And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What Is A Disciple?
Shortly before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave his followers a command that is commonly called the Great Commission. A commission can be defined as “authority granted for a particular action or function.” In this case, authority for this command comes from directly from Jesus who has ALL authority to do so. He called his followers to go and make disciples. The term disciple existed before Christ used it in this verse. An accepted definition for a disciple at that time was one who followed the teachings of another. However, when Christ gave His followers this charge, He did so to a higher degree, to a greater calling. In their last meal together, Jesus challenged them to love one another as He loved them, and by this the world know they were HIS disciples (John 13:34-35). So what does a Christ-disciple look like?
I believe the answer can be found in Acts 1:7-8. To set the stage for our discussion, Jesus had already risen from the grave and walked around with His disciples for 40 days. However, His guys were confused about their future and what was to come next. In response to their confusion Jesus clarified their roles and responsibility with the following:
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (emphasis added)
POWER & PRESENCE: 2 Keys to Being a Disciple
Disciples of Christ can be defined as “those who live by the POWER of the Spirit to be the PRESENCE of Christ to the people around them.” While the Gospels are filled with stories of people who had God with them, the Church began and grew when people received God in them in the form of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Jesus even said it was good for Him to go so that people could receive the Holy Spirit in their lives (John 16:7). The only way it was good for people to no longer have Jesus with them was if the Holy Spirit was going to dwell in them. The Holy Spirit can impact every area of our lives. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit is described in many different ways, including the Helper (John 14:16-17), the Interpreter (John 14:26), the Witness (John 15:26), the Prosecutor of sin (John 16:7-11), the Revealer of truth (John 16:13-15), and the Breath of life (John 20:22). In short, having the Holy Spirit is having the substitute presence of Christ in us at all times. Living by the POWER of the Holy Spirit is the first key to being a disciple. This is why it’s so key to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Can you have the Spirit and still struggle with sin? Yes. Definitely. We are not perfect, and we will not be until Christ’s return. But, if you have the Spirit living in you, then you CAN actually have victory over sin. In other words, you have the power to choose better! If you’re feeling tired, stressed, or worried this week, try resting in the truth that the very authority and power of God is dwelling in you right now if you call Jesus your Lord and Savior! Trust that we have a God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5).
With the fuel in our spiritual tanks coming was God, we then have the power to be witnesses for Christ everywhere we go. Jerusalem, Judia, Samaria, and the ends of the earth are geographical descriptions that start where the disciples were, and work their way to the ends of the earth. Start where you are because the Great Commission involves living on mission. Think about your co-workers, your neighbors, your team members, and the people around you. If they do not know Christ, you get the opportunity to BE the presence of Christ and show them what the love of God looks like.
Romans 10:15 says, “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!” I don’t know about you… but my feet are not pretty (don’t worry, I won’t post a picture). Being tall, I have really long toes that I use sometimes to pick up stuff from the floor just to creep my wife out. How then can my stinky feet be described as beautiful? They are beautiful if I follow God’s Great Commission to go and make disciples. Going involves movement, and movement involves my feet. I am a disciple of God, and therefore I should be someone who lives by the POWER of the Holy Spirit to be the PRESENCE of Christ to the people around me. I make mistakes every day, but I pray that God’s power will continue to rule in my life and my witness will grow as I try to demonstrate the presence of Christ to everyone I meet. Will you join me?
How are you experiencing the POWER of God? How are you being the PRESENCE of Christ to the people around you? I would love to hear your stories and feedback.
High School Pastor
North Ridge Community Church