Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Monday, November 1, 2010

Make, Mark & Mature

Some of the last words of Jesus to his disciples are commonly referred to as the Great Commission. Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Analyzing our Lord's comments, we note that he specifically mentioned three different things. First of all, Jesus wanted his followers to"make disciples." A disciple is a student or follower of a teacher or master. Becoming a disciple begins with the decision to become a follower of the leader. There are three essential prerequisites described in the New Testament which include the repentance of sin and belief in Christ as Savior. Then the individual is supposed to announce his decision publicly (see Romans 10:9-10). Observe the imperative given by Jesus to the disciples that they were to "go and make" disciples of all nations. Christianity is an evangelizing religion. It is part of our faith to recruit for Christ's kingdom.

Secondly, Jesus instructed his disciples that they should mark those making the decision to become a disciple by "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The Greek word baptizo literally means to submerge or immerse. In New Testament passages that describe baptism, we read things like "they went down into the water" and they "came up out of the water" (see Acts 8:38-39). Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and Philip baptized the Ethiopian official in a pool of water. Baptism as practiced by the Early Church always took place after someone's confession of faith or personal statement of belief (see Acts 2:38 and 16:31-32).

The spiritual significance of Christian baptism is explained by the Apostle Paul: "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 6:4-8). Like communion, baptism is a symbolic act participated in by Christians.

Thirdly, Jesus commanded his disciples to "teach them (the new disciples) to obey everything that I have instructed you." Notice the order in Christ's commission. It is just as divinely inspired as in the contents. A) Make disciples. B) Mark disciples; and C) Mature them by training them in all of the things that Jesus taught. There is enough material in the New Testament and the Bible that a lifetime of study could not exhaust. And study alone is not enough; Christians need to know and do what Jesus taught.

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