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THE GREAT COMMISSION
Shortly before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gathered His disciples on a mountain top and gave them a special task which is called “The Great Commission.” He said:
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 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 things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matt 28:18-20).
Jesus commanded that the people that would become his disciples after his ascension to heaven, were to be baptized and to be taught all things that He had taught his disciples while they were following Him. Now, we cannot assist you to get baptized for we are not there with you, so we will leave that to your church, but we can assist you and your church by providing you with important teaching about truths you need to know to become a mature disciple of the Lord Jesus.
CHANGING INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST
A disciple needs to keep on changing more and more into the likeness of Christ for the rest of his life. This is a daily process, of listening, obeying, praying, enjoying and rejoicing. It is an exciting journey to heaven! Let us walk it together.
FOCUSSING ON CHRIST
“But,” you may say, “Jesus is no longer here on earth so I am getting the second best; how can I follow His example and experience His power like his first disciples did? “
Let us answer this objection by first looking at the teaching side. He had his words and his acts recorded by four different men of God in four different books, called the “Gospels,” the good news books, so that we can be sure that we hear and see every important thing they heard and saw. Secondly, He often quoted from the Old Testament writings, showing that He knew their content very well and that we should do the same. Thirdly He dictated many more important teachings after He returned to heaven and had these words written down by trusted disciples such as Luke, Paul, John, James, Peter and Jude; these are called the Book of Acts and the Epistles.
FOCUSS ON CHRIST BY FOCUSSING ON HIS WORD
Now here is a very important truth about God’s written Word. In the Bible, the Lord Jesus is often called “The Word” like in John 1:14:
“The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Joh 1:14, WEB).
This shows us what a close connection, a unity, there is between Him and his Word; He is even named the “Word”. This means that when we read the Bible, we see Jesus working and hear Him speaking. His example is right in front of us. We are even better off than his erstwhile disciples because they could only be present to hear some of His words and see some of his mighty deeds, but al of these have been written down for us. Even in the Old Testament, we often read of the “Angel of the Lord” Who did this or that, and that angel was no one but Jesus. So, by studying the Word, we are studying the Person and teachings of Christ. All we need to do is to yield to the flow and working of His Spirit. So let us then get on with the delightful task of studying the Word.
DOING WHAT THE WORD TEACHES
When studying the Word, it is so important to remember why you are doing it: you are studying the Bible so that you may be changed into the likeness of Christ:
“But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18).
If you are sick and buy a box of expensive pills and put it on top of your head so your friends can see it, will you benefit by them? No, they must go through the mouth, into the stomach, then into the bloodstream before you will experience the change. The same with the Word; if you read it, keep it in your head, brag to your friends about what you know, your life will not change one bit. You need to chew it in your mind until it is digestible, then swallow it into your spirit because it is there where the Holy spirit lives and there He will take it and make it to grow and bear the beautiful fruit of the Spirit such as love, patience, forgiveness, etc. Chewing the Word takes time, concentration and thinking it over and over while depending on the Lord to apply it to your heart. Bible study is not for those that are in a hurry like a man grabbing a sandwich from his wife’s plate before rushing off to work.
So, now that you know what to do, you must do it, do what the Bible tells you to do. If you don’t, the Holy Spirit is not going to speak to you any further and Bible Study will become very boring. The Bible is a believe and do book. If my son asks me, “Father what must I do to become a great farmer like you,” and I tell him, “Go to the dairy and ask Jim to teach you to milk a cow,” and within ten minutes he is back and asks me, “Father what must I do now to become a great farmer like you?” what will I do? I will frown at him and ask, “Can you now milk a cow?” and if he answers, “No, I want to know all about what to do to become a great farmer,” what will I answer him?” I will say, “Become a farmer by practicing what you know, so get going and do what I told you.” Becoming a great disciple of Jesus consists of getting to know what to do, then doing it: chew, swallow and produce! Get going!
KEEP A GOOD SUPPLY OF SCRIPTURE IN YOUR MEMORY BANK
Memorize some of the Scripture that speaks to your heart; more hard work, but very important. In one of the study guides you will learn about a young man called David who killed a giant. Before he went into battle, he picked up 5 pebbles (small round stones) from the river, put them into his pouch, then used one of them in his sling and hit the giant in the forehead. The devil is one of the giants we will often meet on our way to heaven and he will try to kill our spiritual life by using lies, so we must have the Word in our minds and not have to run for a Bible when he suddenly blocks our way – he is not going to wait for you till you found it.
Memorize Scripture references. It is such an embarrassment when you quote the contents of a Bible verse to someone, but do not know where to find it in the Bible, but if you know the reference, turn to it and read it fresh from the Word, it has so much more impact on the listeners.
TURN YOUR MOUTH INTO A TAP OF LIVING HEAVENLY WATER
A water tank without a tap to let out what flowes in, is of little use and after a while the water will turn slimy.
Speak the Word. Do that which God commanded Joshua to do (a great army general who He appointed):
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.” (Josh 1:8, WEB)
Please take special notice of the portion of the verse that says that the Word must not depart from our mouths. The more we tell other people of what we read in the Bible and what it means to us, the better we will remember what we read. Is that not also true of other things I learn? If a student discusses with his fellow students what he learnt regarding the solar system, the names of the stars and their distances from the earth, he will find it easier to recall those statistics when sitting to write his exams.
CONFESS THE WORD
This means to speak out certain verses by faith. This is very valuable for spiritual growth. Take, for instance Matt 7:7,8:
“Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt 7:7,8, WEB).
Write down the promise, then paraphrase it in your own words as a confession, for instance: “I ask and receive from God, because everyone that asks receives.” Wow, what an amazing promise! By saying with your mouth what God says, you side with Him, your faith grows and you will be amazed by what He gives you.
Here is another example:
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17, WEB)
Now paraphrase this as a statement of faith: “I am now in Christ; my old sinful life lies behind me; look at me, I am a totally new creature!” You may say, “But there is still a lot of my old sinful nature left in me; I will not be speaking the truth.” Well you will be agreeing with God, saying about yourself what He says of you and as you continue doing so by faith, you will see your life experience radically coming into line with what God says about you.
AM I MAKING PROGRESS?
When God created the world, at the end of each day, He looked at what He had done that day and pronounced that it was good.
A disciple of Christ must, at times, ask the Holy Spirit to assist him in evaluating his progress towards becoming like Christ. There are three areas to be considered:
- Knowledge of the facts contained in the portions of Scripture which I studied.
- Understanding the spiritual truths contained in those portions of Scripture and how they apply to me.
- How much of what I studied has become part of my life. In this regard, it is only you and the Lord Who knows you, that will be able to answer this question truthfully. (You might perhaps dare to listen to what your husband /wife /children /friends say about you, for if your life has changed drastically, they will comment on it. But be wide awake for they may not like what they see and be cynical, so take their comments back to the Lord in prayer for confirmation. A certain policeman’s wife complained bitterly because he got drunk ever so often, then beat her up, so she was covered with bruises most of the time. Then he accepted Jesus and was miraculously delivered from his drinking habit. She rejoiced and praised him all over town; but only for a few weeks. Then she could not cope with the new situation in their home any longer and did not like her “new” husband anymore for he no longer took her to parties over weekends, nor did he leave some of his beer in the fridge which she could drink on the sly and she continually had to keep her mouth shut for fear of swearing in his presence, etc.. So, not everybody is going to like the new you.
Anyway, may you become a strong disciple, able to lead many others to become disciples of Jesus too!