As we look through the book of Acts, we’re going to see Spirit-empowered disciples making a difference in their world and helping to spread the good news of Jesus like wildfire to the ends of the earth. It’s important to note that the fruitfulness and growth of the early church were under challenging circumstances. At the time, Christians were thought of as crazy and even blasphemous. Early believers experienced tremendous persecution because of their faith in Christ. The Jews wanted Christianity eradicated because they saw it as a blasphemous threat to their religion while the Romans saw the Christians as an uprising which spoke of a King and His Kingdom, thus they too wanted Christianity squashed and yet, Christianity flourished! Before we dig into the book of Acts and see how the early believers lived out their faith it is beneficial to consider what beliefs they approached life with. We know that they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and lived out their faith supernaturally, but it’s also true that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7) and so what beliefs did they had that acted as a foundation for the way in which they lived?
Today’s study aims to help you dig deeper into some of the truths that shaped the way that early Christians viewed themselves.
- Matthew 28:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Part of Jesus’ instructions here is for us to “go and make disciples of all nations…” Making disciples is much more than teaching as many people see teaching. Making disciples is not so much about a transferal of information as it is about an instruction, equipping and empowering to live out what you learn. A believer is someone who believes but a disciple is a believer who is contagious; what they have received, they will try to pass on to those around them.
- Who do these instructions of Jesus apply to?
- A lot of Christians have their ticket to heaven (fire insurance) and until then they’re going to church. While the church is important, we are called to go and make disciples of all nations, not just become church attendees. How can you become more of a disciple and follower of Christ?
- Ephesians 4:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
A “saint” refers to a believer. It’s not referring to a special man or woman who did something special and obtains a special title. The bible calls the believer a saint – someone who is set apart for God and holy.
- What is the purpose of leadership in the body of Christ (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher)?
- Who is called to do the ministry?
- Matthew 5:13-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
- What stands out for you in this verse?
- What does Jesus say about your identity in this passage?
- What does it mean to be salt and light?
- 2 Corinthians 5:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
- What does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ?
- As ambassadors of Christ, what is our duty?
As believers in Christ, we are called to be disciples and make disciples in all the world! Leadership’s purpose is to equip all believers for the work of the ministry (of making disciples in all nations – this includes evangelism). We are Christ’s representatives in the world, acting on His behalf allowing God to plead through us towards the world that all men should be reconciled to God; receive salvation and enter into a relationship with the Father. We are the Lord’s agents of change in the earth! We are salt and light for Him wherever we are and wherever we go. We are called to make a difference in the world for Jesus!
1.a. All believers. 1.b Personal answer. 2.a. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry. 2.b. The saints. 3.a. Personal answer. 3.b. That we are salt and light. 3.c. That we influence the world; we are agents of change. 3.a Could mean many things, but it definitely means that you represent Christ and act on His behalf as His representative. 3.b. To allow God to plead through us that men and women be reconciled to God.