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If I could pick a chapter of all the chapters of the 52 to have done this week, I couldn’t have picked a better one. Let’s turn to Matthew 28. This truly has been an all week long blessing in my life. As I introduce it to you, in my mind, I am just picturing that you’re there. You have your Bible. I’m going to ask you to make sure you have your notebook as you are sitting here. While we sit across this table from each other, I would share with you how much the Lord has touched my heart this week, looking at this chapter. I’d say, I hope it becomes for you one of the key chapters of your Christian life. In fact, I’m going to share with you in just a minute that this chapter has two verses that have become a part of me looking back over my entire life, as one of the key decisions of my whole life come right from this chapter.
Look down at the slide with me and let me just tell you why it’s such a blessing. We’re on week 27 of our journey through the Bible. If this is just your first time joining us, which happens over and over again, we’re on a 52 week, one year long journey through the scriptures, looking at the key chapters. If you go on this journey with us, if you read and mark the scriptures, if you use your Study Bible and resources, if you keep track of your notes and actually write down the trues, and lessons, and insights you’re finding, if you do all that, plus writing that prayer of application, this should become the equivalent to you going off to study formally the scriptures. For this reason, we’re looking at every portion of scripture, every type of scripture. We’re looking at the entire scope of biblical history. We’re also studying theology as we go through our theology book, that’s in your resources. Also, when we follow the footnotes and the center column references, and I recommended to you the treasury of scripture knowledge, that’s the Croft cross-reference tool and the MacArthur Study Bible that has 25,000 footnotes that bring you into discussions of the overview of books, the overview of sections like the Gospels, looking at the comparison between the intertestamental period and the Gospel period, and all these different elements. When you do all that, what you come up with is a grasp of the entire message of the Bible. That’s our goal. The key doctrines. The key theological truths. The key verses, which are in lesson 00 about how to memorize scripture. I talk about the 52 most important passages to memorize as well as this study of the 52 Greatest Chapters.
We’re in Matthew 28, as you see at the bottom of your slide. This is actually the Sea of Galilee, the gray out here and the fog is the Sea of Galilee. You can see right here, the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Right there. We are sitting right in the middle of the last four verses of chapter 28. We’re sitting in Galilee and I’m teaching this lesson. That’s why I put that slide up there for you. Each one of these, the students you see sitting there as I’m teaching, in fact I’m holding the same Bible… right there it is, but each of them are going through this lesson live. I’m going to do it with you like, it’s just one-on-one, sitting across from you at Panera or at Starbucks.
In the next slide, I remind you where we are. We’re on week 27, Matthew 28. We’re looking at The Great Commission, which of course is the capstone of the Gospels after the life of Christ. After His death, and burial, and resurrection. By the way, His resurrection is, as you’re going to see this week, at the beginning of Matthew 28 but the finale is going to be this incredible commissioning of the Church through the disciples. The disciples gathered there in Galilee, as Jesus gives them, what one great Bible author called, the Great Commission, about a hundred years ago. You can see this is going to finish up, these three weeks is going to finish up, our time in Matthew. The next two weeks, we’re going to be in Luke. We’re going to look at the Good Samaritan and see that picture of the attitude of a heart of someone who is seeking, and knowing, and finding Christ. The good Samaritan is a picture of salvation. Then, the prodigal son is all about our Lord and His gracious mercy. It is God who seeks us, who wants through Christ to seek and to save the lost. He is the Father waiting with arms open wide. Especially, when we fail because we’re still sinners. Even after we’re saved, we’re not perfect. We still struggle with sin. It’s just going to be a great two weeks.
Then, we go into five straight weeks, in the Gospel by John. It’s not his Gospel, not the Gospel of that he thought of it, but it’s by him. He recorded what the Lord spoke through him. We’re going to get some deep trues about the eternality of Jesus Christ as God the Son, the salvation, the seven doctrines of the new birth. Chapter 10 we’re going to be really learning about the I Am statements. Also, Jesus Christ revealing Himself through the signs, and the miracle works that He did. As well as His titles. We will study the crucifixion and all the fulfillment of scripture. I just can’t wait for John 19. Then what we’re not going to cover deeply today, is going to be the resurrection, it’s on week 34 when we’re in John chapter 20.
In your resources. Remember if you go to our website or to our web page, if you find this 250+ list. It’s called the 250+ events in the life of Christ. When you get there, you remember I’ve shown you this many times, it’s a comparison between the four Gospels. We’re looking at Matthew 28. Look, here’s Matthew 28. Each of them, any event in the life of Christ. The 243rd, 244th, 245th, 248th, 249th, and 256th. This of course is the ending, the 259th event.
You notice what I’ve added for you? I’ve added for you the place where these events take place. Matthew 28:1 is at the garden tomb. We’re going to look at that in depth, both the traditional site, as well as the historic site. We’ll look at the message the Lord has for us at the garden tomb. Then, after we get by the garden tomb, you notice that we move here. Do you see in event 256? We moved to the mountain and that’s called Arbel. If you’re just joining us, this chart is a free resource you can download, I actually have it as a part of my notes. Just a typical notebook. All of this is in the description of this video. You can see links and look at them on Amazon. I tape in the front of my notebook the 52 key chapter study and then in the back of my notebook this chart, which has all the events of the life of Christ, as well as other resources that I give you. I keep those all taped in there so that my journal becomes my little record of my yearlong Bible Institute journey of mastering the scriptures. That’s my goal. Then what I do with you here, prepping you, it’s sharing lessons that are my challenges to you as we go on this journey.
Remember Matthew covers things that Mark doesn’t. The stone rolled away is not in Mark or Luke or John, that account, only Matthew has that. This yellow line, you notice this line and this line is yellow. You know what that means? All four of the Gospels record the exact same event. I told you a few weeks ago when we started looking at this in Matthew chapter 1, that anything that all four Gospels cover is like God putting it in bold and flashing colors to get your attention. These are the key events and truths that He wants us to see. Jesus appears to the women. Notice, only Matthew records that event. The religious leaders bribing the guards, only Matthew gives that. The giving of the Great Commission, although covered in depth but just in those two. That was just to review that resource and why we use it.
This is Arbel. Notice right here, this Mount Arbel picture is courtesy of Bibleplaces.com. That is a wonderful dear friend in the ministry. His name is Todd Bolen. He used to come and lecture our groups when we would go to the Holy Land. He facultied at that time at the master’s College satellite, that was actually in Israel. It’s still there, but now he’s moved to professor at the Master Seminary. His lifetime collection of very high resolution, teaching material level slides, is available at that site. Of course, I’ve bought it, and I would encourage you if you want to keep going in your learning, I’ve bought every collection he has. This is the Galilee Collection. You can read all about that right there at his website.
This is the Arbel cliff, look at how rugged that is. That group in the opening slide, we were sitting right there on the top, right up here. This gives you a little clearer view of this corner of the Sea of Galilee. That’s what I wanted you to see. Everything happened somewhere. Where did Jesus give the Great Commission? If you look in your Bibles, do you remember the angel told them in verse 7 of chapter 28, He is going before you into Galilee. Do you see Galilee there? Then it says in verse 16, “The 11 disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain.” The Arbel Cliff is what I personally believe, and I’ll show you why. The mountain, and this is the spot where Jesus with the disciples could look over 2/3’s of all of His recorded ministry. Did you know that? The Gospels record 89 chapters of Christ ministry. 2/3’s of all of His miracles and His interactions with the people, through teaching, through miracles, occur right down there at the foot of this mountain. I’ll show you what I mean.
You can see the far shore right there of the Sea of Galilee. Here it is, right here. This is the Arbel Mountain. Right there is where our opening shot was. Do you see this road right here? Do you see this plain right down here? This is Magdala. You say Magdala, where have I heard that? Mary of Magdala was called Mary Magdalene. She lived right there, right in that city. There’s actually ruins of the city. Why is that important? The Roman Road came from Damascus around the Sea of Galilee, around Capernaum, came right here to Magdala, and it split. One branch of it went right up through this pass and the other branch went this way down to Beit She’an. We will encounter all these as we’re talking about Jesus’ ministry, traveling in the Gospels. That means Magdala was a crossroads of caravans. When Jesus prayed for His disciples, which He did up here on Arbel, He prayed for them the night before He picked them. When Jesus prayed for them in Matthew 14, when they’re out here in the middle of the sea, sinking in a boat, He’s up here. When He commissions them, He’s up here. These three key events are right there, but the whole time those three events are going on, the Great Commission, the great prayer time, and choosing the disciples you could see, from Arbel, caravans going from India and China all the way toward Rome. Streaming like a river of trade. That’s why Jesus picked Galilee. He wanted the Gospel to go global. He wanted the Gospel to, as you are going to find and write in your notes, He wanted it to go to the ends of the Earth. Right here with that Roman Road that went up through Armageddon and all the way down to the coast to Caesarea, Jesus gives the Great Commission.
Here’s Magdala. This outline here, is the Sea of Galilee. There are 16 port cities. Magdala was one of them. You’ve probably heard of Capernaum; you might’ve heard of modern day Tiberius right there. Most of these cities you see on that map are not well known. Gennesaret is right there, the Plain of Gennesaret. Tabgha is where the feeding the 5,000 and the beatitudes took place. Right here is Bethsaida, right here is Chorazin, and right here is current Capernaum. This triangle is where 2/3’s of Christ miracles were performed. You can see it from right where we are, right here on Mount Arbel. That’s what you’re seeing when you’re looking down the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
Arbel and the Valley of the Doves, that’s what this is called. Here’s Arbel again, you can see the outline of the Sea of Galilee. In the distance this would be Tabgha, the sermon on the mount, Peter’s restoration right there. This would be Capernaum. This would be Bethsaida up here and Chorazin. All of that is very, very visible. That’s why Jesus gives the Great Commission here. Of course, Magdala right there at the base. The Roman Road going right up here. In fact, when Jesus would walk from Capernaum right here, He would walk around the Sea of Galilee and He’d cut up at Capernaum to go to Nazareth, or to go anywhere up in the upper Galilee. This notch was where He would go.
Let me show you my journal. First of all, I journal everything that I studied. I encourage you and I would have you show me your journal if we were sitting, if you were actually sitting where the camera is I’d say, hey, let me see what you found this week. You’d open it up and you would show me your Matthew 28, and your title, and summary, and the lessons, and your prayer. Because it’s hard for you to see all this and it’s hard for you to see all my scribbles let me just read you a couple things and then I’ll show it to you typed. My prayer… I wrote: Lord, I’m often like those ladies seeking and waiting for you, but still doubting. Help me to rejoice, verse 9, stop doubting, verse 17, as I worship you, my risen Savior. I want to go, verses 18-20, make disciples and see them follow you as Master, and teach them to guard Your truth all my days till You come or call. That was my prayer on the day that I wrote this page in my journal. I write many pages.
I’m going to, as you see in the slides, give you the typed out version of another day. I do this with you every day. This is my personal devotional time, and you are my small group that I am accountable to share with and share what the Lord is doing, what He’s teaching me, what I’m learning and how He is using His word to change my life. That’s really what this is all about. I’m so excited to show you. Remember, a title for every section we’re studying. This one, one time I read it, I wrote: Christ’s Resurrection and the Great Commission. The last time I read through this chapter I wrote this title: What on Earth are YOU Living For? That’s the one I’m actually sharing today.
Here’s my summary of everything I learned after one whole week of study. I wrote, What on Earth do We Live For. The key that unlocks why God has left us here on Earth, after our salvation, is in verse 19 of chapter 28 where Christ said: “Make disciples.” These words were carefully engineered by the Spirit of God. If you believe in inspiration and I do, the reason I do is because Jesus did. You don’t really need any other reason to believe that the Bible is true, other than the ultimate reason, Jesus Christ believed, authenticated, verified, taught from, used, trusted, and told us that this was the word of God, that gives us life, and that transforms us. The Holy Spirit carefully engineered this book and inspired it to explain the focus of every day of our lives if we want to please God. Remember, there’s two choices. Only two choices on the shelf every day for us, pleasing God or pleasing self. Today, you’re going to make choices to either please God with what you do, and think, and say, and how you invest your gifts, and your talents, and your money, and your time or you’re going to please yourself. Pleasing God, pleasing self.
Next, all the other verbs in verse 19 are participles. Going is a participle, teaching is a participle, baptizing is a participle. Long ago, for me it was really long ago, I don’t know how long since you were in school learning grammar, but in English grammar we all learned that participles are verb forms that are to modify the main verb. A participle is connected to and modifies the main verb. What’s the main verb of this passage, of the Great Commission we’re looking at? Make disciples. That’s the command, that’s what God says we are to be doing. The going into all the world, teaching, and baptizing are just modifying the main verb, which is make disciples. Just as each participle points itself toward the main verb and is attached completely to that main verb, listen now this is the essence of everything I got out of this study, so each of us are to live our life with every part of us in some way attached to the purpose in life we have been given by God. Which is what? Making disciples.
That’s what I think about all day long. I have to work, I have to pick up, and help, and work, and drive, and study, and everything else but everything I do I think, how is this contributing toward the reason God left me on Earth? He left you, if you’re a born again Christian, if you come to know Jesus Christ, if you have trusted that He died in your place on the cross as your substitute, then you too have one purpose in life, to make disciples.
This is the main verb and everything else, the going, the baptizing, and the teaching is connected to it. Let me say that your life, and your money, and your time, and your amusements, and entertainments, and relationships, everything should be tied to what Jesus Christ left you here, and me here, to do.
I continued in my summary. The purpose of the Church is to make disciples. In the Gospels, Jesus trained 12 in making disciples. Here at the Great Commission, He charged them and sent them off into life. The book of Acts is a record. I can’t wait, after we get through John we’re going to get to the book of Acts. By the way, I can’t wait to show you in the book of Acts something I have marked here in my Bible. Right in the front of my Bible, I always have a reminder of how to lead someone to Christ. The greatest thing in all of life is to take someone with us to Heaven, to make disciples, to lead someone to Christ who becomes a follower of Christ. When we get to the book of Acts, we’re going to learn how to lead someone to Christ. I’m going to challenge each one of you to mark your Bible like I have. When I was a brand new believer in my local church, when I was a little boy, we had a speaker come through and said, you should be ready at any time if the Lord put someone in your path to lead them to Christ. I’m going to show you how to do it, he said. He had us mark our Bibles. I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve used that plan to lead dozens of people to Jesus Christ. Scores. I don’t know how many, more than I can count. I’d like you to be ready we’ll do that in the book of Acts. The epistles become the instruction manual, how to keep the impossible job of disciple-making running smoothly. Why? Because only obedience, surrendered, Spirit filled believers are able to make disciples. Revelation shows us the results. See how the whole Bible is laid out? The Gospel, Jesus doing the training, Acts, seeing the trainees doing it, the epistles, all of those that are following after the original disciples also being trained how to do it, and then Revelation the results, the numberless crowd of disciples that are in Heaven surrounding the throne of God the Savior. Worshiping Him because of His wonderful message, His forgiveness of sin, His offer of reconciliation leading to everlasting life.
I want to pause because all week long as I’m studying, using my Study Bible, following the footnotes, and the center column reference, and the treasury of scripture knowledge, and an underlining, all of a sudden I think, wait a minute. How does the New Testament describe Christians? Here’s my study.
I actually took the time to look and count using Bible programs, where I can find every word and find where they are and count them, how are we as Christians described in the New Testament. Christians, that’s what we call ourselves a lot now days. That’s what the news media calls us, Christians. Did you know that in the top seven New Testament titles for what we are, is the least used? It’s only used three times in the whole Bible, Christians. Yet, we use it all the time. It’s very, very slight. Actually, it was a mockery. Believers in Antioch were called Christians, which in Greek means little Christ. They’re trying to imitate Jesus Christ or being little imitations of Jesus.
Number six, Followers of The Way. That’s different, we don’t use that one very much either. That’s in the book of Acts.
Number five. Witnesses. That’s interesting. Jesus said you shall be my witnesses, Acts chapter 1 in verse 8, and that’s a title that the scriptures use.
Number four, Saints. That’s one that makes most people feel very uncomfortable yet, that’s what the believers are called in the New Testament. They’re called Saints when Paul writes his epistles. I can’t wait until we get into Paul’s epistles. He’ll say, to the Saints which are in Ephesus, to the Saints which are in Philippi, the saints which are in Colossi or Thessalonica. Saints is the fourth most used of the top seven.
Number three, those following or identifying as Followers of Jesus Christ. Following The Way is five times, but Followers is a hundred times now. That’s really a good definition of Christianity. Who are you following? That’s something to think about. Do you really intentionally position your life and keep your eyes on Christ, so that you’re following Him? See that? That is the third most descriptive term of who we are describing, the transformation.
Number two, Believing/Believers. That one’s huge. Almost three times as many times as Followers is Believers. Believing in and trusting, we have placed our faith in Jesus.
Do you know what the most often used descriptor of us is? First place, Disciples. In fact, disciples is used more than the first five combined and an almost tied with, the Believing Believers. Disciples. Did people ever call themself that? There’s a denomination, the Disciples of Christ. Most people just think that’s their church name. Actually, that’s what the Bible says a true Christian is, a disciple.
God’s desire could not be clearer. I’m still summarizing, that’s why I have all these pages I have to type out for you to see, it was such an exciting week. God’s desire could not be clearer. God’s plan for us could not be more simply stated. The Great Commission is focusing every part of our life upon the main verb of God’s plan. What is that? Making disciples of all the nations, all the kindreds, all the tongues, and all the tribes of people. God is glorified as we proclaim Him for who He really is, God the savior.
Here’s what I found as I read through. Remember, I mark things and I write them all around, like at the top. Here’s just some of the stuff I wrote in the margin of my Bible. Baptism in the name of is a declaration of God. When they say, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, notice it’s a singular name. Not names. Name. That’s what it says in verse 19 “in the name.” What is that? That’s a powerful reminder of the Trinity. One God in three persons. One God, not three gods. One God, one name. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Being baptized, that name means He owns us.
It reminds me of when Ponce de León, for the queen of Spain, came and took the Spanish flag and planted it in Florida, in the sands of Florida. He said, I claim this for the Spanish Kingdom for my queen. He came in the name of the queen and said her ownership was on this land, and he poked a flag in. When you raise the flag at baptism you’re saying, God owns me. Those are examples. I wrote all this stuff that I wrote in my margins, I typed out for you.
Number one, Matthew 28:1, the women who were last at the cross, notice that’s what happens at the end of chapter 27, were first to the tomb and God rewarded them. The ones that were last at the cross got to be first to see Christ. Number two, verses 2 & 3, God sent an angel to roll away the stone to show them the tomb was empty, not to let Jesus out, to show the tomb was empty. Verse 4, angels are so powerful that humans pale, and tremble, and freeze when they’re in the presence of angels. They are so supernaturally powerful. Verses 5-8, the angel explained that Christ was risen, of course he said he was just following the plan. It was like, you didn’t know that? That was the plan from the beginning, that He would rise, He told you. Verses 9 & 10, Jesus met them and told them about going to Galilee just like the angel said. You notice when I’m doing this study, basically what I’m doing is, I’m reminding myself of what’s in the passage. As I’m doing that, I’m looking for trues that I can apply to my life.
The sixth one, the guards get bought. They’re given a story to tell, that is in a book that was written called the Passover Plot. By the way, many people still believe that false story that was planted by the religious leaders. Verse 16, Jesus invites them to a mountain in Galilee, probably Arbel. I just showed you the pictures of it. They saw Him, they worshiped Him, but look at this verse 17, I wrote this in my notes, some doubted. You know what I wrote in my margin? After the resurrection, after three years after Him walking beside them, walking through the door, all the things He did, walking on water, they still doubted. You know what? That gives me hope. Do you know what Jesus said? He looked at them and He said, blessed are you that believe, but more “blessed are those who have never seen me, and yet have believed.” That’s us. Yet, Jesus has compassion on all of the doubting Thomas’, that all of us are in some degree, that we struggle. He understands that. He never rebukes them for doubting. He just says, come to me and stick your hand in. Get close to me and believe. Jesus lovingly puts His arms around us.
Then verse 19, He sends them to make disciples as they were going, baptizing, and teaching in “the Name” which declares His ownership. I already read you that note. I try and copy all these little ideas I get from my margins. Verse 20, they were to teach those who believed to guard the truth as they lived it out.
Let me just show you one thing about this little line that says in verse 19, baptizing them. It might be a long time since you’ve studied baptism. This is a good time to do it this week. I did. I spent the time to look this up. Baptism was expected in the first century Church and the Great Commission pattern is carried out in the book of Acts. This is every time someone is baptized in the book of Acts. You notice something, I wrote it out. The day of Pentecost responders received the word, and then were baptized. This is what we call believers baptism. At this point, if you were sitting across the table from me at Starbucks, I would lean forward. I’d say, have you ever been baptized? You know what most people say? Oh yeah, I was christened. My parents christened me. I was confirmed. I said, no, no. Christening, confirmation, those are great, beautiful, wonderful family events, they are not what the Bible talks about. The Bible only describes believers’ baptism. Do you know what that means?
First, you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved. Then, you get baptized as a public declaration that God owns me. I taught many years in the pastorate. I’ll never forget one church where I pastored was in a heavily Dutch Reformed area, where everyone had been raised in a very, very serious Christian home. Bible readings and everything. All of them were baptized as babies. All of them were confirmed at 12 or 13, or whenever you get confirmed. None of them had been baptized since he had been born again, none. I would teach this, and teach this, and teach this. Finally, the built up pressure got so much the elder said, when are you going to have a baptism? I said, I know there’s a lot of unbaptized people, so what we’re going to do is, we’re going to get a big horse trough and I’m going to have an outdoor baptism and picnic. Did you know, on that day, just that day, we baptized almost 150 people. We didn’t get them all, so we had to have another, a month later, and do the rest of them. For most of them, they said, I am so thrilled to come in front of you to declare that Jesus Christ died for me, and God owns me. I am so glad that I can follow the Lord in obedience in baptism. Have you ever been baptized as a believer?
Look here, the Samaritans believed and were baptized. Notice, believed then they were baptized. The Ethiopian confesses Christ and then gets baptized. Paul is converted, receives the Spirit, that’s in Acts 9, then he got baptized. The Gentiles were saved, received the Spirit, this is those in Caesarea with Peter, and then got baptized. Lydia, after the Lord opens her heart, then she gets baptized. The Philippian jailer and his family, it says believed, Acts 16:13, and then were baptized. The Corinthians heard, believed, were baptized. The Ephesians believed, were baptized. Baptism always follows salvation. It never produces it. You don’t need to be baptized to get saved, but if you’re saved, you want to obey the Lord, declare His ownership, and get baptized.
Jesus Christ commissioned His Church to make disciples. That’s us and all the generations of the Church, from the day of Pentecost and after He gave this commission to the last member of His Church on this Earth. Notice what Matthew 28 says, “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on Earth. Go therefore make disciples.’ “ By the way, before the cross, He never said all authority is given. He completed the plan of God. God says, now you can launch your Church that has been planned before the foundation world. Now you launch it because all authority is given to you. We are possessors of that resurrection power in the Spirit of God, living in all of us as believers. We’re supposed to make disciples, that’s the main verb. As we baptize them, as we teach them, and as we go to them. The three participles are going, baptizing, and teaching. Those are all part of the making disciples. Look what Jesus says, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” We’re going to touch on that in just a minute. Then the Lord says, I’m with you always.
What is discipleship? Again, if we were sitting here, I would give you this, what you see on the screen as a little sheet of paper. In fact, I remember when I gave one to my wonderful wife. Bonnie is sitting right over there. Every time I go to her little corner of the kitchen, when we’re home and not traveling around the world teaching like this, I see that little piece of paper that I gave her. She said, you’re discipling so many people, I want to see those six things. Here it is. This is what’s on this little sheet of paper in the Bibles of so many people that have gone through this face-to-face discipleship. I say, there’s six things God wants you to work on. Discipleship or spiritual growth is based on loving God. It’s not based on fear. It’s not based on trying to keep up. It’s not how hard I try. It’s, I love the Lord and that’s the only reason I’m motivated to keep His commandments. Not because I’m afraid of Him, not because I’m earning my way to Heaven, but because I love Him. That’s what John 14:21 says. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” That’s the heart, the essence of discipleship.
We are fed by the word of God. It says in 1 Peter 2:1-3, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow.” (KJV) We need to exercise. I’m going to show you that verse in just a minute. It says in Hebrews 5:12, but “you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles.” what happened is, these people were not growing, and they needed someone to come alongside of them. That’s what discipleship is all about. Then, as we saw last week, that prayer is what we focus on daily. Do you remember it from last week? Focus me, control me, lead me, supply me, cleanse me, protect me, and empty me. Then, I remind them the fifth element of discipleship is spiritual warfare, it’s real. Have you ever been sitting somewhere, reading your Bible, and all of a sudden you have this horrible thought, that you go like this and thought how awful? What a mean, hateful, evil thought. Where did that come from? Yeah, where did that come from? Our adversary the Devil, it says right here in Ephesians 6, can fire flaming arrows into our minds. He cannot possess us, we’re sealed by the Spirit, but he can shoot thoughts into our mind. We’re supposed to resist him. We’ll cover that when we get to Ephesians 6. Look at this, reporting day is coming. What’s that for? We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. I’m going to give Him an account of how I lived my life for the Lord, how focused I was on what He left me here to do… so are you. One by one, we’re going to stand in front of Him and He’s going to ask us, what on Earth did you live for?
My wristwatch is saying, you’ve sat too long, but I’m going to keep sitting. Isn’t it fun to have our little time at the coffee shop here?
Showing and telling is what discipleship making is all about. Some of you have never discipled anybody. I’ve told you; you can do that through this course. This is what you do. You study this chapter, you write it down, you get all of your applications. Then you find someone to say, can I share this with you? That’s all discipleship is, showing and telling someone how you’re following the Lord in His truth.
Look at this, this is Hebrews 5. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers.” You should be discipling someone by now. Did you know most believers, I’ve been a pastor for three decades, the vast majority of the people, thousands of people in the churches that I have pastored, I would say how many of you have read the entire Bible? Raise your hand right now if you’ve read every word of God. Raise your hand. Do you know what? In every church I’ve ever pastored 5%, 10% max. Most believers have never read the whole Bible. Terrible. Only takes 72 hours to read the whole Bible. How many hours have you spent in your life playing games, or watching television, or movies, or just listening to music, or your hobby? Find 72 hours and read the Bible.
I’d ask them that then the second one. I say, how many of you have ever discipled anyone? Almost all of them say, discipled anyone? I’ve never been discipled. That was the on ramp to start in these 52 Greatest Chapter classes. You’re being discipled right now. You can never say, I wasn’t discipled, you’re being discipled right now. What do you need to do to disciple someone else? “You need someone to teach you again the first principles […] and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness.” He’s a baby, but look at this. “Solid food belongs to those who are of full age.” That means they’ve grown up and they, “by reason of use have their senses exercise.” They get in the word, meditate on the word, and then ask God to change them. That’s the exercise. It’s called sanctification. If God is at work in your life, you should find someone else to share that with.
Here’s what I heard when I was a young pastor in the 1980s. From 1983 to 1988 I was being discipled by, mentored by, and I was on staff with John MacArthur, Grace Community Church. That’s why I like so much that MacArthur Study Bible. This is what he told us, I listened to him teaching through Matthew and the Great Commission. Bonnie and I sat there. We can still remember, even his outlines were so amazing, articulated by this great Bible teacher. This is what he said. “The mission of the church is not fellowship, the mission of the church is not teaching and preaching, the mission of the church is not praise and worship. Those are all functions of the church, which strengthen the church, motivate the church, directed toward the mission of the church.” What’s the mission? “It’s to make disciples of all nations, people, races and tribes, and ethnic groups across the face of the Earth. Look at this, that’s the only reason we’re here because every other function of the church would be better accomplished in Heaven. Heaven is better fellowship, and better knowledge of the truth, and better worship.” Can you imagine the worship of Heaven with all those angels around us, by the hundreds of millions and billions, all the lightning, the throne, and God Himself there in Jesus Christ our Savior. It’s better in Heaven. ” The reason we’re here in this world is so we might be an instrument by which God can reconcile others to Himself.” He wants us to make disciples.
Here’s my prayer. I’ll pray it with you. This is the summary of all this. I wrote, Lord, thank you for dying in my place in the cross. Then going to the grave to forever bury my sin. Thank you for rising to commission my life to be Your disciple-making servant. I want to make disciples in your Name all of my days. Help me today, I pray. Amen. That’s a simple prayer, but that’s really the essence of what this chapter is about.
Responding to the Great Commission is one of the 10 best decisions of my life. This is a little list that I keep in my Bible. I also have it here in the notes section of my phone. I remind myself of the bedrock decisions in my life. Here they are, number one, the decision to respond to God in an Acts 16:31 life of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. That’s what happened to me in 1962 when I called on the name of the Lord. Number two, the decision to live a Romans 12:1-2 life of presenting my body a living sacrifice, and surrendering to lifelong serving the Lord. I’ll never forget at age nine, that I went forward in my little country church. I knelt down and I surrendered my life. I said, Lord, whatever you want to do with me I’m saved, and you’ve forgiven me, I surrender my life back to you. Look at this, the decision to seek a Matthew 28:18-20, there’s our passage, life of pursuing the Great Commission and making disciples of the nations and spreading the Gospel via missions. When I was 11 years old, I said, Lord, I want to be a part of what you’re doing. I began to personally, at age 11, support a missionary. When I did my paper route and when I did all my other work, I used to weed gardens, I worked at a bowling alley, I always gave the first portion of everything I earned to the Lord. I had my mother put it in a can and she’d dump it out. She’d write a check every month for how much I put in that can.
Did you know, when I was 11 years old, a missionary from Europe came to my church. Just drove in on a Wednesday night and found the pastor. They said, I’m looking for one of my supporters, one of my supporters attends your church. His name is Mr. Barnett. The pastor walked over to my dad and my dad was standing there talking. This man said, hello. He says, I’m a missionary for Trans World Radio Monte Carlo. I’d like to thank you for supporting me. I was driving by, and I hoped to meet you. My dad said just a minute, okay? You have the wrong Mr. Barnett. He walked over to this little, short fella, me, and I looked up at that missionary. I thought that the one that I’m investing in, until I can go myself in taking the Gospel to the nations. That’s one of the greatest decisions you can make in your life.
Number four, to have a Joshua 1:8-9 word filled life of hiding God’s word in my heart. When I was 13, I got serious about memorizing. I used to memorize and write out by hand my verses every Saturday in a club I was in, it was called Bible Memory Association. We met on Saturdays, and we had this pact, that we would not watch television, the cartoons, Saturday cartoons until we’d written out our verses. Are you serious about memorizing? Are you serious about reaching the world? Have you surrendered your life? Have you been baptized since you got saved? This is why people don’t want to be discipled, it’s uncomfortable. Number five, the decision to get a 2 Timothy 2:15 formal training. That’s why this year is so vital. You are getting the equivalent of formal Bible training if you read all those footnotes, if you follow along and do your homework for this whole year. It’s like going away and studying the Bible in a school. It’s amazing. There’s no replacement for the comradery of going to the school, so I’d encourage that too if you’re interested in some. Number six, the decision to start in Acts 13:36 life of planning to neglect everything but what I was called to do. That was near the end of my seminary time. I decided to focus on what God called me to do. It said, David fulfilled God’s purpose in his life.
Number seven, the decision to pursue an Ephesians 5:22-33 life of loving Bonnie as Christ loves His Church. That’s been the most rewarding decision of my life. I can’t believe Bonnie’s over there with the studio recording. My partner in every ministry, every person whose life is touched. I just got a notice from Google. They said, you have so far been watched by 55 million watchers. I went, wow. I looked at Bonnie and I thought if she didn’t sit in that studio tirelessly and find all the mistakes I make and log them so we can edit them out, I couldn’t do this. The gifted helpmeet I prayed for my whole life. I married her in 1983. The decision to invest my life in a 1 Peter 5:1 pattern of shepherding Christ’s flock. That’s at my ordination. A decision to plan a 2 Peter 1:15 discipline of communicating God’s truth to next generation. That’s when I launched out into my first pastoral work, where I was fully hired as an elder and a pastor. Finally, a 2 Timothy 4:6-8 goal of pouring out my life as a drink offering to the end. I haven’t changed that date, I’m still alive, but I want to live every day of my life for the Lord.
You’ll never be in the future what you’re not becoming today. Today, decide you’re going to start memorizing, you’re going to start studying on a daily basis, you’re going to start taking notes, writing prayers, and letting the Lord change your heart.
What did Jesus teach His apostles and what did they hear? This was interesting. I took a little time this week to see if the message of Christ changed in his first year. When Jesus started His ministry look what He said in Matthew 4, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He said, “Follow Me,” so simple His message was. Have a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior and follow Me.
Look at the second year, this is in Mark 8. If you use that chart, you’ll see it’s the second year of His ministry when He called the people to Himself with His disciples. He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me.” Salvation is following Him. “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus required wholehearted, whole life focus on Him. Anything less is disobedience. You can be saved and not wholly follow Him, but you will not feel very safe. If you’re not surrendered to the Lord, you feel horrible. When a Christian is living in sin, they feel like they’re not a Christian, they feel horrible.
Look at the last year of His ministry, Luke 14. What did Jesus say? “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” What does that mean? It means you love Christ more than anything else. That’s what makes you get up in the morning or stay up late at night to study. That’s what makes you drop the endless playing with time-waster games, and videos, and all that, and start focusing on seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s hard. “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciples.” Jesus calls Christians, disciples. “So likewise, whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Jesus called us, who are saved, His disciples and said, we come after Him and follow Him.
We’re to go through life as disciples, teaching other disciples what Christ has already taught us. That’s why this course is so good. This can be your entree to start discipling other people. You only need to be one step ahead of someone you’re discipling. I remember when Bonnie and I started. I was teaching at the Master’s Seminary. Bonnie was typing, I was writing. We were doing my classes for the next day. I was teaching seminary level classes and I was one day ahead of the students. That’s all it takes to disciple.
Salvation must be genuine. Jesus said in Matthew 4, and 5, and 7. God’s word must become your priority. We’re supposed to hunger and thirst after Him.
By the way, when you’re baptized, what did Paul say baptism is? I did this study this week too. What does baptism declare? The book of Colossians tells us baptism is my declaration that I have a heart that’s new. That’s the only way you can be saved, transplant of heart. A heart that is new. That’s Colossians 2:11. Baptism declared I have a past forever buried and gone. My whole past is buried with Christ and God remembers it no more. I’m forgiven. Number three, baptism declares I have a fresh new beginning. No matter how many steps I’ve taken away from God, it’s always one step back. I get a fresh new beginning every day, every moment. All my sins are forever forgiven, all I have to do is confess and I’m cleansed. Number four, baptism is my declaration I have an end to all guilt because all my sins are on Jesus. Satan wants you to be guilty. The hymn puts it this way, when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within upward I look, and see Him there who made an end to all my sin, because the sinless Savior died, my guilty soul is counted free. For God, the Just, is satisfied to look on Him (Christ) and pardon me. Number five, baptism is my declaration I have nothing left to fear. I don’t fear life. I don’t fear death. I don’t have guilt. I just have an endless new beginning and a wonderful future. That’s what baptism declares.
Prayer becomes vital, we covered that last week. Surrender and consecration has to become my goal. Surrendered to one master. Jesus said in Matthew 6, seek God’s rule in my life. Finally, I have to stay filled with the Holy Spirit and stay in step with Him. He wants to energize. These are all lessons we’re going to cover as we go through the epistles. That’s why I just zipped right over them.
What on Earth do you live for? In the Gospels Jesus trained the 12. The book of Acts, we see them doing it. The epistles, we see them training the next generation, which we’re a part of. In Revelation we see the results. The question is, am I doing what Christ left me to do? Are you doing? Do you know what the first thing you’re supposed to do after you’re saved? After you’ve been born again, get baptized. Some of you need to get baptized. You need to go to a Bible preaching church, go to that pastor and say, I’ve come to know the Lord and I’ve never obediently followed Him. Share your testimony and have them baptize you. Not for the forgiveness of your sins, they’re already forgiven. Not so that you can join the church, you don’t have to be a member of a local church. You should be, but you don’t have to be. This isn’t something you’re doing as a duty, it’s because you love Christ and you want to obey. You should be a member of a church, but that first step of obedient baptism is something you should think about. I baptized hundreds and hundreds of people over the years who kept waiting and waiting and waiting.
Just before we go, discipleship is knowing and following Jesus Christ. Every day Jesus wants to master more areas of my life. He wants me to be pleasing to Him. Today, are you personally following Jesus? Do you really know Him? Have you been born again? Does your day revolve around His desire to make disciples? Do you start the day seeking Him? Do you go through the day serving Him? Do you end the day thanking Him? That really summarizes my day. This morning, six something, I got up and sought the Lord. I’ve been serving Him. It’s the end of the day, Bonnie and I are going to pray. Sadly, I hate to tell you this, but I fall asleep sometimes praying. It’s been such a long day and I’ll say to Bonnie the next morning, did I fall asleep in my prayer? She’ll smile and say, but I ended the day thanking Him. Believers are disciples who grow each day, as Christ followers in a Christ-less world. Whatever are you living for that’s the lesson of week 27, Great Commission, Matthew 28.
Have a wonderful time this week in the word, taking notes, asking God to transform your life. When we come back next week, Lord willing, we’re going to jump into the Gospel by Luke. See you next week. Have a good week in the word.