Last week we talked about discipleship, and we mentioned a book about the Master’s Plan for discipleship and evangelism. This week, I want to look at the actual master’s plan, the great commission. I’m Joel Fieri, and this is What You’ve Been Searching For. Stay tuned.
If you were with us last week, I described how I had a trip down memory lane through Facebook. Some pictures of me in college was posted by a Facebook group of Campus Crusade for Christ of San Diego State University, where I went to school at the time. It was fun seeing pictures of me with hair and how we all look back then and, like I said, it was a fun trip down memory lane.
But if you caught the podcast, I described that those people in those pictures and in that group and in my church at the time were the people that discipled me, the people that took me under their wings and taught me how to be a mature Christian. And it set the course for my life in following God, following Christ.
I also mentioned that in those discipleship times, the discipleship experience was guided by a book called The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. In that book, he talks about how Jesus did discipleship with His disciples and His apostles. This week, I want to delve into that a little bit more, but I don’t want to use a book this week. I want to use Jesus’s actual words, and that’s the great commission. I want to read it for you now.
In Matthew 28:16-20, it says this, “Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me, therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I’m with you always to the very end of the age.'”
Now there’s a whole lot to unpack there in that verse, but what I want to do is just go over some things that stand out to me, and there’s three things that I see that are important in this verse. First of all, Jesus is telling the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. That’s the first thing, all nations. The second thing is to baptize them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The third point that’s important, and what I’m going to talk about today, is to teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Obedience these days is not a popular word, even in Christian circles, certainly not in our secular society. But in Christian circles, we don’t really like the word obey. We don’t want to think of our relationship with God as one out of obedience to a task master, or something that’s oppressive in a way that obedience kind of tends to convey. We’d rather focus on words like having a personal relationship with God or loving Jesus.
But it’s interesting. Jesus talks about obedience here in the great commission, but this is not the only place He talks about obedience. All through His ministry with His disciples, Jesus stresses that the best way to love Him, the best way to have a good relationship with Him is to obey His commands. Jesus said all over, especially in John 15, nine times, Jesus talks about, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” That’s how we express our love for God and our love for Jesus, by doing what He told us to do.
A church I attend has a excellent motto on this. They say, “Faith is trusting God enough to do what He tells you to do,” and that’s what Jesus is saying here in the great commission. As I said, it’s not a popular word these days, it’s not a popular concept, but I think it’s the key to discipleship. So when we talk about how to best disciple believers, how there’s been books written lately, Paul Chin wrote one on the best ways to disciple, the question to ask and disciple, how do we formulate discipleship in this modern age, in this age of challenge to the church. I think we need to get back to the Master’s Plan, and this key part of the Master’s Plan, which is obedience. We need to teach each other to obey God’s commands. That’s how we best love God.
Finally, one thing I want to say about the great commission and all the other things we’ve mentioned about discipleship, 2 Timothy 2:2, where Paul tells Timothy that, “The things you have seen in me and heard, please entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” Peter talks about how to best love each other through obedience. Jesus talks about how to best love Him through obedience. Then He tells His disciples, “You go and disciple all nations. You take this to other people.”
Discipleship is designed to be experienced through other people, through other Christians. It’s not just a one-on-one thing with Jesus. He could do that if He wants. He’s God. Jesus designed discipleship and God designed discipleship to be experienced through other Christians, and I think that’s the key point. We are not Lone Rangers. Christianity is not a solo experience. Christianity is meant to be experienced with other believers in fellowship, in love, which is triggered by obedience to His commands.
So hope that makes sense. Again, I want to keep this discussion on discipleship going. Next week, you might have already guessed, I’m going to discuss one of the other key elements of discipleship, and that is baptism. What does it mean when we disciple one another, make disciples? What part does baptism play in it?
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