We started Acts 14 last night in youth group and didn’t get through the whole chapter. So, here are some observations on something we started to talk about and will continue next week.
Acts 14 gives us some practical advice on what to do with new Christians. Paul and Barnabas, on their first missionary journey to the region of Galatia won (with the help of God of course!) many converts to Christianity. But, they also encountered resistance in these cities. I’m talking about resistance that led to Paul being dragged out of one city and stoned (v.19). However, despite impending trouble, Paul and Barnabas made trips back to these very cities to disciple new believers (v.21-22).
So, what does the Paul and Barnabas model of discipleship look like?
1. They strengthened and encouraged the disciples to remain true to the faith, Acts 14:21-22. What all does this involve? Looking at Paul’s sermons one could guess he elaborated on Jesus. Maybe focusing on who He was (God’s Son, God, Savior), why He came and had to die (forgiveness of sins and salvation to all who believe, even Gentiles), His resurrection (what that personally meant to Paul since he encountered the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, what that meant for the Gentiles, and how that is the driving force behind Christianity). I’m sure Paul and Barnabas nailed all the corners down on the basics of Christianity.
2. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust, Acts 14:23-24. It wasn’t enough to just have new Christians. Paul and Barnabas needed leaders to lead this new congregation. Paul may have charged these leaders with the task of preaching and teaching God’s truth. Whatever it was the fact remains that leaders were appointed. And it seems this was no light task because prayer and fasting were involved. So, we have in the Paul and Barnabas model of discipleship two key components:
1. Strengthening and encouraging disciples to remain true to the faith. (Teaching correct doctrine and beliefs about Christianity.)
2. Appointing elders. (Passing leadership on to someone else in the Church.)