Replacing Discipleship with Dreaming!

Matthew 28:18-20, “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.”

This passage of scripture has been rightly denominated, “The Great Commission” and is mind-blowing in its scope!

Christ has commanded us to turn the whole wide world into His disciples because the whole wide world belongs to Christ as His inheritance.

Without a doubt, these last words of the risen Lord Jesus before his ascension into heaven must have shaken his disciples to the core of their being. The very idea that a handful of nobodies from an insignificant part of the world - with the whole world set against them, with no big men or monies, with no big mission organizations going before them or underwriting their efforts - were to take on the whole world seemed almost as silly as it was shocking. Two thousand years later, if we take them seriously, they still shock us, scare us, and should thrill us. For you see, the believer’s main assignment hasn’t changed. Our God seriously expects His redeemed people to take on the whole world just as He had modeled the method in His Son, Jesus. Beginning with twelve men, Jesus impacted the whole world of that day before the advent of telegraphs, telephones, televisions, and telethons, using the one person tell another person method! These twelve common, market-place men, who had never been anywhere, went everywhere announcing the gospel and through the process of discipling multiplication they impacted the known world of their day. Their impact and influence were so extensive that the Apostle Paul could write in less than 25 years from the official giving of the assignment: “because your faith is proclaimed in all the world (the known world, i.e. the Roman Empire) (Romans 1:8); “the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole worldit is bearing fruit and growing.” (Colossians 1:6)

Fast forward two thousand years and ask the typical Christian if the fulfillment of the Great Commission is still every available believer’s assignment and can bring the nations to become life-long, lovers, learners, and leaders of King Jesus and the most likely response will be no way.    

What you believe about the future will determine much of how you live your life, how you view relationships, and even to a degree, how your character is shaped. Multitudes of Christians live full of fear due to what they have been told the Bible teaches about the shortness of the world’s time, and the nearness of Jesus’ any moment return with all the horrible, massive death-dealing judgment events that will then be precipitated upon the world.

Gary DeMar pinpoints the problem: “To be overly preoccupied with the future at the expense of the present is to replace discipleship with dreaming. God, the source of all hope, also is the source of the commission for believers to go into all the world as redemptive forerunners of the future that already is breaking into the present, first through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and now through the ministry of the spirit of the Christ and the faithfulness of the people of the Christ, the church. To be with God tomorrow requires being about God’s business today! In New Testament thought, serious discipleship takes priority over speculative dispensationalism; the significance of Pentecost far outweighs that of Christian ponderings about purgatory, premillennialism, and the perseverance of the Saints. The call from the future of God and the foundation for participating in God’s future focus on the present work of the Spirit in fashioning new creations fit for the tasks at hand in the future yet to be” (Gary DeMar

The late Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, wrote on the front part of the dust jacket of their book, Global Warning (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2007): “It is only a matter of time before our planet will experience the most devastating catastrophes imaginable. Global conflagration is clearly predicted in biblical prophecy, and the outcome is certain. How much time is left?”

The book’s first paragraph begins: “The world is in serious trouble, and everyone knows it. Something ominous is about to happen.”

One young mother anxiously writes a thread in a forum that reveals the outcome of night-marish dreaming and dreading of a future that appears so bleak and hopeless: “I’ve always wanted a second child, so my baby has a sibling, another shoulder and he wouldn’t be alone. But after learning of the Tribulation, I simply feel guilty for wanting to give a life to an innocent soul who basically would be destined for such miserable times. I know, God says don’t fear, but my human mind is scared and I don’t know what to think. Help me please.”

There are TWO provisions that assures the success of the Great Commission:

(1) the exercise of Christ’s authority - Mt. 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” If it were not for this statement, the assignment to disciple all people groups would be ludicrous. But by divine right of being and by divine reward for His successful mission, Jesus declares that His authority extends over the two worlds in which He and we operate – heaven and earth. Because He has become the Head of a new Body – the Church, all in the Body have been delegated all the authority, out of the very being of God, that’s necessary for the fulfilling of our commission. He has given to His Body both authority – the right to act – and power – the resources to accomplish what He assigned.

He authorizes His disciples then, and every disciple since, to enjoy the presence of God, bear the name of God, obey the will of God, speak the Word of God, and do the work of God by turning the nations into Christ’s disciples for the glory of God!

(2) the expectation of Christ’s accompaniment (or presence) - Mt 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Jesus’ promise is that His supporting presence can be expected, enjoyed, and employed ‘day by day by day.’ This means that if we want to know Christ’s presence, we must be involved in his great commission. Christ has not promised his presence to just any mission.

I borrow an excerpt from Dudley Hall’s recent circle of Servants letter where asserts the truth that will transform our dreams into visions of victory by getting the people of God back in alignment with Christ’s assignment to “make disciples of all nations” - “God is faithful! He keeps His promises. Nothing can prevent Him from keeping His promises. He promised in Genesis 3 that the seed of woman would crush the head of the serpent. He fulfilled that promise when Jesus (the ultimate human) died on the cross and fulfilled all Law, canceled the curse, and exposed the defeat of Satan's power. As surely as He was faithful in bringing that promise to fulfillment on time, He is working now to penetrate every aspect of creation with the liberation that has been purchased. Jesus paid for full redemption, and it will be accomplished. It is not time to run and hide. It is time to lift up your heads. God is working. Look at it. The foolishness of mankind taking the reins to define reality is being hilariously exposed. People identifying as animals, truth being defined by feelings. God being mocked as superstitious. etc. God laughs as men strut in mockery (Psalms 2:1-5).

“God is setting the table for the gospel feast. People are increasingly looking for real love, real peace, and a real sense of purpose. That kind of satisfaction is only found in the good news that God has done everything necessary to satisfy every legitimate appetite He gave to mankind in the finished work declared by the gospel. That's where we come in! We have the food everyone is hungry for. We have the only water that satisfies the soul-thirst. Because our Shepherd has prepared a table for us" in the presence of our enemies (Psalms 23), we are now privileged to prepare a table for our neighbors who are stumbling around in various stages of darkness looking for food. We are thrilled that the facilities at Tesoro Escondido will be used to set this table. Come and dine.”

When we really SEE the kingdom of heaven over us, in us, around us, we will no longer view ourselves as pessimistic pilgrims traveling through a weary land while awaiting rescue from a wicked and ever-worsening world. Instead we will see ourselves as co-partners in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons, and as hope-filled ambassadors of an already inaugurated heavenly kingdom. We will not despair, give up, or feel that the cause of righteousness and justice is doomed because of the size and sounds of those opposing the kingdom of the heavens, because the power of the end times has broken into to the NOW by the resurrected, ruling King Jesus.

It's time to dream God big dreams of a triumphant gospel that will enable disciples to be made of all people groups on the earth!