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8. The great commission: a call for Christians to "Go!"

My life (put) alongside God's word. The Christian disciple section.

Christians have been commissioned to tell every person about the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 28:18-20. It is a

charge to do a task for Him. In the Gospels, the twelve disciples followed, learned from and admired Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:1; John 13:35, 15:8. But these individuals alone would never achieve the great commission on their own; it is for all the followers of Christ.

Some evangelists that the Lord has used to impact lives have become world-famous. But even though we may feel unknown to anyone except God, each one of us has an important role to perform. God placed you precisely where you are to reach your immediate circle of neighbours, colleagues and friends. Are you ready to be a useful tool in God’s hand? This is evangelism: to introduce others to your one special Friend and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Our following and commitment

By tracing the word “follow” in Mark’s gospel we discover a picture of commitment that makes all other ties secondary:

  • Fishermen Simon Peter and Andrew left their business to“follow” Jesus and were changed into “fishers of men”, Mark 1:17-18.

  • Tax collector Levi, who left his collection booth, “followed” at the command of Jesus and soon introduced his Lord to his unsaved friends who also then followed, Mark 2:14-15.

  • Crowds surging around Jesus in the area of Caesarea Philippi heard Him challenge everyone to make a costly, individual commitment; suffering as part of “following”. “Take up his cross” brought the vivid picture of a publicly humiliated and condemned man to the listeners’ minds, Mark 8:31 and 34. Jesus was crucified a short time later, Matthew 27:15-44. Through Him a gentle army of “following” Christians would infiltrate the world with a message of life-transforming love from a holy God.

  • One man described as a “rich”, Mark 10:22, “young”, Matthew 19:22, “ruler” Luke 18:18, wanted to be sure of having eternal life. But the Lord pointed out an obstacle that stood in the man’s way of following Him: the man would not let go of his riches to grasp the Saviour, Mark 10:21; see also Matthew 6:24.

  • Peter with the disciples drew a response from the Lord Jesus Christ affirming eternal rewards for “allowing the things of earth to matter less to them than Jesus and the gospel”, writes Darrell Bock in his Tyndale commentary on Mark. Throughout Christian history men and women have left worldly possessions in order to give themselves to the service of “following” God, Mark 10:28.

  • A group of women had “followed (Jesus) and cared for his needs” during His earthly ministry, Mark 15:41; Luke 8:1-3. Their humble service was used of the Lord during His ministry years. There are always many ways to serve in the overall Christian mission.

A follower goes in a similar manner and the same way as the person whom he is following. Our Lord Jesus Christ encouraged everyone to think seriously about spiritual

matters, consider God their Creator, and ponder their eternal destiny. Realising that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is with us, we should do the same. By His Spirit He is already working in the hearts of those with whom we talk, ordering their life circumstances as well as ours to plant seeds of His Word into lives.

I urge you to follow Him, walk with Him and consciously accompany Him in your daily


Introducing others to Christ

From Matthew 28:16-20 we notice five steps to introduce other people to our Lord Jesus Christ:

1. Worship the Lord Jesus Christ yourself, verse17.

The eleven disciples obediently followed the word of therisen Lord heard through the women who had gone to His tomb, verses 8-10. One hundred percent obedience is a sign of true worship.

The apostle Paul saw the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point for all creation and responded to the call of God to be a witness, deeply appreciating the grace of God in his own life, Galatians 1:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:5-11; Romans 15:15-16; Acts

9:15-16,20. Take special note of the reference in Acts as Ananias shared that Paul would “suffer much”. This was not the easy calling or comfortable career that we see in much

of Christianity today. Rather, it often proves costly – surrendering your life to God for whatever He may choose to allow you to go through in life. This is genuine Christian


2. Understand where true authority is, verse 18.

We do not need to feel strong or adequate to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of the gospel is in the message, not the messenger. Paul speaks of the gospel as

“bearing fruit and growing”, Colossians 1:6, and was “confident” in God to “carry on to completion” the “good work” that was begun, Philippians 1:6. He wrote how “the Lord’s message rang out from” the young Thessalonian believers, 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

“All authority in heaven and on earth” belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 28:18. We speak with that authority to our co-workers. When we speak with family members and friends we can trust God’s power to work in the other person. Whenever human authorities challenge us, we can respectfully say that God tells us to submit to human

authority except when doing so compromises our Christian faith. We need to witness sensitively, yet boldly, Acts 4:19- 20; 1 Peter 2:12-17.

3. Move deliberately into evangelism, verse 19.

The little word “go” has big implications. After understanding “authority”, there must be a conscious effort to become a Christian witness. In a sense, people who call themselves “Christian” are already witnesses, since individuals outside of the faith will judge them. It is

necessary for every Christian to be consciously aware of being a witness all day, every day. Ask yourself first thing each morning, “How does my Lord want me to represent

Him today?” Speak about the person and the work of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

For me this meant first witnessing to my schoolmates and later to my work colleagues. I also gave testimony at gospel music events around London. Eventually, God led my wife

and me to Khartoum, Sudan. He graciously brought people to Himself in every place using His followers, whether it was through me or someone else. Fifty years ago, when I

surrendered to God’s will, I had no idea where He would lead me. Looking back, I have no regrets as God’s call can always be trusted.

4. Mark out new converts, verse 19.

Jesus instructed, “Baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Baptism is a clear and distinct point. Some believers have been baptised and

others have not. There are committed Christians who are ready to serve while others are still counting the cost. In Acts, new believers were baptised, Acts 2:41, 8:36-39, 9:18-19, 10:47-48, linking baptism with repentance. Water baptism, a picture of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives testimony to the believer’s repentance, the

turning away from sin to God. It is very fitting to begin a new life in Christ by baptism. It is also important for believers to gather together in His name. If no Biblically sound gathering exists where God sends you, it may be necessary to start one. Acts and most New Testament letters show us that Paul, Barnabas and Silas did this on their missionary journeys


5. Take time to disciple young Christians, verses 19-20.

Mould them into the image of Jesus Christ. This will happen as you arrange Bible classes to “teach them to obey” everything that Jesus commanded. Paul and Barnabas taught Antioch’s new converts for “a whole year” and it resulted in “the disciples being called Christians first at Antioch”, Acts 11:25-26.

At one church where I fellowshipped we had a discipleship class every Sunday morning as a concurrent alternative to our adult Bible class. New believers and interested but not yet believers were channelled into this group. Practical areas of life were put alongside the Bible’s teaching. People had mentors assigned to meet them once a week outside of

the class. Thanks to God, many of those young converts have remained faithful to the Lord. (See my 'Raising the Standard' discipleship book, elsewhere on this site).

Do it now!

Your investment of time and energy will be rewarded. Not all will continue in Christ, but many will. In turn they will become God’s disciple-making personal evangelists of the

future, leading many to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ before He returns. Start where you are, and go God knows where!


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