I Am With You

The Great Commission #6

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)

Over the course of this week, we have taken a good look at the Great Commission found in Matthew’s Gospel. I hope that you now appreciate (if you did not before) that it goes beyond simply sharing our faith – although that is clearly part of it.

In summary, Jesus tells His Eleven – and by extension, us as well – that they are to go, to make disciples, to baptise and to teach people to obey Him. We have explored each of these in turn, and I now ask you to reflect on how you can contribute to fulfilling each element.

I hope you agree that this is no small task! If you are feeling a little daunted by the idea of trying to fulfil this Commission, then you are not alone.

The first thing to remember is that God will never ask you to do anything that you cannot do. He would be unjust to do so. God is neither unreasonable nor sadistic, enjoying watching us struggle. Instead, God never lets us go through things we cannot bear.

No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (WEB)

Paul, talking of temptation here, points out that God does not allow any temptation beyond that which we can bear. He will provide a way of escape so that no temptation will overcome us.

In a similar way, I believe God will not lay a command us on that we cannot do. He equips us with all we need to succeed, be it gifts, talents, resources or indeed His very own Spirit.

#God equips us with everything we need to succeed. #Bible #Christianity #temptation

It is also important to remember that we are not expected to fulfil this task all on our own. We may have individual responsibilities yes, but it is not on any one person to complete this great work solo. We work together, as a family of believers, and united as the Church of God, we can complete the mission before us.

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (WEB)

We, the church, are one body. We are made up of different parts, but all exist together as one, and only by co-operating can we hope to fulfil the Great Commission. I may be able to write (to some extent) but I surely cannot sing! What if someone is to be reached with a tuneful rendition of a biblical song? You will not be able to call on me to do this! Instead, you will need a different part of the body.

The truth is that you cannot do everything, but you can do something. God has purposely made us all different, and so each of us can bring our unique gifts, talents and experiences to bear. I cannot do it all, and neither can you, but together we can do a whole lot more.

I am with you

Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:20b (WEB)

Not only do we have one another’s help and support, we have Jesus’ too. Here, He tells us plainly that He is with us and will remain that way.

When we “go” in faith, stepping out to make disciples, baptise and teach, we do so with the Lord Himself. One of the keys to success is not trying to do this in our own strength, but in His. No one comes to the Father except through Christ Himself (John 14:6) so attempting to do this without Him is fruitless.

I recall a time when my wife and I had to move some furniture in our home. One of our children, who were rather young at the time, tried to help us. Their little amount of strength was insufficient to move the item, but with their father’s help, the job was completed.

Trying to fulfil the Great Commission without the strength and power of the Lord is like a little child trying to pick up and move a bed. It cannot be done.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words from earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29 (WEB)

A yoke combines the power of two or more oxen, so that the plough is more easily moved and the work done. If you only put one ox in the yoke, it will be lopsided and likely move in circles. Jesus asks us to link up with Him, and together the task will be completed.

Do not go it alone, but go out with Christ. He has promised to be with you, and only by working with Him can you extend His kingdom and share the Good News with the world. It is a great mystery that God chooses to involve us in His plans, yet I rejoice in that mystery and in being a part of that family.

I leave you with this thought; in heaven, you will be able to pray, to worship, to study Scripture, to fellowship with God and His people, but the one thing you cannot do is fulfil the Great Commission. Let this spur you on, united with the church, and in the power of the Spirit. Let us go out, make disciples, baptise and teach, knowing that Jesus is with us. Amen!

What will you do?

Ask yourselves these questions today:

  • What comfort do you gain from knowing Christ is with you?
  • How can you practically draw on His strength more?
  • Having read this series of posts, what three things can you do now to participate in this great mission?

Make Disciples

The Great Commission #3

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)

In the full power of His authority, Jesus tells His disciples to go. Giving specifics now, He instructs them to complete three primary tasks – the first of these being to make disciples. In subsequent posts, we will look at the other two instructions which are to baptise and to teach.

Firstly, what is a disciple? We cannot hope to “make” them if we are not clear what they are.

A disciple is simply a “follower.” A disciple of Jesus therefore, is one who follows Him.

Following someone is most commonly used in physical terms. We follow someone when they are showing us the right way to go. Perhaps you are going to a new place and you do not know the way, if you follow a friend then they go on ahead and you tag along behind.

We can follow in many more ways than just physical however. You may, for example, follow your favourite sports teams; keeping up with their scores, team news and key stats. Likewise, you might follow a singer or band, streaming their latest music and “following” them on the socials.

To follow Christ means something rather deeper. It implies a firm commitment to Him, and not to be a mere “fan” of His, but instead to devote your life in His service. Following Jesus is to follow in His footsteps, and again, I do not mean physically. We aspire to be more and more like Him; walking in love, being unselfish, caring for others, but most importantly, bringing people into a deeper relationship with the Father.

To be Christ’s disciple is to put aside all else, and follow Him with your whole heart.

To be Christ’s disciple is to put aside all else, and follow Him with your whole heart. #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

We learn about Him yes, but we learn with Him. We do what He asks of us, and we put Him first above all else. We follow Jesus into blessing, and we follow Him into troubles and trials. We sacrifice what this world has to offer and instead choose His glory. We put our trust in Him, relying on Him for our life in this world and the next. That is what it is to be a disciple.

So how do we “make” them?

Earlier on, I asked how you would sum up the Great Commission, and pointed out that many might answer by saying “Telling others about Jesus.” Sharing the Good News about Christ is the first step to making disciples.

For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Joel 2:32 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? 15 And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News of peace,

    who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Romans 10:13-15 (WEB)

They cannot call on the name of the Lord and begin to follow Him unless they are first told. To begin making disciples, we must tell them the truth. We tell them the Gospel, which is that Christ came, He lived and died, and on the third day He rose again to new life. Whoever believes in Him will live and have eternal life! Praise His Holy Name!

Is telling those who do not know Jesus enough to make disciples? For some it might be. They hear the word preached to them, and the Spirit of God stirs up their hearts to make a lifelong commitment to Him. For others, they may start to accept and believe the truth of the Gospel, but will then need love, support and guidance. For all of us, there is a substantial journey between the moment we give our lives to Jesus, and the time we reach maturity in the faith.

This is why God has given the church a variety of gifts and offices:

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers;

Ephesians 4:11 (WEB)

Our goal in making disciples is not simply to get someone to mouth the words “I believe in Jesus,” but rather we want them to experience the changed life that comes from being a true follower of Christ. At times we need to be taught the truth, and at other times we need the care of the shepherd or pastor. There are times we may need the warning or encouragement of the prophet, and many begin our journeys responding to the call of the evangelist. All are involved in making disciples.

All Nations

Carefully reading Jesus’ words again shows us that “make disciples” is not the full command, instead He tells us to “make disciples of all nations.” This shows us that no one is excluded. God wants His Gospel preached everywhere, and to have disciples present in all places. You might consider the collective disciples as the global church, which is God’s hands and feet, reaching every corner of the globe.

No one person can do this. If you are worried you might have to travel far and wide to begin making disciples, then let me reassure you. There are plenty of opportunities on your doorstep. Perhaps God may call some of us to go to far off places and make disciples there, but for the most part we are to do it in our own backyard.

We can make disciples in our own family. We can make disciples of our work friends. We can make disciples of our neighbours. We can make disciples of our followers on social. And if we write, we can make disciples of Christ of our readers.

One of the great things about writing a blog is that the stats tell you where your readers come from. I live in the UK, and many of my readers come from there, but I also see readers from places I am never likely to go. It is humbling that my words, such as they are, reach such places. It remains my continued prayer that those who do read will become more and more like Christ. That is, surely, what making disciples is all about.

What will you do?

Some questions for you to think about:

  • How well are you following Jesus?
  • What is your role in making disciples, do you think?
  • Can you think of someone who may need encouraging in their walk with Jesus today?