Some examples of disciples include the apprentice of a weaver, a person learning to play the flute and a doctor in training. Any student is a disciple if he has a teacher.
God’s kingdom plan is for the church to expand throughout the world through discipleship. A disciple is a learner, pupil and follower. Jesus didn’t say make converts or build church buildings. He said to make disciples. His earthly ministry provided an example of disciple-making. Jesus spoke to the multitudes and taught the masses but clearly focused on a few. He spent years living with his inner-circle disciples—walking with them, teaching them, setting an example. They heard Jesus speak, observed his prayers, and saw him among the masses and alone with the outcasts.
Not called to be comfortable
Because of Jesus’ authority, his disciples could go with confidence to the nations to make disciples of all people groups. Jesus is commanding us to take the gospel to everyone everywhere. More than 75 percent of the world lives in areas where there is religious oppression or persecution. Some say this is the most dangerous time to be a follower of Christ, but it is also an incredible era of opportunity. Through technology and travel, remote people groups are reached by followers of Christ who surrender to the command to go to all nations and make disciples.
On an average day, 20 Christians die for their faith. There are times when the most dangerous place to be is in the center of God’s will. Disciple-making is not comfortable, convenient, nor a casual pastime for believers. Disciple-making is our primary work. It is taking up Jesus’ cross every day and pouring our lives into those who will pour their lives into others.
New followers of Christ are like babies; they too have much to learn. The disciple-maker must “teach them to observe all Christ has commanded us.” The goal is not merely the transfer of information from one person to another. As we were reminded in the previous lesson on the Great Commandment, we must train believers by precept and example to love God with their whole heart, soul and mind, and their neighbor as themselves.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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