Tokyo Declaration makes clear what the message is that we are to proclaim as we encounter lost mankind alienated from God. That was the topic of Part 1 in our revisit to the Declaration. But Jesus did not leave us clueless as to how we are to proclaim that message. He left us with a goal coupled with a three-step methodology that is to be followed in reaching that goal.
These key points are found in Jesus' commission recorded in Matthew 28:19. Without getting technical, there are four verbs in this passage, and the main one, which is also an imperative, is "make disciples." The centerpiece of Jesus' command is the making of disciples. That is why the vision statement of the Global Great Commission Network states, "
Our vision is to see every people group reached and in the process of being discipled in our generation." Making disciples is the focus of our endeavors. The other three verbs give the three essentials to follow that comprise the making of disciples. They can be summarized with the words "penetration," "consolidation," and "transformation."
The first step in making disciples is to go to where there are people who are not Christ followers. This is the "reaching out" aspect of making disciples. Placed first in the sentence it shows it is the first step. The verb can readily be translated "as you go," indicating concomitant circumstance. This is a reminder that in every experience of life, all believers should be sensitive to the presence of others around them who are in need of the gospel. But most importantly it shows the duty of believers to take the gospel from where it is known and believed to where it is not known or believed.
Consolidation "Baptizing them"
Baptism is the "bringing in" aspect of making disciples. Jesus didn't mean to use baptism as a magical rite that automatically brings people into relationship with Him without a change of heart. Sadly, it has deteriorated into such in some church traditions. Rather baptism is the culmination of the repent-believe-baptize experience of salvation.
This public symbol of initiation is very meaningful. It is a picture of beginning a new life in Christ and of allegiance to him, consolidating the believer into His church. The ordinance is a powerful outward expression of a new identity and a changed life within.
Transformation "Teaching them"
The making of a disciple does not stop with the initiation experience. There is an educational process that follows intended to keep that new follower learning and growing in his or her new faith. This is the "changing over" aspect of making disciples. Some today would equate this with spiritual formation. Whatever the label, the important thing is that there is an on-going growth experience. A new believer's worldview must be changed; his lifestyle adjusted to increasingly conform to the image of Christ; and his ethical conduct increasingly marked by integrity. When transformation is apparent in these areas, that believer in turn is in a position to teach others also and thus duplicate the process.
Teaching has a final goal - obedience. New believers are taught with the goal that they become obedient followers of all Christ commanded. Among other things that Jesus taught, they are to live out the great commandment (Mat. 22:37-40) and show great compassion (Mat. 9:36). It takes growth experiences in community with other believers for these to be most effective.
Jesus makes clear what our goal should be and also our methodology. The Tokyo Declaration bears these out.