Part One—The Process
Picture the scene. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. An angel tells them that Jesus isn’t there. He has risen. They’re told to go to Galilee. He’ll be there at a designated mountain. With both fear and joy, they run to tell Jesus’ disciples, only to encounter Jesus on the way. He hadn’t left for Galilee yet. Eventually, they tell the eleven disciples, who proceed to Galilee. When they arrived, Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Follow Jesus’ Example
Jesus gives them their marching orders. He has spent three years with them. Now He is telling them what they are to do with what they had learned. They are to make disciples of those God gives them, just as Jesus had made disciples of them. They are to make duplicates of what they had become. He didn’t tell them to make converts to a creed. He didn’t tell them to get decisions for Christ. He told them to make disciples. They knew exactly what Jesus meant, and it entailed an “in it for the long haul” commitment, just like Jesus had.
This meant that they were to do the same things Jesus had done for the past three years. They were to be Jesus’ representatives—His ambassadors, representing Him in every aspect of their lives, completely given over to the needs of those around them. They were to do exactly as Jesus had done.
AS I SEE IT
More than Evangelism
Too many Christians who take this “Great Commission” seriously believe they are fulfilling it when they share their faith with someone. When someone prays to receive Christ, they believe they have done their job. I know. I did this for years. I was certain that my gift was evangelism, and that’s what I focused on—leading people to Christ. Others with different gifts would do the discipling. It seemed so right. Sadly, I have no idea if any of those I had “led to Christ” never got discipled.
Let’s return to Jesus’ words on that mountain. The implied first step in the discipleship process has always been a clear and powerful presentation of the gospel. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). The meaning of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (and our identification with all three) MUST be presented (1 Cor. 15:1-5). Without a clear understanding of this, there can be no “belief.” An emotional appeal to have a relationship with God is meaningless without a discussion of how sin has separated man from God and was dealt with on the cross. Note that Jesus never explained how the gospel should be presented. The “method” wasn’t an issue. The point was that they were simply to share the reality of Jesus and how His death, burial and resurrection had changed their lives, and was continuing to change it every day.
A Current Testimony
True believers should have a dynamic testimony, and it should change every time we share it. Not our life before Christ or how we came to Christ, but our life after we were saved. We should be having encounters with the risen Christ all the time. If we are allowing Him to live His life through us, we should have story after story about our latest life-changing encounter with Him. Those around us will be fascinated by how Jesus is so real in our lives on such a regular basis. They may politely listen as we attempt to convince them of the reality of God, but they will have a genuine fascination with stories that speak of Christ’s activity in our lives every day. After all, they’re looking for something real, something practical, and something the world can’t offer.
Making disciples starts with our faith, and the most effective method of sharing our faith will be simply to bear witness of what happened in our latest encounter with the living Christ. Our testimonies will be more effective the more current they are. Don’t rely on what Christ did three years ago. What about yesterday? Your excitement today will be more effective than telling of an event in your past. I hope you don’t have trouble recounting recent encounters. If you are a genuine follower of Christ, He has been busy in your life. Have you been paying attention?
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
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