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, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”
- What is a disciple?
- How to make Disciples Part 1
- How to make Disciples Part 2
- Practical Disciple Making in everyday life
Evangelism is a necessary component of making disciples.
Teaching is also a necessary component of making disciples
Teach to obey.
Based on last week we already know that the first step here is evangelism and conversion. Jesus isn’t commanding his disciples to teach people who have yet to be converted to obey everything he has commanded. Well, in one sense he is (you could consider evangelism to be teaching to believe), but the expectation is that conversion will come before obedience. Jesus first says to baptize, which implies conversion, THEN he says teach to obey. This is something that is really easy to get backwards, particularly in America. The moral/behavioral aspects of Christianity often take center stage in American christianity. These are the do’s and don’ts. This is not where Jesus intended the focus of interaction with non-believers to be. There are countless hot-button issues that Christians often confront non-christians about, expecting that this person, who doesn’t believe in a God, let alone Jesus, should live according to what the bible teaches. This is a ridiculous expectation. Why should anybody want to live according to the Bible if their heart hasn’t first been captured by Jesus? In these instances our goal is changed behavior not changed hearts. If we continue with this approach then the best case scenario is that we are left with a bunch of “behavioral christians” that are going to spend eternity apart from Jesus. We must always remember that a changed heart precedes changed behavior and because of this our primary focus must be on the changed heart. So first comes conversion/baptism then comes teaching to obey.
This teaching to “obey all that Jesus commanded” can seem like a tall task at first. Jesus taught quite a bit about how to live and how to honor him. So we need a starting point. In order to get there we need to ask a simple question.
This a great starting point for figuring out what to teach people. If we are to teach others to obey all that Jesus commanded, then we need to know what Jesus commanded. The most basic summary of all that Jesus has commanded is found in that verse. Love God. Love others. In order to get deeper into specifics we need to ask 2 more questions.
2 questions we need to ask.
- How do we love GOD?
- How do we love OTHERS?
Jesus commands that we love God and Love others. The reason ‘Love GOD’is followed by ‘Love Others’ is because the result of “Loving God’ is loving others. If we Love God the way that Jesus describes then our love for others will grow and become more and more prominent. We need to always remember that these are not two separate, stand-alone commandments but rather they are essentially one commandment or at least inseparable. So, since Loving God will produce the Love of others, then in one sense that answers question #2. How do I love others? By loving God. Which then brings us back again to question #1 How do we Love God.
To LOVE is to KNOW and to KNOW is to LOVE
What this means is that the only outcome of truly knowing God is loving God. And the deeper we know him, the deeper we love him. The deeper we love him the more we desire to know him. There is a direct relationship between knowing God and Loving God.
1 John 4:6-7
Just like there is a relationship between knowing God and loving God there is also a relationship between loving God and being known by God
1 Corinthians 8:3
And a relationship between loving God and being Loved by God…
1 John 4:19
So what does all this come down to? If there is such a strong relationship between knowing and loving God then I must ask yet another question. How do I know God? That question brings us right back to where we ended the last time. The answer to that question is the Gospel. This again takes us right back to Jesus. Evangelism is all about Jesus. Teaching to obey is all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus! So, how do we know God? We know God by trusting in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection which made a way for people to know God, be known by God, love God, and obey God.
Just like baptism must be preceded by conversion, obedience must be preceded by love.
John 14:15 “ If you love me, you will keep my commandments”
This love will always be centered on the Gospel. Thus, when teaching others to obey, we need to always direct them to the Gospel in every situation.