Open as PDF
Before we move on, let's look once more at Matthew 28:19-20, the Great and General Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples, to see if we can glean any other truths from it.
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" (Matt. 28:19-20a).
Note that Jesus wants disciples made in all the nations, or more correctly stated according to the original Greek, all the ethnic groups of the world. If Jesus commanded it, I am led to believe that it must be possible to do so. We can make disciples of Jesus in every ethnic group of the world. The task was not given just to the original eleven disciples, but to every single disciple after them, because Jesus told the eleven to teach their disciples to observe all He had commanded them. Thus, the original eleven taught their disciples to obey Christ's commandment to make disciples of all the nations, and this would then be a self-perpetuating commandment for every subsequent disciple. Every disciple of Jesus is supposed to be involved in some way in the discipling of the nations.
This explains in part why the "Great Commission" has not yet been fulfilled. Even though there are millions of professing Christians, the number of actual disciples who are committed to obey Jesus is much less. The large majority of professing Christians do not care about disciples being made in every ethnic group because they simply aren't committed to obeying Christ's commandments. When the subject is brought up, they will often use excuses such as, "That's not my ministry," and, "I just don't feel led in that direction." Many pastors make such statements, as do all goats who pick and choose which commandments of Christ are worthy to fit their agenda.
If every professing Christian truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, before long everyone in the world would hear the gospel. The collective commitment of Christ's disciples would make it happen. They would stop wasting all their time and money on temporal and worldly things, and use them to accomplish what their Lord commanded them to do. Yet when godly pastors announce that a missionary is going to be speaking at an upcoming church service, he can often expect that attendance will drop. Many of the goats will stay home or go elsewhere. They aren't interested in obeying the last commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sheep, on the other hand, always become excited at the prospect of being involved in making disciples of all the nations.
One last point in regard to Matthew 28:18-20: Jesus also told His disciples to baptize their disciples, and the apostles faithfully obeyed this commandment. They immediately baptized those who repented and believed in the Lord Jesus. Baptism, of course, represents a believers' identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. New believers have died and been raised as new creations in Christ. This truth Jesus wanted dramatized in the baptism of every new believer, imprinting upon his mind that he is now a new person with a new nature. He is one spirit with Christ, and is now empowered to obey God by Christ who lives within him. He was dead in his sins, but now has been washed clean and made alive by the Holy Spirit. He is more than "just forgiven." Rather, he has been radically transformed. Thus, God is indicating once again that true believers are different people who act much differently than they did when they were spiritually dead. This is certainly also implied by Jesus' closing words, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:29). Would it not be reasonable to think that Christ's continual presence with people would affect their behavior?