Paul and Barnabas in Antioch
Open Your Bible
Acts 13:1-52, Isaiah 49:6, Galatians 3:10-14
I was sitting in a circle of women discussing the topic: why is it important to read our Bible? There were a variety of answers like “knowing God more” and “having consistent disciplines.” But one gal responded: “I feel like I am not a good friend if I have not spent time in God’s Word. If a friend needs a wise word of advice, how am I going to serve her well if I cannot speak God’s Truth over her? If a friend is going through a tough time, how can I encourage her without being familiar with the Word of God? I want to be someone who is so fully-immersed in the Bible that speaking the gospel over my friends is providing exactly what they need in the situation.”
This response really stuck with me. Not only was I convicted, but I wondered how I could serve others better if I rehearsed the gospel more often.
Paul is a master at rehearsing the story of salvation and sharing it with large crowds of people. He is able to recount the history of God’s people, recite Old Testament scriptures from memory and clearly communicate the message of salvation in Jesus. So, when Paul and Barnabas are called on to speak a “word of encouragement” (Acts 13:15) to the people in Antioch, they are prepared.
Our encouragement should come from the story of God and our salvation in Jesus. God’s saving power is what gives us reason to rejoice just as the people of Antioch rejoiced that day: “They rejoiced and honored the Word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed” (v.48). Yet, this picture of Paul and Barnabas bringing the gospel to the people of Antioch feels so far from my personal experience. My level of “gospel fluency” (a term coined by author Jeff Vanderstelt) is severely lacking. Like becoming fluent in a foreign language, to be “gospel fluent” is to be able to interpret all of life through this new lens.