I’ve been thinking about what Christ has commanded us to do…
Matthew 28:18-20, 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.”
The Process: in order to reach the world, we must make disciples, “as you are going, make disciples of all nations.” It is a part of everyday life, not some activity that we can check off a list, like, “I went out today and made disciples.”
The Progression: as we are making disciples, we will get involved in the activities of baptizing and teaching. We win people to Christ and then encourage them to take that first step of obedience (baptism). But even here, our job is not complete.
Jesus did NOT say that we are to teach them: he said to teach them to OBEY. Teaching has the idea of transferring information and knowledge. When we teach them to obey, we are investing our lives into people and the process of their transformation. Teaching them to obey is relational, and as a part of the Christian community, it is our obligation to not only teach the doctrines of the faith, but to help people live them out in obedience.
Jesus did NOT say that we are to teach them all I have commanded: but to teach them all I have commanded YOU. It is true that we cannot pass on to others that which we do not possess ourselves. We can study what God has done in the lives of other believers, but the Great Commission is to teach others that which God is commanding US, and teaching US. This again points to the relational nature of discipleship. As God speaks to us, and teaches us, we are then able to take those experiences and help others along this spiritual journey. We read the Bible and pray, and then we are able to talk about God’s dealings with US. It takes the teaching away from the theoretical and doctrinal to the personal and practical. When we share what God is doing in our OWN lives, we are able to better teach others the purposes and ways of God. Let’s not just teach what God has commanded, but teach what he has commanded US.
The Priority: what happens when we don’t see people following through with their commitment to God? I read this passage today and thought it might fit in this scenario. Let’s look at this unclean spirit going out of a man to represent when a lost person gets saved.
Matthew 12:43-45, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”
This is not an illustration or discussion on whether a saved person can be possessed by a demon, so simply follow the illustration…
The old life has passed away, new life has come, but this person who said YES to Jesus does not fill his HOUSE with the knowledge of God, or the love of God, or the Word of God, or get involved with basic spiritual disciplines or the body of Christ, which is the church. We see them drift away and wonder what happened. Where is the excitement of those first days (Luke 15:24), why have they left their first love (Revelation 2:4) or allowed the thorns to choke the life out of them (Matthew 13:7, 22)?
I wonder if they only put their house in order, but never filled it with the things of God, which bring life and will sustain us through this earthly life.
How will we help teach all that God has commanded us, to others, so that we are making disciples who follow Jesus in obedience? When God speaks and shows us how, may we be listening and ready to respond in faith and action.