If we are saved God has called us to be followers of Jesus and to make followers of Jesus. Listen to these familiar words:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
There are three main components to this mission of “making disciples”: Going, baptizing and teaching. This last component of “making disciples” is not a one and done thing: “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” When does that stop? Over time that new believer is more and more grounded in the faith and grows more and more “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Very soon they themselves are discipling others by “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” The rest of our lives as believers we are on two tracks in relationship to this discipleship. We are being taught by others to observe all that Christ has commanded and we are being used to teach others the same.
Consider the example of the Apostle Peter. As he wrote 2 Peter he was near his death. Tradition tells us that He died in Nero’s persecution just after this last letter was written. He was sacrificially discipling those around him all the while very aware that he would not be there forever. With that in mind listen to his burden for those he ministered to:
And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. (2 Peter 1:15)
He was being used by God to give Scriptural truth to the believers and he had this burden: That they would be able to “call these things to mind” in the future. That is the heart of someone who is focused on making and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ.
Three important pieces to notice from Peter’s example:
- He was aware that he would not always be on this earth.
- This awareness propelled current diligence in discipling others.
- His burden was that those he ministered to would have minds filled with God’s truth so that they could believingly call it to mind in all of life.
We need to apply this example to three areas of our lives as believers because we too have been commissioned to “make disciples of all nations” by teaching.
Being diligent with the truth in the world: Simply put, we must be on the outlook for and making opportunities with the gospel. On the forefront of our minds ought to be this fact: Everyone around us will either spend eternity in the very presence of God, or “away from the presence of the Lord and glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Therefore, we must be busy teaching the gospel to those around us.
Being diligent with the truth in our families: Men, if you are married God has given you the privilege and responsibility to reflect the love of Christ for the church in your relationship with your wife:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5:25-26)
Notice this reflection involves the ministry of the Word in your marriage.
Parents, God has sovereignly given us a mission field in our own homes. He has allowed pagans to be born under our roof! Our children are cute little God denying rebels that God has given us the task of evangelizing and discipling into whole-hearted followers of Jesus Christ. Consider these words of instruction which ought to be true of our homes because our burden is that our children might recall to their minds God’s truth and live on the basis of that truth.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
Being diligent with the truth in every relationship: What about those who do not have anyone in their life who recognizes their responsibility to communicate God’s truth to them? Should we not be burdened that such people in our lives be instructed of Christ? In essence, what I am saying is that we are to be burdened to communicate God’s truth to everyone around us. Everyone needs to learn to observe all that Christ has commanded.
Being diligent with the truth in the church: The church is described as the “pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Within the context of the church, Christ the Head of the Church has commanded His undershepherds (overseers, elders) to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Each week that we gather to worship discipleship is happening for we are being taught to observe all that Christ commands. The regular exposition of Scripture is really designed by God to be the engine room for the discipleship that ought to be happening on many levels among us and between us throughout the week. Colossians 3:16 is the right description of a church that is flourishing in this great task of discipleship:
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Consider again the example of the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:15:
- He was aware that he would not always be on this earth: There is coming a day that all our words about Christ will be said to those around us. Our spouse will never hear another word of Christ form us. Our children will only have what we said and modeled to them in the past. Fellow church members will only be able to recall our communication about Christ. Those whom God has given me the responsibility to shepherd as a pastor will hear nothing more from me.
- This awareness propelled current diligence in discipling others: Are you busy drinking up any instruction about Christ and diligently teaching others about Him? Parents, do you have a sense of patient, long haul, urgency about instructing your children in the things of Christ? What disturbs you more, that your children might not get a good education in school or that they might not be learning what they must know about Christ from you?
- His burden was that those he ministered to would have minds filled with God’s truth so that they could believingly call it to mind in all of life: This is the high privilege that God has given all true believers. We can be used in His hand to point people to a greater knowledge of Christ. There is no greater gift to give someone than to diligently work that they might be able to recall and believe spiritual truth, spiritual truth that is necessary for time and eternity.