At the end of Matthew’s Gospel (28:16-20) Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission. In Mark’s account (16:15), Jesus commands the disciples to “preach the gospel to all creation.” This was the first verse I ever memorized as a child. In the King James it reads “to every creature.” The wording in Matthew is a little different. We’re not just to preach the gospel, we are to make disciples. What’s the difference?
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be familiar with the traveling tent revival. They’re pretty rare anymore. Back in the day, an evangelist would come into town and pitch a tent. The “floor” was sawdust, and the congregation would sit in rows of folding chairs. The emphasis was purely evangelism. At the end of the week, everything would be folded up and trucked to the next town. Neal Diamond had a song in the 60’s about Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. This fulfills the command to preach the Gospel, but I think Jesus had something more in mind.
The Gospel According to Matthew tells us to “make disciples” of the nations. Discipleship is an ongoing process. The 12 Apostles followed Jesus for 3 1/2 years listening to him preach as well as receiving private teaching and instruction. Discipleship takes time and requires sacrifice. In John’s Gospel account, Peter is told to tend the lambs and feed the sheep. You can’t feed the sheep by packing up and moving on to the next town. Even church planters train and establish leadership before moving forward to plant more churches.
As church leaders, we are called to do more than win souls. We must invest time and energy into people’s lives in order to train future leaders. As church members (who are also parents, teachers and community leaders) we must devote time and energy into learning the lessons of Jesus, as well as some apologetics and witnessing. We need theologians in other places than seminary. We as the church need to learn our church history, and how to study and interpret scripture. In short, we need to be disciples.
Discipleship – click to hear sermon. Two notes on this sermon:
- I go into detail about how understanding the risen savior requires an understanding of the trinity.
- About a minute and half in (1:38 to be exact) a hornet flew straight into my face. I started the scripture reading over, planning to edit out the first two minutes but my wife begged me to leave it. She says it makes me a human being and not an internet Bible lesson 🙂 Enjoy.