If you want to find out what mattered most to someone, read his last words. Usually, whatever a person considers to be most important is on his mind when he comes to his last days on earth. That’s why we pay so much attention to last words, especially of people who are important to us.
As those who seek to be obedient followers of Jesus Christ, we need to know what matters most to Him so it can matter most to us. Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder about it. After His resurrection from the dead and just before His ascension back into heaven, Jesus told His disciples—and us—what was uppermost on His mind. His last words on earth are recorded for us in Matthew 28:18-20.
Notice verse 19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” There it is—stated in clear and concise terms: We are to disciple the people of God (in the church age through the local church) so that they affect the world for Christ. If Christ’s mandate for the church is to make disciples, then His will for us as individual believers is that we would become disciples through the process of personal spiritual growth.
To grow spiritually as a disciple of Christ means that we become like Him. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 10:25, “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher.” So becoming a disciple is where we ought to be heading in our Christian lives.
Let me clarify something. Being a disciple is a lot different than just going to church once or twice a week. Getting excited because the preacher moved you and the choir inspired you is nice, but that’s not spiritual growth.
The goal and the cornerstone of our activity—that which brings God the most glory—is for us to become disciples. God’s goal is not salvation; that is just the introduction to God’s goal. His desire is that those who are saved become disciples.
It is not enough simply to say, “I’m on my way to heaven.” The issue is, are you becoming like the One who is taking you to heaven? That’s discipleship, and that’s what Christ wants from us.
Discipleship is that developmental process that progressively brings Christians from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity so that they are then able to reproduce the process with someone else. The singular, overarching goal of a disciple is to bring all of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and then help someone else to do the same.
Notice that this brings discipleship around full circle. Disciples are to turn around and make other disciples. Ultimately, that’s how we fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission.