Recently the Elders at New Durham Chapel revised our churches’ purpose statement to read “Making Disciples, Teaching God’s Word, Glorifying God”. I would like to take the next 3 blogs to unpack the statement and it’s significant to all of us. This past Sunday we considered the challenge of Easter by looking at Jesus’ words in the 16th chapter of Mark’s gospel where Jesus says “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (v.15, NIV). This challenge must have seemed incredibly overwhelming to these 11 apostles. “All the world” is sure a long way to go especially without planes or cars or even bicycles. As Jesus unpacked the strategy over His next couple of meetings with His apostles they would get a vision of how Jesus wanted to use them.
One of the specific aspects of Jesus’ plan for His apostles was that they would be instruments in making disciples. We see this in the charge the Lord left with His disciples in the 28th chapter of Matthew where Jesus says, “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 am with you always, to the very end of the age”, (v. 19-20 NIV).
In the Greek culture of Jesus’ day the word disciple referred to one who attached themselves to a teacher to gain practical or theoretical knowledge. This was done by instruction or by the experience of following and learning from their teacher. The New Testament teaches that the goal of disciple making is to shape the likeness, not simply the knowledge, of Jesus into our thoughts and lives. This is seen clearly in the 8th chapter (an incredible chapter) of Romans where Paul writes, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (v. 29 NIV). So our goal in this discipleship process is the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ reproduced in the students.
Making disciples was not just Jesus’ plan for the apostles but it is His continued plan throughout the ages. The term “making disciples” in Matthew’s charge is in the aorist imperative tense which is a call for a specific and definite decision. The way we make disciples is first winning them to Christ, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus taught. The charge of Matthew’s gospel also contains the words “of all nations”. This would have radically impacted the disciples thought process as they would have to totally realign their thinking to see this message was going way beyond the confines of Jerusalem or even Israel. God’s desire for us is that we seek to impact our world wherever we can engage it. We must allow His Holy Spirit to use us however He sees fit in shaping and molding disciples for Christ for His glory.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo