THE FORGOTTEN COMMISSION
The great commission of Matthew 28:19,20 is not the single instruction to make
disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit. Examination of the structure of the passage reveals that making
disciples involves two activities: baptizing and teaching. The
structure makes baptizing and teaching parallel responsibilities; baptizing is
not the principal responsibility with teaching secondary. Those who were
baptized were to be taught to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.
The baptized were to be as fully instructed in the complete teachings of Jesus
as had been the apostles.
Jesus' objective in teaching was never merely to make one knowledgeable. He taught to change mind, heart, and life. The objective of the great commission was not mere conversion to Christ, but transformation of life in Christ.
The baptized are to be nurtured by teaching which promotes spiritual development and maturing. Jesus' forgotten commission is the commission to edify the baptized believer. Jesus' spiritual objectives in a person's life are as certainly dependent on edification as they are on baptism.
Much is said about worldly Christians, uncommitted Christians, and Christians of little faith. Unquestionably, worldliness, lack of commitment, and lack of faith are serious problems in the church. However, too frequently these problems exist because of a congregation's failure to fulfill the second commission. A congregation devoting the majority of its Sundays to preaching and teaching first principles for unconverted sinners (few of whom are in attendance) and devoting much of its adult class time to discussions of denominational errors in doctrine is not edifying the saved.
Unquestionably, Christians need a firm grasp of first principles. Unquestionably, the person living in sin needs to understand how Christ can save him or her. Unquestionably, Christians need to understand the error of unbiblical doctrines. However, such instruction does not constitute the necessary spiritual diet for generating personal spiritual development and for maturing in the faith.
Once a country seeking to repopulate after a devastating plague, urged its people to marry and have large families. In every quarter of society, the importance of marriage and large families for preserving the nation was given great emphasis-Čit was every citizen's patriotic duty!
However, no preparation was made for a baby boom.
Adults were given no training on the proper care of newborns. Parental ignorance and unintentional neglect resulted in a catastrophic infant mortality rate. Most surviving children were sick and malnourished.
Each year that the birth rate rose, the government celebrated and urged its citizens to have more children to compensate for the high infant mortality rate. Each year that the birth rate fell, vigorous campaigns were conducted to challenge the nation to improve the birth rate.
No one understood why so many babies died. In time, discouraged adults, weary of dying children, made no effort to have any family.
Once the restoration church, devastated by grievous spiritual diseases, urged its members to convert more people to preserve the future of the church ....