Verse of the Day 1-18-22

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

These words are referred to as Christ’s Great Commission. This command applies to all his followers of every generation. In his final instructions, Christ states the goal and responsibility of his church (all his faithful followers-individually, in local congregations and as a worldwide community). We as Christ’s church are to take his message to people of all nations and cultures. The church is to go into all the world and spread the message of Christ as revealed in his own teaching and through the teaching of his apostles (those he personally appointed to establish his original church and message). This task includes the responsibility of sending missionaries into every nation.

The preaching of the gospel is centered on “repentance and forgiveness of sins”, the promise of receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit” and the challenge to live in a way that uniquely different from the spiritually corrupt world. We must also preach with an expectancy of Jesus’ return for his church.

The primary purpose of Christ’s commission was to make disciples-disciplined “learners” and followers of Jesus who live by his commands and are continually growing in their relationship with him. To make disciples is the only direct command in this passage (the word “go” could be translated “as you are going”). Many people talk about the Great Commission as a call to evangelism (to spread Christ’s message of forgiveness and new life with the aim that people will respond positively and accept Christ). But Christ’s words here a really a commission to the deeper aspect of discipleship-which goes beyond evangelism and on to solid teaching and continual spiritual nurturing that produces growth and progress. Effective evangelism cannot be separated from true discipleship. Christ does not intend for his followers to simply make converts to Christianity; he wants them to train and mentor other people who faithfully follow Christ and lead others to him as well. If individuals who accept Christ do not grow beyond that starting point, they will almost certainly abandon their faith and likely spiritual hardened toward God. A church’s spiritual energies and efforts must not be focused merely on enlarging church membership, but in making true disciples-life-long followers of Christ who avoid evil, follow Christ’s commands and pursue his purposes with all their heart, mind and will.

Christ commands us to concentrate on reaching spiritually lost men and women with his message of hope, but this does not mean that believers are called to Christianize society or to expect that all of the world will become Christians. While we must strive to make a positive difference in the world, we also must understand that the world system will remain defiant toward God until he returns to earth for the final time to destroy evil and judge the wicked. Until then, God’s people must separate themselves from the corrupt beliefs, behaviors and lifestyles that surround them. Believers should devote themselves wholehearted to God and his purposes. Devotion to Christ includes not hesitating to expose the evil and shame in the world so as to encourage others to avoid it.

Those who believe in Christ-who accept his message by faith and actively yield their lives to him-are to be “baptized” with water. (The word translated “baptized” literally speaks of being immersed, or put completely under the water.) This act of obedience serves as a public statement of faith in Christ-a sign that a person is identifying with Jesus in his death, burial (going under the water) and resurrection (coming up out of the water). It represents a person’s spiritual pledge to turn away from sin and immorality, to die to one’s own sinful nature and, with God’s help, to be raised up to live a new life. In this new life, the believer is completely committed to Christ and his purposes.

Christ will be with his obedient followers through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. They will be able to fulfill their task to take Christ’s message wherever they go, even to all people and all nations, only after they are “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

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