Monday, July 23, 2012



I want to revisit what it means to follow through with what Jesus commanded us to do. It has been called the "great commission." Don't get sidetracked from the primary command here. The only command is to "make disciples of all the nations." He offers three participles on how we are to make disciples-(1) by going, (2) by baptizing and (3) by teaching. Today I want to only deal with the command and tomorrow with the three participles.  
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Who is the target on which we are to focus for making disciples? Who are we to disciple? Note that Jesus makes it clear that we are to disciple "all of the nations." Nations would be better to translate as "cultures." We are to make disciples of people from all of the cultures of the world who are not now disciples. Disciples of what? A certain religion? A specific theological system? No, we are to make disciples of Jesus-followers of Jesus. Our audience is made up of all people everywhere who are not now followers of Jesus.

The initial exposure to the nations of the world happened on one day at the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 2:4-6: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. So, instantly the seed of the message of Jesus was planted in the hearts of men and women from the nations of the world.

Peter, trying to stick to his cultural traditions and religious Law was confounded by God to realize that God was willing and able to work with every nation or culture of the world. Check this out: Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus the Christ (He is Lord of all)-you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." (Acts 10:34-43)

NOTE Peter realized quickly that "in every nation or culture the man who fears God and does what is right is welcome to Him." By the way, that means from every religion as well. God is already at work in people's hearts all over the world in every culture, not to join our culture and religious expression, but they are welcome to God for themselves!

Paul and Barnabas entered the city of Lystra, healed a man and the people believed they were gods-Zeus and Hermes, who had come to the city. Then after hearing them speak and reject their worshipping of them, the Jews attacked them. The crowds were stirred up to attack Paul and they actually stoned him, leaving him for dead. With the disciples there in Lystra, he amazingly had the strength to get up, went back into the city with the disciples and moved on with Barnabas the next day to another city, Derbe. NOTE that their end game was to make disciples of Jesus there: After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith. (Acts 14:21-22)

When Paul spoke to the people in the marketplace of Athens, he said, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

NOTE God gave all people life and breath, making every nation or culture of the world. He determined each culture's boundaries and activities in order that they might seek God-by groping and finding Him, since God is not far from anyone. Then Paul says, since all created people are the children of God, we ought to be able to discover and connect with God through His further revelation. This revelation is not through some image or idol, but is in fact a man who was raised from the dead. His name? Jesus.

On several occasions in the book of Revelation the message of Jesus is said to have gone out to "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues." This can only happen if we are focused on making disciples of Jesus everywhere, not converting people to become a member of one of our religious systems. Jesus is above all of man's religious systems. Jesus, the incomparable and irresistible Jesus!



There's lots of movement in our world today, mostly filled with the spirit of tension and rebellion. Beginning with one businessman setting himself on fire in Tunisia, the match was lit that spread a fire of revolution throughout the Arab world. It's called the Arab Spring! Many saw it as a great move toward democracy around the world. However, whenever a vacuum is created in the power structure of a nation, other powers will inevitably move into that vacuum and the results may not be as desirable as originally anticipated.
Then there are the global economic crises occurring all over the world. European nations are in a lot of trouble and seem to be just a bit ahead of the United States. It's as if all is horribly out of control around the world and right here at home in the US.

As we listen to the discord and the seeming willingness to say most anything within the political arena, distrust reigns. There seems to be a major deficiency in credible leadership in our country and in our world. This creates a massive spirit of insecurity in the society's of our world. There is no one to lead us out of this quagmire. No one who has any answers that resonate with our hearts and no one seems to know the way.

Add to this the gnawing and relentless claims that we are approaching the end of the world as we know it. Even though we have a feeling that the Mayans weren't right about the end of the world, there is still an unsettled feeling about the date this year of December 21, 2012 as the end of the world. Add to this the many other prophecies and opinions that the world is reaching a climactic end. The primary rationale here is that we are all so frustrated with the way things are and don't see any way through it all to make it any better.

I want to add my own prophetic utterance to the many global rumors out there. As I write, travel and interact with people from the many cultures and levels of society around the globe, it is clear to me that we are definitely approaching some highly significant, climactic realization. I'm sensing it and seeing it in every culture. The climactic realization is what I call "the Jesus movement."

The Jesus movement is being stirred up by God calling people out of every culture of the world to Himself. This Jesus movement is greater than all of us, more massive than any movement ever! The Jesus movement is Jesus without religious baggage. The movement consists of people from every culture of the world and most of them won't look like you do.

The Jesus movement is growing fast and is irreversible! The Jesus movement is the Kingdom of God on earth and without any boundaries whatsoever. The genesis of the idea of a movement around Jesus is Jesus' revolutionary call to anyone who will see and listen: FOLLOW ME! All those who follow Jesus are moving to the beat of a different drummer. This drummer is Jesus!

In this New Year of 2012 look for the Jesus movement in your area. Jesus is moving out in your neighborhood. Jesus not only has the character we are all looking for, the security we all long for; he also is the only one who can lead out in such a way so as to bring peace to our world, beginning with peace in your heart.

I'm seeing it everywhere! Pastors and religious leaders are beginning to talk about Jesus plus nothing else added to him. Community, political and corporate leaders are now talking about Jesus in a new way. It's happening all around us!
Look for him there and see what he is up to. The Jesus movement can be discovered as you focus on Jesus outside the box-without religious baggage. It's Jesus plus nothing!