Make Disciples: Jesus’ Call to All Christians/Program 5
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|The promise Christ ends with in the Great Commission—to be with us. We’ll see He is the source of our strength in making disciples, providing the power we need to begin, move forward, and see lives changed as we influence others in their spiritual growth.|
Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing, Jesus wants every Christian in America, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, and Australia to do? Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple? How do you make a disciple?
My guest today who will tell us is Robby Gallaty, a man who pastors a church of 3,200 members and has four morning services, yet personally disciples seven or eight people each year. They in turn have gone on to disciple others. Now if you have never discipled anyone, is it really possible you could do this? What are the practical things you need to know? Today you will find out on this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re talking about the tremendous statistics of our world that impact our lives. For example, there’s over seven billion people on the planet. And for Christians, we need to realize that 4.5 billion people do not know the Lord Jesus. And Jesus, Himself, has a plan of how we can reach them. It’s called the Great Commission. We’re to go and make disciples of all the nations. And with that command, we’re going to look at today, that Jesus gives us a promise: “Lo, I will be with you always.” It’s a fantastic promise. We’re going to talk about it and how it’s changed and influenced the lives of saints down through church history.
- And I’ve got a very honored guest that’s with us. Robby Gallaty is a premier Bible teacher. He knows how to explain the things of the Word of God. And Robby, today as we start this thing, talk about this promise, this precious promise. This was not just an add-on, a tack-on to the Great Commission. This was one of the main features. Explain it.
- Gallaty: Yeah. Jesus gave us this command, right at the end… or gave us this promise, right at the end of the Great Commission: “Behold, I will be with you to the end of the age.” Now, what’s interesting is, from the context of the passage, the promise is tied to the mandate, which we studied a few weeks ago, which is “Go, make disciples.” And so what He’s saying is this, “When you go into the world and make disciples, I will be with you to the end of the age.” Now, this is not an afterthought, like you’ve said. This isn’t just a casual thing that Jesus tacks on to the end. This is the difference that makes the difference. This is the indispensable quality of the Great Commission.
- What’s interesting is, He starts, John, at the beginning, with His authority. He said in verse 18, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” and then He finishes with the promise of His presence. And that’s really what He’s saying here. He’s saying, “I will be with you wherever you go.” Now, think of the mind of the disciples when they heard this. You have these twelve ruffians, these guys who have been called from all facets of life to follow Christ. They lived with Him; they watched Him teach; they watched Him perform miracles; they saw Him get heckled by the crowd; they saw everything. And now Jesus is saying, “Okay, guys, I’m going to leave you.” Up to this point, I would say the disciples would have said, “Jesus, there’s no way we can do this without you. I mean, we could barely do it with you. How are we going to do it without you?”
- There are four progressions in the Bible that Jesus shows us in the form of discipleship. Let me show them to you. The first one is this: Jesus did it – the disciples watched. If you remember in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called the disciples to follow Him. They sat in the crowd and watched as He explained the Word of God. Then there’s a second progression a little further on in the Bible, where Jesus did it – the disciples assisted. You remember the story of the feeding of the 5,000 or the feeding of the 4,000. Jesus breaks the bread, He gives out the fish, He teaches, and then He says, “Guys, go hand out the food. And by the way, pick up all the baskets and bring it back to me.” Jesus did it – the disciples assisted.
- But then there’s a switch. There’s a switch because Jesus says, “You’re going to do it and then I’m going to assist.” You remember when Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration? He came into this chaotic situation where a father had brought his son, and he said, “I brought my son to Your disciples to see if they can do anything and they can’t do anything. Jesus, can You do anything?” Jesus says, “Guys, step back. ‘Can I do anything!’ Is that a joke? I can do all things. Do you believe?” And so Jesus assisted. When the disciples needed help, He stepped in.
- And here’s the final progression: the disciples did it – Jesus watched. Now, we know Jesus never watches. But He took a step back. Remember when He sent the 70 or the 72 out. He said, “I’ve given you all the power and authority to cast out demons, to heal and to prophesy in my name.” And they came back and said, “Jesus you’re never going to believe what happened. You were right. We preached and we healed and You worked mightily.”
- Now, as a New Testament believer, there’s never a place in our lives when the Lord is not working in our lives, because He’s promised us His presence. Now, the disciples were burdened. In John 14:15-19 we have the recorded words of Jesus, which really are encouraging to our folks today, all believers around the world. Listen to the words of Jesus. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you” – here it is – “and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus says. “I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.” Verse 20 is the key: “In that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
- Now, Matthew embedded this secret at the beginning of the gospel and at the end of his gospel. At the beginning of his gospel, in Matthew 1, remember the story? The angel of the Lord comes and said, “You shall call His name Emmanuel,” just like it was prophesied in the Old Testament, which means “God with us.” So Matthew inserts that at the beginning. Is it any wonder at the end of the gospel, Matthew 28:20, the last verse, the last phrase says “I will be with you always?” It’s a bookend on the gospel of Matthew, which should be encouraging to us as believers today, that no matter what happens, where we go, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only with us, He’s in us.
- Ankerberg: We’re going to get some personal illustrations of how Jesus Christ has done that in our lives. But let’s take an illustration of how God has been with somebody in the Old Testament, namely Moses.
- Gallaty: Yeah. Moses is the best example, I think. You remember Moses. He was a stutterer; he was a babbler; he didn’t think he could be used by the Lord. He’s 80 years old now, on the back side of a desert, and God comes to him and says, “Moses, I want you to speak for Me.” And so Moses says, “God, I can’t speak for you.” And then He gives him this promise. Look at it in Exodus 3:12. “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’” And God says, “I will be with you. And this shall be a sign for you that I have sent you.” That’s the promise God said. When you stand in the face of Pharaoh and when it’s difficult and when it’s hard, I mean, he’s going in front of the president of the world at that point, the strongest, most powerful man of all time. And here’s this shepherd that’s been tending sheep and goats all his life. Now he’s going to stand before Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go.” God says, “You don’t have to worry, Moses, because I will be with you.”
- Now, we can play that out even further. Remember when Moses led the Israelites through the desert? They were grumbling. They were complaining the whole time. And God says, “I’m going to guide you. I’m going to send a fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day.” God fulfilled the promise that He spoke to Moses.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. And here’s what I want people to get. There’s a lot of Christians, I think, that are listening right now. And they know that Jesus has commanded us to go into all the world and to make disciples. And that means that they’ve got to talk to somebody. And people look at us and say, well, it’s really easy for you. No, it’s not always been easy for me. I remember when I heard this for the first time. And I had to make a decision. Am I going to try this out? And I thought, if I say this to somebody – I was in high school at that time – I thought, I’m going to lose my friends, any kind of popularity that I’ve got, my influence, what are they going to think about me?, blah, blah, blah. And the Lord convicted me, so I finally said, “Whatever the cost, okay, I’m going to try.” Now, I had no idea of the knowledge and information that you needed to talk to people. But I remember turning that corner saying, “Okay, if you want me and this is what you want me to do, I will try.”
- Now, people say, “What do you do when people ask you a question that you don’t know?” I used to carry a Bible with me on my books, and people would look at the Bible and say, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “Yeah.” I said, “Are you a Christian?” “Well, no.” And then they have a question. Well, in those years, after I turned the corner and said, “Lord I’ll be a witness for you. I will try to talk to people.” I remember my standard answer a lot of times was, “I don’t know.” But I added this: “I’ll tell you what. I’ll go home tonight and I’ll look it up and I’ll come and tell you tomorrow.” And people said okay. I mean, they didn’t expect me to have all knowledge, okay? So, the fact is, I went home and I would look up those verses, and I was starting to amass information. And this is how you learn. You try it out. Somewhere the rubber’s got to hit the road. You’ve got to actually try this out.
- Now I remember doing stuff that the Lord says go and do, and I can’t really believe that God would actually do something with me. I had a hard time believing this would work for me. And people that are listening, they have a hard time believing that if they actually go and talk to their friend, that something’s going to happen, it will work, that God might get involved. That’s what we’re talking about. Jesus says “I will be with you.” The Holy Spirit’s going to convict. He’s going to talk. He’s going to use your presence. You might not have a seminary degree. You might not have all the information, but you start. And you start with your testimony. And you just start to share that with people, and you’ll be amazed at what happens.
- And I hope, folks, that if you’re listening, that you will be encouraged to at least try this with somebody. And yeah, if you don’t have the answers, start to put the answers together bit by bit. Your friends don’t expect you to have all knowledge. The knowledge that you do have will surprise them anyway. Just start with what God’s done with you. You want to add something to that?
- Gallaty: Yeah, well, and that’s the thing. You don’t need a seminary education. You don’t need to go to Bible College to understand how to share your faith. We have people we meet with every day. We go to lunch with people, we have coffee with people, we go to the same places with people. Why don’t we start to tell those around us why we act the way we do; why we love the Lord; or what’s happened in our own personal life?
- You know, I’m reminded of the story of David Livingstone. You know, we think of the Christian life, sometimes as being easy, and in America we can think that it’s easy. But there are many brothers and sisters who have really battled and are going through difficult times. And I think this is an encouraging story, John. David Livingstone went over to Africa as a missionary, and didn’t know many missionaries over there that were sharing the gospel. In his lifetime, he walked 29,000 miles by foot, if you can imagine. He traveled 29,000 miles and shared the gospel. He was ravaged by a lion at one time. He had ministered most of his life half-blind. The supporters from back home started to attack him. The people in the community started to attack him. One day he wrote these words in his diary, which are pretty amazing. He said: “Lord, send me anywhere; only go with me. Lay any burden on me; only sustain me. Sever me from any tie but the tie that binds me to Your service.” I often wonder, how many believers today could say that? “God, take away everything in my life that binds me to anything other than You?”
- He got an opportunity to come back to Scotland, and he spoke at the Glasgow University. He began to tell those students about what God did. And you could see that he was ravaged and had gone through a difficult life. He had had 27 different diseases go through his veins. He had been mangled by a lion and his arm was numb on his side. And so he walked up to the podium and he said these words. He says, “You’re wondering why I made it through a difficult time.” And this is what he said. He said, “Shall I tell you what sustained me in the midst of toil and hardship and loneliness of my exile? It was Christ’s promise, ‘Lo, I am with you even to the end of the age.’” Now here’s the encouraging thing. That promise, Jesus gave the disciples 2,000 years ago, we can claim today in this present world.
- Ankerberg: Robby, I’ve actually been to Kenya, and I’ve been to where David Livingstone walked in those paths, and experienced the lions roaring in the jungle there. And I’m just saying that I marveled that Christ’s presence was enough to motivate him to go down those paths, to go to those people, to walk the 29,000 miles.
- Now I want to bring it back to the folks that are listening right now. There might be people in Africa, or the Orient, or Europe, or places that we don’t even imagine, that are listening to the program right now, that are saying, “Okay, but what about me? I’m not a David Livingstone. I’m not a Moses,” okay. What we want to get across to these folks is that this promise is for them. Jesus says, “I’ll be with you.”
- And we’re going to take a break. When we come back we’re going to share some personal experiences, but we’re also going to talk about, yeah, the real power even when you go, is you depend on Christ. And we’re going to give some promises for that, so stick with us. We’ll be right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Robby Gallaty about the Great Commission. And when we obey Jesus’ command to go to our neighbors, to go to our friends, and we share the gospel, when we disciple them, Jesus promises He will be with us. Not with just the guys that have PhDs; not the guys that went to seminary; not just the pastors, He’s talking about every Christian that will go. And what I want to get into your mind is that Jesus will show up for you. And, Robby, let’s explain this biblically and then we’ll talk about some personal experiences.
- Gallaty: Yeah. It’s important to know, John, it’s not based on our personal ability. It’s based on our availability to the Lord. God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. And so that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for people who would be willing to go. These promises do not apply to those who sit home and think about them all day. We actually have to put them into practice.
- Now, here’s the question: how does this happen in the life of the believer? Brother Tim, my mentor, pulled me aside one day and he said these words. He said: “The Christian life is either easy or impossible. It’s impossible if you try to do it in your own strength. It becomes easier, as you allow Christ to work in you, to work through you.” Now this principle is called the “Christ-life” and we see it all throughout Scripture. And it’s encouraging for believers because we know it’s not actually us who is doing it, it’s Christ doing it within us.
- Listen to this Scripture in 2 Corinthians 4:7. Paul says: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs not to man, but to God.” So what he says is, it’s the Spirit of God working in our life, and it’s not us. Now, Paul says this again when he talks about his own personal mission statement. Colossians 1:27-29 is actually Paul’s mission statement. And this is what Paul says: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of the mystery, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory.” Verse 28: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” How do you do this, Paul? “For this I toil, struggling with all energy, that He” – here it is – “powerfully works within me.” So Paul says, here’s the deal: I do the work, but really I know behind the scenes it’s Christ who’s working in me to work through me.
- Ankerberg: I love that word. He says “I struggle,” okay. So, you know, you labor. And you have to show up. And you have to – sometimes when you preach, you’ve got to study. But in the background what’s working is not really your intellect or all your study, it’s Christ empowering that to make sense. When you go to somebody and you talk with them, you know, there’s a certain amount of preparation. You’ve got to know a few things to say, okay. But really, in the background, when you get out there and do it, Christ is going to empower those words and use them in ways you didn’t even think were possible.
- Gallaty: Absolutely. And Paul goes on to say this in Philippians and in Ephesians. Philippians 2:12: “So therefore, brothers, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but much more in my absence,” – here it is – “work out your salvation, your own salvation, with fear and trembling.” Well, Paul, how should we do that? “For it is God who works in you both to will and to work according to His good pleasure.” Ephesians….
- Ankerberg: What He’s saying is, what He puts in, He’s put it in there, now you work it out.
- Gallaty: That’s it.
- Ankerberg: Okay? You get it out there. Use it. And the fact is, that other verse is, you know, God both wills – He gives you the desire to do something. He gives you a desire for the lost. He gives you a desire to go to people. And when He gives it to you, if you start doing it, He gives you the ability to do it. “Both to will and to work.” That word “work” is He gives you the ability to do it. And I’m saying, again, the rubber’s got to hit the road. Somebody’s got to just decide that, yeah, these promises – God’s not lying to us, okay, that He will empower us if we start somewhere.
- Gallaty: Yeah. Well, Ephesians 2:8 comes to mind. It’s the great verse on salvation, but many people stop at verse 9: “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one should boast.” Verse 10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus beforehand for good works.” So what He’s saying is, that word “workman” is the idea of a craftsman, or a potter that’s molding clay. And it shows us, as believers, it’s God who works in us, but it’s works that He gives us and does through us. Ephesians 2, you noticed that. But look at Ephesians 3:20. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly above, more than we ask or think: to Him be the glory because of the power that mightily works within us.” And so Paul talks about this all throughout Scripture.
- Ankerberg: Robby, I love these Bible verses. But people just listen to Bible verses and they never actually try it out for themselves. I want to get them off the couch and into the game, okay? How did you get off the couch and into the game, because you didn’t always believe these promises yourself? What made you finally attempt to try them out, and what happened?
- Gallaty: Yeah. As a new believer, I didn’t know much about the Lord. I was only a believer for about six months, and I began to read the Bible, but never been to seminary, didn’t have a Bible degree, didn’t know much about God. But I was excited about the Lord. And what we would do on Friday nights, with a group of friends of mine, is this. We wouldn’t go out to the movies or go out to eat. We would go Friday night and spend about 45 minutes in prayer, get on our faces before the Lord, get into my vehicle and pray, “God, open the door for us to tell people about You,” which was pretty radical, if you think back then. And we’d just drive around town. And one of my friends would say, “That’s a person that needs the Lord.” And literally, we would pull off to the side of the road, we would get out of the vehicle, and say, “We believe God sent us here to tell you about Christ.” And, John, I can’t tell you how many times, in the parking lot of Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s, we led people to the Lord. And it’s interesting, because some of those people would say to us, “I was on the way to end my life,” or “I’m on the way to cheat on my wife,” or “I’m thinking about a divorce, but God put you guys into my life.” And we knew it wasn’t because of us or anything we did, but we were being obedient to the command and the call of Christ on our lives.
- Ankerberg: Right along that line, you have another story about a guy that was driving his car looking for that prayer meeting. What was that all about?
- Gallaty: Yeah. After we would go out witnessing and sharing Christ, we would always go to this diner to eat. And the guy who owned the diner was a recovering addict and we would always tell him about Christ. And we would invite him to church and to the prayer meeting. And his response always was, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll let you guys know if I need the Lord.” One morning as we were praying – we used to wake up and pray from 5:00 to 7:00 before work every day – one morning we were praying, and in the middle of that praying, I felt somebody walk into the house where we were praying and sit next to me. Well, I thought it was one of the guys in the prayer meeting, so I didn’t open my eyes. And a few moments later, as we finished, I opened my eyes and it was the owner of the restaurant. He had found the prayer meeting that morning. We asked him after, we said, “How did you find us?” He said, “Last night I was on the verge of leaving my wife, divorcing my wife and leaving my family.” He said, “I woke up this morning and I realized, I’ve got to find where those guys are praying.” He said, “The only thing I knew was the street.” He said he drove back and forth in the street. He got out of the car. He walked up to the door. He said, “I guess this is the house.” As soon as he put his hand on the knob, he heard voices and people praying. He went back to his truck. He said, “Those people are crazy.” But the Lord wouldn’t let him leave. He got out of the car again, walked back into the house, sat down, and he said, “This is where I need to be.” John, later in that day, we led him to the Lord. And it was because of God using us in our own life.
- And so really, the question is not “Is Jesus with us?” We know from the text Jesus is with us. The question is not “Do we have the power to continue the mission or complete the mission?” The answer is yes, He’s given us the power. So really the question we ask ourselves is, “Is Jesus enough? Jesus, will I go where You tell me? Will I do what you want me to do?”
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and folks, again, I’m encouraging. I know what it’s like to sit there and listen to preachers talk about the verses. But what I hope that you hear is that the excitement is if you try it out, and you find out it works for yourself. It will change your life. It’s where the center of God’s will is. It’s the main command that Jesus gave to us. There’s a whole bunch of good things going that direction, if you’ll just try it out. Jesus says He’ll be with you.
- Now, next week, we’re going to turn the corner. What if you don’t? What are the devastating consequences that will happen if Christians do not obey Jesus’ command to go and make disciples? We’re going to talk about that. I hope that you will join us.