Make Disciples: Jesus’ Call to All Christians/Program 1

By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010
What is the Great Commission is and what God expects of Christians who seek to live it out. As we do, we’ll see that the Great Commission is a high and holy calling worthy of our time, attention, and devotion.


Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing, Jesus wants every Christian in America, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, and Australia to do? Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple? How do you make a disciple?

My guest today who will tell us is Robby Gallaty, a man who pastors a church of 3,200 members and has four morning services, yet personally disciples seven or eight people each year. They in turn have gone on to disciple others. Now if you have never discipled anyone, is it really possible you could do this? What are the practical things you need to know? Today you will find out on this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’ve got a great one for you today. And I especially want to welcome those of you that are watching overseas, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Recently I heard from some folks in downtown Tehran, Iran; from Hong Kong; from Singapore; across India. We’re hearing from a lot of you folks in England and Scotland and France; Germany and Switzerland. And then down into Africa and across South America. And I tell you what, folks, it’s a thrill that God has given us this platform to be able to talk to you.
And the topic that we have chosen today is one that applies to Christians in all 200 countries that are watching this program today. It’s Jesus’ main command that He gave to the church; to every Christian individually. It’s called the Great Commission. And today, to explain that, we have one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty. And he’s going to be explaining, teaching this from the Word of God. It’s going to encourage you; it’s going to uplift you.
There are promises in the Great Commission that you probably aren’t aware of. There’s just a whole bunch of information here that I think you’re going to find fascinating and so I’ve invited him to come and tell us. And, Robby, in the Great Commission, it starts off with one of the most amazing statements that Jesus Christ ever made. What is it?
Robby Gallaty: Yeah, Matthew 28:16-20 is the Great Commission. And many people have looked at it possibly as the Good Commission or the Okay Commission, maybe the Great Option, or the Great Suggestion. And the reason I say that, John, is that many people, as believers, are not following through with the Great Commission. Now, 7½ years ago I was an unbeliever. I had a drug addiction; I was an alcoholic; I was visiting the barrooms. And if someone would have come up to me and said to me, “You’ve got to follow the Great Commission as a believer,” I probably would have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But on the flip-side of the coin, if you are a believer, God has challenged us to bless us, give us promises through His Word for carrying out His commands; to reward us, to enrich our lives. And that’s what I want to talk about over the next few programs, the Great Commission.
Ankerberg: Yeah. One of the things, you are 293, 6’6”, okay, so you dwarf me when we stand next to each other. And I saw your driver’s license at that time, and you were just a scary person. I wouldn’t want to meet you on the street. Jesus Christ has changed your life. You even look different, alright?
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: And the thing is, you’re right, people that are listening and hearing Jesus’ Great Commission, the command that He’s given to the Christian. If you’re a non- Christian, if you’re not a believer, you look at that and you say, “Yeah, if I become a Christian, I’ll have to go to Africa or something.” The first thing I want you folks to know is Jesus Christ is God. You need to recognize who He is and who you are. You’re a sinner; you need Him to rescue you. And He came to this earth to give His life for you and He offers you His salvation free of charge; no works involved, it’s a gift that He gives to you; His presence, His power, He can change you. And then He gives you eternal life, and the fact is, is that’s a gift. But those who have accepted that gift, those are the folks we’re talking to, and we’re talking to people that say, “I recognize what Jesus Christ did. I could never repay it, but I do want to please Him. I want to thank Him.” And to those folks, those are the folks we’re talking about. And what did Jesus say?
Gallaty: Well, Jesus gave the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20, He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Therefore go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I’ll be with you until the end of the age.” And what I’d like to do over the next six programs is to explain, piece by piece, the Great Commission. Many people know of it and heard of it, but they really don’t know what the Great Commission is. And I’d like to start today with the backdrop for the mission.
Ankerberg: Start us off.
Gallaty: Okay. It’s interesting because in the Great Commission, there are four inclusive words. Jesus uses the word “all”. And He says, “All authority has been given to me.” “Teach them all that I’ve commanded you.” “Go into all nations.” And then He finishes at the end with, “I will be with you always.” And I think before we get into the commission, we have to understand two things about the Lord Jesus Christ. The first thing is this: Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection, was able to overpower the enemy, Satan himself.
Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies of God we were reconciled to God by the death of the Son, much more now that we are reconciled shall we be saved through eternal life through His Son.”
Ankerberg: Yeah. Basically what it’s saying is when Adam and Eve sinned, the fact is, we rebelled against God, we became the enemies at that point. We didn’t want to go God’s way. And even while we were enemies, Christ came and loved us and died on the cross and paid for our sins.
Gallaty: Yes. And what’s interesting is, in Romans 8:1-2, it goes on to say, because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why? Because “the law of the spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death.” And so that’s encouraging for us, and it’s something we need to understand as believers. Before we enter the ministry or the mission of the Great Commission, we need to understand the backdrop for the mission. And what I’d like to do is just talk about is the exclusivity of the authority of Christ.
Ankerberg: Yes.
Gallaty: Now, the exclusivity is found right at the beginning of the verse, Jesus says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” And so, I’d like to just take the heaven part.
Ankerberg: Yeah, Robby, and that statement is absolutely amazing. In heaven. What does that mean?
Gallaty: Yeah. All authority is the idea that Jesus has been given the power to exercise and have the freedom to do and to will in whatever way He wants to. And basically what it’s saying is this: the same power that Jesus has in heaven is now experienced on earth. And what He’s basically saying, John, is He is God. It shows the divinity of Christ. Paul explains this in Ephesians 1:20. Listen to what Paul says, “God raised Jesus from the dead, and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the age to come.” In addition to having authority in heaven, it says in the verse, Jesus has authority on earth. And basically what its saying is that Jesus has power over creation. Now, I don’t know if you realize this, but the New Testament writer , Mark, was trying to explain this to his audience and he begins, right early on, in the beginning of the gospel, in Mark 1:13. And I’d like to just run through a few of these to show the authority.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I found this fascinating.
Gallaty: Mark 1:13, Jesus says, right out of the gate, that He has authority over the animals. It says in the verse, “And he was in the wilderness for 40 days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals.” Now, normally when a person is in the woods with animals, it’s not a good thing. I mean, you know the story, “Lions, and tigers and bears, oh, my.” “Oh my” is not a good thing.
Ankerberg: Um-hum.
Gallaty: But it shows us that in the Greek that word “with,” He was with the animals, it shows us that He was in harmony with the animals.
In addition to having authority over the animals, He has authority over the angels. Listen to what the verse says in verse 13, “and the angels were ministering to him.” Now we know from Hebrews 2:7, that man was created a little lower than the angels. The angels are not just around Jesus, they’re actually serving Him, to show us that Jesus has authority over the angels.
But it goes on. Jesus had authority to teach. Remember the story with the men coming into the synagogue and Jesus began to teach His followers. And He said, “Which is it easier to do, to say to this paralytic, to take up your bed and walk or to forgive your sins? To prove to you that I have the authority to forgive sins, I’m going to heal this man.” Jesus also had authority to forgive sins. In essence what He’s saying here is “I am God.”
But it goes on. Jesus had authority over the demons – Mark 1:34. And He healed many who were sick with various diseases and He cast out many demons and He would not allow them to speak because they knew Him.
He had authority to supersede the Sabbath. You remember when He healed the man on the Sabbath and He tells the disciples and the Pharisees, He said, “Listen, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Even I am Lord over the Sabbath.”
He even had authority to give authority. If you remember in Mark 3, He calls the disciples to Himself, and then He sends them out to teach and to cast out demons.
Remember when He was in the boat. He had authority over nature. The storms are beating against the boat, the wind is blowing, the rains are falling and then all of the sudden He stands up and He says, “Peace, be still.” And the disciples look at one another and they say, “Who is this man that even the winds and the rain obey Him?”
I say all that to say this, and this is what Mark was trying to show us: if Jesus Christ had authority over nature, if Jesus Christ had authority over the world, if Jesus Christ has authority over demons, don’t you think we can trust Jesus with our lives?
You know, Brother Tim LeFleur showed me something pretty interesting. Tim LeFleur was actually a mentor of mine, early on in the faith, that came into my life. And he said, “Robby, the sovereignty of God is like a curtain of a play. It’s like the back curtain behind the play. It’s always there, but you never see it.” And for me, John, that’s how it’s been for me. The sovereignty of God has always been encouraging for me to know that no matter what happens, where I go, where God sends me, He’s always in control.
Ankerberg: Robby, drive that in a little bit for the folks that are listening. How does this really apply to them? What do you want them to come away with?
Gallaty: Yeah. Let me make it personal. If God is in control of everything, and obviously Jesus has demonstrated that, and if Jesus Christ is Lord of all, then we don’t have to fret as believers. We can rest in the Lord. We know that, how bad it is, it will get better one day, if we trust in God. No matter how difficult life is, God’s working everything out for the good one day. And the reason we need to understand this is this: as believers, if we don’t have a healthy view of the sovereignty of God, we’re going to be disheartened and discouraged as we continue to live for Him the rest of the days of our lives.
Ankerberg: Yeah, Robby, I think of folks that are in South America that have a lot of spiritism, and Mexico, or different parts of the Orient. Jesus Christ is in control of all the spirits, all the angels, okay? When He says, “Jump,” they say, “How high?” The fact is He is the Lord, He is God.
Alright, for folks that are sweating their sins, they’ve got a lot of sins in their life, or folks that are sick today, or people in Africa that don’t have an idea where their next meal is coming from. You turn to the Lord for the help that He alone can give. And God can take care of us as believers. A lot of our viewers right now are in a mess, okay, one kind of a mess or another. Jesus Christ can lead them out of it or through it, okay?
I just talked with one of my viewers that died of pancreatic cancer this last week and I was talking with him in the last few hours as he was dying. And it was wonderful that he was a believer and saying, “Look, you’re going into the Lord’s presence. And you don’t stop living right now, you’re going to continue to live and it’s going to be wildly beautiful, wonderful, more than it is you’ve ever dreamed about. And that’s coming.” And to see him go through that with peace and assurance that God could take him through it. Whatever folks are facing, Jesus is Lord and that’s what we want to stop with right here.
Now, we’re going to come back. Jesus, as Lord, with this authority, with this power, sends us out. But even as He sends us out, He models what it is to be a disciple, Himself, because the Father sent Him, the Son, into the world and He obeyed the Father. But then He sent the apostles out and the apostles modeled for us also what it means to be a disciple. We’re going to look at all that when we come right back. So, stick with us.

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re back. What’s the one thing that Jesus Christ really wants all Christians to do? Do you know what it is? It’s called the Great Commission. And that’s what we’re talking about. And the backdrop for His command for us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, is that He is sovereign, that He is in control. We’ve talked about that in the first part of our program. But, Robby, you’ve got a great illustration that I think all the folks are familiar with, this thing about the sparrow. If a sparrow just falls to the ground, but the Father knows. But you say, the Greek even shows you a few more things, explain them.
Gallaty: John, we’re talking about the authority of God. And the point I want to make is this. Jesus is in control of everything. He talks about this in Matthew 10, with the illustration of the sparrow. Listen to what he says in verse 29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart [that’s the key word] from your Father. [30] But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Jesus shows us how much God’s in control. It’s not that He just knows about the sparrow falling, it’s not that He just is aware of the sparrow falling, Jesus said nothing happens apart from God, not just knowing, but controlling and working and allowing in the life of the believer. Now, God sent the Son to come to the earth. We know that. And Jesus is an incredible example of that. Now we know, from the New Testament Jesus sends the apostles out. But before we get to that, in just a few moments, let’s back up and show the relationship that flows from the Father to the Son through the Spirit.
Ankerberg: Um-hum.
Gallaty: Now we see this in Philippians 2:5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being found in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
And here’s the key – “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above all names, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven [here it is again] and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Phil 2:5-11] Now, we see from that verse something pretty interesting – that God sends the Son, through the Spirit; and because of Jesus’ submission to the Father, now we have the backdrop for this great mission. Now he’s sending us out to do the will of the Father as well.
Ankerberg: Yeah. And in that sense, Jesus modeled what it was to be a disciple for us and then He sent us out. And before us, the fact is, there were the apostles. And the apostles also modeled it as well.
Got to ask the question, Robby. What if there are some Christians that are listening who say, “I’m going to choose not to follow Jesus’ command and the Great Commission?” There’s a lot of Christians, I think, that are at that spot. There are consequences. What are some of them?
Gallaty: Yeah, John, there are some consequences for not following the command of Christ. One is we’re denying the life-giving message of the gospel.
Ankerberg: Exactly.
Gallaty: Jesus has given us this Great Commission to go to the world with. In addition to that, I would say you are missing out on the abundant life. For church members, believers in the world, when you’re not following the commands of God, you’re not going to experience the promises of God, as well. But I think more importantly than that is this, and we don’t talk about this much, you will lose rewards. Jesus said clearly that you will be rewarded in this life for what you did in this life for the next life. Now he says this in Matthew 10, when he talks about it. Pretty interesting verse in verse 37. Listen to the words of Jesus, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” That’s the key phrase. Listen: “Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life [and it’s interesting, he’s not talking about eternal life, he’s talking about life here and now. Whoever loses his life today] for my sake, will find it.”
Ankerberg: Yeah, that word, psuche is always used of our life here. So if you want to have abundant, full life, and be in the center of God’s will, this is part of finding it, of obeying Christ. You might not think so, but the fact is this opens up things that you are not aware of that God wants to do through your life. And we’re going to spend a whole, another program up ahead, talking about statistic surveys that have been taken. And 75% of the church, the Christian church, people that are sitting in our churches that are Christians, they don’t feel like they’re fulfilled. They feel like they’re going backwards in their Christian walk. And there’s a reason for that and it’s tied, I think right here, of obeying Jesus’ Great Commission to us. And so there are consequences. They’re not going to be lost, we’re not talking about not making heaven; you’ll be in heaven. But you’ll be there because of the grace of God. And yet, you won’t be counted as a worthy servant because you turned Jesus down on this one. And you’ll lose rewards. But, there’s other things, Robby, what are they?
Gallaty: Well, Jesus also shows us in the text, from this backdrop, the authorized message. Not only does He have authority, Jesus has the authorized message. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.” You know I’ve had people on airplanes, when I travel back and forth to school, after sharing the gospel with them, they’ll respond and say, “Robby, that’s pretty narrow-minded. You’re pretty narrow-minded to think that Jesus is the only way.” And I respond to them with the words of Jesus. Jesus says, “The way to destruction is wide and the path is broad, but the way that leads to life is small and few find it.” And so Jesus was narrow-minded in His thinking as well.
So, if Jesus is the authorized message, that means Buddha does not have the authorized message; that means Hare Krishna does not have the authorized message; that means Muhammad, in Islam, they do not have the authorized message; Mormons do not have the authorized message; Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have the authorized message. We have, as believers, the one true authorized message.
Ankerberg: Robby, another great example to us of what it means to be a disciple are the apostles themselves, that there are consequences.
Gallaty: Yeah, I think the greatest example of the authority of Christ is the outcome of the lives of the apostles. Every one of the apostles that followed the Lord Jesus Christ died, except John. Let me give you a run through of the outcome of these guys’ lives.
Ankerberg: Yeah.
Gallaty: First of all, think about James, the son of Zebedee. He was the older brother of John; was beheaded by Herod Agrippa. James the Less, who actually was the brother of Jesus, and wrote the epistle, history says he was thrown from a tower and was not killed from the fall, and so they smashed his head in with a club.
Andrew, the brother of Peter, tradition says that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way Jesus did. Thomas was tortured by angry pagans. They drove a spear into his side and then threw him into an oven of fire. Matthew, tradition says he died in Ethiopia; they pinned him to the ground and beheaded him. Mark, tradition says, the writer of the New Testament gospel, was dragged behind horses to pieces. Peter was martyred and crucified upside down; he didn’t want to die the same way his Lord had died. These men were convinced that Jesus had authority, not only in this life, but in the life to come. And they said, like the apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Ankerberg: Yeah. And during their life, God miraculously rescued many of them. You think of the apostle Paul who, until his time to go home to heaven, God protected him in great ways. And God will protect us. I think that’s part of the message as well. But in terms of the sovereignty of God, what do you want folks to come away from with this program?
Gallaty: Well, the question is, what are you going to do when something bad happens in your life? You have got to have a healthy view of the sovereignty of God. You’ve got to know that God’s in control of all things. When you walk into a doctor’s office and they give you news you weren’t expecting; when you hear about an accident that your son or daughter was in; what are you going to do if you don’t trust in the sovereignty of God? You know, John, many years ago my wife and I, we were serving the Lord, following God. Hurricane Katrina, a storm, came through our hometown. We had eight feet of water in our house. We lost it all. You know, the natural inclination is to say, “God, why me? I’m serving you, I’m following you.” But God brought us through that. It’s not that God will keep us from bad things happening, it’s that He promises to walk with us through things that happen in life.
Ankerberg: Great word. Now, folks, next week, do you know statistics show that 24% of Christians that go to church indicated that their devotion to the Lord they thought was sliding backwards? 41% said their relationship with the Lord was static. That means almost 75% of the people in the church right now, three out of four church members, are either going backwards or their spiritual life is static. Why? We’re going to talk about that next week, and part of the answer is in the Great Commission itself. This is terrific stuff, folks. You won’t want to miss it. I hope you’ll join us then.

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