Summary: WRAPPING UP A MEMORABLE TRIP (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
Reading: Acts chapter 14 verses 21- 28:
A Quick Review
• The two missionaries (Paul & Barnabus) had been away from home for months.
• They had journeyed from Antioch of Syria to Derbe which is in modern day Turkey.
• During this first missionary journey;
• Paul & Barnabus had faced allsorts of opposition and illness.
• e.g. John Mark who was with them went AWOL, in other words he abandoned the mission.
• And became the very first returnee missionary!
• e.g. And in Lystra; they were worshiped as gods;
• But then the crowd turned and Paul was stoned and left for dead.
So verse 21 is an insightful verse:
• There they "preached the gospel" and "made many disciples".
• You might expect them to stay where God was obviously blessing them.
• But they decide to return to Antioch of Syria.
• Via all the places that they had evangelised on the way.
• They could have taken the easy safe option (staying where they were);
• Or even taking a different, safer route home.
I believe they backtracked through the cities they had just evangelised:
• Because they knew that they had only done part of what God had called them to do.
• Visiting the newly established churches along the way.
Quote: My job description:
• (1). To bring folks to Jesus.
• (2). To bring them closer!
• That is the message of the great commission;
• We are called to make disciples, not just win a convert.
• In our ministry, we spend a lot of time disciplining believers;
• As well as evangelising people.
So in verse 21b Paul and Barnabas gather their courage:
• And it would take great courage to go back to communities;
• Where their lives had been put in danger and opposition was waiting for them.
• To go back could be was like re-entering the lion’s den.
• But for the sake of the new Churches that had been founded, they were willing to face that danger!
• As they travel and teach, they have a five-step plan for building up the new Christians;
• A plan we can still follow in our homes and churches today.
(1). They Strengthened the new Christians
22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.”
• A group of tourists were visiting a picturesque village;
• They walked by an old man sitting beside a fence.
• In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked,
• "Were any great men born in this village?"
• The old man replied, "Nope, only babies."
• A frothy question brought a profound answer.
Paul and Barnabus return to these Churches because they are full of new born babies!
• If they are to grow into great men and women of God;
• They will need to be strengthened in their faith!
• Remember that these new Christians had no conferences or Bible schools to attend.
• No Christian bookshops where they could purchase good helpful books.
• No DVD’s, C.D.’s or tapes (or records Mike!);
• Don’t forget that there wasn't even a New Testament to read!
Paul and Barnabus knew that they needed to feed and strengthen these Christians:
• This word translated into English as ‘Strengthening’,
• Is a word rarely used in the New Testament,
• It has been defined as "to make more firm, to give additional strength"
• We might say "to beef up"-to add strength to what is already present.
• These new Christians have only had appetizers of truth for their nourishment;
• They now need a full-course meal to put meat on their spiritual bones.
• So Paul and Barnabas devote themselves to teaching them.
• In the New Testament we build up when we are taught the ‘Word of God’.
• Life is a matter of building.
• Each of us has the opportunity to build something;
• A secure family, a good reputation, a career,
• A relationship to God.
• But some of those things can disappear almost overnight due to financial losses,
• Natural disasters and other unforeseen difficulties.
• What are we to do?
• Daniel Webster offered excellent advice, saying,
• "If we work on marble it will perish.
• If we work on brass, time will efface it.
• If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust.
• But if we work on men's immortal minds,
• If we imbue them with high principles,
• With just fear of God and love of their fellow-men,
• We engrave on those tablets something which time cannot efface,
• And which will brighten and brighten to all eternity”.
Consistent, biblical teaching and preaching:
• It gives substance to our faith.