More than ever before, time is at hand for professed Christians around the globe to rethink the importance of discipleship to accomplish their God-given task of gathering and preparing a church for Jesus’ Second Coming. The inexorable task of the ministry of making disciples is at the heart of the gospel proclamation. The two parallel passages of Matthew point to the necessity of the global proclamation of the gospel (Matthew 24:14) and the ministry of making disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20). Both passages visualize the context of the second coming, originally expressed in Greek as “Parousia.” This word necessitates the literal and visible presence of God to be interpreted or reinterpreted in the historical reality of Jesus Christ—the Son of God who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1-3, 14, NIV).
Matthew 24:14 informs us that Jesus’ Second Coming is conditional to the proclamation of the gospel; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, NIV). The task of the church today is not to leave behind any inhabitable place on earth specified in the original Greek as village, town, metropolis, and every ethnicity. Preaching of this “gospel” is aimed to restore sinners (we are all) into the image and likeness of the Creator. Jesus did not specify in Matthew 24:14 who would do the “proclamation,” but the New Testament illustrates that the people of God (the church) are entrusted to occupy the frontlines of this proclamation. The work of the disciples and the early church echoes the obvious truth as to how seriously they took Jesus’ gospel mandate (Matthew 28:19, 20) to heart. With discipleship as the core, phenomenal growth came about in the early church. Could it be a colossal reason - the lack of understanding and strategical involvement in prioritizing disciple making, that the modern Christian Church declines? Should we not honestly think of implementing discipleship in our churches?
Matthew 24:14 illustrates the ministry of the church while Matthew 24:19, 20 teaches the dynamics of disciple making. A believer who accepts Jesus becomes a member of the church but not necessarily a disciple of Christ. For a member to become a disciple, a believer should identify God-given gifts and utilize them to proclaim the gospel. For this reason the apostle Paul urges pastors to help equip members (Ephesians 4:12). Equipping and making disciples incorporates baptizing (baptizontes ) and teaching (didaskontes). Didaskontes in Greek entails not only imparting information but also the commencement of transformation. Therefore, by instructing, mentor-ing, and modeling to be like Jesus, a baptized believer is empowered to become a disciple. Without focused teaching, discipleship takes no effect in the believer’s life. Should the church, therefore not take seriously this profound truth of disciple making specified in the gospel commission? Can we all do something to lead at least one person to Jesus in a year? “Each One Reach One”is the theme of the year for evangelism!
Perhaps the ministry can be done by the resourceful people and experts while the discipleship can best bed one in local churches. When the gospel is proclaimed in various ways, people who respond will be assimilated into the church. The primary purpose of the church is to enable non-believers to become believers, and the believers to become disciples. God ordained this dynamic to take place in the church before His eminent soon coming. Therefore, pastors and elders (equippers) ought to make every effort to contact non-believers to offer Bible studies and to connect them into a Bible study group (for new believers and church members) in the church. Bible studies and mentoring produce tenable and effectual disciples. God ordained the Seventh-day Adventist Church at such a time as this to be intentional in making disciples to prepare and present the church to Him at Jesus’ Second Coming!