Military Salute from iStockOur Great Commission is to make disciples. It is the way God has given us to join Him in His story – the story of restoration and redemption. It is the main assignment Jesus Christ left us to complete. If we are not making disciples then we are not one.

For most, making disciples in the Marketplace is an intimidating proposition. What if someone gets offended? I might lose a key account if I shared with my clients. That employee that needs to know Jesus might sue my company if I share God’s good news with them. My peers might persecute me; or abandon me. The list goes on and on.

First, let me suggest to you that it shouldn’t matter how hard or uncomfortable it is to share the good news of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ, our King, has commanded it. We love Him, right? Why wouldn’t we be intentional about following Him in making disciples?

Second, let’s remember that our Heavenly Father loves us. He has not given His children – weak as we are – something that is too hard to do. Would any loving father do that?

It may be that some who call themselves Christian just don’t love Jesus enough to obey His command to make disciples. That may be true (for some), and those folks would be wise to search their hearts for the love that should be there. However, I think most Christians love Jesus Christ and truly want to obey the Great Commission. So, what’s the problem?

The Problem with Our Paradigm

I am convinced that we have made disciple making something that it is not; something that only “elite” Christians can do. We have assumed that we must make them; and, therefore, we must have the training and time to do all the work. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are four truths that may dramatically change your paradigm about making disciples:

  1. Whose disciples are they? Of course, they are disciples of Jesus Christ. But, we get confused about this, don’t we. We want them to follow our truth; and attend our church. We should be more careful that we are not leading them to follow a false god.
  2. Who is making them? Jesus Christ said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He is the one that makes disciples. We are His instruments of righteousness, used in many different ways to lead someone into His presence and help them stay there. A shovel doesn’t make a hole in the ground. A computer doesn’t write a book. Let that sink in.
  3. What does disciple making look like? Jesus Christ uses many different instruments to make a disciple (e.g., evangelist, pastor, teacher, etc.). How many people has He used to disciple you? Many, I am sure. Are you the only one that He is using to disciple any one of His other followers? Of course not. That’s because disciple making is a many-to-many process.
  4. How much time does it take? Some disciple making instruments have been designed to spend blocks of time with those that are being made. They may be commissioned to spend 90 minutes a week for several years with another that Jesus Christ is discipling through them. Parents are called to spend much more time than that with their children. This we understand.

    However, this is not the entirely of Jesus Christ’s disciple making plan. In fact, it is not the norm. Most often, if we allow Him, He uses us in moments of time with very many individuals. That woman in the grocery line needs a few extra dollars (and a kind word), to complete her purchase. That son of a friend needs to be challenged in the area of obedience. That co-worker needs encouragement in the face of great trial. All these are disciple making moments.

So, how do we participate as instruments of righteousness in the hands of the Disciple Maker? How might Jesus Christ use us? What does it look like – spiritually and practically – to obey the Great Commission? How might He use each one of us – in many different moments – to make many different disciples?

You’ve probably heard it said that “actions speak louder than words”. It is true that God works through our actions to communicate His love. However, I want to suggest that this often used quote short-changes the power of words; particularly those that come from God.

In this lesson, we will focus on our responsibility as the oracles – or mouthpieces – of God. We will consider what it means to “speak the word” to those that are being made into the disciples of Jesus Christ. I believe you will discover that speaking the word of God turns disciple making into an easier, safer and more impactful process than you have imagined.

The Power of God’s Word

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:3

To understand the significance of this verse, we must look deeper into a few of the words used here.

  1. Worlds (aiōn): Forever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age.
  2. Framed (katartizō): To render (i.e. to fit or complete); to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; to complete; to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust; to fit or frame for one’s self, prepare; ethically, to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be.
  3. Word (rhēma): That which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning; speech, discourse; what one has said; a series of words joined together into a sentence (a declaration of one’s mind made in words); an utterance; a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative.

Notice the time element in the Greek word for worlds. God not only created all matter in the universe, but the time that that matter would exist. In the beginning, God created all matter and time!

The Greek word meaning both “complete” and “mend” is the word God chose to describe this creative event. Don’t be discouraged or deterred if this apparent contradiction makes you uncomfortable. His thoughts are far above our own. There is a mystery here; and that’s okay.

Lastly, there is the word God carefully used to describe the power behind the creation of all matter and time. It is the Greek word rhema , His spoken word. Beginning in Genesis 1:3, seven times what “God said” was created. It was by His spoken word that God created all matter and time!

Like Father, Like Son

Jesus Christ humbled himself – making Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a man, and dying on a cross – for the purpose of restoring what His Father lost in mankind’s rebellion: His reign, His habitation and His intimacy with mankind. Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus beautifully describes what He came to build.

11 And He Himself [Jesus Christ] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

This incredible passage describes both Jesus Christ’s vision for the church, and the process that He would use to build it. He gave gifts to begin the process. The Greek word used to define the way of that beginning is katartismos (translated as “equipping”).

Do you see the connection? The same way the Father created all matter and time is the same way Christ is building His church. And that is not the only similarity.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

Jesus called Simon by the name Peter to commemorate the faith he displayed in identifying Him as the Messiah. He went on to say that this revelation was not of himself, it was revealed by God. The faith Peter exhibited – the same faith that every follower of Jesus Christ is given – would be the foundation for the building of His church.

Okay, now stay with me here, as we connect some very significant dots. Consider how each one of us becomes a follower of Jesus Christ.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

It is by God’s grace (unmerited favor and gift), through faith, that we have been saved. Even faith is a grace of God for our salvation. How do we appropriate this unmerited gift? Paul makes it very clear.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Our appropriation of the saving faith of Jesus Christ comes by way of God’s word. Now, you may be thinking that “word” means Holy Bible. You may have been taught that our faith comes from the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, you may also be surprised to learn that the Greek here is rhema. It is not the written word that produces faith, but the spoken word of God.

Therefore, the power for our entry into Jesus Christ’s work of building the church is the same as the power His Father used to frame all matter and time. It is also the same power that is behind our receiving the Holy Spirit.

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2

It is impossible to over-estimate the significance of this truth in our ministry to others. For example, if God calls you to be a missionary in a hostile nation (or a hostile work environment), one thing you will not have to be concerned about is whether or not you will find the faith for it, or the Holy Spirit’s presence in it. The very power of God that created all matter and time is the same power that will give you faith and supernatural strength for the adventure. His spoken word will not return void.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

In the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament – the word of God that will not return void is the rehema of God. Jesus Christ is building His church in the same way and power. It shall accomplish what He pleases, and it will prosper in the thing for which it is sent; including our discipling of others.

Sent Like Him

49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. John 12:49-50

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

Simply put, Jesus only said what the Father was saying; and He has sent us to do the same. The same spoken word of God is the word we are to speak to others. We are to be God’s mouthpiece; and we are to anticipate the same – and greater – results that accompanied Jesus’ ministry.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12

So, what does this look like? What does the word of God accomplish in those that hear it through the followers of His Son? It looks like Jesus Christ’s vision for the church (see the Ephesians 4 passage above).

It is also described in Isaiah 55:1-7, 58:6-12, and 61:1-7. Read these passages, asking yourself, “How incredibly fulfilling would it be to be the oracle of God towards others?” Truly, this is what we were made for – what we were commissioned to accomplish before Jesus Christ’s return. We need to get on with the work. It is not as hard as we have been led to think.

How Do We Begin?

Like His Father, Jesus is a process-oriented problem solver. He has a process for making you into a disciple maker. Consider each step carefully; and let the accompanying passages speak to your heart. They will make you free to be an oracle of God.

  1. Present yourself

    And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:13

  2. Hunger and Thirst

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

  3. Surrender your heart to do what He says

    If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. John 7:17

    24 Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-27

    21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:21-25

  4. Seek and you will find

    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

  5. Speak the word that you are given, at the appropriate time

    He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
    But a false witness, deceit. Proverbs 12:17

    These are the things you shall do:
    Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
    Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace… Zechariah 8:16

    … speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ… Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:15, 25

    But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11

Conclusion

Whether you are leading a company or a child, you have experienced the power of your spoken words. At times, you have been surprised by that power. Yet, your words do not compare with the words that God may speak through you in even the shortest of moments.

Those words are life. They make men, women and children free. They accomplish what God intends. It is an honor and a responsibility to be God’s representative mouthpiece in this world.

Be careful! Don’t let the enemy rob you of the joy that will come in your obedience to the Great Commission. He will try to convince you that it is too hard; that you don’t have what it takes. This is a deception that you must stand up to and reject. Renew your mind in the truth regarding disciple making. Remind yourself that it is not as much about effort as it is about surrender. God will use you in powerful ways… if you will let Him.

God bless you with great adventure; and the faith, courage and strength to glorify Him in all you do.

 

Your servant and His forever,