“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded [told] you.” Matthew 28:19 (CEB).
These instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples are often called the “Great Commission” and it is the main purpose and goal that Jesus had for the disciples. In His endless love and wisdom, He wants as many people as possible to come to a life of joy and peace with God. (2 Peter 3:9.)
Unfortunately, the devil really tries to make people go the other way. And sometimes, despite your best efforts, when you try to convert people to Christ, it just pushes them farther away.
Work out your own salvation
Paul writes clearly that the way to save other people is to look at yourself. “Take heed [pay close attention] to yourself and to the doctrine [gospel]. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16.
Maybe this doesn’t sound right, but it is actually wisdom. Paul knew that nobody would be fooled by a so-called “Christian” trying to preach a life that he himself wasn’t living. So, the way to make disciples is to live the life of a disciple yourself.
The whole Great Commission can be carried out by following Paul’s simple exhortation. He does not write that you should pay close attention to yourself and the gospel and then after a while you can go and save those who hear you. No, it is by paying close attention to yourself that you can lead others to Christ.
In other words, Paul is saying that if you want to help people to be saved, you have to pay attention to what God is telling you to do in your own life. He will do the rest. He will show you when to speak and what to say and how to say it.
An attractive life
If you read earlier in 1 Timothy 4 you can see a few of the things Paul meant by “take heed to yourself and the doctrine”.
“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity. Until I come, give your time and effort to the public reading of the Scriptures and to preaching and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift that is in you, which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all. ” 1 Timothy 4:12-15 (GNT).
Be an example in love. In purity. In faith. In behaviour. Read the doctrine, that which is written in the Bible. Pay attention to the exhortations you get. In short, do God’s will in your life. God’s will is that you become free from sin and live a life that is holy, pure, and blameless.
And then you will be like Paul who writes, “My teaching and preaching were not with words of human wisdom that persuade people but with proof of the power that the Spirit gives.” 1 Corinthians 2:4 (NCV). When you walk on this way, then God will give you power when you speak. Then your words won’t just sound convincing. Your words will have the content, power, and wisdom of a faithful life. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 (NIV).
If you live a life like this, you become the “Bible” on two feet that people around you can “read”. But if they can’t see that you are becoming free from sin, that you are becoming full of joy, peace, humility, kindness, patience, and blessings, then why should they want to be a Christian?
God works in us
It is written that “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. And since we know that God’s good pleasure is that as many as possible are saved, then we know that God will work in us so that the goal will be reached.
When you are one hundred percent obedient to everything that God puts on your heart to do, and you are living a life that is pure, blameless and holy, then He will also be able to use you in order to save those around you and bring them to Christ.
It also says that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” John 6:44. Nobody who has ever been converted to Christ has ever been converted by another person. It is God who draws them to Himself. But you can be a co-worker of God and a tool that He can use to bring people to Him.
God wants people to be saved. And when you want what God wants, then He will use you to help reach this goal. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense, the way to this is by looking at yourself and asking, “God, what do you want me to do with my life? What sin can I cleanse out in my life? What new areas of pride and hypocrisy are there to get rid of? How can I better show the life of Christ in me?”
And when that pure white light is shining from you, when the things you say and do are like the things Christ Himself would say and do, when there is a deep peace, joy, and purity radiating from you, then others will notice. Then God will really be able to use you.
Then you will be able to lead people to Christ.