Recently I’ve had the privilege of spending Sunday afternoons at Deep; an appropriately-named bible study class for North Pine Baptist Church’s cohort of young adults. Digging into the significance of the Great Commission (and learning more about the One who issued it), we’re asking the question “why should we make disciples?” We’re discovering how obedience to this command gets right to the crux of God’s grand redemptive plan for reconciling the world back to himself (1 Peter 3:18). Because the answers to this question are so rich and relevant for every Christian, I thought I’d share a few brief thoughts from weeks one and two.
1. We Make Disciples Because It’s a Command
Through the grand narrative of Scripture, we read of events, roles, and—most notably—prophets of God foretelling the coming of One who will usher in the kingdom of God on earth. Isaiah speaks of a Suffering Servant. Daniel looks forward to the coming of the Son of Man. David in the Psalms sings of a king who would rule over the nations. Then we reach Matthew and the four gospel accounts, in which Jesus not only refers to himself as the Son of Man (his most frequently used designation for himself); but we see him fulfilling every one of these prophecies through his life and ministry; and finally God himself speaks with the words that confirm Jesus at his baptism (Matthew 3:17) and the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) as the very Son of God.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection all serve to unequivocally confirm that Jesus is truly God; and therefore everything said by him and about him is trustworthy and true. So when Jesus issues the Great Commission with the introductory “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore…” (Matthew 28:18, emphasis mine) there’s really no way to sidestep the authority behind the One who created all things, and who defeated death to be raised up into new life (Colossians 1:15-19). We make disciples because it’s a command.
2. We Make Disciples Because of Love
While the facts are clearly unmatched in their magnificence, our invitation should never be one of mere intellectual assent. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of his motivation for making disciples. Far from simply going through the motions and communicating the gospel in an information-sharing sense, Paul makes plain the reason he so completely invests his life into those whom he would see come to know Jesus: the love of Christ compels him (2 Corinthians 5:14, CSB).
Without getting too technical, there are two ways in which “the love of Christ compels us” can be read. Is it Paul’s love of Christ that compels him? Or is it the love of Christ (for us) that so compels him to share with everyone he meets? The fact is, we’re left to interpret it for ourselves. It could be either, and I think it can be both. When a sinner encounters the perfect saving love of Christ, C. H. Spurgeon writes of their transformation:
The Father’s own love for Christ has been awakened, and God’s own divine and holy tastes have been implanted. God’s very life has come into the human soul, and so the sinner must now believe, and love, and long for holiness and the spread of God’s glory.
Paul came to understand the infinite worth of the saving work of Christ, accomplished out of the great love of Christ for him. It gripped his heart so powerfully that he was inescapably driven—compelled—to share the news of it every chance he gets. We make disciples because of love.
3. We Make Disciples Because it’s the Best News Ever
Finally, when we look at all that Scripture says about the fallen human condition and the magnitude of what Jesus has accomplished for us on our behalf, we quickly come to see that this news is simply too good to keep to ourselves.
Revelation 7:15-17 speaks of those who have been saved by God as ones who no longer hunger, no longer thirst, and are no longer in danger of being destroyed by the elements but rather are kept safe by One who will be their Shepherd. Scripture repeatedly tells us (including in Jesus’ own words) that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35,48,51), the living water (John 4:10-15) and the good shepherd (John 10:2,11,14) and all those who know his voice will be provided for, protected, and loved. This stands in stark contrast to the fate of those whose hearts remain hostile to God, and the contrast could not be more extreme. So having come to understand the truth about the fall, the law, and our eternal destination apart from Christ; then encountering the truth of Christ, of a loving father, and of the promise of reconciliation, we rejoice, and we make disciples because it really is the best news ever.