Thought for the day: How important is the Bible to me?
Acts 11:26 says: “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Selwyn Hughes connects the first and second half of this verse in an interesting way. He writes:
“This text in Acts 11:26 tells us that, seeing the great need of these new disciples at Antioch, ‘Barnabas and Saul taught great numbers of people’ in Antioch. Now, as then, new Christians need teaching in the great truths of the Gospel and in practical Christ-like living. It is not enough for large numbers to come to Christ; they need to be taught. Now, as then, new converts need to be ‘detoxiﬁed’ from their pagan ways of thinking and behaving. Converts learnt to demonstrate over time how they were learning to live and behave like Jesus. The Early Church brought about this spiritual detoxiﬁcation by ‘catechesis’ – a process of discipling new converts that could take up to two years. Only when they had been fully instructed were they baptised and admitted to the Lord’s Table. This was not legalism but reflected the Church’s determination to ensure, as far as possible, that newcomers were converts in fact and not just word. It was not enough to profess faith in Christ; converts had to show over a period of time that they were learning to live and behave like Jesus. Decisions were not enough; making disciples was what mattered. So Barnabas and Saul taught the believers in Antioch for a whole year. What a wonderful experience that must have been, to be taught personally by these great men. These were not just Bible studies for the curious. The teaching of Barnabas and Saul was intended to shape the hearers’ lives.
Eventually, when those inside the Church had grown to live like Jesus, to act and react in Christ-like ways, then those outside the Church, perhaps rather mockingly, or possibly affectionately, started to call them ‘the Christianos’ – the Christ people!”
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