Conversational Gospel (The Real Meaning of the Great Commission) Part 4

(Continued from Wednesday)

With this sermon I want to accomplish two things:
  1. I want to prevent us from throwing out the baby with the bath water.  I am not saying we should not visit, share Bible verses, learn outlines, or offer classes.  These things are not the cause of our failure.  We need to be intentional and make visits.  God uses visitation to spread the gospel.  We need to learn Bible verses and outlines.  These are tools that give us confidence and help us process and communicate theological truth.  We need to offer classes in the church building.  God uses classes to help people become informed disciples.  What I intend to do in this regard though is to challenge us to see these expressions as part of a process rather than as an end in themselves.  Without a personal discipling relationship at the core of these things, they are simply mechanical processes that will not make disciples.
  2. I want us to realize the conversational nature of discipleship and commit ourselves to entering into those conversations with the people of our town.
Back to our word study of the Great Commission.  There is only one imperative; one command.  Make disciples.  There are three participles.  A participle implies an ongoing activity.  In English we often express the nature of this action by adding “ing” to the verb.  So the Great Commission actually looks more like this:
  • As you are going - Going refers to living life, taking your kids to baseball practice, eating at the diner, buying in the market, conducting the activities of everyday work and life.  Jesus did not command us to go anywhere any different than we go on any given day.  The problem in our churches is not a lack of going, but a total lack of the realization that we already are.
  • As you are baptizing - While the term certainly pictures the act of immersing a person in the water, it is the meaning of baptism that is important here.  We are constantly challenging people to come out of the world and identify in a radical way with the Messiah by forsaking the old life and uniting with Him.  This is no easy task, but it is not enough for us to simply tell people about Jesus.  It is not enough for us to persuade them to even like Jesus.  It is not enough for us to ask them to pray a prayer and be baptized.  We must ask them to repent, to turn, and to begin a new life in Jesus.  Baptism pictures the death of the old self a a new resurrected union with Christ.
  • As you are teaching - Teaching carries the sense of an ongoing instructive conversation that helps a person unlearn the former life, learn the new life, and create new parameters for living.  Teaching takes place in the context of life, not necessarily in the classroom.  Teaching can be done by anyone who is willing to invite another into their world and show them how they walk with Christ.  Teaching is not about filling in blanks in a workbook, nor is it about gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge.  Teaching is about changing habits and demonstrating real life in Christ.  
The sense here is that making disciples is a conversational business.  We may share an outline, but we need to be personally interested in people.  We may have classes, but we need to be sure they are in the context of equipping an ongoing conversation.  We may invite a person to church, but the pastor’s sermon does not need to be the end, but the beginning of a discussion.


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