Be An Action Verb Christian
Matthew 28: 18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (NKJV)
Our key verses today is what is known as the Great Commission. The final instructions from Jesus to everyone who bears His name as a Christian. Surrounding the instruction are two assurances we need to carry out the commission. First, that all authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth. We do not carry out the commission in vain or based upon some human decision. God has decreed it and He has all authority to do so. The dictionary defines authority as "the power to determine." God has the power and has determined that He wishes all to come to repentance:
The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2Peter 3: 9 (NLT)
The second assurance provided in the key verses is that in this endeavor for the Lord, He is always with us, even until the end of the age. Until Jesus comes back to earth to reclaim His bride, He is with us, helping us complete the task He has set before us to do, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not set out about the Lord's work without His divine authority and assistance!
Unfortunately in modern Christianity it sometimes has become more convenient to talk about what we believe than live it. It has become more in vogue to attend conferences than attend to needs. In short, too often being a Christian has become a noun. As schoolhouse rock taught us many years ago, a noun is a person, place or thing. The Great Commission however clearly indicates that we are to seek to become action verb Christians in our walk. Within the few sentences of the Great Commission Jesus gives us four action words we are to embody as we seek to carry out His will. We are to "go", "make", baptize", and "teach."
The first verb Jesus implores us to carry out is "go." Most people prefer to stay than go. They prefer what they know and are comfortable with rather than the unknown. Jesus did not tell His disciples to stay in their comfort zone and He is not telling us to either. The truth is that Jesus imparted to His disciples the glorious gift of salvation and eternal life. What good would it be if they did not seek to share that this gift was now available to all?
"You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5: 14-16 (NLT)
We are not just the light for our house. Not just the light for our neighborhood. We are to be the light for the world! God wants everyone to see and praise Him! But it all starts with that simple two letter word go! The Apostle Paul understood go. He traveled on three missionary journeys, evangelizing the known world. It could have been easy for him to stop after the first trip or even more so the second trip. He could have rested on his accomplishments, maybe opened up a tent making store and preached on the weekends. Maybe do a lecture circuit, discuss leadership and how to draw more people to what he believed. But Paul understood GO. Sometimes in the modern church we have become too enamored with figuring out how to draw people to us, when we were charged with bringing Christ to them. We become preoccupied with those who are seeking us instead of become the seekers Christ commissioned us to be.
The second action verb Jesus gives us is "make." Specifically, we are to make disciples of all nations. The dictionary defines disciple as a "person who is a pupil or adherent of the doctrines of another." A pupil is a student and an adherent is a follower. So it is not enough to address only their salvation but also what they are to do after they have been saved by Christ. Paul saw this problem in the Church at Corinth:
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn't that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren't you living like people of the world? 1Corinthians 3: 1-3 (NLT)
Paul outlines the need for discipleship here. When first saved we are spiritual infants in the Lord. We do not yet understand everything and still are influenced by worldly thinking. Sometimes the modern church has become so "salvation focused" that the discipleship is simply not there. Sermons about regeneration of the heart and true repentance are few and far between because they may be deemed not "seeker friendly." When YOU are the seeker, looking for the lost, the message does not need to be watered down. How important is discipleship? Consider these words from the writer of Hebrews:
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don't seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Hebrews 5: 11-14 (NLT)
I don't want to be spiritually dull! These verses outline the principle found in Great Commission that salvation and discipleship should eventually lead to teaching others! Christianity is not meant to be about you but about Him! Disciples make disciples who make disciples beloved.
The command to "go" was God's way of saying that our actions as Christians need to be focused beyond our comfort zone. That there is an entire world out there that is going to hell unless someone shares the Good News with them about Jesus Christ. The command to "make" was God's way of saying that once you address their sin and separation problem you can't just leave them crawling around like spiritual infants. You have to disciple them, feed them, and make sure they are growing to the point that they too can then "go" and "make." The third command is to baptize. This is God's way of reminding us that we alone cannot force Christianity upon anyone. God draws them. The act of baptism is a public declaration from the individual that they have not only accepted Jesus Christ as their savior but that they have turned from their old life. It is often overlooked but salvation must have a regeneration of the heart or it is not genuine. This is the damage that the "sinner's prayer" has wrought in modern Pentecostalism. It is not the act of going up to the altar that saves a person. It is not the recitation of a prayer. It is the sincere change in the heart of a sinner away from their sin and towards God.
In the Gospel of Luke there is a story about a chief tax collector who was referred to a "notorious sinner." Zacchaeus had become rich in the sin of the world. Like many of us, we too were waiting for the chance of having God visit us. Zacchaeus got his wish and here was the response: