Kingdom Expansion: A Biblical Model for Going and Telling and Making Disciples 1

31 12 2013

Kingdom Expansion
through the Kingdom method of Discipleship
following the specific instructions of our King.

This  was written in response to numerous request about our work in the mission field in Africa and how it might be applied in the West.  I hope you have questions and find answers.  I am writing it in two parts.  One on the commission and one on the method of applying it as taught by Jesus Himself. Read on.
By the way.  This is not a theory.  This is the Kingdom Method of Kingdom Expansion.  We are doing this in Africa and it is happening all over the world.  I hope it starts in your part of the world.    It’s not easy.  But it is the way modeled by the King.

There are two passages in the Bible we will look at for a plan for biblical insight into missions.  I hate calling it that.  Missions.  That makes it sound like a aberration from being a disciple simply obeying Jesus.   It is just the way Jesus taught and modeled to extend the Kingdom of God into the world.  Matthew 28:16-20 and Luke 10:1-11. Let’s look at the first of the two passages: The first Matt 28:16-20. You will need to pray for fresh eyes, as these are familiar verses.  Lord, I pray you give us fresh eyes to see your word in all its wisdom and meaning.  Amen.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

OK, I know you are saying.  “Dude, I know this verse.  Let’s move on!”  First lets …….Lets break this down. Just bear with me.
GO: Our mission includes going. Okay that’s easy so far. But let me point out what is NOT in this simple word. That is inviting people to come to church or a revival.  Jesus nor the Apostles wrote nor said anything about building churches and filling them people and inviting the lost to come.   Jesus said GO. Get out of your comfort zone and GO to the lost. We must change the culture of Christianity from COME, to church, to GO to the lost. Of course we will always meet together and fellowship. But in the entire NT the church met in homes.  They spent their funds they pooled together mostly on each other, the poor, the orphan and the widows.  More on that another time.  But for now realize that this is not a verse for missionaries.  That word is not even in the bible.  Missionary.  It is for disciples.  You know the people Jesus went everywhere with and looking for.  In fact when we go, He gives us a great new standard for calling the lost.  For lack of another term, lets call it Jesus, alter call.  Except as one brother has shared.  It is not a call to an “alter” but a call to “alter” or repent.  Now for Jesus alter call.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?

“Well that does not sound like any alter call I ever heard!”  Exactly.  You see we work hard to make converts but Jesus was not doing that.  He was not training His disciples to do that.  What was He doing? Read on.

Make disciples.  Ah, I get it.  He has a different plan than we do.  He is not looking to convert the masses.  He is looking to make disciples, who make disciples who teach others to obey the commands of Jesus, and make disciples that obey  His commands and make disciples. See a trend? You see if you want a bunch of converts to fill the pews just ask folks to pray the sinners prayer.  Jesus and the Apostles never did that.  Jesus called for repentance, baptism and warned of the cost of becoming a disciple.  He said to count the cost.  No begging people to get saved.  No pleading with them to avoid hell so they can get to heaven.  No, He was saying, drop your nets, take up your cross and give up everything and come and follow me.  He said this to the masses by the way.  Not to the Apostles.  It was to people like you and me.  Why?  Why, is it so important for people to be disciples and not just converts.  Making converts is not Jesus way.  I wonder why?

Marc Carrier, tells of an evangelist that leads someone to Christ every day for 15 years.  And he tells of a disciple maker that makes only one disciple every year.  Let’s look at the math.

The evangelist at the end of the year has 365 new converts.  At the end of five years he has 1825 and at the end of 20 years he has 7300 converts.  And then he dies.  The work is done.  Praise God for this faithful man.  Then there was this other guy.

He had the crazy idea to obey Jesus and follow the great commission and NOT make converts but to make disciples.  And when disciples are taught, the great commission, they know they are to obey Jesus commands and that means they are to make disciples.

But things are a bit slower here.  At the end of one year our disciple maker has made one disciples.  Numerically speaking he is not showing much fruit.  But he is obeying.  Two years, four.  You see he made another disciple and his disciple from last year made one as well.  Slowly, slowly, one a year each.  At the end of five years, he has 32 disciples.  But then things get interesting.  You see disciples multiply.  Converts go to church.  Of course some lead other to the Lord, go into ministry and maybe even become an evangelist like our prolific brother above.  but lets look at 15 years down the road.  32,768.  At 20 years, 1 million forty eight thousand five hundred and seventy six.  Our disciple maker dies and the numbers just keep growing.  Now maybe you understand why Jesus made disciples and not converts.  Let’s do it too!
Making disciples is different.  There is no begging the lost to pray a sinners prayer. Instead there is a call to count the cost and give up everything and come and follow Jesus. That is the way Jesus did it. Why?  Jesus was not looking for the masses, like we do. Jesus was looking for disciples.  Do you think we should trust Him or the four spiritual laws tract we were given in evangelism class to lead people to discipleship. We want to disciple believers to become and reproduce Kingdom Citizens, not nominal cultural Christians who attend a Sunday service and live life with a Christian spin on things. I am not in Africa to Americanize them. But rather we are teaching the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus, using His methods that He personally used in training His own disciples. There is a King (Jesus), He has a realm ( a real Kingdom on this earth and in heaven) , citizens (committed believers) and they obey His rules (commands) because they love and trust Him. The Kingdom of God, in its purity, under His leadership with real world involvement and literal attendance is the greatest culture changing force in the entire world. Read that last sentence again.  Is cultural Western Christianity the greatest force for change in the world?  It would be if we in Western Christianity followed Jesus and left the theologians out of the equation.
And we learn from 2 Timothy 2:2 that disciples make disciples.
2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

If you read Ephesians 4: 11-13, you find God gave Apostles, teachers and pastors to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  We think the office holders here are in the ministry to lead the lost to Jesus.  But according to this verse they are to  equip the saints to do the work off the ministry.

We need to quit looking at the relationship of Jesus and the Apostles, as some holy special once in history event, and start understanding that we are watching the King of Kings, model making disciples.  We too, can learn from The Master, disciple maker.  Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men because He was a fisher of men. He promised to teach them to fish for men and then teach others to obey His command.  It was and is His intention for you and I to be disciples, making fishers of men.

Back to our verse.
ALL Nations, or as I like to say, all over.  We must remember that our mission is mobile, fluid and flexible. God is at work everywhere we can’t get overly committed to an area, but rather stay committed to the vision of Kingdom Expansion. You will have to get out of your comfort zone to do this if you obey Jesus. Let me share what works for me.   I discovered something about the poor studying the NT. Listen carefully. Remember two things. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  Does your work to reach the lost seem anything but a venture involving plenty?  I think the Word tells us why.  We are told in James 1:5 that the poor are rich in faith. Jesus rejoiced that the truth was revealed and accepted by the simple and hidden from the wise. Jesus is right. The harvest is plentiful. Then He gives us a hint where to look and where we might not get results. The poor are rich in faith and it is harder to get a rich man to heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle. You will hear this from me many times. Let me give you an easy target, if you are in America, the largest unreached people group is people living in a trailer park. Almost no one targets them.  The rich ALWAYS think they have it all together and mostly look down on those who don’t. The rich are poor soil, Jesus said so.  We don’t neglect them, we just realize the poor are fertile soil. I recommend you focus there.  Just a tip.

Again, back to the verse.
BAPTIZING Baptism is an integral part of spreading the Gospel. It cannot be over emphasized and was a foundation in the Great Commission. It must be foundational to us as well and  we cannot leave it out of our message. Jesus and the Apostles didn’t. Repentance and baptism go together. In fact many times it is called the baptism of repentance. Repent and be baptized were hallmark of John the Baptist preaching.  And if you add the commands of Jesus and the Kingdom of God you have the hallmark of His message.   And Peter’s first sermon ends with a call to repent and be baptized. If that was the way for Peter, John, and Jesus should it not be for us. Theologians have robbed us of the importance of baptism. All wrapped up in the argument of faith and works. That debate never even included the subject of baptism both in the New Testament nor the writings of the early church. Yet theologians have eviscerated the importance of baptism in their zeal to protect a basic point in their beloved reformation theology. Jesus went preaching and had His disciples do the baptizing. He was teaching them how to do it. He was disciplining them on its importance. They may have baptized literally tens of thousands during this time.  They learned the lesson well. If your Lord and Savior, spent time training His disciples to baptize, so should we. Recently, I had some preacher actually saying that Paul did not preach repentance because that was only the gospel while John and Jesus were ministering. I guess someone forgot to read their bible.
Acts 26:20, Paul talking to King Agrippa, ” First to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”  Another has pointed out that Paul made a point out of saying that he did not baptize many.  So it must not be important.   Does not surprise me.  Jesus, Paul’s Lord and Master, baptized NONE.  You see Jesus was teaching others to do it.  He did this by having them do it over and over again perhaps thousands of times.  It would have been unheard of for them to disassociate baptism to repentance and faith.  I am sure Paul was doing the same thing.  Having his disciples do the baptism.  It’s the best way to learn.

TEACHING THEM TO OBEY: EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED This command is many times left out of the Great Commission all together. This is a huge part of the Great Commission and we tend to gloss over it. Depending on your denominational bent, we teach how to get “saved”, how to witness, a few important doctrinal points to avoid error, the importance of bible reading, mention baptism and going to church etc. And those things can be wonderful. But are they everything that JESUS commanded? Let’s be honest Jesus taught to repent, drop your nets, take up your cross and follow Him completely. Then He gave specific ways to live that included loving God and your brother in ways that sound outlandish to the world and again, thanks to theologians, to us. He taught that we are to turn our cheek even to our enemies. We are to give to those in need almost recklessly, with little regard to our own well being. We radically value relationships with our brothers, neighbors and yes our enemies. I could go on, but basically we take the words of Jesus that “He who loves me obeys my commands” and we teach that those commands are to be seriously obeyed. Jesus said on judgment day we would be judged by the very words that He taught. He also says in John 12:47-50 His teachings came right from the Father. Don’t listen to the theologians. Teach the radical laws of the Kingdom of God. They were the sermons and commands of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain. I suspect there was a sermon in the village, a sermon on the water, a sermon in the desert and a sermon in the city. And I suspect like the one on the mount and the plain, they were the radical teaching of a new kind of Kingdom.

Remember, the Tutsi and the Hutu sat next to each other in church, in Rwanda for years. They were one of the most evangelized peoples in Africa. They had heard the easy believing gospel of the West. They had not been taught to OBEY Jesus commands. And one day genocide began. I read the testimonies of the killers. One told of being a Christian and a believer before he killed, during the killing and even now in prison. He regrets that the whole genocide thing happened.  He says he won’t kill anymore.  He is tired of it.  But for the life of me, nothing this guy said sounded like repentance.  You see in his theology, taught in the West, he was saved by Jesus from his past, present and future sins.  Even though the NT specifically says murderers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. You see his theology was all about believing, but knew nothing of obeying. Belief and obedience were never divorced in the NT.  He hacked almost a hundred people up. His neighbors. Theologians won’t judge you, nor me, nor  the lost we share with. Jesus will. Teach and obey Him.

The final part of the Great Commission
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.  I am in this forever. (Jesus) What great news.  He sends us out and then promises to go with us.  Jesus is in the going.  Will you go?

I  will stop here.  The rest will come in the next post. The Great Commission is not just for Apostles.  It is a Commission for the members of  the Body of Christ, equipped for the ministry by the leadership.

The next section we will cover is the exact methods Jesus taught on going to the World.  Did you know that?  Did you know that Jesus gave us exact instructions on sharing and expanding the Kingdom.  I can’t wait to share, arguably the most detailed explanation of any teaching Jesus gave in all His ministry. Stay tuned, coming soon!