David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills and author of Radical, presents a compelling argument regarding the importance of missions and the understanding of discipleship. If we truly understood evangelism, the gospel, and salvation, the Great Commission would compel us toward growing in faith and reaching the lost.
Since Jesus came to save the world from sin, how can we say that those who have never heard of Jesus will somehow get a pass, after all, they have never heard the name of Jesus? In essence this argument claims that “ignorance is bliss.”
- If this is true, Jesus would not have given us the Great Commission.
- If this was true, the absolute worst thing we could do would be to send missionaries to tell them about Jesus because now they are forced into making a decision and could end up in hell if they don’t choose to follow Christ.
If they get a pass having never heard of Jesus, that would mean there were innocent people on these other continents that would have made it to heaven had we not forced them into a decision. The trouble with this line of thought is that there are NO innocent people on this planet. No not one.
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.
The mission of King’s Grant Baptist is to know Christ and make him known, so any program of the church must fit under that mission statement. For small groups to be successful and avoid stagnation, our focus has to be bigger than ourselves. Consider this as the purpose of small groups:
Our Purpose – to Fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)
- The Task – Make Disciples (Matthew 28:19). If we are not developing people into fully devoted followers of Christ, we are definitely not making disciples.
- The Process – To Go in Obedience (Matthew 28:19-20). The word process brings with it steps and stages leading to an end. If our task is to make disciples, we need a plan (and Jesus offered one).
- Go = we are to Win – (Mark 16:15-16). We are not to huddle together but move out with the marching orders he has given us. Let’s get out there with the people and win them to Christ. We don’t do it alone, but allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in this mission.
- Baptize = we are to Build. We cannot birth new believers and leave them to fend care for themselves. The next stage in the process is to build them up so they can feed themselves, learn from the Bible, grow in their faith and imitate Christ.
- Teach = we are to Equip. The mission is to be passed on like a baton to the generation behind us. Christianity is only one generation from extinction, so how are we helping believers to carry on the mission; the reason we need to equip the body for the work of service.
- The Scope – All Nations (Matthew 28:19). We are to multiply or reproduce. Contrary to the sports arena in Norfolk, the scope is actually our field of vision; who is the target of the Great Commission? To whom shall we go? It’s not just to the ends of the earth, but sometimes to the next cubical, or across the street.
- The Recipients – the Disciples, and over 500 Brethren (Matthew 28:16 & 1 Corinthians 15:6). Sometimes we feel like the Great Commission was given to the church at large or maybe to the disciples in particular, but actually Jesus has given it to each of us. It is an insult to our faith if we fail to ask ourselves, “What do you want me to do?” We have the marching orders, we must be obedient to the Lord.
- The Fuel – Worship (Matthew 28:17). Balancing worship and missions… which is more important? John Piper has said that missions exists because worship doesn’t. People are giving the glory that God deserves to something else. He is the one to be worshiped. I believe that this verse points out that people will have one of two responses when they see Jesus:
- They worshiped him.
- Some were doubtful.
- The Duration – Until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). No one can say that they have done enough, then sit back and relax. We cannot wait for a new generation to run with the baton, we run together, training and equipping, supporting and encouraging those who will come behind us. Jesus must not find us idol and sitting on the sidelines while the game is on. The song goes, “we will work, til Jesus comes.” Does that describe your passion for the Great Commission?
The purpose of the church found in the Great Commission has been personalized for King’s Grant Baptist Church in the following way.
We exist… “to know Christ and make him known.”
“His Last Command is Our First Concern!”