This post originally appeared on The Discipleship Institute Website. https://www.discipleshipinstitute.org.au
My assumption is that if you are reading this you are a follower of Jesus who is interested in Christian Discipleship so here are some biblical facts that ought to profoundly shape how you live your life as a follower of Jesus.
God has a mission;
The church is the vehicle for delivering outcomes for this mission;
Each individual within the church is a conscript in this mission; Yes – you are a conscript. Jesus says, “you did not choose me but I chose you” ( see John 14)
The specifics of this mission are encapsulated in the commission by Jesus to disciples of Jesus to ‘make disciples’;
God has empowered the Church to live in such a way as to achieve this mission in the world.
In Matthew 28 verse 18 and following, Jesus provides a clear mission mandate, that is, ‘rally-cry’ to his followers; make disciples who make disciples! To understand the significance of what Jesus has called us, the church, into as a people, its important we unpack this often misunderstood section of Jesus’ parting words to his followers. In his commentary on the gospel of Matthew, Craig Blomberg writes “The main command of Christ’s commission is to ‘make disciples’. Too much and too little has been made of this observation. Too much of it when the disciple’s “going” is overly subordinated, so that Jesus’ charge is to proselytise merely where one is … Too little is made of it when all attention is centred on the command to “go”, as in countless appeals for missionary candidates, so that foreign missions are elevated to a higher status of Christian service than other forms of spiritual activity” (‘Matthew’ New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman, 1992, p431) Yes, you are right, it’s a long quote, but its vitally important to get our collective heads and hearts around the significance of what Craig is saying, that Jesus is saying; and in doing this we come to realize that the mission of ‘making disciples who make disciples’ is a local imperative that has global ramifications!
Let’s look at the picture that sits as the backdrop to the Matthew 28 text.
Jesus has intentionally gathered the 11 disciples (otherwise known as apostles) and commissioned them for the mission of the Kingdom.
Jesus reminds them that HE has the authority to do what he is about to do
The passage demonstrates that Jesus is addressing followers whom he is expecting will move out and witness and that as they move out ‘in your going’ they will make disciples
‘Make disciples’ is qualified – there is to be an induction and teaching component – ‘teach them to obey all that I have commanded’ and that ongoing teaching and induction process is to include what Jesus has just commanded them. This is why we can confidently conclude that the church is to primarily be about the business of making disciples who make disciples who make disciples – until Jesus returns!
Specifically then, when Jesus says to ‘make disciples of all nations’, he qualifies what this looks like so that we know the extent of the mission we are called into. (1) go, move out and in your going, make disciples. (2) The imperative ‘make disciples’ (which is directly associated with the 3 participles that sit ‘in context’ to this imperative; ‘going’, ‘baptising’ and ‘teaching’ is given to us as followers of Jesus and provide us with clarity as to what is expected of those who call themselves followers of Jesus the Christ.
The Discipleship Institute (TDI) exists to help the people of GWAC fulfill the mission imperative that God has entrusted to us; to train equip and release disciples of Jesus Christ for the Kingdom mission he has called us into. By extension, we are therefore open to seeing TDI be a vehicle for the wider church, in shaping and preparing people for living as disciples, but principally, our mission is to fulfill God’s mission and that requires us, as a church to ‘live lives on mission’. And there is the ‘pinch’ – the sting in the tail of being a disciple of Jesus; The Discipleship Institute is NOT a vehicle to be utilized by some. TDI is more than an institute for those who have some spare time to learn; rather it’s the vehicle to help us as a church, live life on mission. Being a disciple of Jesus is the end game. Its what Jesus has called the church into and its what he empowers the Church to do; make disciples of all nations and as we do that, we are to baptize them and teach them to obey all that Jesus taught and commanded. This life of being a disciple is a life on mission for the one who called us into mission; it’s a life lived for Jesus. The Discipleship Institute exists to help people learn experientially and intellectually, that the cost of discipleship is great and we need to count this cost, not try to negotiate it. Too often, followers of Jesus are willing to give up things, but we are not willing to give up the right to determine what those things are.