Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18 -20. Similar passages: Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21)
1. This is a command to evangelize the world and it came directly from God. All Christians, all churches, and all ministries must follow His plan if we want to have His power and the authority to use that power to accomplish this mission.
2. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “go and make disciples of all the nations.” We know from other scripture passages that each individual must personally make a decision to receive Christ as Lord and Savior (John 1:14). Therefore, we must do our best to evaluate the methods we are using to see if true disciples are being produced by our churches and other ministries. The Bible gives us many examples of the characteristics that identify disciples, and we can use these to evaluate whether or not individuals at least have the external characteristics of genuine followers of Jesus. Of course, the Lord is the only one who really knows, so we do not try to pass judgement. At the same time, Jesus did teach us to evaluate the fruit that individuals produce from their lives.
3. At the same time, the use of the phrase “all the nations” rather than “all individuals” demonstrates the fact that God’s plan is for individuals to become disciples of Jesus in communities of people. We all have responsibility to help build this relationship between Christians, churches, and Christian organizations and the communities in which they live.
4. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” shows that this is an individual decision celebrated in a local community of Christ followers we call local churches.
5. The command that we are to be “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” is why our mission statement emphasizes “bringing first-century Christianity into the 21st century.” Even a quick examination of local churches in this country reveals that much of what Jesus and His disciples taught and practiced is not being taught and practiced today. Because the Holy Spirit of God is the Lord of the Harvest, we believe that local churches should be developing more relevant ways to implement the truths and practices introduced by Jesus.