In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave what we often call “The Great Commission” to His Church. What really serves as the Church’s job description. The very reason that He has left the Church here until His return. Here it is to remind you of it once again: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the 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.”
Now we talk a lot about the practice of the Church “making disciples” and the need to “baptize” new believers and to make sure that we “teach” those within the congregation the Lord’s commands preserved for us in His Word. However, it appears that we forget the very first component that Jesus gave in relation to this command to “make disciples,” the fact that we need to “go.”
“Go” is an action word. It requires us to do something. You can’t be faithful to the call to disciple-making without some intentionality about it. I get the impression today that there are some who think that we must wait for unbelievers to just come to a worship service where they will hear the gospel and possibly get saved. (Which absolutely can, and sometimes does, happen. God certainly has brought many through the doors of a church building on a Sunday morning who had never graced such before where His Spirit did a work in their life leading them to come to Him in repentance and faith.) Or, that we need to change things in the worship service to make it more appealing for unbelievers and entice them to come. But, neither concerns us really “going” out to make disciples as the Lord says we should. And the latter actually would be an attempt to make the church more like the world. Unless God brings about a change of heart in an unbeliever’s life, they will not find biblical teaching and preaching interesting and it will seem to them to be a waste of their time.
Some implications from an illustration that Jesus Himself gives regarding this call to make disciples also communicates to us the need to “go” out and share the gospel to get someone to disciple. He told the first disciples that He called that they were to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17). Think about the image of a fisherman. He doesn’t sit at the table in his house with the plate in front of him waiting and hoping for a fish to jump up out of the water onto the land and flip flop all the way into the door of the house and onto the plate. No. He gets his fishing pole and heads out to the lake or pond to cast bait into the water in order to catch one. Likewise, we need to go out into the world with the bait of the gospel message and seek to catch some disciples. We can’t just sit in the congregation hoping and waiting for them to arrive.
How do we do this? Again, it comes down to us being more intentional with telling others about Who Jesus is, what He has done, and calling them to repent of their sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. I’m sure that each of us have those in our families and among our friends who have yet to be saved. Pray for an opportunity to work Jesus and the gospel into a conversation with them. Part of friendship is sharing with one another what is important to you. If you are in Christ, then Jesus is the most important person in your life. So, naturally you will talk about Him and His Word as part of your daily conversation with others. Make sure to explain why He is so important to you and the reason you submit to Him as Lord over all of your life. That should bring you right to the gospel.
If you really are struggling with this (and to be fair I think all of us at times do struggle with this), then pray and ask God to give you the boldness needed to bring the gospel up with your unsaved loved ones. That’s what the apostles did when they were facing persecution for their faith and they desired to be obedient to Jesus’ word about being His witnesses to all the world. You can read their prayer in Acts 4:23-30. And guess what happened after they made such a prayer? God answered, giving them the boldness they needed and they went out to spread the gospel throughout the known world in light of the hostility that they faced. God has the ability to take care of any fear that you might have or to give you the right words that you need. Just look to Him and seek to be faithful.
God’s plan for growing His Church is through sending out His people to communicate the life-saving and life-transforming message of the gospel. If we want to see our congregation grow, we need to be participants in that plan. We need to “go” out with the message to bring in people to disciple. Let’s not neglect the first step of our Master’s “Great Commission.”
Laboring With You in Sharing the Gospel,