The passage that is before us today is usually associated with evangelism.In reality, however, it is much bigger than that.It describes the mission of the Church in the world: to disciple the nations.
A.The basis of the commission: Jesus's authority
1.Jesus had always had authority, but it was veiled because of the nature of his ministry.
2.But now the resurrection has unveiled all his authority, he has indeed been declared the King of kings and Lord of lords.
3.The Church can confidently follow him because he has the authority to lead it.
B.The promise of the commission: Jesus's presence.
1.Jesus is present in the doing of the commission – the original says "I myself am with you" and John tells us that Jesus does that through his Spirit.
2.It makes sense that Jesus makes this promise to be specially present in the making of disciples since he was all about making disciples during his earthly ministry.
C.The duration of the commission: till the end of the age.
1.Till the consummation of this present age at the coming of Jesus Christ.
2.This means that the church is to carry on this commission till she sees her Lord face to face again.
D.The goal of the commission: make disciples
1.This is the only command in the passage.
2.Though in English the word go is translated as a command, in the original language it is a participle that describes when they should start making disciples.
a.We could properly translate this clause as "having gone [implies from here], make disciples…"
b.Or, "When you go [again implied from here], make disciples…"
c.The idea, then, that Jesus is getting across is, "When we are through here, make disciples.
3.So, the goal or the command of the commission is to make disciple, or to disciple the nations.
Discipleship – The constant process in which a Christian is helped by the covenant community to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that he becomes progressively conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and can in turn disciple others.
Rom. 12:1-2– I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
E.The manner in which the commission is to be carried out: baptizing and teaching.
1.These two words describe the making disciples.
2.The question arises, "How do I make disciples by baptizing people?"
a.The wrong answer to this question has caused missionaries to trust in massive water baptism for the salvation of unreached peoples.
b.It is easier to understand this passage if we let the word baptizing stand for what the sacrament signifies and not the act itself.
WCF 27:2 – There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.
c.What baptism signifies.
WCF 28:1 – Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church, but also to be to him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.
d.All these things are the result of the work of the Spirit of God through the gospel.
e.Thus, baptizing here stands for evangelism.
f.The first element of making disciples is introducing the ones who are not disciples yet to Jesus Christ, the Lord, whose disciples they will be.
g.It is also important that Jesus did use the word baptizing instead of spelling out what it signifies because it tells us that the disciple making ministry is a ministry that needs to take place in the context of the visible church since baptism is one of her sacraments.We addressed this issue last week.
3.The second element in carrying out this commission is teaching the nations to obey all that Christ commanded his Church to believe and do.
a.Paul refers to this idea when he tells the Ephesian elders the following:
Acts 20:20-21, 26-27 – … how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.…Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
b.You can see that this is a never-ending process.
1)We will be ready to not be a disciple anymore when we know everything about the Scriptures, believe everything the Scriptures say, and do all that they command.
2)Every follower Jesus Christ, then, should at the same time be a disciple and a discipler.
F.The scope of the commission: the nations.
1.This may hit you as a daunting task, but as we saw last week, the nations start right here at our homes and at our church.
2.So we begin obeying our Lord by making disciples in our homes and right here at our church.
II.How Do We Make Disciples Right Here?
A.It starts with the pastor and elders – it is my job to disciple you so that you'll be equipped to minister to one another.
Eph. 4:11-12– And He Himself gave some to beapostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, or the equipping [related to making complete] of the saints for [unto] the work of ministry, for [unto] the edifying of the body of Christ,…
B.It moves over to the entire body
Eph. 4:13-16– … till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Eph. 5:15-21 – See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. [don't seek ecstasy from alcohol, you can get it from discipling one another]
C.It continues at home.
Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
The home is a strategic location for teaching disciples how to love God and others. We want to equip fathers so that they can lead their households in the solemn duty of family worship.Church's Vision Statement
D.It crosses generational lines.
Titus 2:1-8 – But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
E.It requires humility.
1.Humility that is characterized by willingness to grow in Christ and receive instruction.
Jam. 1:21-22 – Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
2.Humility in the one discipling so that the instruction may be done without pride or hypocrisy.
Phil. 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
F.It requires building up relationships where growth centered around the gospel can take place.
1.So, it takes work.
2.It takes exposure.
3.It takes emotional risk.
4.It takes opening up to others
Phil. 2:4 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
G.It requires sacrifice
Lk. 14:26-28 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it…
H.It requires knowing how the Lord has gifted you and using those gifts to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Rom. 12:3-8 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himselfmore highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let usprophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Can you imagine a church like this, where every member and regular attendee is thriving in Christ?That is what God wants our church to be.As we disciple ourselves and follow the Master Jesus Christ, we will be ready to disciple the nations. O Lord Jesus, give us grace to do so.Amen.
FCQ. 106 – In whose name are we to pray? In the name of Christ only.
FCQ. 107 – What did Christ give us to teach us about prayer? The Lord's Prayer.
FCQ. 108 – What is the Lord's Prayer? "Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Shorter Catechism Questions:
SCQ. 94 – What is baptism? Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, does signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's.
SCQ. 95 – To whom is Baptism to be administered? Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.