Sunday, November 09, 2003

The Great Commission...

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason recently made a great point (Oct. 19 broadcast) regarding the Great Commission and how it relates to the contemporary "seeker friendly" craze. In Matthew 28:19 we read, "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." Notice that it doesn't say to make converts... or Christians. Jesus commanded us to make disciples. Important distinction? Let's look at the word disciple in Greek (per - W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) matheteuo - verb, is used in the Active Voice, intransitively, in some mss., in Matt. 27:57, in the sense of being the disciple of a person; here, however, the best mss. have the Passive Voice, lit., 'had been made a disciple,' as in Matt. 13:52, R.V., "who hath been made a disciple." It is used in this transitive sense in the Active Voice in 28:19 and Acts 14:21. It is interesting to note the context of Matthew 13:52 in that Jesus had been teaching His disciples through the use of parables (Matthew 13). When His disciples asked why He spoke in parables He revealed that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11). Upon the conclusion of His teaching in parables Jesus compares the disciples with those who have been trained... "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes." And He said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old." When Jesus finished these parables, he left that place. - Matthew 13:51-53, NAS. The NRSV says, "... every scribe who has been trained..." (emphasis included) Typically, as Christians, our reading of Matthew 28:19 seems to indicate that we are to evangelize the world or, convert non-Christians to Christianity. While that is certainly true, a careful reading of the text, combined with supporting passages and also combined with the model given us by the early Church, indicates that we are actually to be in the business of making disciples. In other words, we are to develop spiritual maturity within the body of believers. Included in that process is evangelizing and bringing to Christ those who are lost, but the stated command by Jesus is that we train, learn, and teach... make disciples. Is that what we hear nowadays? Nope. Rather, we hear that we should concentrate on making the church a more seeker friendly environment, altering our liturgy so as not to offend or bore. Our emphasis is on converting the lost with simple messages that let them know that God has a Plan for them, or that they have Purpose within God's Plan... can you find that in the Gospel accounts or in the book of Acts? In our 21st century, short-attention span, Generation Y (or is it Z now?) culture this type of teaching doesn't sit well. Let's face it - learning is work, hard work. Who wants to work when we can enjoy experiencing God? Well my friends, regardless of whether we relish the idea of hitting the books... we've been commanded to.

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