“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20
The Great Commission is one of the most often referenced passages in the New Testament, as it should be! Any church or Christian should take this mandate from Christ seriously.
The question is, do we really understand what Jesus is asking of us? He says, “Go therefore and make disciples…”. Notice that the emphasis of His words aren’t on the event of salvation. His main focus is to ‘make disciples’. This isn’t an event like salvation, it’s the process of sanctification that Jesus is reinforcing.
What does it actually mean to make disciples? Most pastors and churches see it as the evangelization of the world through the preaching of the Gospel. That would be true but He's saying much more! To ‘make disciples’ is far more than simply accruing converts. Disciple actually means learner. A disciple is a learning believer – one who is growing in their faith and love for Jesus.
In the Great Commission our Lord emphasizes not the event of salvation but the process of sanctification. The life-long process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Every genuine conversion bears the fruit of a believer who is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This must be the focus of every Christian church and every shepherd leader. To lovingly feed and protect the sheep by faithfully teaching God's Word.
And even that doesn't give us the full understanding of Jesus' encouragement to 'make disciples'. It really comes down to every individual believer seeing themself as a life-long learner, growing more and more in their understanding and love for Jesus.
To do that, you have to pray and ask God to open your eyes of understanding so that His Word will come alive in you! There is no substitute for reading and studying the Word of God each day. It’s more than just sitting under a faithful expositor of the Word, you have to grow to know the Jesus of the Bible for yourself!
Jesus went so far as to say, ““If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” (John 8:31).
So, get going! It’s never too late and you’re never too old to read and study God’s Word. Just start now. Don’t allow sermons and worship music and small groups replace you’re personal time in His Word. He will meet you there. The rest of that passage in John 8 says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~Pastor Greg Sempsrott