by Steven Chan
This past weekend we have been teaching many concerning the gospel in compliance with the Great Commission of our Lord as stated in Matt 28:18-20. It is important to know that the Great Commission requires more than just getting people baptized into Christ. Let’s consider what is stated in Matt 28:18-20: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (NKJV). In the KJV in place of the phrase “make disciples” it is rendered, “teach all nations.”
The primary task is to “teach all nations”, that is, “make disciples” of all the nations. Clearly the work involves more than baptizing believers. As the apostle Paul puts it in 1 Cor 1:17: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” The people must be taught the gospel and not just simply be persuaded to be baptized.
Let’s consider one case of how an early Christian made disciple. In Acts 8:35-38, we read of the evangelistic effort of Philip as he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”
Philip taught the eunuch concerning Jesus and His gospel which then led the eunuch to ask whether he could be baptized. Upon the eunuch’s confession of his faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Philip then baptized him. So, he was taught why he should be a disciple of Christ, and then only because he believed (and therefore implied that he wanted to be a disciple of Christ), he was then baptized.
What does our Lord expect of His disciple?
- According to Matt 10:25, a disciple of Jesus is expected to be like his teacher. 1 Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 1 Cor 11:1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” KJV
- In Luke 14:26-27, 33, a disciple of Jesus is expected to forsake all that he has, bear his cross and come after Him: “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. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple….So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
- One need to abide in the teachings of Jesus if one seeks to be a true disciple of Jesus: John 8:31-32: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Some profess to love Jesus but are reluctant to keep His commandments. Yet Jesus said in John 14:15: “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments”. ASV
- The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 13:35 that the love that disciples have for one another will declare to the world that they are indeed disciples of Jesus: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- In John 15:8, Jesus said: “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” NASB
The Lord expects His disciples to be like Him, to put Him first before all things, to abide in His Word, to truly love one another and to bear much fruit and thereby glorify His Father in heaven. In order to be faithful and fruitful disciple of Christ, we must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Pet 3:18.
In Matt 7:21-23, Jesus warned of the danger of missing out on the kingdom of heaven when we fail to do the will of the Father in heaven: “21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me.”
Mere claims by so-called disciples of Christ, regardless of how incredible the supposed demonstration of power over demons, …may appear to be, do not guarantee or assure one of a place in heaven. In order to be assured of one’s place in heaven, Jesus has clearly said, one must actually do the will of the Father in heaven.
So, as disciples of Jesus, are we doing the will of the Father in heaven? The Bible reminds us in James 1:22, 25: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves… But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” The emphasis is on actually doing the Word of God and not merely the hearing of the Word of God. This truth is clearly illustrated by the parable of the wise and foolish house builders in Matt 7:24-27.
May we make it our aim to make disciples of Christ by teaching them the gospel, baptizing them, and then continuing to teach them to observe all things whatsoever our Lord has commanded us (Matt 28;18-20).