Proverbs 29:18 says,
“where there is no vision the people perish.”
I was meeting with Gene the man who disciples me this week. Gene is struggling because his organization is constantly asking their people to fill out forms and to define goals and mission statements, develop plans.
Gene said something that I really liked. Gene said, I don’t have time for this business stuff. Whatever happened to reaching the lost and discipling the saints? Gene said we must always remember to keep the main thing the main thing.
What’s this Life on Life bunch about? What do they do?
I want to talk to you about THE VISION and MY CALL to the campus, which translates into our call as LOL here at UGA; our main thing.
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “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.”
This passage is referred to as The Great Commission. We are not going to spend a lot of time here, but I want us to look at what is the actual commission and look at how important Jesus this commission is to Christ.
To whom does Jesus give this commission? He gives it to the 11 (Judas is gone).
Why is that important?
What is His relationship with these guys?
In Matthew 12, Jesus is with His disciples and they come to Him and tell Him that His mother and brothers are outside waiting to see Him. He looks at the 12 and says, these are My mother and brothers.
Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all men and His plan to reach the world rests on the shoulders of these 11. These are the guys He has poured His life into, whom He has shown the Father and to whom He is sending into the world.
Jesus came to pay the penalty for the sins of the world so that the relationship between the Father and His children can be restored.
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins, once for all, the Just for the unjust in order to bring us to God.”
1 John 3:2, Beloved, now we are children of God,
And His plan to reach the world was through these men.
Let’s look at the context. Turn to Matthew 29. There is no Matthew 29. This is Jesus’ last time with these guys.
Jesus is going back to the Father and this is His last time with these guys that He loves and has trained.
Look at verse 18, He says all authority has been given to Me.
The Greek word is Exousia and it actually means, power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases, authority.
Jesus has the choice and authority to ask or command His disciples to do whatever He wants. This is His last time with these guys, He’s not talking ‘bout them dawgs’. Jesus is sharing with these guys what is on His heart, what is of utmost importance.
He has all authority, He can ask or command them anything so what does He say?
He says, “19 “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.”
Looking at verse 19-20 there are four verbs in this passage, what is the primary command? (Make disciples).
Jesus primary command is that we make disciples. This is His desire; this is what we are to be about. Jesus made disciples of the Eleven and commanded them to do the same.
So what is the process of making disciples?
What are we to do first? We are to go.
The Greek word translated Go does not mean go to China or Africa, though He may specifically call you to that. But the word means journey. What Jesus is saying is this, “Hey guys, I have invested my life in you, now you go. Go home, go where you go and live your lives and as you live your lives, make disciples.
If you work for IBM, make disciples. If you are a ditch digger, as you dig ditches make disciples. As you go to English 1001, make disciples. While you are eating in the dining hall, make disciples. On your hall in Russell, or in your condo in Riverside Pkwy, make disciples.
Christ’s primary commission for you and for me is to be about making disciples as we live our lives.
If we are to then be making disciples as we live our lives, how do we make disciples?
Jesus gives us three steps. First, we are to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our job is to introduce people to Christ. Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born of water (physical birth) and of Spirit (spiritual birth). John the Baptist in all four gospels says that he baptizes with water, but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
The first step in disciplemaking is introducing your friends to Christ and when they by faith receive Him as Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live in them and they are born again. W
As Life on Lifers our first goal is to introduce our friends, workmates, classmates, family, etc. to Christ.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He said then to “teach them to observe all that I commanded you.”
What we are about here at Life on Life is introducing people to Christ and then getting them rooted and established in Christ:; getting them into His word, studying it, memorizing it, applying it to their life.
As they become established we then equip them to do ministry. And our goal for you is that at the end of your four +/- years here in Athens is that when you leave that you will be an equipped disciple maker, going into the world and making 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 He commanded you;
That is our commission and that is what we are about. We are not about ski trips and warm fuzzy little mission trips, we are here to make disciples.
In the fall of 1999 my wife Kim and I were working with churches in the Navigator’s Church Discipleship Ministries. We were committed to equipping churches to become disciple making churches.
As we worked with pastors and elders we were continually made aware of some real failings in many if not most of our churches here in the US.
According to George Barna, only 1% of church growth comes from non-believers. 99% of church growth is people transferring from little churches to big mega churches. And nobody is upset about that.
(So much for reaching the lost, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
Divorce rates and teen pregnancy rates in the church is the same as out of the church.
Churches were and are continually moving from being people oriented to program oriented. (I don’t have time to invest in people, give me a program.)
Church has become an event, not a body. Think about it! Church is not your family, it is where you go.
Bill Hull says in the preface of his book, “Jesus Christ Disciple-Maker” “The failure of the church to make Christ’s primary mandate the primary mandate of the church has resulted in an audience that wants to be entertained rather that an army on the march.”
When I look at the scripture, God didn’t call us to be an audience. He says:
“Go therefore and make disciples,” Matthew 28
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses” Acts 1:8
“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 4:19
“Let you light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 5:16
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man complete. For this purpose I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29
There are some disciple-making churches out there, but honestly, most are amassing audiences that want to be entertained.
I pictured it like this massive boat. Not some little runabout, but this large aircraft carrier and it is heading in the wrong direction and I began praying Lord, how do we turn this boat around?
A little speed boat, you just whip the wheel around and you change direction. But the USS Enterprise, it takes a lot to get that thing going in a different direction.
About this same time God began putting college students on my heart. Over a period of 6 months, a longing in my spirit kept growing and when I discussed it with my wife; she confirmed that God was doing the same thing in her heart.
I started asking God if He wanted me to go to the campus and He kept giving me signs that this was what I was supposed to do. But He never gave me a verse. I kept asking God to give me a verse so that I knew for sure that He was calling me to the campus. As a good Navigator I wanted a verse, a promise from God. But He just kept giving me signs
I finally reached a point where I sat down with God and said, Lord, this is where I think You are calling me. I want to see the church changed, I want to see that big boat turn around. Lord, I want the Church to become an army not an audience.
And I said Lord, You keep putting college students on my heart, but You have not given me a verse. Lord, You have given me so many signs that I feel like this is Your desire for me and if I didn’t move on this now I believe that I would be disobedient.
So I told God that I was going to go into the college ministry and if that wasn’t really from Him to close the door and I would stay right where I was.
As I finished praying I opened up to Psalm 22. Verses 30-31 say, “30 Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. 31 They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”
God said, “Mark if you want to see the church become an army, go to the campus and reach students, they will serve Me, they will declare My name to your grandchildren and to your great-grandchildren.
And so we came to UGA. God has a call for all of us you and me to be involved with Him reaching those who are in our sphere of influence, making disciples of all nations.
Be sure to read the next blog, Jeremiah’s Commission.