incorporated within the Great Commission is the command to teach. Conversion is not the ultimate goal of the Great Commission. The goal is discipleship.
A disciple is a “learner, a follower.” A disciple is a believer in faith and a servant in responsibility. A disciple not only gives intellectual assent to the claims of Christ but also seeks to incarnate, or live out, all that Jesus Christ is and all He has come to do. A disciple is one who hears and heeds the call of Jesus to deny oneself, take up His cross (and theirs), and follow Him.
Preaching alone will not produce disciples. It takes teaching.
Jesus was a master teacher. “When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1-2 NASU). “The crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matt. 7:28-29 NASU). On the mountainside, in the synagogues, in the Temple, by the Sea of Galilee, in private, in public, in parables—wherever He went, people were amazed by His teaching, saying, “no man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46 NKJV).
Jesus taught His disciples beatitudes for a blessed life. He taught them to pray and not to lose heart. He taught them to give in secret. He taught them not to judge. He taught them to lay up treasures in heaven. He taught them to build their lives on the solid rock of hearing and heeding His commandments. He taught them about the kingdom of God. He warned them of the leaven of false doctrine and the traditions of men.
Jesus warned His disciples of coming judgment and the dangers of sin. He taught them about His death and resurrection. He taught them until the day He was taken up and through the Holy Spirit commanded His disciples, “as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21); “Make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20 NKJV).
And “teach them” they did!
The church of the new Testament was a teaching church. Acts 2:42 says they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In Acts 5:42, we read, “every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching that Jesus is the Christ” (NASB).
At the church in Antioch, there were “prophets and teachers” (13:41). The apostle Paul affirmed his own ministry of teaching by saying, “The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9 NASB). He said to Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2 NASB).
If we are going to see the church of Jesus Christ brought to a place of maturity…if we are going to raise up a new generation of ministers ready to fully discharge their calling . . . and if we are going to aggressively combat false doctrine and defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints . . . we must commit to a ministry of teaching and spiritual formation.