In the Great Commission Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. A disciple is someone who commits the entirety of their life to the ways of the teacher. Their goal is to reflect the teacher in every way. A disciple without question lives in obedience to the teacher. To make a disciple of the Lord we must begin by evangelizing them. If they so choose to commit their life to Jesus they become His disciple.
Jesus is the teacher. If we are His disciples we must live in obedience to Him. One of the very clear teachings of Jesus was that we are to preach the gospel to the whole world. (Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). If we choose not to live in obedience to the teacher we are unfaithful and disobedient disciples. Living in disobedience to Jesus is sin. Therefore, choosing not to share the gospel is a sinfully rebellious act of disobedience.
The 1st century church clearly took this teaching to share the gospel as a non optional act of obedience to their master. The Christians of the 1st century were harshly persecuted. Many of them suffered in horrendous ways. Many of them, just as Steven, lost their lives because of their faith in the Lord. Despite the horrendous treatment of Christians in the 1st century, Christianity grew rapidly. It grew rapidly in spite of the persecution because the Christians of the day were faithful to evangelize the world in which they lived. Even the fear of death did not prevent the spreading of the gospel from those who set in their hearts and minds to be faithful to the Lord.
Jesus also taught us in the great commission that once we make disciples we are to teach them all that Jesus commanded. We need to be faithful in teaching new believers the truths of the word of God and walk with them to show them the way of the Master. We need to make it clear to new believers that they are responsible to share the same gospel that just saved them. We need to teach them that this is required of the Lord.
Too often we don’t think new converts are ready to serve because they are too young in their faith. Let us not forget that Paul stayed as little as two weeks in certain cities leaving the new converts to oversee the newly started churches. I am thoroughly convinced that we need to let new converts start sharing their faith immediately, while the zeal of their fresh fire of conversion is stirring their hearts. I am also convinced that once they see what God can and will do in their lives through their obedience that the fire will stay fresh and continue to grow, driving them deeper in their service and devotion to the Lord.
Remember as well, new converts that are previously unchurched usually have a whole host of unchured and unevangelized people within their inner circle. They have a mission field of friends and associates that traditionally is much more vast than that of the churched folk. Certainly, we are not to leave them alone to this task. We are to walk with them through it. This is true discipleship.
For the most part we teach today that if you are a good Christian you go to church and you tithe. If you are a real good Christian you will go to Sunday School and Sunday evening service. If you are a phenomenal Christian you will go to prayer meeting and give to missions from time to time. This type of thinking is killing the church in our modern world. Should we be doing these things? Yes, all of these things are important and yes we should participate in them. At the same time we need to teach what Jesus commanded as non optional and that anything else is sin.
We need to rise up each generation of new believer to preach the gospel to all creation starting where they are at from the moment of their conversion. When witnessing becomes the norm of the church we will win this world to the Lordship of Jesus. Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son in the faith and taught him to be a man of God with a sincere faith. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy knowing he was about to die for his faith to encouraging Timothy to carry on in his service to the Lord. He invited Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (II Timothy 1:8). If we do not teach the younger generation and the new converts to carry the gospel light into this dark world, then who will carry it when we pass on? But, if we teach witnessing and discipleship as Jesus taught us it will be passed down from generation to generation just as it is biblically mandated.