Are You Making Disciples?

by Jefferson David Tant

The last words of Christ, recorded by the apostle Matthew, are known as “The Great Commission.” They are found in Matthew 28:19-20: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Now, to whom were these words spoken? Obviously, to the apostles. And to whom do these words apply? To everyone who is a Christian! Note that Christ told the apostles to teach those they baptized to do what he told them to do — “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”

We see the early Christians following this exhortation in those early days of the church. We have the record of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, and then note what happened following this. “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. On that day, a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

Note who was “preaching the word." It was not the apostles, for they remained in Jerusalem for a time. It was “those who had been scattered abroad.” That’s the disciples. They were excited. They were enthused. They were committed.

I imagine Jacob went home and began sharing the gospel with the fellow who operated the camel wash in town. Elizebeth shared the gospel with her hairdresser and the grocery store clerk where she shopped. Young Joseph was also talking to his schoolmates. This is called “personal evangelism.”

Now note something Paul wrote to the Colossian church concerning the “gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister” (Colossians 1:23). This was very likely written within one generation from the beginning of the church in Acts 2. And the gospel had already been spread to the whole known world. How was this possible in such a short period of time? No TV, radio, internet, newspapers, or fast travel. We know the apostles later went into different areas, but I can’t imagine them covering “all creation” in that period. So, how did the gospel get spread? As already mentioned, it must have been through “personal evangelism.”

Isn’t that what Christ commissioned each of us to do in the Great Commission? As I look about us in the United States today, I don’t see much church growth. Yes, some are serving as an example, but most churches I am acquainted with add very few members yearly unless they are raising children who are then baptized.

Do we talk to our neighbors? Do we talk to our fellow workers? Do we talk to those who serve our tables in restaurants? Do we talk to strangers we meet? Do we talk to fellow passengers on our bus or airplane rides? What will you say to your next-door neighbor on the Judgment Day who is standing beside you when he hears the words “Depart from me…?” Will he turn to you and ask, “Why didn’t you tell me?

In other nations where I have worked, I have seen the results of personal evangelism, as many souls are being added to the Kingdom. Preachers are active daily in having home Bible studies, and everyday Christians are active in inviting their neighbors and friends to come and hear the gospel.

Churches can also bring in the world to hear the gospel. In my former work with the church in Roswell, Georgia, we would periodically have a “Bring a Friend Day.” I would select a sermon that would have an application to non-Christians, print up cards with an invitation and description of the lesson, and our members would pass them out. We would have as many as 40 visitors in addition to our 120 members in attendance. And we would be good to invite others to our gospel meetings when sermons would benefit them.

Good Readers, we need to be involved in “Personal Evangelism.” We need to be following the example of the early disciples. We must heed Christ’s commission to every Christian to be “seeking the lost.”

Dear Readers, personal evangelism is just as much of a command as is baptism. Go back and read Matthew 28:19-20 and Act 8:4. If I have misunderstood these passages, then I stand to be corrected. We have a great wealth to share.

One good example of personal evangelism concerns our postman back in the 1960s. Don Casper was an elder in a large denomination. He would come to my door occasionally to return a bulletin the church mailed out, and I would pay a few cents for the return. To make a long story short, in time, my wife and I were able to engage Don and Syble in some Bible studies. That led to their conversion. But it didn’t stop there.

The Caspers then talked to other family members, friends, and former church members. And in time, there were probably close to a dozen people baptized into Christ due to personal evangelism.

Young Christ stayed behind in Jerusalem after his parents left for home after the Feast of the Passover. After a few days, they missed him, came looking for him, and found him in the temple with the teachers. “And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49 KJV).

Let us also be involved in our Father’s business.

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