The Discipleship Journey - Go and Make Disciples

May 29, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: The Discipleship Journey

Topic: Discipleship Passage: Matthew 28:16–28:20

The Discipleship Journey

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

May 29, 2022

 

Go and Make Disciples

I didn’t intend to do this message this week, but after the horrific shooting in Uvalde the gospel message of rescuing the lost took on new urgency in my heart.

No one fully knows all that happened that day, and there are a lot of questions still waiting to be answered so I’m not casting blame on anyone, but the video of parents screaming for the police to go in there and do something to rescue their kids is excruciating to watch. I can’t imagine if my kids were in that school what I would do.

One story that came out was an off-duty Customs and Border Patrol officer, Jacob Albarado, whose whose wife was a fourth grade teacher and daughter was a student in the school was at the barber when he received a text from his wife. The text said, “help. I love you.” He borrowed a shotgun from the barber, went to the school, and was able to rescue his daughter, wife, and several other children and teachers by getting them out of the school.

When lives are in need of being rescued, everything else becomes unimportant in comparison. Jesus came to rescue the lost. He had the heart of a rescuer. So it’s not surprising that the three passages in the Bible that record Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples before he ascended to heaven all tell them to continue the work he came to do: spread the good news and rescue the lost. Let’s once again read Matt. 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:16-20

Jesus commands us to be disciples that make disciples. The discipleship journey isn’t just about growing as a disciple, Jesus says it must also be about going to make disciples. An important part of growing is going. Going to rescue the lost and perishing.

The world needs rescuing

We live in a very peaceful area. To the natural eye it really doesn’t look like anyone needs to be rescued – everyone’s just fine. But the Bible tells us that everyone is born spiritually dead sinners, cut off from God the only source of true life. So there is this hole, this void that everyone has and can’t fill with anything in the world. But more sobering is that we all stand on the brink of eternity, just one heartbeat, one final breath separates us from eternity and God’s judgment. Our greatest need, bar none, is to be rescued from God’s wrath.

That’s why Jesus came. I came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Rescue. I submit that the Great Commission – making disciples of all nations – isn’t about instituting a new religion. It’s not about cramming heads full of certain doctrines. It’s about saving the lost. It’s about rescue.

If we don’t care about the lost, we don’t have Jesus’ heart. Jesus has the heart of a rescuer and if we are close to Jesus we will too.

Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. Disciples making disciples. We’ll unpack the teaching and obeying more next week, but for now let’s focus on the command to go. Go means be a part of the rescue operation.

  1. We don’t go in our ability, we go in Jesus’ authority

Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…

Jesus doesn’t begin with us, he begins with himself. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to him. Gotherefore. Because of my authority, therefore go.

Jesus sends us out to make disciples for him and to save souls. Only problem with that is that it’s impossible for us to do that. We could never rescue a soul from the torments of hell and deliver them to the kingdom of heaven. We could never impart spiritual life to a spiritually dead person. Not by our own ability or in our own power.

Jesus promises that as we go, we don’t go in our ability, we go in his authority. Go therefore! Jesus underlines this by promising that the power of the Holy Spirit will be with us and we will be his witnesses.

Jesus is Lord and Sovereign over all things - we talked about that last week but there’s something else about Jesus’ authority I want us to unpack. Notice that Jesus says that all this authority has been given to him. Who gives Jesus all authority over everything? God the Father. But didn’t Jesus have that authority before he came to earth? Why does Jesus say now all authority in heaven and earth has been given to him?

Certainly the eternal Son of God ruled and reigned over all before he came to earth, but now Jesus as the God Man, the Son of Man, has received that same authority. But it’s not the exact same authority. It has changed.

Before the cross, Jesus didn’t have the authority to raise lost sinners up from eternal death and give them eternal life. Jesus’ blood didn’t have power to cleanse the foulest sinner and make them clean. Before the cross and resurrection Jesus didn’t have the authority to deliver our souls from the kingdom of the devil and welcome us into his own beautiful kingdom. Now that he has died for our sins and risen from the grave he and he alone has been given that authority. Jesus alone – not even the Father – can open the seals and write our names in the book of life.

In John 13 we see how all power and authority affects Jesus’ heart. When people get a lot of authority, it tends to make us want to use it to get people to serve us. Jesus, knowing the Father had put all things under his authority, wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his disciple’s feet. When Jesus got power it stirred his heart to serve us. Jesus is a rescuer. He came to a world in desperate need of being rescued and he died rescuing us. And God the Father said, “well done!” and raised him from the dead!

Go and make disciples is Jesus saying, don’t get ingrown and all focused on yourself church. Get out there and rescue people! In my power, in my name, by my Spirit, rescue the lost, the drowning, the dying.

We don’t go in our ability, we go in Jesus’ authority.

But what does going look like? Jesus is with us, he sends us, but we are the ones who are to go. The church tends to talk about going more than it actually goes. I am guilty of that, you may be as well. We as a church

  1. Growing and going together as a church on mission

Jesus sent them out as a community of believers. We see in Acts that they went out as teams and they established communities of believers (churches) wherever they went. Jesus promised the power of the Holy Spirit – not to “bless their socks off” (what does that even mean?) but to make them witnesses. To empower them to spread the gospel and see souls saved.

Church isn’t people at a meeting, church is people on a mission. Together. How do we move beyond talking about going to actually going? How do we grow and go together as a church on mission? I have a couple thoughts:

  1. We need to pray for unbelievers

Someone said, before we talk to unbelievers about God we need to talk to God about unbelievers. Where there is little or no prayer, there will be few salvations. Prayer is what plugs us into God’s power.

If the church today is weak, I’m pretty sure it’s because we don’t pray very much, and when we do most of those prayers are focused on our own needs.

When Teddy Roosevelt was young he was a weak and sickly child. He had asthma (in those days a frequently fatal ailment), heart problems, and he was near-sighted. At his father’s encouragement he decided to live what he called the “strenuous life”. He began lifting weights, boxing, rowing, mountain climbing, and long hikes.

At one point after he graduated Harvard, his doctor advised him due to his heart problems to take a desk job and avoid all strenuous activity. In response he climbed the Matterhorn.

Roosevelt went from a sickly child who had very little physical strength or endurance to a man’s man who was able to do things most of us wouldn’t be able to, and what changed him was deciding to live the strenuous life in pursuit of goals bigger than personal comfort and safety.

Friends, I am talking to myself as much as anyone. Do we care about the unsaved? Do we want Jesus’ rescuer’s heart and be a part of his saving work? Are we sick and tired of experiencing little spiritual power?

We need to pray. And it’s good and right that we pray for ourselves and our loved ones and situations we’re in and needs we have, but the Great Commission challenges us to move our faith outward rather than become ingrown. Pray for unbelievers. What if we committed to praying for the lost and for opportunities to witness every day? 10 minutes – devoted to strenuously praying for the lost?

I want to make that commitment and I hope you will join me. If 10 minutes is too long for you, make it 5. If it’s not long enough, pray longer. But let’s pray! Jesus is ready to do great things when the church prays.

  1. Keep the focus on Jesus

The goal of discipleship as we said a couple weeks ago is to become like Jesus and so the goal of making disciples is to help them become more like Jesus, not more like us.

The good news is that we are sinners separated from a holy God and destined to face His wrath, but God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day. All who believe in him will also be raised on the last day and live for eternity.

We need to be very careful we aren’t preaching a lesser gospel. Believe what you believe politically, vote your conscience, but don’t make your message politics. Or any other “lesser gospel” issue, which is any issue – any issue – that isn’t Jesus crucified dead and buried and rising on the third day. That’s the only message that rescues people from their greatest danger.

We can believe what we believe, but we need to remember that Jesus calls us to love people who don’t believe what we believe. In a day when so many issues divide people, Jesus calls us to build bridges to the lost. Go and make disciples of all nations. Keep our focus on Jesus.

  1. Let’s be willing to step out andrisk doing it wrong

It’s good to want to be effective in our witness, but if we wait till we’ve perfected our approach, we’ll never go.

Some churches get better at criticizing how other churches “do” evangelism than actually doing evangelism themselves. It reminds me of DL Moody’s response to someone who criticized his style of evangelism. He said:

It is clear you don't like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it. D.L. Moody

God can use our feeblest and most imperfect efforts but we need to give Him something to work with. I read the touching story of Luan’s mom and family. They were Vietnamese refugees living in a Malaysian camp when Luan’s mom Lan saw a Vietnamese Bible on her shelf. As she began to read it, God began to work in her heart. She got saved, her husband and children became Christians, and God has used them to lead many others to Christ.

Leaving a Bible on a shelf isn’t the perfect evangelism strategy, but by the Spirit of God it proved

effective.

I want to close with a personal story. When I worked at a music store on Long Island, one day a rough character came into the store. He was all banged up, dried blood on his face, and he roughly grabbed guitars smacking them against each other. He was loud and cursed freely, which made us very uncomfortable because there were families with young kids in the store. But there was a violence and anger about the man that made no one want to confront him. Finally he left and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Then the Spirit spoke to my heart – “go tell him about Jesus”. After a moment of hesitation, I told the boss I was taking my lunch and I caught up with this man. I spent the next hour with him, hearing his story, telling him mine, and telling him about Jesus. I don’t know what God did with it, but gospel seeds were planted.

I took a risk. I honestly didn’t know how this man would react. But he was open. I’ve become a bit more risk averse over the years – and maybe some of it is wisdom - but sharing Jesus is always a bit of a risk, and I pray God help us get bolder and step out and take the risk of sharing even if we don’t do it perfectly or get it a bit wrong.

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