By: Barry G. Allen
Early in Matthew’s Gospel (4:18-20), Jesus called the first two of his disciples, namely, the fishermen brothers, Peter and Andrew. He called them to leave their nets and to follow him to become fishers of men. Matthew’s Gospel closes dramatically and forcefully with the resurrected Jesus giving his eleven disciples the Great Commission.
As critical as the concern for man’s salvation is in the Great Commission, we in the church have been so preoccupied with the lost world we have failed to focus on that aspect of the Great Commission that is the call to be brought under Christ’s discipline and to be taught to obey all that has been commanded by the one to whom all authority had been given. The call to discipleship is the call to submit to the kingly rule of God in our lives (6:33).
Therefore, we in the church must realize a lot of spiritual maturing had to take place between Jesus’ call to Peter and Andrew to become fishers of men and his commission to them and the others to go and make disciples of all nations. The same is true for us today. There’s a huge amount of teaching from Jesus between Matthew 4 and Matthew 28. Before we can effectively go and teach others to be obedient to Jesus and all he commanded, we ourselves must become obedient, and we have not.
I agree with Henry Blackaby’s assessment of where we are as Southern Baptists and where we ought to go from here. He has said, “If Southern Baptists want to see a Great Commission Resurgence, we need to focus on the relationship between disciples and the living Lord Jesus, not launch a new emphasis on evangelism. Southern Baptists have focused on evangelism and missed discipleship. The heart of the Great Commission and discipleship is to teach them to practice everything I have commanded you.”
Finally, at the heart of discipleship is financial stewardship for Kingdom advancement about which Jesus had more to say than any other discipline (6:19-21, 24).
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Barry Allen is the retired President and CEO of the KBF and currently serves as a consultant to the interim management team. This article published in this week’s Western Recorder also appeared in a previous edition of the paper. The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.