Believing and Turning
Acts 11 records disciples bringing the gospel to Syrian Antioch. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (verse 21, NASB).
“A large number who believed turned to the Lord.” Does this imply that some who believed did not turn to the Lord? How sad to think it could be so. Yet the New Testament elsewhere describes people who believed in Jesus, but for one reason or another were unwilling to be his disciples. Some who believed were afraid to confess him because “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43). Some who believed found Jesus’ teaching too challenging and turned back from following him (6:60-66) or even became hostile toward Him (8:31-58). In these cases, belief did not translate into discipleship.
“A large number who believed turned to the Lord.” This reminds us that it isn’t enough merely to believe. God’s word says a believer must repent (Acts 2:38), confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (Mark 16:16) in order to enter a relationship with Christ. Discipleship isn’t about just believing a set of facts, but becoming a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). That kind of believer has indeed “turned to the Lord.”