The teaching/preaching ministry of Paul and Barnabas to the churches included “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
There is a spiritual progression in the teaching of Paul and Barnabas: 1) confirming (strengthening) disciples 2) exhorting disciples to continue in the faith 3) disciples enter God’s kingdom through much tribulation.
First, what message begets strength? Certainly it is not a man-centered message that extols man’s innate virtues and spiritual prowess. Rather, the message that gives strength or confirms a soul is that through Christ Jesus’s gift of righteousness God also provides everything the believer needs for life and godliness (Romans 8:32). The message that will confirm a soul is the gospel message; the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which secures for us all good things.
Second, we need strength fueled by the gospel because continuance in the faith is difficult because of our inclination is to drift from God. Too, Satan seeks to deceive us and the world draws us into its sphere to participate in a system lived outside of the Lordship of Jesus Christ: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
Third, the pathway to God’s kingdom includes passing through many troubles along the way. There are many sorrows and trials that Christians experience on the celestial highway: “Many arrows pierce my soul from without, within.” The Bible is very blunt and to the point. It does not promise “health, wealth, and prosperity” but honestly reveals that following Christ can be difficult and dangerous. But the Bible also makes rich promises to believers to give grace and glory in Jesus Christ.
Gospel confirmation-continuance-entrance: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).