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“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I commanded you; and remember I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

What and Why

 

God is working in people’s lives. He gives us the privilege of joining him in that work as others are changed for all eternity. Their decision to trust in Christ is not the end but the beginning of a process in which they become a disciple of Jesus and grow toward maturity.

 

What is a disciple?

 

A disciple is a follower of Jesus who seeks to know him and obey his commands.  

 

When Jesus gave “the Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20) to his disciples he had more in mind than evangelism. He envisioned that his followers would help others grow to be mature believers. As a result, there would be generations of Christians who walk with Jesus and embrace the task of sharing the gospel and discipling others. The growth of the church depended on this!

 

Think of it. You are the result of this discipleship process that started in the first century. You have the opportunity to join in the work of the Great Commission by making disciples in your generation who will make disciples of future generations.

 

Take a moment to thank God for the people he placed in your life who shared the gospel with you and who are having a positive impact in your discipleship journey.

Learning from the Word

the-commission

 

Let’s take a closer look at this Great Commission. This command persuades us that it is essential to understand discipleship.

 

Read Matthew 28:16-20

Click for the text

What are some things you observe about the heart of the disciples and their actions in these verses?  (Verses 16-17)

 

Describe the source and scope of Jesus’ authority. Why do you think it was important for him to say this to the disciples?  (Verse 18)

 

Verse 19
As we read Matthew 28 today something may not be as obvious to us as it was to those who first heard Jesus speak these words. There is one primary verb in this command. “Make disciples” is the central idea. The other actions simply describe how we are to go about the work of making disciples. 

 

How does knowing the central idea of this command affect your understanding of the Great Commission?

 

We could “go” a lot of places, and “do” a lot of things and yet miss the heart of what Jesus asked. He wanted us to be disciple makers.

 

What promise did Jesus give concerning his commission? Why was it important? (Verse 20)

 

The central idea shaped the early church

 

We discover in the book of Acts that Barnabas was a disciple of Jesus. We can learn from his example. In Acts 11:19-26 we get a glimpse into the life and work of the disciple Barnabas.

 

Read Acts 11:21-26

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After many came to Christ the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch.

 

Why do you think they felt the need to send someone to Antioch? (Verse 22)

 

What words are used to describe Barnabas? (v. 24)

 

What are some of the things Barnabas did when he got to Antioch?

 
Based on what you read about Barnabas, what should be true of a disciple?

 
Barnabas is described as both an evangelist and a disciple maker. God worked through him so that the church in Antioch grew in number and in spiritual depth. It is interesting that such a church would be the first that we know of to send out laborers. (Acts 13:1-3)

Connecting to the Truth

 

Connecting personally to the truths of this lesson will be life changing. God wants you to be a disciple maker, and he has given everything needed for you to accomplish this task. If we follow the voice of our Good Shepherd, we will experience God raising up disciples through us. He is asking us to walk by faith and participate in his plan to reach the world. The following video lays out what God intends to do.

 

The disciples didn’t have many things when they started to make disciples. But they did have:

1. A life changing experience with Jesus
2. A willingness to obey
3. The power of the Holy Spirit

3 things

 

How about you? Describe your connection with these three things.

 

The video suggested that the greatest challenge we face today is that “all who believe in Jesus are not obedient followers of Jesus.”

What sort of problems are created when believers are not obedient followers of Jesus?

 

Those who excel in making disciples have a heart committed to the Lord and a heart that loves people. Discipleship is a matter of the heart. It thrives in the context of love and obedience. If you desire to be a disciple maker, ask God to make you a person of love and a follower who excels in obedience.

 

After reading about God’s calling to make disciples, what has touched your heart?

 

A moment of self-evaluation

Hopefully, as a result of this study, God increased your understanding of discipleship and the Great Commission. The following assessment is designed to help you evaluate your current connection to discipleship and disciple making. Read the statements and rank yourself as honestly as you can.

1 = This is always true of me
2 = This is usually true of me
3 = Sometimes this is true / sometimes it’s not
4 = This is rarely true of me
5 = This is never true of me

Because of my life-changing experience with Jesus, I am motivated to make disciples
I am willing to obey God’s call to become a disciple maker
I intentionally seek to live in the power of the Holy Spirit
I want to learn with others how to become a disciple maker
I have faith that God can use me to disciple another person
I regularly pray, asking God to use me in the fulfillment of His Great Commission

The purpose of any assessment is not for us to feel “good” or “bad” about ourselves. The purpose is to gain a better understanding of ourselves at this moment. Assessments can help us know what we are doing well and help us identify areas in which we need to grow.

 

Based on the assessment, what things can you celebrate that God has already done in your life?

 

How would you like to grow in one or more of these areas?

 

Taking Action

 

The term disciple can have both an “inward” focus (your own growth as Jesus’ follower) and an “outward” focus (helping others grow as followers of Christ). Proverbs 27:17 says, “Just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Iron-sharpening relationships are used by God to cause growth in our lives. Consider the two types of discipleship relationships that can be represented by Paul and Timothy.

 

“Paul” – this is a person who is discipling you. This person has a spiritual maturity you admire. They have knowledge and wisdom to impart to you. They are an example you can follow.

“Timothy” – this is a person who you disciple. This person is spiritually younger. You have knowledge and wisdom to share with them. You can serve as an example for them to follow.

 

Having both types of relationships in your life creates a rich environment for spiritual growth. We need to be intentional and pursue these relationships. They don’t just happen.

 

*Note: Discipling another person does not require perfection. If you wait for perfection you will never disciple anyone. Remember our definition of discipleship at the beginning of this lesson. Go back and read it again. You can start by sharing with someone else what you have learned and experienced.

 

Three Action Steps for you to pursue:

 

1) Do you have a “Paul” in your life?

 

Can you think of someone whom God is using in your life right now to help you grow? If you have such a person meet with them, ask them to help you grow in your faith. If you don’t have such a person now, ask God to provide a “Paul” to help you develop.

 

My “Paul” is:

 

2) Do you have a “Timothy” in your life?

 

Ask God to direct you to someone in whom you can invest your life. Perhaps you have led someone to Christ. Perhaps you have met a younger believer you can encourage . Step out in faith, trusting God to use you.

 

My “Timothy (s)” is/are:

 

3) Discuss the assessment you completed with your discipler or Christian friend.

 

Together determine how you will take the next steps in becoming a discipler of others.