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Soul-Winning or Disciple-Making

Alright, I will begin by saying it. Here is a major pet peeve of mine: when people search the Bible to try to find verses to support a preconceived idea they have. This perhaps may be the number one reason so much Scripture is taken out of context. But if you ever take the “text” out of context, all you have left is a “con.” I know if I try to make a sermon, I end up forcing the Bible to fit my sermon. But if I try to comprehend a passage, a message will flow out of the understanding that follows. So part one of today’s blog: we must get to the place where we longer make a point at the cost of proper interpretation.

In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul says, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God.” The Greek word translated “peddling” is kapeleuo, which referred to selling something deceitfully in the marketplace–something that wasn’t what it claimed to be. You must not force the Bible to illustrate your preconceived notions. Be careful not to interpret the Bible at the cost of its true meaning.

As with any Scripture, when you take the time to “dig down” beneath the surface, greater understanding will come to the meaning within God’s Word. Since the Great Commission is a command to all followers of Christ, it is important that we completely understand Christ’s directions for discipleship in our lives. Therefore, let’s take it apart and look more closely at Christ’s command.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

I will begin by analyzing the sentence structure. In school, we learn how to diagram a sentence–identify the verbs, nouns, prepositions, and other parts of speech to find out what it is saying. Apply that to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20: “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.” As you first read it, “Go”, “make disciples”, “baptizing”, and “teaching” all sound like verbs. But when you study the sentence structure, you find there is actually only one verb, matheteuo, “make disciples.” “Go”, “baptizing”, and “teaching” are only participles, which means they modify the main verb. So Pastor Craig, what does that mean for us today? Glad you asked.

That means that the Great Commission is to make disciples, which involves going to them, baptizing them, and teaching them. You have to examine the grammar carefully to fully comprehend and appreciate the meaning of the text. The true heart of God is discipleship. How does one make disciples? We do that by going, teaching, and baptizing.

Let’s continue. Look at Galatians 4:19: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Wow! The Apostle Paul was in some MAJOR pain for believers to be established disciples. Not pain for people to become believers but rather pain for people to allow Christ to be formed in their lives! Paul knew the heart of the Great Commission all too well.

Listen to the apostle’s words in Colossians 1:28-29: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

This English word “perfect” from this verse is the word “teleios” in the Greek. “Teleios” is the adjective form of “telos.” “Teleios” means to be fully grown, mature, or that which is brought to its completion. This means that the Apostle Paul desired to present every believer mature in Christ. My friends, he had captured the heart of God!

So what is the duty of those who are true disciples according to the Great Commission:

DUTIES OF THOSE WHO ARE DISCIPLES

1. Observe all things Christ commanded including baptism.

2. Submit to the teaching of those He sends to teach (the disciple).

3. At some point, disciple others as well.

And those duties of the disciplers:

DUTIES OF THE DISCIPLERS

1. Go to those in need of discipleship.

2. Teach the commands of Christ.

3. To press upon those he/she disciples the necessity of obedience.

4. Baptize the believers in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Assist the disciples in applying Christ’s commands to particular life situations.

6. And never forget: the one discipling must be living each of these out themselves.

So friends what is our ministerial goal? To fill a room every Wednesday night with lots of students? To gain more people to sing in our choir? To get invitations to speak at every large conference in the nation? To just have conversions in our altars with no discipleship? To just have 3 day youth conferences with no long-term fruitfulness? No.

According to His Great Commission it is to fix our attention on reaching maturity in Christ and bringing all others to that place as well.

To this end, I will strive the rest of my life.

Will you strive with me?

pcraig