Starting Gospel Movements on Campus: Obedience

by Paul on November 19, 2009

The other day, a gentleman attending one of my classes shared his experience doing a Three Column Study on Matthew 28:16-20:

As I wrote the passage in my own words, I realized that I wrote, ‘teach them all things.’  What the passage really said, though, was ‘teach them to obey all things.’ There is a big difference between teaching people all things and teaching them to obey all things. We’ve been teaching them all things from the pulpit for years.  The problem with our churches is that we haven’t taught people to obey all things.

When I heard what he said, I felt like doing cartwheels.  The Lord, through His Spirit and His Word, showed him a critical element of Gospel Movements.

Teach obedience.

Every time we read and study the Bible we face a choice.  We can obey God’s Word and walk in the blessing and fruit of obedience. Or, we can disobey His Word and walk under the curse and consequences of disobedience.

You can build an expectation of obedience even as you study the Bible with lost people.  In our Discovery Bible Studies we ask, “If you believe this is from God, what would you have to change in your life?”  Consequently, just because we ask the question, lost people get used to reading God’s Word and understanding that there is an expectation for change.  When they become followers of Christ, the question is, “Since you know this is from God, what are you going to change in your life?”  Obedience doesn’t come as a shock to our new believers.

Obedience is a deliberate decision, it doesn’t just happen.  Teaching people to obey is an equally deliberate decision.

Obedience is not legalism.

I’ve taught this long enough to know that some of you are probably screaming, “That’s legalism!” as you make plans to virtually burn me in effigy and revoke my grace card.  Let me assure you, obedience and legalism are not the same.  Expecting people to obey God’s Word if they chose to follow Him is not legalism.

Salvation is not based on works.  Works-based salvation is legalistic.  Salvation is a gift that we can never earn or deserve.  That is what grace is.

Obedience is our response to God’s grace and love for us.  Obedience and love are so intertwined in God’s eyes that He says,

15“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c]in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (

We are required to teach obedience.  Look at Matthew 28:16-20:

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Emphasis mine.

Why would God command us to do something that would cheapen grace?

You cannot buy salvation with works.  You cannot separate love for God from obeying His commands, either.

Obedience is controversial.

I talked about obedience and our willingness to die because our love for Christ (as an act of obedience) on a panel at a Christian University.  A professor from the communications department noted,

“You’re using old terms to describe your faith – obedience, and being willing to die.  The much older gentleman next to you is using young terms like hope and social transformation to describe his faith.  His terms are more appealing to a younger generation – my students.  Do you feel your message and the way you are talking about it is relevant?”

Love, hope, and social transformation are wonderful things.  I believe, however, that true love, enduring hope, and last total social transformation are the products of hearts so full of love for Christ that they cannot keep from obeying all of His commands.

We may not like the word, obedience, but there is no doubt that we eagerly desire its fruit.  Isaiah 58 talks about true obedience and its result:

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.  (

Creating a generation of hypocrites

If we do not make disciples and teach them to obey all Christ’s commands, we disobey the Great Commission and will produce a generation of hypocritical and anemic Christians.  If we do not teach them to read and obey God’s Word, we will be like the Pharisees Jesus condemns in Matthew 23:15:

15“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

If you want to see movements on campus, you must create a DNA of obedience from the first Discovery Bible Study.  Don’t let obedience be an afterthought.

What does this have to do with technology?  Everything.  It does not matter how well we use technology, if we do not teach obedience to God’s Word, all the Twitters, Facebooks, Plurks, and MySpaces are in vain.

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Twitted by johnkking
November 19, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Using Small Groups to Disciple People to Christ
July 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

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