We are working our way through the book of Acts for our Sunday night Bible study. In Acts 11 we find the Gospel going to Antioch where a great number of people were saved. Barnabas was sent to Antioch to check out the reports of the people turning to the Lord. He soon went to Tarsus to find Saul to bring him back to Antioch where they spent a year teaching the new converts.
As I was studying this passage it dawned on me how these first converts to Christianity knew nothing about the teachings of Christ. They had no Bible. They had never had contact with Jesus Christ to our knowledge. They were a clean slate when it came to Christian teaching.
To make their lack of knowledge of Christian teaching even worse, they came out of a very secular and immoral environment. Antioch was not only a large cosmopolitan city, it was also well known for its immorality. The temple at Daphne was only about five miles away. Filled with temple prostitutes it was the center of immoral practices which impacted the entire city of Antioch. These new converts needed solid Christian teaching if they were going to successfully put their immoral past behind them.
I became very much aware that this is another way in which our society today resembles the first century. Several decades ago people often came to faith in Christ after having learned much about him through regular attendance in both worship services and Sunday school. Even before they became Christians they had an awareness of biblical teaching and Christian doctrine. That is often not the case today.
People in today's culture often come to faith in Christ with little to no knowledge of Christian teaching. They have not had regular exposure to Scriptural teaching so they do not have a sound grasp of Christian doctrine. This makes them easy prey for the enemy of their souls and is one reason so many fall away after making a profession of faith.
Not only have they not received very much Christian teaching before they became Christians, many do not receive much after inviting Christ into their lives. Sunday school attendance figures continue to go down in most churches. Mid-week and Sunday evening Bible studies no longer exist in many churches. Some of the churches offer small groups that study the bible at other times, but many of them don't.
Churches need to recognize that evangelism and discipleship are two sides of the same coin. Not only are we to share the gospel with others to lead them to a relationship with Jesus Christ, we also have a responsibility to help them grow in their faith. We have to find ways to encourage people to want to be taught the Word of God, and Christians must want to be taught.
We will never walk in victory or enjoy the kind of life God wants for us if we are not knowledgeable about what the Bible teaches. It is imperative that new Christians ensure they are attending a church that is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teaches it in every possible setting. Churches must see teaching the Scriptures is one of their primary duties and be very intentional about how they go about doing this.