Go Therefore, Make Disciples, Baptizing …

Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

The Christian life was never meant to be, “Go, make converts, dunking them in water to proclaim they are saved”.

It was never about identifying a person with a particular denomination, and set of beliefs, and a certain doctrine. Rather, Go, make disciples, not converts. There is a difference. The goal is identification with Christ, the Head, the Author and Finisher of our faith, not identification with the traditions and teachings of men. Today’s churches are not so unlike the place of the Pharisees and Scribes in Jesus’ day. The very thing He condemned for leading true seekers away from God and into ritualism.

Most of the going today is evangelistic recruiting (if at all), not relational. We are given a series of messages and teachings to motivate us to go. Go where? To go door to door or to neighbors, friends and relatives. For what purpose? To make converts, not disciples. I am not saying that someone could not be saved by these evangelist attempts. At least some are hearing the Word and the Holy Spirit can work with that.

Yet the great emphasis is to draw more people in. In to where? Into the net of the church’s membership, activities and services. That was not God’s purpose in sending. This commandment was intended to draw men into Christ. To become Christians – little Christs. We have drifted so far that we are right back where we started from. To wit:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.” Matthew 23:15

So what is making a disciple? First of all, disciple comes from the root word for discipline, to teach or instruct. A disciple is one who is zealous and concentrated to learn and be taught through a discipline. What discipline? Not going to church and Sunday school, but going to very God of God. Going to Him, to behold Him, to become like Him.

The word disciple was not a foreign term in Jesus’ day. It was clear what it meant. To the Jews in Jesus’ hearing it meant to give your whole life to your Teacher, to follow so closely that you walk costly in His very footsteps. You were to live, eat and breath your Master so you could become exactly like him. The goal is that when the process was done there would be no distinction between you and your Master. (Let us make man in our image or character.)

This would also have been clear by the concept of baptism. Baptism was not just a symbolic act of identification with, but immersion into the very life of God. The term for baptism comes from the process of dying a garment. The garment would be placed into the water containing the dye (interesting word use here – dye, die) until it was fully saturated so that what was before is no longer visible but a totally new garment, one of another color, character and new identity. You could no longer separate the color from the garment, it was a permanent, irreversible process.

That is the idea. “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him…” Romans 6:3-6.

Think about this again. We are immersed in water in baptism. We are totally under the water, the Word, Christ. This is to show our death to ourselves. Everyone knows that this represents a death, a burial and a resurrection. When we die, it is not just death, but death to Self. The old man is gone. Just as that old garment is held under water and takes on the dye to be raised in newness. So we are to die and be raised in newness. We should no longer live for ourselves but for Him Who died to give us His life.

In the water of His Word we are changed. We become so saturated with the blood of His life, the color of His death that we are identified with Him so thoroughly that you can no longer see the old man. I am in Him, the Water, He is in me, the blood which is His life.

It should not be a mystery that God’s plan was for us to be identified with Christ, the Person, not the church and a set of beliefs about a Person. Being a Christian is what you are, not what you do. Many will come in that day… Jesus prayed that we might be found in Him, not in a church building.

“Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word;  that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me.  And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one;  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me.” John 17:20-23.

Did someone say pool party?

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing…