Around here, we refer to Jim Thornber’s blog as “the other Thinking Out Loud.” You are strongly urged to read this online where it appeared as Scriptures That Bother Me: Matthew 28:19.
“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
Can I share something with you that bothers most pastors? It’s the fact that many good church-going people want Jesus to be their Savior, but they’re not too keen on letting Him actually be their Lord. They want to be saved from the penalties of their sins, but they don’t want that salvation to actually impede upon their way of life. They want the comfort of knowing they are saved, but they don’t want to be put upon to bring other people into the Kingdom. They want to ask forgiveness for their sins, but they don’t want to live in obedience to all the teachings of Christ.
This is seen in the ways people invest first in themselves, and then in others. For example, let’s look at the Great Commission of Jesus in Matt. 28:18-20.
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
First, Jesus is talking to His Disciples, those who have taken up their cross and chosen to follow Him at all costs. Next, Jesus tells them to go and make disciples. This brings up two questions. First, are you in the process of being a disciple? Not a follower. Not a weekly church attendee, but a disciple, a person who seeks to study the Word, who gets together with other Christians to challenge and be challenged to live the life Christ died for us to have. Hebrews 10:23-25 says,
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Look at that word “spur.” It means to provoke, incite, irritate. When you gather with other Christians then you should be spurring them, provoking and inciting and even irritating them on towards good works. It also means when you gather you are willing to be spurred. But we cannot be spurred if we are not gathering, and we cannot be spurred or provoked towards good works if we only show up every once in a while to a church and leave as soon as possible. Still, this happens week after week in churches all over the world. But according to the Great Commission, to be a disciple and to make disciples means you are personally investing in the lives of others.
And this is terribly inconvenient. It means you will have to invest the one thing that means more to many of us than money – our time. We would rather pay someone to take our neighbor to the grocery store than actually drive them ourselves. We’d rather pay someone to work on the church than show up ourselves. We’d rather buy someone a book on finances than commit to going to their house for 12 weeks and taking them through the book and teaching them through our own example. I’m very glad that Jesus didn’t send someone else to earth to do His work. He came personally. He took time away from His throne in Heaven to invest His life, and then His death, so He could make disciples. That is what it cost Jesus. What are we willing to invest to make disciples? It will cost us our time, our talents, our personal touch and yes, even some of our treasure. But that is what it means to be a disciple. So ask yourself: “Am I a disciple, or am I just content with being saved?” I don’t know how anyone can think of the price Jesus paid to bring us to Heaven and be content with merely being saved.
Some of you may be wondering why I’m saying this. Why do I teach in a way that provokes, spurs and irritates people? Because I don’t want anyone I know to face Jesus one day, and knowing what He did for you in order to save you from hell, say to Him, “Thanks for the salvation. Sorry I wasn’t really a disciple. Sorry I didn’t find the time to study your Word and or take the effort to make disciples. Sorry I didn’t find it a priority to teach a Bible study or a Sunday school. Sorry I didn’t make it a priority to invest my time in the lives of the people You died for.” I don’t want anyone to be sorry for the way they lived their life after they knew what Jesus did to pay the penalty of their sins. I want people to be able to declare their complete, not their partial, but their complete dependence upon God, and this means doing more than getting saved. It means taking the time and the effort to become a disciple.
So, are you a disciple or are you just saved?