Are We Doing What Jesus Commissioned Us to Do?
In asking that question, I am directing it to each of us individually and also collectively, as a church.
Before you answer the question, you probably want to know what Christ has commissioned us to do and the answer is seen in several places in the New Testament.
We find it in our Lord’s own words in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus sent word to his disciples to meet Him at a certain mountain. When they arrived, He said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 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, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I love what Chuck Swindoll wrote — “God’s purpose and design are clear: We are to be engaged in the work of ministry. Furthermore, we need to see ourselves as gifted members of the body of Christ, (1 Cor. 12) called to touch other lives and stimulate mutual growth. This is commonly referred to as discipleship, a term used to describe the process of building up one another in the faith. When kept in proper balance, it can be extremely effective in helping others grow toward maturity.”
Making disciples begins with relationship — first of all with a person you want to influence to Christ. Next, is that person establishing a relationship with Christ. Recently, I had lunch with a retired pastor/chaplain. He shared how he began to be stirred in his heart to become a pastor before he even knew what it was to be saved or born again. Fortunately, he went to a pastor who knew the ropes and said, “Before you become a pastor, you need to be a Christian.” He was asked, “Are you a Christian? Have you been born again?” It was then he received Christ and God’s call became clear.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
In receiving Jesus as Savior and LORD, the new convert (disciple) begins to grow in that relationship and should become a fully devoted follower of the Savior. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that we have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” Then we learn that we have been given “the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) Paul makes it very clear that Jesus Christ is the means of reconciliation. In verse 18 we read, “all this is from God who reconciled us to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them …”
God’s plan to reconcile us to Himself or restore us to a harmonious relationship with Himself is not to stop with us. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 we read, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf. Be reconciled to God.”
Christ is the champion of our faith. As we grow in Him, we realize there is only one way for anyone to be made right with God and that is by trusting in Christ. Jesus Himself made that way clear. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:6)
The Apostle Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Jesus Christ is our discipler. Every born-again Christian should see himself/herself as a disciple. We attach ourselves to Him. We walk with Him. He teaches us. We learn from Him. He lives in and through us by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Let me give you this definition of a disciple. “A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.”
Listen to the words of our wonderful Savior who bore the penalty for our sin on Calvary — in Luke 9:23-24, we read, “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it’.”
In these verses, we see several characteristics of a disciple.
1. Such a person will practice denial of self.
2. This person will also take up his cross daily. The cross is a symbol of death and our LORD who died for us asks us to put to death our own selfish desires and wills. He wants us to live to accomplish His will.
3. Then He says, “Follow Me.” This is an invitation to a life of obedience. We should be like David when he wrote in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O my God. And Your law is within my heart.”
In my mind one of the pure examples of discipleship is found in parenting. The parents are the disciplers. They bring the children into the world and from the very beginning start to invest themselves into those little ones. They nurture them by means of feeding, cleaning, teaching, training, disciplining; and, encouraging by means of examples, perhaps more than words. As the children grow if they have been faithfully and fervently trained, they will probably begin to manifest a likeness to the parent disciplers.
The spirit and prayer of each of us as Christ’s disciples should be like the words in this hymn, “Have Thine Own Way, LORD” …
1. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.
2. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me, Savior today!
Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
as in thy presence humbly I bow.
3. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!
4. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!
We used to sing this little chorus that also should be the desire of every believer —
“My desire to be like Jesus,
My desire to be like Him.
His spirit fill me,
His love o’erwhelm me.
In word and deed
To be like Him.”
Let me close with a question —
How can I be a Christian and not be moved by love to want to be like Him.
Wanting to be more like Him,