The Great Commission (Part 5)

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Jan 07, 2010 by Alex Mekonnen | 0 Comments

V. Teaching them all things that I have commanded you.

How do we disciple the new converts? Evangelism followed by sacraments and teaching the word of God helps to create a Christian community.

Sacrament—"Baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The mystery of trinity could not be mastered. However, the new converts have to be exposed to this doctrine at early stages of their faith. It is not my intent to cover the doctrine of trinity and sacrament in this article. I focus on the essentiality of teaching.

The most effective way of discipling believers, however, is by teaching the word of God. Our teaching should not be limited to articulation of theory. It should be demonstrated in word and deed. The greatest missionary of all time the apostle Paul, said, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).

There is no other way of making disciples except through teaching the word of God. We teach the gospel both in word and action. We should also expect the people we disciple to “do” the same. Christianity is not an abstract construct theory dangling in the air. It is a religion of action. In the words of Stephen Covey, a missionary should have an “abundant mentality.” He or she is expected to teach all things that Christ has commanded. We’re not going to the field to nurse Christian babies in a crib. We’re going to raise mature disciples who have the right to tell us what they think, ask us challenging questions and have freedom to outperform us.

What do I mean by abundant mentality? Let me quote Paul and Jesus before I explain: “You know, from the first day I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house. Testifying to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ…therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:18b-21, 28).

1. Paul lived among the people he served. He lived in a glass house where his manner of living was seen and observed daily. He had no missionary compound that the nationals think as a holy ground and dreaded to enter.

2. Paul served the Lord with all humility. Pride is one of the most destructive attitudes in a missionary service. It makes the new converts to offshoot in a wrong direction of growth, it limits the leadership capacity of nationals, and it prolongs immaturity and dependency.

3. Paul served with many tears and trials. Suffering is a mark of a true disciple. Paul had it abundantly.

4. He suffered in the hands of his fellow Jews. By standing different and preaching the kingdom of God, Paul demonstrated to the Ephesians that there was something more important than his own life, his affinity with his tribal people, national unity, and Israel itself.

5. Paul kept nothing that was helpful to the Ephesian Christians but proclaimed it to them. He never saw himself as indispensable or irreplaceable. What he received freely, he shared it generously.

6. He preached and taught publicly and house to house. In Paul’s life and ministry, there was no dichotomy of public and private. By the grace and power of God, his presence penetrates every section of the society he lived in, almost everywhere he is present, and almost at every moment of his life—in public  places, in houses, in prison, in the ship and off the ship, day and night.

7. Paul’s conviction, manner of living, his love for the Lord and his passion for mission was known by the Christians in Ephesus that he served. He boldly said, “You know, from the first day I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, …” The knowledge he was talking about was not informational knowledge, it was relational.  It is no wonder the Ephesians had a hard time to say goodbye to Paul—“They all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:37).  For any missionary, such kind of departure is glorious and a blessing.

Jesus’ ministry philosophy was also to give all, equip well, empower and release.

“For I have given to them the words which you have given me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that you sent me” (John 17:8). To have an abundant mentality is to believe that there is enough room for everyone whom the lord would bring to our service and give them all and the best so that they can come to maturity and do better than us both in life and ministry.

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