056 – The Great Commission – Teach

The fourth command of The Great Commission is, in its complete sentence form, “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” In my mind, this is the most amazing part of the Great Commission. It is absolutely brilliant.

In adding this fourth command to the other three commands of The Great Commission, Jesus has just insured that the Biblical Plan of Salvation will continue on throughout all generations. Let’s break it down and see what else we can discover.

Discovery

The first word is, “teach.” This means sending information, passing knowledge, communicating enlightenment. It’s a drawing toward knowledge and wisdom.

Now, carefully notice. The apostles were not told to “teach the people everything.” They were told, “Teach them to ‘obey’ everything.” This is interesting. Jesus introduces obedience. Obedience is a response and it is always intrinsically linked to a command. Without a command, there is nothing to obey. This is why we say, “The Great Commission must be obeyed.” There are a series of commands contained in it. As a result, obedience becomes a critical part of the salvation experience because, the scriptures elsewhere teach us that we can not have a relationship with God, if we are unwilling to obey him. More about that in a moment.

Now, obviously… the things Jesus is commanding us to obey extend way beyond the first three commands of The Great Commission. He said, “Teach them to obey everything, I have commanded you.”

Obey Everything?

That’s a mighty tall order, wouldn’t you say. What was he talking about? “Love your enemies?” “Love your neighbor as yourself?” “Seek first the Kingdom?” “Give?” Yes, yes, yes and yes. But, in the context of The Great Commission, we must ask, “What has he just taught the apostles to obey?” Well… the first three commands! Go, make and baptize!

When Jesus says, “Teach them to obey everything,” that by definition, includes everything he has just finished saying. And, they should teach it exactly the same way he taught them. No one has ever been given a license or the authority to change anything in the Biblical Plan of Salvation.

Have you ever played the game “Telephone?” It’s a fun game, even for adults. The game is played by getting 15 or 20 other people together. The leader whispers a fairly complex sentence into the first person’s ear. The first person then whispers it into the second person’s ear and the message gets passed on from mouth to ear for twenty generations. It can be quite hilarious when we hear the final presentation of the original sentence. Things can really change and get messed up! When a message gets passed down from generation to generation people have a tendency to change things. But this process can’t happen with The Great Commission because we have the instructions… the original message… clearly presented in the New Testament.

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055 – The Great Commission – Baptize!

As we continue our mini-series about The Great Commission, we now examine the third command, Baptize. So, just how do we cover this topic after coming off of a forty lesson, in-depth series, about water baptism? Can there possibly be anything new to discuss regarding this topic? I think so. And I think you’re going to be surprised when you see this one! Let me explain.

A Quick Review

We have already established, baptism as the third command of The Great Commission and at the risk of belaboring the point, I will once again, for the benefit of newcomers, remind us; since it is a command, it is not optional on our part. It must be obeyed by both the baptizer and the one being baptized. In other words, as a person who makes disciples, I have no choice in the matter. I must baptize my student. That is cast in stone and I do not have the right, ability, or authority to change it. That’s what Jesus told us to do. Likewise, the student has no choice in the matter, if they want to be a disciple of this particular Master, Jesus. I’m sorry but it’s just not optional. As we have stated many times, baptism can not be a work of human effort because it is a command of Christ.

Just like the first two commands of The Great Commission, this third command, the command to baptize, can be expressed as a complete sentence. The sentence contains a subject, the plural form of that “implied you,” meaning “you all” specifically “you apostles.” The verb is “baptize.” The direct object of the sentence, “them,” is the “who” to baptize. So, the complete sentence would be, “You baptize them.” If you are from the south, that would be, “Y’all baptize ‘em.”

The Narrow Road

Now, here is where things get interesting. I’m gonna bet this is probably something you have never heard before. We understand who was to do the baptizing. It was initially done by the Apostles who taught others to do it and so on. We understand what baptism is, an immersion in water. But, when Jesus adds that little direct object, “them,” something with significant ramifications occurs. Let’s walk through this carefully.

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054 – The Great Commission – Make Disciples

Making disciples is a command of Christ. It is not optional.
Make Disciples is the second command.

The second command of The Great Commission is to “Make Disciples.” It should probably go without saying that this seemingly small command is absolutely loaded with potential! Let’s get started.

Here is the complete command in context.

“Make disciples of all nations.” Short sentence, right?

English 101

The verb is “make.” The direct object… or what to make… is “disciples.” Make disciples. But we’re missing a subject. A complete sentence must have a noun which makes up the subject of the sentence. And believe it or not, “Make disciples,” is technically a complete sentence. So, where’s the noun? What is the subject of the sentence? Think back to 7th grade English. Remember, this was a fun one. The subject is the implied, “You.” If we were going to say the complete and full sentence it would be, “You make disciples.” The purpose of the sentence is an imperative. It is a command.

The plural “you,” Jesus is referring to, are the remaining eleven disciples… the apostles. It is to them exclusively he is saying, “You make.” We have no indication there is anyone else present. The commands are given to a very select group of men; the men he has been training for the last three years. The men who have walked closely with him daily. So, “You make,” would be the command in its simplest form. Let’s talk about this part of the full sentence before we get to the “what…” of the sentence.

The definition of “make”

Jesus command is directed to the apostles and he tells them to “make” something. Making something implies effort, it requires an activity. Noah Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, offers over 60 definitions for the word, “make.” Here are just a few.

To compel; to constrain. To create; to cause to exist; to form from nothing. To bring into any state or condition; to constitute.

The word “make” means the act of creating something new which did not previously exist. It also implies a deliberate effort is activated toward that goal. In order for this to happen, the person performing the effort must have a goal in mind and we should understand they have some sort of motivation to achieve the goal for which they are producing the effort. There is some driving force behind their desire to be productive.

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053 – The Great Commission – Go!

Welcome to A Faith that Obeys where we are rethinking the traditional plan of salvation. This traditional plan, which is also called the Modern Plan, is a fairly new invention and has tragically replaced the Biblical Plan of Salvation. When we study the Bible and see how people were “Born Again” in the first century, then compare that to how people become Christians today, there are some stark differences. Things have changed. Our goal is to identify the Biblical “steps to salvation” and support you in your efforts to learn what God desires in order to correctly follow them so you may have full assurance that you are walking on the correct path in your relationship with God.

Our series about biblical obedience in water baptism is now complete but obedience does not begin or end with that event. There are other things to consider. As we begin this next phase of our studies, I suspect you are about to hear something you have never heard before and it may be a little shocking. Let’s dive in!

The Four Crisp Commands of The Great Commission

There are four crisp commands contained in The Great Commission. They provide the final marching orders for the eleven apostles given by Jesus at the time of his ascension into heaven, over 2000 years ago. These commands are clear, unambiguous, simple, yet potent. They embody the culmination of Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. They are designed to launch and propel a movement destined to last for generations to come. Let’s read this amazing mandate.

It’s found in…

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052 – Baptism Series Conclusion

Closing comments on our series about water baptism.
The Cherry on Top!

Wow! It’s hard to believe but we are finally finished with our long series on baptism. I wanted to take some time to reflect and review what we have learned and speak a little bit about the series in general.

If you recall, we began this extremely detailed series of lessons about Christian water baptism, way back in “Podcast 012 – The Proponents.” In that podcast we identified two groups involved in the argument about whether or not water baptism is a necessary part of the conversion process. This is a really old and sometimes contentious debate. My goal was to approach this topic from a different perspective offering a paradigm shift which, I think, is long overdue.

A Paradigm Shift on the Baptism Argument

My argument is pretty simple. Baptism is a command of God and we must obey God’s commands… if we want to be his child. Isn’t that what “Jesus is Lord,” means? If we will not have a Lord, can we have a savior?. We must obey what Jesus has asked us to do in The Great Commission. And, water baptism is part of the Great Commission.

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051 – The Example of Naaman

Welcome to A Faith that Obeys Podcast. This is the last scripture in our lengthy series about baptism and, it is quite a scripture. This story is found in the Old Testament, so you might wonder how an Old Testament scripture could be related to a New Testament baptism. Surprisingly, this scripture is very popular for the pro-baptism proponent and is used to prove that water baptism is connected to the washing away of sin. Let’s read it and see what we can discover.

2 Kings 5:1-14
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.


Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

A Foreshadow of Baptism

Well, I don’t really suppose there is much to discuss here. It is pretty obvious that Naaman washes himself and the leprosy goes away. This appears to be a foreshadowing of what will happen in baptism and it seems, on the surface, like a pretty good scripture to use in support of the claim that baptism washes away sin. I can certainly understand the “foreshadowing” nature of the claim but, I also see some problems.

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050 – What Baptism Did You Receive?

In our last Podcast, we met Apollos, an amazing preacher of Christ who had not quite obeyed the Gospel until Priscilla and Aquila were able to identify a doctrinal error which they heard when Apollos preached in the Synagogue at Ephesus. Paul was not with Priscilla and Aquila when this happened. But eventually, he arrives back at Ephesus and apparently, soon after his arrival, we are graced with another fascinating conversion story. It’s in Acts 19.

Acts 19:1-7
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

So, Paul meets some “disciples.” At first, we might assume these are disciples of Christ but as we read further, we come to understand that, like Apollos, these are actually disciples of John the Baptist, who knew only the baptism of John. They state that explicitly.

What Baptism Did You Receive?

Now, this whole event begs the question, “Why does Paul make this radical jump in the discussion from “What Spirit did you receive?” to, “Then what baptism did you receive?” And, why did he ask this initial question to begin with; it feels a little out of the blue! Let’s think this through. How can we reconcile these two questions? What in the world was Paul thinking?

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049 – The Conversion of Apollos

Apollos learned the truth about Jesus from Pricilla and Aquila.

The next conversions in the book of Acts are the conversions of Cornelius, Lydia and the Philippian Jailer. All three of these were discussed in previous podcasts. Let’s quickly mention them and then move on to the next full blown narrative which deserves full discussion, the conversion of Apollos.

A Quick Review

As a reminder, we are in the middle of the last section of our study about baptism and unlike the anti-baptism arguments which rarely use scriptures that mention baptism, we are focused almost solely on scriptures which use that word. It is difficult to craft a good argument if we avoid the very scriptures which mention the word we are trying to explain.

Our first quick review is the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. We studied this conversion story, in great detail, back in Podcast 031 – Pagans with Spirit. Please go back to that podcast or blog post where the issue of baptism is dealt with thoroughly.

The next conversion in the book of Acts is the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16. There is not much to say about this conversion other than to note that baptism is involved but infants are not. After this, in the same chapter, we read about the conversion of the Philippian Jailer. This is another major conversion story and we dealt with this in Podcast 017 – Anti Baptism Scriptures Part 3. Please review the details of that conversion in that blog post or podcast.

The Conversion of Apollos

Now, we come to the conversion of Apollos. There are two very distinct and separate parts to this story. Let’s dive in.

Acts 18:24-28
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Analysis of the story.

This is quite a story. Apollos is probably a Grecian Jew; the name gives that away. He was very intelligent and had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. These of course, would have been the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament. At some point in time, Apollos learned about Jesus. He had been given enough information about Christ to come to a belief that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Apparently, this fired him up enough to begin speaking to people about his discovery. But how do you think that happened? What might have happened to bring Apollos to a point where he became a preacher of Christ?

I suspect the case of Apollos is not an unusual case. John the Baptist preached for quite a while in Judea and the surrounding area. We know he had a pretty good following. All of the people who followed John believed the Christ was eminent and were baptized by John in preparation for that event. Many of these folks would have been around when John declared Jesus as the Christ, “the one who’s sandals he was not worthy to untie.” Some of those same people left John and began following Jesus.

But, not everyone who was a part of John’s ministry was able to stick around and see the complete fulfillment as Christ suffered, died and was resurrected. Apollos may have been one of these transients who did not know the rest of the story. In essence, these people got all fired up and went off half cocked! John proclaimed the Messiah had arrived and that is exactly what they continued doing after they left Judea but before the conclusion of Jesus ministry..

Eventually they would learn the rest of the story. This is the case with Apollos. He is a disciple of John and is about to see the bigger picture.

Regardless of how Apollos came to be in the position he is in, it does leave him with an interesting problem. Apollos is not a Christian! Apollos has not yet obeyed the Gospel. He knew “only” the baptism of John. He did not know about baptism into Christ.

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048 – The Conversion of Saul

The Conversion of Saul – Aelbert Cuyp – Cicra 1646

As we move forward in the Book of Acts, the next conversion we encounter is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. For a time, Saul was the number one persecutor of the church; then God has a little impromptu meeting with him on a dusty Damascus road. As a result, Saul becomes the number one supporter of the church and goes on to write three quarters of the New Testament as the Apostle Paul! If there is any conversion crafted to convince us that even the worst of sinners can repent and become a follower of Jesus, the conversion of Saul should stand as a colossal encouragement. It is possible for anyone to become a Christian.

Saul’s Conversion Cubed

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus, from a Biblical perspective, is unique, in that we hear the story of his conversion presented three times. This is helpful when we knit all three of these stories together in order to get a complete composite of the entire event. We can’t read all three rehearsals, that would take too long. Acts 9 is the most complete presentation of the three so we will focus on that, then add anything missing using the other two accounts.

For reference, let me show you where all three of these stories are located in the Bible.

The first time we learn of Saul’s conversion is in Acts Chapter 9, Verses 1-23. In this narrative, Luke, the writer of Acts, tells the story from a third person perspective. He reports things which happened to Paul. Luke spent years with Paul on the various missionary journeys so undoubtedly, he would have been very well acquainted with Paul’s story.

Next, in the book of Acts again, Luke retells the story but this time, it is from Paul’s perspective. Paul is telling the story to other people. This happens in Acts 22 after an aggressive mob is stirred to action in Jerusalem. Paul is arrested but permitted to address the crowd. In this Acts 22 version of the story, Paul recounts almost the entire event of his conversion again but, with some critical variations.

Saul’s third and final conversion story is reported in Acts 26:12-23. During this presentation of his conversion, Paul is, once again, under arrest and is being extradited, eventually to Rome, but has a brief audience with a curious king named, Agrippa. Paul is given complete freedom to speak whatever he wants to Agrippa so he uses his conversion story as a springboard for presenting the Gospel. This version also includes some minor additions to the story which we will review as well.

This is a fun lesson which I use often to help people see the Biblical Plan of Salvation. So, not only are we studying this out together, I wanted to show you how to lead this lesson in the hope you might use it and find it effective. I always begin by saying, “Let’s play a little game!”

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047 – Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch

Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Baptism.
Baptism of the Eunuch – Rembrandt – Circa 1626

Simon the Sorcerer stands as a classic example of a person who fails to truly convert because of the unrepentant pride and arrogance in his heart. Immediately after we witness the washout of Simon, we discover the determination of the Ethiopian Eunuch. God serves up a picture perfect example of how a humble, hungry heart accepts the word of God and obeys it. These two conversion stories stand in immediate succession and in stark contrast. Here’s what happened.

After Philip the Deacon finishes his work in Samaria he is called by an Angel of the Lord and told to head south and find a road which winds through the desert connecting Jerusalem to Gaza. This was a pretty good distance from where he had been working but off he goes in obedience to the angel’s command.

Acts 8:26-31
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Why Such Great Detail about One Man?

Why do we have so much detail about who this man was, where he was from and what he was doing? For some reason, God thought it important to make sure these tidbits of information made it into the Bible.

Sometimes, I think we read a passage of Scripture, like this one, and skim over it far too quickly. When we don’t spend some time contemplating the details, the story becomes fixed or wooden. Ask some questions and the scripture comes alive!

Did you notice that the man was not going to Jerusalem, he was leaving? He had been to Jerusalem to worship. Does this mean he is a Jew? Not necessarily! Why did he go? Was it a Passover or some other special feast? Is he alone? Would that be safe? Philip is invited to sit with him. Did you know a chariot had seats? I didn’t. What was the day like? Was it hot? Was it cold? What is the attitude of this man? He is quite powerful. Why would he have a complete stranger join him in his chariot? He must have been impressed with Philip’s knowledge of word of God. He seems to be pretty humble.

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