As one pastor so aptly stated, “The Christian life is the discipled life and the discipling life”.
When the resurrected Christ met his eleven disciples on the mountain he had designated, He said to them, “Go 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 he has commanded…” (Matt. 28:18-20a).
The verb translated go is the present participle going. What Jesus is saying is while His disciples are going, they are to be ‘making disciples’ of all the nations. They do this by actively witnessing and seeking to win others to Christ, and then teaching new disciples of Christ how to follow Him.
In Scripture we find, that to be a disciple of Christ is to make disciples of Christ. Scripture knows nothing of disciples who are not making disciples. We can glean 3 goals from the Great Commission to help us as we go.
Share the Truth About Christ (Matt. 28:18)
To “make disciples” is to share the Truth About Jesus. The disciples spoke the gospel, as they lived according to the gospel. It’s no different today, as we are going, we too ought to be sharing the gospel as God gives us opportunity.
Symbolize Our Identification with Christ (Matt. 28:19)
To “make disciples” is to symbolize identification with Jesus. When people respond to the Gospel, they are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is not saying people become baptized to become a Christian, but once a person becomes a Christian, they are called to make a declaration of our faith in Christ and believers baptism becomes that opportunity. The New Testament knows nothing of unbaptized Christians.
Show the Word of Christ (Matt. 28:20)
To “make disciples” is to show the word of Christ to others by teaching others. True disciples of Christ have a biblical responsibility to show the Word of God through evangelism, teaching others the very things they have been taught, and living life on life in community. When one is involved in an on-going discipleship relationship, they have opportunity to model and show others how to pray, study God’s Word, grow in Christ, and even lead others to Christ.
At the end of Matthew 28:20, Jesus comforts His disciples by giving a promise, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is promising to be spiritually present with His disciples. What a comfort to know that Jesus is near while we go and engage in disciple-making.
Discipleship is not a special man-made program. It is not even about the discipler or the one being discipled as much as it is about Christ, our Lord and Savior. We love our King with our whole heart, mind, and soul. Thus, we seek to worship Him through our discipleship efforts.
Mark Dever, Discipling, page 13.