Welcome once again to our weekly “Multiply” study. After this week, we only have 4 weeks left until the conclusion of this study. I’m am debating on what to follow next. If any of you have any suggestions, I welcome them. For now, we pick up again in Part V: Session 2: The Great Commission. As always, follow along in your book or on the site: Multiply!
“Jesus’s life, death and resurrection should affect every day of your life” (267). It should, but does it? “Jesus’s mission on earth was to see God’s power, love, and healing permeate every aspect of this broken world and our broken lives” (267). Every aspect. And one day, He’ll come back and renew everything. Until then, He left us with something. He left us with a message and a mission.
The Mission of the Church
The disciples must have realized the importance of Jesus’s message and mission on earth as they began to accept Him as the Messiah of God. Can you imagine what they must have felt when He died? Imagine the shock, the devastation. Disappointed doesn’t even cut it. So imagine their joy and elation when He rose! Amazing! Jesus’s mission to restore was back on the docket. Now He can take the throne of Israel and rule the world forever.
Or so they thought… That’s not how the story goes, yet. Instead, Jesus gave the disciples an all-important task, and then, He left!
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18-20 ESV).
Of course each individual church in different places and times the mission will have different nuances, but it is all part of one mission. It is the same mission that Jesus began while He was on the earth and it was the same mission He left the church when He returned to heaven. We are to spread Christ’s rule on earth through making disciples.
Discussion Question #1: Read Luke 24 and Acts 1:1–11. As you read, place yourself in the scene and try to feel the significance of these events. How do the circumstances surrounding the Great Commission add significance to Jesus’s words?
The Authority of Jesus
The foundation of the “Great Commission” is found in the beginning line that Jesus gives to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18 ESV). Our Ruler has absolute authority over all of creation, including me and you. While this may be intimidating, it should give us confidence to carry out our mission, even in a world that seeks to stand against us. And because of what we share with Christ, “we should want every person on earth to experience this great salvation” (270).
A Worldwide Mission
Even though Jesus was born Jewish, He was not just sent for the Jews. His salvation is for all people, and because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“, everyone needs that salvation (Rom. 2:23 ESV). “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ESV).
Bringing the message of Christ to all the nations of the world may seem like a monumental task… because it is. But thankfully, we aren’t alone in our task. “Making disciples is ultimately God’s work, and He will accomplish it in His power” (271). God is going to reach the entire world, and He’s going to do it through us.
Discussion Question #2: We can get so caught up in our own personal relationships with God that we forget to think about the global implications of the Great Commission. Why is it important to see the mission of the church as a global calling?
The Call to Make Disciples
So we have come full circle to where we began in Part One. It’s all about disciple making. Hopefully, now, however, you have a better understanding of God’s plan for redemption and where we fit into that plan. As a recap, we said that a disciple is simply a follower of Jesus. So the process of disciple-making is really just telling others about Christ and inviting them to follow Him too. “Discipleship is a lifelong process where we are continuously made more and more like Jesus” (272).
According to the Great Commission, in making disciples, we are to “[baptize] them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and then “[teach] them to observe all that [He has commanded us]” (Matt. 28:19-20). The first step for anyone who chooses to follow Christ is to follow Him into His burial and then be raised again to new life. Baptism is the way we symbolism this, the new Christian is buried in the water and then raised again to their new life in the body of Christ. This step is commanded by Jesus and it is how we identify ourselves with Jesus. Who wouldn’t want to be identified with Christ?
Once we make disciples, our teaching doesn’t stop there. Training is on-going. “Salvation is not like receiving a train ticket to heaven, where the ticket gets us aboard, but after that we can put it in our pocket and forget about it. Rather, it is like a marriage, where we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and become a part of His family, the church” (272).
Discussion Question #3: Why do you think Jesus would give us the strategy of disciple making as the means for accomplishing our mission on earth?
Discussion Question #4: Take a minute to consider the significance of baptism. Write down some thoughts below. If you have been baptized, include some reflections on your own experience with baptism.
Discussion Question #5: What role should teaching play in our Christian lives and in the life of the church?
The Continuing Presence of Jesus
As if reaching every human being on the earth wasn’t daunting enough, we have some serious opposition. Satan, the world and our own sinful desires work against us fulfilling the mission Christ gave us. We’re going to face some persecution. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12 ESV). If you pay even slight attention to news, you know that even today, there are Christians being persecuted, beaten, and even killed for claiming Christ. Our message will not always be a welcome one.
While the opposition is real, we can find courage in the last words of Jesus’s commission: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 ESV). The Son of God is by our side. That’s His promise. He will never leave us. Remember God’s promises throughout the ages and how He has never given up.
Discussion Question #6: Most likely, you already believe that God’s presence is with you as you seek to honor Him in this world. But take some time to meditate on that simple truth: “I am with you always.” How should this statement affect your daily life and the way you view your God-given mission?
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Jesus makes His final instructions sending the apostles out to the world and then He gives them one last command: “Wait”. Wait? Isn’t there all of humanity that needs to be saved? Don’t we have to get out there and rescue people?
But here’s the thing, the Great Commission will never be accomplished by human effort alone. We need the power of God in order to succeed. Without Him, we are powerless. This is why Jesus tells His disciples to wait, He didn’t want them to run off unequipped. The disciples needed to be empowered, they needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Discussion Question #7: Have you ever tried to follow Jesus apart from the power of the Holy Spirit? Why is this approach bound to end in frustration?
Discussion Question #8: Given your specific setting, what would it look like to pursue the Great Commission through the power of the Spirit?
Finished and Unfinished
When Jesus left the earth, there were several things that were completed and things that were uncompleted. “The New Testament is very clear that the work of salvation is complete” (276). “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12 ESV). Jesus reconciled humanity and then sat down because His work was finished. “This means that our message is simple and straightforward: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved'(Acts 16:31)“(276).
However, we still have work to do. What remains uncompleted is the task of bringing the good news of what Christ has completed to the rest of the world. “This is our calling in life” (276). And remember we are not alone. Christ will always be with us and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The church will succeed.
Discussion Question #9: Read Revelation 7:9–12. This passage gives us a vision of the end of the story. This life will conclude with an enormous community of redeemed people from every nation, tribe, people, and language praising God together for His salvation. How should this vision of the end of the story affect the way we think about our mission now?
Discussion Question #10: Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to affect your heart with the urgency of the mission He has given you and the other Christians in your life. Ask Him for the strength, wisdom, and perseverance to pursue His mission in the strength of His Spirit.
I think this was a great session and I hope it leaves you all feeling empowered to go out and fulfill our mission! God bless!