Acts 18:23 - 19:10 How to be and make disciples What is the least “religious” country? I’m not talking evangelical Christian, just “religious” as a whole. China. (Communism). This may not surprise you, but if you pull up a list of the top 10 least religious countries, the others might. 6 out of those 10 are European countries. The same is true for other studies, such as “how important is religion in your daily life” and “how often do you attend church services.” Some of the countries with the least amount of evangelical Christian presence, based on the number of churches in those countries, are not in Africa, but in Europe! Why? Europe is in a state of post-Christianity. (Engrained in government for so long that it has become the tradition of the parents.) (Max example, no meaning to life.) This is also the path that America is taking. Those who identify as “Christian” have gone down 12 percentage points in the last 10 years, down to 65%. Only about 25% of our population is considered “evangelical christian.” All of these statistics lead us to an important reality - our society is changing the way it views Christianity. For so long, Christianity was deeply ingrained into the structure of western culture. Our society has rebelled against the tradition and legalism. In this age of “Post-Christianity,” how do we respond? We can no longer rely on the structure of the church to preach the Gospel and save people. We must do so ourselves. This reality can seem daunting and hopeless. However, it’s not! This is exactly how Christ meant for the Gospel to be spread. When He said “go and make disciples” He wasn’t talking to the Church - He was talking to His followers. You and I. A Family of Servant Missionaries Learning to be and make Disciples How do we do this? We can learn from the next section of Acts. Acts 18:23 - 19:10 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. This was pretty much Paul’s modus operandi. Throughout His life, he coordinated massive, multi-year missionary trips that were designed to preach the Gospel, plant Churches, and encourage the believers. We’ve already talked about his methodology regarding preaching and planting - this week, we’re going to focus on disciple-making. Disciples strengthen each other This is the same word used to describe how the angel from Heaven came to the Garden of Gethsemane and strengthened Jesus during his fervent prayer before He was crucified. It signifies coming alongside somebody in a deep way. It means to “support, reestablish, confirm.” Notice how Paul isn’t strengthening churches here - He’s strengthening the disciples themselves. Why? Because the strength of a church is based on the strength of its members. Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. How do we use Sunday morning to do this? How do we use our Gospel Communities to do this? Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,[d] he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. Apollos is somebody who we see periodically in the New Testament. Well educated, powerful speaker from Alexandria. He was a strong disciple maker. Disciples preach the Gospel boldly to all. - It’s difficult for us to do this (society) - We are commanded to - Not only share, but refute. - Do you know the Gospel? Disciples teach each other, and are open to being taught. Apollos was missing a huge piece of the Gospel. And we, even us who have been in the Church for so long, can miss pieces of the Gospel. Other believers (Priscilla and Aquila) took him aside and explained it to him. He accepted and used it to further the Gospel elsewhere. Think about what has to happen here: - Priscilla and Aquila have to recognize fault in his teaching (knowing the Gospel) - They have the boldness to approach him about the fault (respectfully, in private) - They have the knowledge to teach him about the fault (from studying the Word) - Apollos recognizes where He is wrong - Apollos accepts new teaching - Apollos applies his new knowledge This could have gone wrong in so many ways! It requires humility. Think of our purpose - to spread the Gospel. Yet so often our own ego and pride can get in the way. Ephesians 4:1-3 4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c] 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.