Discipleship; August 24, 2018

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

This completes the account of Paul and Barnabas’ first major stop on the mainland after leaving Cyprus. John Mark had left them once they hit the coast, (Acts 14:13) so it was just the two of them. Luke records their ministry in some detail, because it was to be typical of how they operated throughout their missionary journeys. The content of their preaching and the response to it is very interesting to read, but this verse records the result of it all. You actually could say this should be the goal of every evangelistic campaign, because it is the evidence that people’s conversion was real. It’s not that someone necessarily isn’t a real Christian if they aren’t “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit,” but such a situation removes all doubt. It’s also significant that the converts are specifically called disciples. Today we tend to treat “discipleship” as a step above and beyond conversion, but the Bible knows no such distinction. It has rightly been said that the weakest part of the Church today is making disciples. In America we go so far as to separate making Jesus your Savior from making Him your Lord. The Bible says, if He’s not your Lord, He’s not your Savior! (Romans 10:9) I think it’s a blessing that recent years have brought opposition to Christianity to America, because too many people are social Christians, with little if any personal conviction and commitment. It is when proclaiming Christ costs you something that you realize how valuable it is to belong to Him.

In the home in which I was raised, it would have been much more difficult to deny Christ than to claim Him! For a home environment that’s not at all bad, but I didn’t particularly “make waves” outside the home, not “pushing my faith” on anyone. It wasn’t until I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, as the married father of two, that I first spoke to a total stranger about Jesus. Ben Wong, and I’m sure many others in the House Church movement, stresses that Jesus didn’t tell us to make converts, but to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) As long as I am content to get someone to say the right words and get baptized, I’m not fulfilling the Great Commission even if I am a missionary in Japan. As has come out in the Coaching seminars I’ve attended, with Ben Wong and others, the first question becomes my own discipleship. If I am a genuine disciple, I will make more disciples for Christ, and that must be my goal.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the message You’ve given me for Sunday, on Growth. I pray that each believer, indeed, everyone who hears the message by any means, would be convicted by Your holy Spirit and drawn into genuine discipleship, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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