Yesterday, we saw the monumental emphasis that the Lord Jesus placed on the necessity of disciple making both on an individual and corporate basis. We saw that being discipled was essential to our spiritual formation and being a disciple maker is essential in our obedience to Christ and His Great Commission. I pray that you’ve been struck with a passion for discipleship!
Today, we’ll focus on what has become our case study, The Church At Antioch….and it’s disciple making ministry.
When considering the great fruit that Antioch enjoyed, recall it’s beginning. Antioch was planted almost entirely through conversion. Again, Antioch was a city of religious pluralism, to say the least, and there was not an established Gospel witness there until a few anonymous itinerant evangelist made their way into the city and spread the good news of Christ, seeing many saved. As the church continued to expand, the only experienced, mature believers were the evangelist that planted it.
Then comes Barnabas, sent to Antioch by the Jerusalem Church, to check out what was happening and report back to them. As Barnabas arrived and surveyed the situation, he “encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24) and as he witnessed a ton of new, immature converts, he developed a strategy to bring the Church to maturity….discipleship.
In order to accomplish this, Barnabas departed to Tarsus to find a partner to help him
“went to Tarsus (about 85 miles away) to search for Paul, and when he found him, he brought him back to Antioch” (Acts 11:25-26)
We later learn that they taught the new believers there for “a whole year” with the goal of disciple making. While the curriculum they used isnt made clear in Scripture, we do know that the believers in Antioch were soon called “Christians” so it’s pretty evident that the foundation of their teaching was Christ! Aside from their own teaching, they brought in Agubus, Judas and Silas to proclaim the Scriptures that (my fav Bible verse…) “encouraged the brothers and strengthened them with a long message” (Acts 15:32).
Were the disciple making efforts of Paul and Barnabus fruitful?
Was there life transformation among the Christians at Antioch? Did discipleship efforts set the stage for Gospel expansion?The evidence that follows says YES! We’ll examine that tomorrow.
I Love You All and Soli Deo Gloria!- Pastor