Friday, April 10, 2009

Scripture We Like To Ignore: Matthew 28:20, The Rest of the Great Commission

It’s been said that the verses after famous verses are often the most overlooked. How many people can quote John 3:17, anyway? Matthew 28:20 is a great example. After receiving such a big assignment as making disciples of the whole world (not to mention baptizing them) in Matthew 28:19, no one wants to get more work! But the sentence in Matthew 28:19 isn’t even complete. Matthew 28:20 finishes the command: “…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (NIV).

We all know that the Bible has a lot of commands. No new convert could possibly be aware of them all, unless he had grown up under the teaching of a good church but had avoided making a decision about following Christ for many years. That’s why it’s important not only to tell others that Jesus loves them and wants to offer them forgiveness but also to teach new believers how to live in such a way that honors Christ.

Some definitions of the word “disciple,” particularly those that look back to the Greek, focus on the learning aspect of discipleship. Because a disciple is someone who learns, making disciples absolutely requires teaching. After all, can someone truly be committed to a belief when they don’t even know what all that belief entails? (I think Seth Green is a very funny actor, and his presence in certain movies has given them a place on my list of favorites. But can I call myself a fan when I’ve only ever seen him in about a dozen of his 100+ credited appearances and have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Family Guy, two of his biggest hits?)

Teaching takes time. It’s not easy. But it’s commanded. Evangelism as we have come to understand it is only a small part of the Great Commission.

I am writing a series of posts about Bible passages Christians tend to overlook or underemphasize. If you have any suggestions for any ignored Scriptures to include, please let me know. Many thanks to Amy C. for suggesting this one – I’m sure the church you are planting will include much sound teaching and make many disciples!

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