Christ’s great commission contained five essential facets—each one complimenting the others, forming a unique whole. Understanding the harmony of these final discipleship instructions allows every Christian to find his place of effective and fulfilling ministry as a believer-priest in the body of Christ. His spiritual gifts can be realized, employed, and developed in relation to the total task of ministry.
The hour is far too late for any grandstand spectators. Such a harmonized perspective of the great commission will enhance our perception of responsibility, and thereby expand everyone’s thinking in regard to the ministry assignment Jesus has given us.
What then is the church’s discipling task? In brief, one could describe the biblical ministry of discipleship with four words beginning with the letter T:
Telling—Guided by biblical truth, this means using every available resource to proclaim Jesus Christ and the message of God’s saving grace.
Teaching—Guided by biblical truth, this means using every available resource to explain and incorporate God’s word as the basis of our lifestyle.
Training—Guided by biblical truth, this means using every available resource to equip and encourage every Christian to be actively involved in ministry for Christ.
Transferring—Guided by biblical truth, this means using every available resource to transmit to every generation the responsibility of making disciples according to Christ’s great commission.
Is our vision of Christ’s worldwide discipleship task imbued with this comprehensive dimension? Is it not true that our lack of expectancy of this really happening in our world has caused years of bitter disappointment in our local churches? Has Christ’s divine mandate been surrendered by many of us to be completed only by the "super" churches or the ministry "professionals"? What rationalization process have we used to escape our obedience to Christ’s worldwide mission?
The significance of Jesus’ final discipleship instructions produced a radical transformation in the lives of his followers. He strengthened their hearts with a certain hope and an eternal perspective. The course of human history was revolutionized by this bold company of men and women who traversed the extent of the known world with the message of Christ’s love and redemption.
Such a privilege is ours as well!
Discipleship Journal, Issue 11 (September/October 1982) (NavPress, 1982).