EVANGELISM AND THE GREAT COMMISSION: THINK AGAIN!
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Ask any person who has been an active member of a Baptist Church for any extended period of time to define the Great Commission. He/she will tell you right away that it is the marching orders of the New Testament Church to preach the gospel in all the world: to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them the commandments of Christ Jesus, citing Matthew 28:18-20 as a proof text. That answer, accepted as correct by most all Baptists, and a lot of non-Baptists, too, begs amplification.
First, consideration must be given to the realities of the religious scene of these latter days. Modern times are filled with religion whose worth is based not on origin, doctrine, and dedication to the Bible, but on numbers of participants, and dollars in the church coffers. It is a criteria of worth spelling disaster. The ingredients so necessary to bring both to a state evoking carnal swooning, succeeds in producing a religious country club out of what once was a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its purpose is shifted mainly to providing an exclusive comfort zone for its members; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
One of the ways this comes about is in redefining biblical terms to fit a more modern, humanistic mindset. Take the terms “evangelism,” and “disciples” as examples.
“Evangelism,” is a Greek word transliterated into English. It literally translates to “Good News” in English. It is the word that gives us “gospel” which is a term that has evolved in English from “Good news,” or “Good story.”
The term “Disciple” comes from the Old English and Old French languages, and it designates a learner. The term in the New Testament is a translation of the Greek work “Mathetes,” designating one who is increasing in knowledge, being informed; to learn by use and practice. (common Greek lexicons).
It should be obvious by now that the burden of this article is to underscore a vast difference in the term “Disciple” as in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, et, al. to the way it is commonly employed in modern religion.
The terms “Evangelism,” and “Soul-winning,” are accepted as the home run of disciple making rather than first base.
To be sure, one may be born from above in a moment of time, being bathed in repentance from sin, and faith in Christ Jesus, but that alone does not a disciple make, even though being a disciple of Jesus is predicated upon it.
It takes time, patience, and a lot of good, sound teaching to make a disciple. Such are the ones who continue in the Word, and will perpetuate to the next generation the faith once delivered to the saints.
Blessed indeed is the church that is heavily involved in making eternal disciples rather than in erecting temples that decay.