Read Acts 9:26-31
This story follows Paul’s dramatic salvation on the road to Damascus. Before his conversion, he was a violent persecutor of Christians and an angry and prideful man. Many in the church in Jerusalem were questioning whether Paul had truly experienced a transformation by sovereign grace.
God used Barnabas—the Son of Encouragement—to welcome Paul into the life of the church. Paul needed encouragement and training and mentoring. Barnabas could have totally disregarded Paul as a hopeless cause and not have invested in him. How things would have been different in Acts if this happened. Yet, Barnabas was obedient to the call to make disciples and encourage and practiced the “one another’s” and sought to reproduce leaders.
Notice what happens in a church when there is disciple-making, encouragement, and training of new leaders? We see the answer in verse 31.
The church was being built up. It was being strengthened and it was marked by holiness and worship and the power and presence of the Holy Sprit and numerical growth. It experienced the blessing and favor of the Lord.
Do you see how it all flows together? When we have a context or an environment where everyone connected to Emmanuel can know and obey the Word of God, and then in turn consistently practice the gospel “one another’s” and then be encouraged to live out their faith as a missionary, then more and more disciples are being trained to be leaders who in turn train more and more disciples to be leaders and who in turn train more and more disciples to become leaders.
Again the best context for this to happen is in a disciple-making small group where you can share life with other believers who can hold you accountable, pray for you, love and encourage you, challenge you, and strengthen you.
Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Paul charges Timothy to entrust faithful men who would in turn teach others to become passionate followers of Jesus. Do you see four generations in this disciple-making process?
Where does it start? With Paul. And then it flows to Timothy and then it flows to faithful men and then it flows to others and eventually the gospel has come down to us because someone taught us the truth of God’s Word.
What we need in Emmanuel is faithful people who can be entrusted with the truth of God’s Word to teach, train, equip, and encourage others in their journey to look more like Jesus.
The disciple-making process never ends. Disciples are always being trained to make new disciples who in turn make new disciples.
But never forget the source or motivation for disciple-making in the life of the church. Look closely at verse 1.
We are strengthened in God’s grace through Jesus Christ. It all comes again from our identity in Jesus and what He has done for us and through us. We are chosen, loved, accepted in the Father. We are purchased, forgiven, and righteous in the Son. We are indwelt, empowered, and sanctified by the Spirit.
God’s grace has made us new creations in Christ and we have a new identity and a new source of strength to obey Him—grace!!
How we desperately need the gospel of grace to fulfill this vision of a gospel-centered culture where every single person connected to Emmanuel is being conformed to the image of Christ through an intentional disciple-making process.
Are you ready for it!! Have you caught the vision? Are you a faithful disciple who can be entrusted with the truth of God’s Word to train and equip others who in turn can train and equip others?
Father in heaven,
Thank you that a faithful believer shared the gospel with me and taught me Your Word. I’m thankful for the Barnabas’s you’ve put in my life who have mentored me and challenged me and encouraged me. May I be a Barnabas to others. Lord I want to continue to live in your grace and be joyful in my identity! I am ready for whatever You have ordained to come next for me in my life! I submit to Your Lordship and want to be a part of a church that takes seriously an intentional disciple-making process!
In Jesus’ name,