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Did you realize there’s a part of the Great Commission that’s missing from most Christian’s lives? If you ask any random Christian what the Great Commission is, they’ll gladly tell you it’s to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” But is that it?
What is the Great Commission, really?
You might get the ‘super spiritual’ one that breaks it down for you and tells you that Jerusalem is your neighborhood, Judea is your greater home area (maybe your state or country?), and that Samaria is those places where ‘undesirable’ people live.
If everyone knows it, why isn’t everyone doing it? Why is the growth of Christianity stagnant?
—–> What if we’re all missing the most important part?
What is the Great Commission?
The Great Commission is the last direction Jesus gave before going to heaven. It’s found in several places in the Bible, but most notably at the end of the Gospel of Matthew.
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, ESV, emphasis mine)
The Problem Today
Whenever you ask someone “What is the Great Commission?” and you get the answer “to go tell people about Jesus,” you’ve identified the problem.
Let’s pretend that salvation equals a lake. Do you walk around grabbing people off of the streets and throwing them into the lake and keep going?
What if their clothes are so heavy that they drown? What if they can’t swim? What if they have a fear of water? What if it’s so cold they get hypothermia?
What if they quickly swim to shore and avoid water for the rest of their lives because your tactics terrified them?
Witnessing is like that.
When we reduce salvation (and the Great Commission) to getting as many people as possible to pray a sinner’s prayer (that isn’t even in the Bible, by the way), we have effectively tossed them into a lake and kept going.
Hmmm….there’s got to be a better way.
What is the Great Commission & How Can You Fulfill it?
The Great Commision says: Go
The first essential part of fulfilling this commission is to “go.” Does this mean you immediately need to renew your passport and book an airline flight to some third world country?
My friend, this means you need to get up and get out of your comfortable little bubble and intentionally walk (or ride or drive) into the world around you. I don’t know what your life is like, but I do know there is some way for you to do this — you just need to figure out what it is.
That could mean going and crossing the street to talk to your neighbors, going a few miles down the road to the home of a hurting acquaintance you haven’t bothered to befriend (yet…because I guarantee you, if you start living out the Great Commission, God is going to change those situations!), or going to volunteer at a food bank or kids outreach.
It could mean all of the above.
The only for-sure thing is that you need to “go” where God sends you. And make no mistake, He is sending you. You just might not have been obeying yet.
The Great Commision says: Make Disciples
But see, here’s the part where it starts to break down in the lives of most believers and why the Church isn’t growing like it ought. I mean, we’re not even the fastest growing religion out there — even though we have JESUS.
What? That’s right; Islam is.
Islam should not be the fastest growing religion in the world and Christians need to stop being the reason that it is.
But you know what Islam is doing that makes it that way? Making disciples.
Do you know what many Christians aren’t? Making disciples.
What is a disciple?
A disciple is someone who is learning and growing; they are committed to developing in a certain way of living.
To make a disciple, you need to do more than say, “Hey! Wanna get saved? Let’s pray and you can ask Jesus into your heart.” Much more.
You need to let people know that believing in Jesus and submitting their hearts to Him is only a starting point. This is hard work on your part. You don’t just get to go out and ‘save someone’ and call it a day.
Friend, it’s not a “how many people can I lead to Jesus?” competition. It’s not even a “how many people can I invite to church?” game.
It’s all about eternity: How many people can you love well and point to Love Himself?
Sure you need to go and tell (or really, go and show, but that’s a different topic for a different soapbox!). BUT…then you need to point them to the Bible and equip them to grow in it.
That might mean you have them over for dinner and talk about the Word, talk on the phone and encourage them and answer questions, or help connect them with a local church or individual who can do that.
Making disciples isn’t about making students; it’s about revealing Jesus to them so that He can captivate their hearts. It’s about presenting the Gospel with love so that it is irresistible. It’s about people who come to Him wanting to know more.
That means you can’t go out and say “turn or burn” (yeah, people actually do that…not you, of course, but some people do). You don’t want to scare people out of hell; you want to love to Jesus.
Related: What Does It Mean To Make Disciples?
The Great Commision says: Baptize Them
It actually does say that. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with that. This one’s kind of hard.
I mean, it’s not like I carry a gallon of water in my purse to dump over people’s heads or plan to dunk them in the nearest pond just so I can be obedient.
And yet, we are clearly commanded to go, make disciples, and baptize them.
So how can you do this?
I’m sure there are many ways, but what works from my experience is letting the Holy Spirit do His thing while I do mine. I’ve found that when I am intentionally discipling someone, we are diving deep into the Gospels and reading them, then moving into Acts.
They are getting to know Jesus and loving Him more. That love sparks in them a desire to obey Him.
And that obedience leads to baptism.
Side note: I leave that to my pastor (or theirs, if they go elsewhere for church — which is totally okay!). But I definitely read the Bible and share the need.
The Great Commision says: Teach Them
Say what?! You mean that beyond going and witnessing, helping them become disciples, and leading them towards baptism there’s more? That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Or rather, what Jesus said.
And while you can totally ignore me, you really shouldn’t ignore Him. Just sayin’.
Teach them who Jesus is
Introduce them to Jesus. Read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and highlight passages that point out who He is…and who He is to them.
When you teach someone, you explain something in basic and simple ways so that they can learn. And Jesus is the most important subject you will ever teach.
You actually started doing this when you followed “go.” That’s how how you lead people to Jesus.
Teach them what a Christian life that honors God looks like
One of the hardest parts about becoming a Christian when you’re a teen or adult is leaving behind a lifetime of habits, mindsets, and addictions to things you used to fill the void that Jesus now fills.
And it’s hard to quit cold turkey.
When you disciple and teach someone, you’re going to get to help them through that by praying for them and encouraging them and studying the Bible with them.
You actually started doing this when you followed “make disciples.” Discipleship happens when we learn.
Teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded them
That’s actually what the Great Commission says.
And it’s the part where the church most often runs amuck and Christianity goes awry.
It can be so easy to reduce the Gospel to a list of rules to follow and a daily checklist to complete. You know the drill: good Christians do their devotions every morning, good Christians never raise their voice at their kids, good Christians only wear turtlenecks and ankle-length skirts.
God, forgive us.
You can teach people to love Jesus and share the Gospel with them, but you have to let the Holy Spirit do His job, too. You can teach obedience, but you can’t make anyone obey, nor should you attempt to boil obedience down to actions.
Obedience, my sweet friend, is all about the heart. Teach them to love God and build a relationship with Him. That will lead to obedience.
Are you doing the Great Commission right?
When you follow all four parts of the Great Commission you’ve gone from tossing people into a lake to getting into with them and teaching them how to swim, the beauty of the water, and even helped them explore what is below the surface.
This is the heart of the Gospel.
Doing what you were called to do is possible
My sweet friend, Jesus wouldn’t have asked you to do this if you couldn’t.
There is grace to equip you for this work. And don’t forget that if you’re a mom, you have a beautiful misison field under your own roof. But you still have to go, too. We’re all called to keep reaching out.
Today I challenge you to:
- Pray about how you can fulfill the Great Commission
- Ask God to send you to the people He has for you to witness to
- Follow through with Go-Disciple-Baptize-Teach
This is a part of the read the entire Bible cover to cover in 90 days challenge