· Beginning of New Year & rapid escalation towards the endtimes means that we need to scale back and refocus ourselves and recalibrate ourselves as a church and as individuals on what is truly important. That means that we need to focus in on pritiorites on what is important, not to us but what is important to God.
· , This is God’s priority for the church.
o Before I get started there are a couple of issues about the Great Comission I want to cover.
§ Firstly I need to cover There is a current trend in scholarship to reject the Great commission as relevant for today because Jesus was addressing the 11 disciples. We need to have an awareness about this and understand that it is still relevant. I reject this notion because:
· Jesus told the disciples to teach whatever He commanded them to others. That being true, and the Great Commision being a Commandment, means that it is covered under the all.
· Secondly, Jesus said that He would be with the disciples until the end of the age. If the scope of the commission was until the end of the age and the discioples died before the end of the age it therefore stands to reason that the scope of the Great Commission extends past the discioples themesleves but rather to the Church as a whole.
· Thirdly, by applying the logic that Jesus only spoke to the disciples and gave the commandment to them, means I can use that same logic to excuse myself from the majority of what Jesus said to the disciples.
· Fourthly, it wasn’t just the 11 who obeyed this commission and took it for themselves to complete. Paul and Barnabas where amongst the many who where not a part of that original group and still obeyed it.
§ Looking at the Great Comission itself the second issue that I want to deal with is the notion that the Great Commission is about evangelism. I know that it has been commonly taught in the Chruch that the Great Comission and Evangelism is synonomous but they actually aren’t. As people who need to be faithful to the text we need to see exactly what is being said in the text. O ne of the lkmost difficult things to do when studying the scripture is to come to the bible without our presuppositions and allow the text to speak to us. So lets turn to the text and look at what it is saying to us.
· In the wonderful world of theology there is a name for commands. The name given for commands are what are known as imperitive verbs. Whenever you see these impereitve verbs they are more often than not the central verb around which every other piece of grammer within a portion of scripture are subject to.
· The Great Comission only contains one imperitive word in the Greek, that word is μαθητεύσατε (matheteusate), which is the word that is translated “Make Disciples” which is what it means. So what does all of this mean? The singuilar command given in the Great Commission is not preach the gospel, it is make disciples.
· Now, this does not mena that we do not preach the gospel, becasu that is implied in the this commandment to make disciples, but the primaray command that is give here is to make disciples. We, as the church, have been given the priority by Jesus Himself to go adn to make disciples. You and I as the church are called to be disciple makers, we are called to lbecome people who can teach and instruct and lead others into maturity and into la relationship with Jesus Christ.
· I would submit to you athat, particulary in the contemporary church the focus has been on making converts rather than discioples. But making converts is not what we are called to and jonly has limited value.
· The reason why the church has become weak and ineffective in the world, primarily , I believe is because of this mental shift from being those who are called disciples, becoming mature sons and daughters of God, to a church full of immature spirtiituals babies who are still looking to someone to feed them from the bottle. Let me give you 9 differences between a convert and a disciple
o Converts live like the world, disciples live like Jesus.
o Converts are focused on their self consistently, Disciples strive to be focused on Jesus.
o Converts go to church, Disciples are the church.
o Converts can have passing involvement in the mission of Jesus. Disciples are committed to the mission of Jesus.
o Converts cheer from the sidelines, Disciples are in the game.
o Converts hear the word of God, Disciples live the word of God.
o Converts simply follow rules, Disciples follow the rule maker.
o Converts like comfort, Disciples choose sacrifice.
o Converts talk, Disciples make more disciples.
· I want to make something very clear to you. The early church where not refered to as Christians but they where refered to as disciples. Out of 30 mentions of the word disciple in the book of are directly related to the corporate church. The church is not filled with converts, it is filled with disciples
God has called us to make disciples
· So the fact is that God has called us to make disciples, if we look carefully at the text it says them “teaching them to observe” this means obey. The Greek word here carries the sense of conforming to something, they are conforming themselves to the teaching. This will become an important point in a minute. So we are to produce Dsiciples who are not only walking the walking but who are talking the talk. We are not simply to produce converts that can parrot the words we give them or fill their heads with knowledge but those who can live out the teachings of our Rabbi.
God has called us to be disciples
Not only has God called us to be disciples. God has called us to be disciples. In fact I would say this, you cannot produce something that you yourself are not. In the order of Gods universe God commends reproduction after its “own kind”.
Turn with me to Hebrews
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
Here is how the disciple process works:
You Learn because you are taught
You take the knowledge that you have received and you “practice” (or do) it.
You become skilled in it, rather than unskilled
You then become a teacher
It’s a simple process so lets simplify it.
LEARN==è DO ==è GROW =è TEACH
“freely you have received freely give”
You cannot give what you have not first received. You can not give out of the abundance of nothing, you cannot teach others what you have not learnt yourself
Turn with me to Matthew
51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
A scribe was someone who taught, they where teachers, but before they could teach they had to be what? “trained”.
Trying to make a disciple without first being in training as a disciple is impossible. First you have to be the disciple, then when you have learnt you can then go teach others to do likewise. It would be akin to me going and teaching a professional cooking course if I have never even picked up a pan in my life, I cant do it, it is impossible.
If you want to commit yourself to the purpose of God to make disciples then you must first be committed to the process of being a disciple.
· So lets begin by defining discipleship. I could define discipleship by purely giving you a definition from a theological dictionary:
· At the time of Jesus, the Greek term for disciple usually referred to an adherent of a great teacher or master. “Disciple” (μαθητής, mathētēs) derives from the verb “to learn” (μανθάνειν, manthanein). In the early classical period it was used of a “learner” in a general sense, such as an “adherent” of a great teacher or teaching, or more technically as an “institutional pupil” of the Sophists. In the late Hellenistic period, the term was still in use.
· So that’s great to understand the vauge definition of the word disciple, but I want to get to the heart of the concept rather than just the word. In order to understand discipleship we need to look at the charichteristics of what a disciple is.
 Dan Nässelqvist, “Disciple,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).