- Life on Mission
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Devotion provided by David Platt
Ordinary people preaching, praying, giving, and suffering for the spread of the gospel.
This is the picture of the early church we see on the pages of the New Testament. A small band of 12 men responded to Jesus’ life-changing invitation: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). In the days to come, they watched Jesus, listened to Him, and learned from Him how to love, teach, and serve others the same way He did. Then came the moment when they saw Him die on a cross for their sins, only to rise from the dead three days later. Soon He gathered them on a mountainside and issued this call:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
Just as Jesus had said from the beginning, these followers would now become fishers of men. His authoritative commission would become their consuming ambition.
Later Jesus’ disciples gathered with a small group of other Christ followers, about 120 in all, and they waited. True to His promise, Jesus sent His Spirit to every one of them, and immediately they began proclaiming the gospel. In the days to come, they scattered from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8), and within one generation they grew to over four hundred times the size they were when they started. How did this happen?
The spread of the gospel in the Book of Acts took place primarily because ordinary people, empowered by an extraordinary presence, proclaimed the gospel everywhere they went. To be sure, God appointed well-known apostles like Peter, John, and Paul for certain positions of leadership in the church. Yet it was anonymous Christians who first took the gospel to Judea and Samaria, and it was unnamed believers who founded the church in Antioch, which became a base for the mission to the Gentile world. It was unidentified followers of Jesus who spread the gospel throughout all of Asia. Disciples were made and churches were multiplied in places the apostles never went. The good news of Jesus spread not just through gifted preachers but through everyday people whose lives had been transformed by the power of Christ. They went from house to house and to marketplaces and shops along streets and travel routes, leading people to faith in Jesus on a daily basis.
This is how the gospel penetrated the world during the first century: through self-denying, Spirit-empowered disciples of Jesus who were making disciples of Jesus. Followers of Jesus were fishing for men. Disciples were making disciples. Christians weren’t known for casual association with Christ and His church; instead, they were known for complete abandonment to Christ and His cause. The Great Commission wasn’t a choice for them to consider but a command for them to obey. And though they faced untold trials and unthinkable persecution, they experienced unimaginable joy as they joined Jesus to advance His kingdom.
I want to be part of a movement like that. I want to be part of a people who really believe we have the Spirit of God in each of us for the spread of the gospel through all of us. I want to be part of a people who gladly sacrifice the pleasures, pursuits, and possessions of this world because we’re living for treasure in the world to come. I want to be part of a people who forsake every earthly ambition in favor of one eternal aspiration: to see disciples made and churches multiplied from our houses to our communities to our cities to the nations.
This kind of movement involves all of us. Every follower of Christ fishing for men. Every disciple making disciples. Ordinary people spreading the gospel in extraordinary ways all over the world. Men and women from diverse backgrounds with different gifts and distinct platforms making disciples and multiplying churches through every domain of society in every place on the planet. This is God’s design for His church, and disciples of Jesus mustn’t settle for anything less.