We’ve come very far in our overview of the Marks of healthy churches. Today we begin a look at Mark #8, discipleship. So this week we’ll look at what it is, how it is done, and hear from two folks (Mark Dever / Robby Gallaty) who have done this very well.
But before we get to those things, I’ve got one concern today – the greatest commandment. After Jesus rose from the grave yet before He ascended home to Our Father He said this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
This has been called the “Great Commission” down through the ages of church history and rightly so, for in it we find the joys to which we are called to as the Church. Notice Jesus has all authority now? Notice we are to reach the nations? Notice we are baptize, teach, and feel the presence of Jesus to the end of the age? It’s all great. But there is one phrase that is often overlooked, “make disciples.” This is how we reach the nations, this is how to exercise the authority of Christ, this is how the Church is taught, and this is what the Church is baptized into. Spreading the gospel without discipleship is wicked. Discipleship without a recognition of the authority of Christ is wicked. Discipleship without Trinitarian baptism is wicked. Discipleship is how the nations will be reached with the gospel, and how men and women will grow.
When people speak of Jesus’ greatest command He gave to the Church people often speak of John 13 and the command to love one another, and by this love all men will know we follow Him. But what is love? Giving people what they need when they deserve it the least. What do we need most? What do we, by our sin, deserve the least? Both answers are one and the same – the gospel. Therefore if giving people the gospel is the essence of love, than carrying out the command to bring this love to the nations via discipleship is the greatest command of Jesus ever given.
Church, discipleship must be the goal we seek to achieve with each other. If we ignore this, are we really obeying Jesus or merely doing what is comfortable? These two, comfort and obedience, are usually not friends.
Friends, disciple and seek to be discipled. This is how we fulfill the Great Commission.