Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 5, 2000
What is the purpose of your life? In the past few weeks I have been striving to stress one aspect
of the purpose of the Christian’s life is to live worthy of their calling (Eph. 4:1). The Christian is to live
a holy life separated from the world and unto God (1 Peter 3:18). Their mind is to be set on things above
and not on the things of this earth (Col. 3:2). They set their minds to think about what is good,
honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, things that are virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phi. 4:8). The
Christian is to be a living and holy sacrifice to God that is not being conformed to this world, but being
transformed by the renewing of their mind that they may prove what the will of God is, that which is
good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1,2). By living in this manner, the Christian brings glory to
God and will prove themselves to be useful in His service.
It is being useful to God’s service that I want to talk to you about this morning. If God’s call to us
to walk worthy of our calling involved just being sanctified to Him, then being cloistered in a monastery
would be the ideal life. There would be a great advantage to living in a manner in which we would have
little to no interaction with “worldly” people. But we will not find that God tells us to do that anywhere
in the Bible.
God does not want us to love the evil system that is in operation in the world nor are we to desire
the things the world has to offer (1 John 2:15,16), but we are to love all the people of the world and not
shun them (Mt. 5:43-48). We are to be separated from worldly practices ourselves, but we are to reach
out to those that are practicing those things with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to live holy lives and
prove ourselves useful to God’s service on this earth by engaging those who are living sinful lives and
calling them to join us in receiving forgiveness for sin through Jesus Christ and then walking with Him.
God has called us to Himself that we might be holy and He has given to us a holy commission to call
help others do the same. But who can God use to fulfill this holy commission?
PEOPLE GOD CAN USE
Jesus’ disciples were just ordinary men. There was really nothing special about them. They were
often proud, boastful and selfish – even bickering with each other about who was the greatest (Mt.
20:20f). They often demonstrated a lack of faith – even over things Jesus had previously done before
them (Mt. 15:32f). They proved to be fearful and except for John, refused to be seen & identified with
Jesus after He was arrested and was crucified. Even after the resurrection, they were initially hesitant to
believe. These were ordinary men, who were really no different from us. Yet, in Acts 17:6, their
opponents said they “turned the world upside down.”
AVAILABLE: God was able to use these ordinary men because they made themselves available
to God, they were worshipful to Jesus and they submitted to Him. God can use us in a similar way if
these characteristics would mark our lives. Jesus told the disciples to meet Him in Galilee. Verse 16 tells
that they went there. They wanted to be available for whatever the Master had in store for them. You
find that to be true throughout their lives. They often did not know what was in store for them, but they
desired to learn from Jesus whatever He would teach them and they desired to do whatever Jesus would
ask them. They made themselves available.
Are you available? I believe that a major reason that many Christians are not used much by the
Lord is simply the fact that they have entrapped themselves so much into what they world says is
important, that they are not available to do what the Lord says is important. We mimic society and rush
from place to place to accomplish this or that with the result that we often never see the opportunities
that are right in front of us. The neighbor that needs encouragement. The co-worker that would join us in
a Bible study if we asked them. The teen that would like for someone to give them something to believe
in, but doesn’t believe that anyone really cares. In the rat race to keep up with the Jones and fulfill
society’s goal of materialistic success, we miss the opportunities to meet genuine needs both close at
hand and far away.
What soaks up your time, energy and money? Would you be able to take advantage of an
opportunity to do something for the Lord even if it were handed to you on a silver platter, or are you like
the rat so busy trying to get through the maze to the end that you never look up to see the hand of God
offering you a way out to a different kind of life? Are you available to God?
WORSHIPFUL: The disciples were also moved to worship at the presence of Jesus Christ. Verse
17 says that when they saw Jesus they fell down and worshiped Him. That requires an understanding of
who He is and who you are in relationship to Him. If that thought alone does not make you fall down
before Him, then you think too highly of yourself and too low of Him. You are simply one of the things
He has created. You deserve nothing but punishment because of your sin, yet He has chosen to love you
and give you everything. Worship of the Lord Jesus Christ is at the heart of the true Christian. Is that true
Ministry done without a heart of worship is always done in the flesh without the Spirit’s power. It
also always becomes that person’s personal source of pride and/or power. Such ministry is not unto the
Lord for His sake, but unto themselves for their own sake.
SUBMISSIVE: We also find that the disciples were submissive to Jesus. They understood that
He is Lord and willingly sought to obey Him. They did not obey because they had too, but because they
wanted too. That also is a difference between a true & false Christian.
Jesus states in verse 18 that “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus’
claim here is unlimited. Authority refers to Jesus right, power and freedom to do as He pleases and
command others to do as He pleases. Jesus’ claim here is that this authority has been given to Him by the
Father and that it encompasses everything. The word, “all,” and the phrase, “heaven and earth,” reinforce
each other in expressing the idea that Jesus has authority over all created things.
It is Jesus’ right to command us. It is our responsibility to obey. Failure to obey subjects us to
either His chastisement (Heb. 12) or His wrath and judgement (Rom. 1:18, Rev. 20). Those that fail to
yield will eventually be forced to obey (Eph 4). The true Christian is marked by submission which is
willing obedience, not defiance which results in forced obedience.
Jesus has the authority to command and he does so in verse 19. It is important that you
understand that what Jesus says here is a command, not a suggestion. It is expected that those that belong
to Christ will obey it. It is ludicrous for someone to say that they believe Jesus’ claims and trust Him for
salvation and then reject what He says and not submit to His authority. That only proves they do not
believe Jesus’ claims about Himself, and one of His claims is authority over all creation.
JESUS’ COMMAND TO MAKE DISCIPLES
What is the command that Jesus gives? It is one command accomplished in three elements. The
Greek grammar here is one verb, “make disciples,” with three participles: “going,” “baptizing,” &
“teaching.” We are to “make disciples” by “going,” “baptizing” and “teaching.”
The command is not arbitrary but based on Jesus Himself. Notice the command begins with a
“therefore” which brings back into focus Jesus’ authority. The command to make disciples can be
fulfilled because Jesus has the authority to send us and the power to accomplish His work through us. As
I have said before, it is not your ability, but your availability given in worshipful submission that makes
you useful to God. Jesus accomplishes His work through you. Since Jesus is who He claims to be you
can therefore go out and do what He commands because the command is based on His authority – power
& ability – to accomplish it.
The command itself is to make disciples. Whatever else the church does, the center of its focus
needs to be in making disciples. Our fellowship, our ministries, and even our worship all revolve around
being and making disciples.
What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who follows the teachings of another. They learn from
the teacher. They identify with the teacher. They seek to be like the teacher. Luke 6:40 gives a good
description saying that the “disciple is not above his teacher… but after being fully trained will be like
his teacher.” Paul tells us in Rom. 8 that all those that will be saved are “predestined to be conformed to
the image of [Jesus].”
You can see from this that if you claim to be a Christian, then being a disciple of Christ is not an
option. Even the term, “Christian,” speaks of discipleship since as Acts 11:26 states it was the “disciples”
that were first called “Christians” in Antioch. The term itself means to be “a little Christ.” A true
Christian is someone who, as Paul describes in Gal. 2, has died to themselves and has Christ living in
and through them. When people see you, do they see Christ living in you?
Jesus command is to make disciples of Him and you can not do that unless you are His disciple
first. We make disciples of Christ the same way that the apostle Paul did in 1 Cor. 11:1 – “be imitators of
me just as I also am of Christ.” We call people to follow us as we follow Christ. If others became like us
would they also be becoming like Christ? That is what making a disciple is all about. People begin to
pattern their life after you, and since you have patterned your life after Jesus, they in turn are also
becoming like Christ.
Jesus commanded us to “make disciples” and gave three elements needed to accomplish that.
First, is the going out. Notice that it is we that are to do the going. The little sign we have above the
doors of this building as you go out reflect this. “You are now entering the mission field.” Christians are
to go out to the non-believers in order to start the process of making them into disciples of Christ. We
are the ones that need to be making the effort. We are the ones that will be inconvenienced. We are the
ones that will be in places that make us uncomfortable. We are the ones that will expend our time and
money in the endeavor. We are the ones that are to “go.”
This building is not the church and it cannot do the Lord’s work. You are the church, and you do
the work. This is only a building designed to help facilitate one aspect of making disciples – teaching
them to observe all that the Lord commanded. This building cannot go out, and it cannot make disciples.
It is only a building. You are the church, the body of Christ, and only you can fulfill Jesus’ command to
Notice as well that we are to make disciples of “all nations.” This reflects the fact that in Christ
there is no room for prejudice. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek – black or white – red or yellow.
Keep in mind that the modern idea of “race” is from evolutionary thought. God only made one race – the
Human race in all its morphological variations. God separated the human race into various “nations” and
we are to go out to those nations and make disciples for Christ.
Making disciples of all nations also shows the necessity of going out. We have to leave our
comfort zone to reach out to people who are different from us. They may have different physical
characteristics – size, skin color, eyes, hair, noses and toes. They may have customs you do not
understand – like putting jewelry in odd parts of their bodies and wearing funny looking and
uncomfortable clothes (ties). They may eat food you consider unusual to say the least – snails, bugs,
reptiles, amphibians and as one of our missionaries once found out, coagulated blood. You may not
even know their language. They may live somewhere else. But whether they are around the block or the
world, the command is for us to go to them that we might make them disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first aspect then of making disciples is to go out to the non-Christian community. Where can
you meet non-Christians? Of course you can meet them anywhere, including in church, but where can
you meet them in a context where you can begin to make them disciples of Christ? Again, almost
anywhere. You are only limited by your imagination and willingness to be available. There are the
obvious people & places like your neighborhood, school, and place of work, etc. There are also all the
people you do business with, those who are involved in your hobbies, your social organizations, etc.
There are all the people you can make special outreaches too: jails – adult and juvenile, convalescent
homes, hospitals, parks, shopping malls, train stations, parades, fairs, flee markets, etc. God will use you
if you are available. Are you willing to go?
What will you do when you go? You will use your spiritual gifts and you will proclaim the
gospel, the good news of salvation from sin and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. Now that
probably sounds scary to most of you. I suspect there are probably only a few people in the room that are
gifted in evangelism who can hardly wait between opportunities to proclaim the gospel to someone they
have never met before. Yet, evangelism – proclaiming the gospel – is a responsibility for every Christian.
If “cold turkey” evangelism scares you, and it does me, then don’t fret, God always enables you to do
what He calls you to do. Your part is simply to be available and submissive.
You may not be able to talk to a stranger, but you can talk with those you have already built
relationships with. You can also learn to become more bold in talking with others by doing it and
trusting God to get you through it. As we focus on what God thinks of us instead of what other people
think of us we are less intimidated. And finally, you can also use your spiritual gifts to support the
activities of those that are gifted in evangelism. The church works together as a complete team with each
member of it doing its part toward accomplishing its goal of making disciples of Christ.
As the gospel goes out there will be those that respond and that brings the next element of
making a disciple – Baptism. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Baptism should be one of the first steps in a new
believer’s walk of faith.
While there are many traditions concerning baptism, the scriptures are clear that it was only done
by those who believed, so that excludes babies. It is also clear that it was done by immersion. Baptism
does not save nor does it extend any special grace. Some of you were sprinkled as babies in a church and
were told you were baptized. The truth is that all that happened to you is you got wet!
Baptism is an act of faithful obedience in public identification with the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be baptized into the name of God marks you as professing to belong to
God. Note that you are to be baptized into one “name.” It is singular. That is why we only dunk once as
opposed to three times as some other groups do. The singular “name” signifies the unity of the trinity. It
is one God in three persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
If you want a full understanding of what the Bible teaches about Baptism there are some
information sheets in the back of the church. Pick one up, and if you have not been baptized by
immersion since you have professed faith in Jesus Christ, then let me know so that we can arrange for
you to be included in our next baptism.
The third aspect of making disciples is “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
There are those within the church that are specially gifted to teach, but this command is given to all.
Parents teach their children. Mature believers teach new believers. Teaching is not just imparting
knowledge as some academic exercise. It is the interaction of your life with someone else so that they
will be capable of living for Christ. You do not have to know all the answers, but you do have to know
Keep in mind that while learning to do all that Jesus has commanded will be a lifelong process, it
should only take a short time for someone to learn enough to begin the process with someone else. Even
if you have been a Christian for a few months, if you have been careful to learn what has been taught to
you about Jesus, you are already capable of working with a new Christian who knows less than you
about living for Christ.
Let me stress the fact that this teaching is not an academic exercise. Yes, this teaching can be
done from the pulpit and in the Sunday school class and in the home Bible study, for in all those formats
the Word of God is explained so that we know what His commandments are. However, in making a
disciple the stress is not on the knowledge but on the application of such knowledge. It is the interaction
of one life with another so that both become more like Christ that is important. You do not need to even
need to have good verbal skills to do this. All you need is a willingness to open your life and share what
Christ is doing in your life with others by both word and example. It is using your spiritual gift, whatever
it may be, and helping others become more like our savior.
It occurs while having a good attitude when watching babies in the nursery and praying for the
parents who are getting to hear the sermon. It happens when you take your kids to the playground and
you talk to another parent and encourage them in dealing with their children in a godly manner. It
happens at work through your honest dealings and godly example to everyone. It is done sitting in a
living room or coffee shop hearing someone’s turmoil and praying with them. And yes, it even occurs in
the more formal setting of committing yourself to a relationship or relationships for the express purpose
of accountability and mutual encouragement in living for Christ. You can do Bible study or go through
books together, memorize scripture or just talk about how things are going.
The key to success in teaching what Christ has commanded in making a disciple, is simply doing
it. Live the life yourself. Take advantage of opportunities to encourage others to live the life. And
develop accountability relationships where you can mutually challenge one another to live according to
God can and will use you to make disciples if you are available, a worshiper of Christ, and
willing to obey His commands.
Why am I so sure of this? Not just because it has been true in my own life, but more importantly,
because Jesus has the power and authority to accomplish it. In addition, we find at the end of the last
verse in Matthew that Jesus will be with us through it all. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end
of the age.”
Jesus calls our attention by saying, “lo.” It is a call to be alert and focus our minds on what He is
now saying. He then makes it emphatic that He will be with us to the end. A literal translation being, “I
will be with you, even I, all the days even to the conclusion of the age.”
Jesus will be with you each and every day of your life even if that is to the conclusion of this age
and you are transformed and taken to heaven without having to taste physical death. Jesus is present. His
power is present. His command is given. The only question open is whether or not you will be available
and obedient to let Him use you to make disciples of Him. What will you do?
God has called each of us to live in a manner worthy of our calling. That calling is not just to
living sanctified lives in being separated from practicing sin, but also sanctified in being His servants
carrying out the commission to make disciples of all nations. This is not an option nor a side issue. This
is central to the Christian life. Who then are you helping to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? Where are
you serving within the body of Christ so that the whole body is being built up in faith, knowledge,
maturity and love? (Eph. 4:12-16).
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about
something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:
1) Count how many times the word “discipleship” is used. 2) Discuss with your parents how they disciple you and how you could disciple
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is the purpose of your life? What does God want you to do beyond living a holy life? How does God want you to respond toward the
world? What were Jesus’ disciples like? How did God use them? What kind of person is used mightily by the Lord? How available are you to
God? What in your life hinders your availability? What can be changed? Does your worship of the Lord reflect that of the disciples in
Matthew 28:17? Why or why not? What can you do go make it match? How submissive are you to the Lord’s commands and leading of the
Holy Spirit? What is Jesus’ authority over creation? What is the specific command Jesus gives in Mt. 28:19? How is that command to be
carried out? What is a disciple? Is discipleship an option for a professing Christian? What is your involvement in the “going” to make
disciples? How can you do better? Have you been baptized since professing faith in Jesus Christ? If not, you are disobeying His command –
see pastor and get that arranged. How are you being taught to obey the commands of Christ? What is your involvement in teaching others?
Are you using your spiritual gifts? Are you in an accountability relationship? Why or why not?
Sermon Notes – 11/5/2000 A.M.
Making Disciples: Our Holy Commission
If God’s call to us to walk worthy of our calling involved just being sanctified to Him, then being cloistered in a
monastery would be the ideal life. . . . But He has given to us a holy commission to help others be holy.
People God Can Use: Matt 28:16 (NASB) But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which
Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped [Him]; but some were doubtful.
Acts 17:6 tells us that these ordinary men, who were really no different from us, “turned the world upside down.”
I believe that a major reason that many Christians are not used much by the Lord is simply the fact that they have
entrapped themselves so much into what they world says is important, that they are not available to do what the
Lord says is important . . . What soaks up your time, energy and money?
Ministry done without a heart of worship is always done in the flesh without the Spirit’s power. . . Such ministry is
not unto the Lord for His sake, but unto themselves for their own sake.
A difference between a true & false Christian is that the false Christian obeys the Lord because they have too, the
true Christian does so because they want too.
Jesus’ Authority: Matt 28:18 (NASB) And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been
given to Me in heaven and on earth.
It is ludicrous for someone to say that they believe Jesus’ claims and trust Him for salvation and then not
submit to His authority. That only proves they do not believe Jesus’ claims about Himself
Jesus’ Command to Make Disciples: Matt 28:19 (NASB) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I
commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ”
The Greek grammar here is one verb with three participles. We are to “make disciples” by “going,”
“baptizing” and “teaching.”
A disciple is someone who follows the teachings of another. – Luke 6:40 . . .
We make disciples of Christ the same way that the apostle Paul did in 1 Cor. 11:1
We have to leave our comfort zone to reach out to people who may even be different from us.
Baptism is an act of faithful obedience in public identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
Teaching is not imparting knowledge in an academic exercise. It is the interaction of your life with someone else
so that they will live for Christ. You do not have to know all the answers, just the Lord.
God can and will use you to make disciples if you are available, a worshiper of Christ, and willing to obey His
commands because it is based in His authority and He will be with us to the end of the age.