Preaching Through Acts
For several months I have been preaching through the Book of Acts again, both in our Wednesday-night Bible study and for Bible school classes at Covington Seminary. It’s always a blessing, to say the least.
The Book of Acts is Luke’s written record of the early Christian church. In it, he records for us key events and people through which God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, birthed, nurtured, and sent out those who would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Taking a few verses at a time, I have sought to deliver what it is God wants our little congregation to learn and apply in our context, especially at this time in which we are in.
One of the key personalities in Acts is a man by the name of Barnabas. He was a Levite from the country of Cyprus who became a follower of Christ. He was a generous man, a godly man, and one whose name fit his personality; he was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).
Barnabas was the type of guy that truly cared about people and wanted to see them succeed. He was more than just a team player; he was a motivator, the kind of man who would step down from the pedestal so that someone else could shine. As a matter of fact, it was Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul), the former persecutor of Christians, to the church at Jerusalem (talk about having someone’s back!).
But in preaching through chapter 11 of Acts, I came across a description of Barnabas that left me very convicted. The way Barnabas was described should be how we are described: good people, full of the Holy Ghost, and full of faith (11:24).
A Good Man
The first thing said about Barnabas was that he was “a good man.” Now, a lot of people think they are good people, but not all are. As a matter of fact, there’s no other place in Acts where Luke describes a person as “good.” Only Barnabas gets that distinction.
Being described as “good” meant that he was a man with whom no one could find fault. He must have been a man of strong character, a man who kept his word, and a man who would do anything for anybody, including give the last coin to one in need. He was the kind of man Jesus was talking about when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Barnabas was genuine, the “real deal.”
Full of the Holy Ghost
Barnabas was also “full of the Holy Ghost.” What does that mean? Well first off, let’s think about the description of “full.”
The Greek word translated as “full” is one that meant not only to be filled up but filled up to the point of overflowing. Barnabas was totally yielded and filled with the Spirit, so much so that His presence spilled over onto others. The “son of consolation” was an encourager, just like the Spirit controlling and empowering him.
Full of Faith
Barnabas was not only full of the Holy Ghost but also of faith. Simply put, Barnabas was fully convinced and persuaded with what he believed to be true. There was no doubting, no hesitation, no reluctance, no hiding, no timidity. Barnabas was sure in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is one reason he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see what was going on in Antioch of Syria.
Now, let’s look at what happened because of Barnabas’ character, his spiritual power, and his sure faith.
“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” – Acts 11:23-24
First, because he was a good man, he was not jealous of the good things happening in Antioch; he rejoiced that the grace of God had been poured out on the believers there!
Second, because he was full of the Holy Ghost, what was in his heart (as Jesus described) had to be shared, so he “exhorted” them and encouraged them in their faith.
Third, because Barnabas knew what temptations and trials could come, especially with the persecution following Stephen’s death fresh on his mind, he encouraged the new believers to be pro-active in their devotion to the Christ. He knew that the only way to have a strong faith is to purposefully “cleave unto the Lord.”
Fourth, many people were added unto the Lord! Because of the spirituality and faith and character of godly Barnabas, not only were new believers in Antioch strengthened, but many more people came to know Christ!
Here’s the thing. Why aren’t more people coming to a saving faith in Jesus? Why aren’t more of our churches encouraged? Why aren’t more Christians spiritually maturing in their faith? It’s because we don’t have enough men and women like Barnabas.
Be a good person! Seriously, be the type of man or woman that people can trust and rely on. Be the type of person that people can tell you care. Be generous, compassionate, trustworthy, and consistent. Be people of honor and character.
Be filled with the Spirit! Do you know what it means to be completely filled with the Holy Ghost of God? It means there are no little rooms, closets, or boxes in your heart where there is written a note to God which says, “Private! Hands off!” Every are of your life – every secret part – should be yielded to and controlled by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, you are self-controlled and rebellious, and thereby powerless.
Be full of faith! Grow your faith. Study God’s Word. Know why you believe what you believe. Don’t be a coward! If you are shy or feel intimidated to share your faith with others, ask yourself why that’s so!
Would you be afraid to warn your neighbor a murderer was crawling through his bedroom window? Would you be afraid to yell “fire!” if flames were engulfing the rooms of a hotel where people were sleeping? It’s only because you are NOT full of faith that you are not bold; you have doubts the fire is real and the murderer really means to harm.
You and I need to be more like Barnabas.
15 responses to “Three Things About Barnabas”
Wow! Great inspiration to start the day. May we be more like Barnabas. Amen!
Love it !!! This is confirmation to what God has been showing and telling me these last few days ..Amen Amen Amen ……
Thank you. That is a blessing for me to hear.
I always enjoy reading your posts, thank you! Since you’re teaching on the book of Acts, may I ask you a question? Not sure if this is the place to ask, if not, please forgive me. I was a member of an IFB church for 15 years. The church (adults) went out every week ‘soul winning’ and the teens went every Wednesday. The teens were made to go and the adults, if they didn’t regularly participate, they were shamed over the pulpit (not necessarily by name but everyone knew who the preacher was referring to). The preacher used the book of Acts as a tool to motivate people. My question is, do you think it’s a Christians responsibility to be actively involved in an ‘organized soul winning’ program all year round (you’re given a map of where you should go and you better dress really warm because it gets cold in the winter) on a weekly basis?
Patti, I know exactly what you are talking about – been there, got the polyester tie.
I have no problem with an organized visitation program. To be honest, I think many of our churches have dropped the ball on evangelism, and throwing out door-to-door evangelism with the dirty bathwater is a perfect example. However, the old way of doing things may not have been the most effective at that time, and they are surely not as effective in this day and age. Nevertheless, even a less-effective plan which is worked is more effective than the best plan never worked.
But regarding your main question, the whole shaming thing is a hallmark of legalistic control. I wholeheartedly condemn it. Yes, we need to encourage people to share their faith with the lost, but turning the whole thing into a legalistic mandate is flatout sinful.
You know the old saying, “Time is money”? Well, if time is money, and we are asking people to give their time, I’d rather know what they are giving is coming from a cheerful heart, for that’s what the Lord loves.
Thank you so much for your response! I am basically “detoxing” from 15 years of yelling, screaming, shaming, guilt laying and much more, type preaching. Sounds like you’ve had a taste of it as well. I appreciate you and your blog.
Grace is an amazing thing!
A fitting story (I think)
Recently I had a young man stop by. Suit and tie out “soul winning”. We talked. I challenged him to visit my agnostic and antagonistic neighbor with me. “He hates christians” I told him. “Don’t talk till you earn the right to be heard” I asked of him. Hammers and other tools in hand we both helped my neighbor one saturday along with some rough neighbor friends on his “DIY cabin. Interesting conversations as the swearing gradually diminished and some deep life questions came up. More spiritual work than physical was accomplished I believe. The story continues and many hurdles to my neighbors misgivings have been cleared. I am glad for my God guided new friend and christian co-worker.
That’s awesome 🙂 Yeah, it fits.
Great post sir!
Why thank you very much 🙂
Barnabas is a great example. But one particular person on my mind lately is Luke. He actually never met the Lord Jesus personally. He was a partaker of Paul’s ministry. But, through his faith, he received perfect understanding through the Lord’s Spirit and was able to give an account of the Gospel. That’s pretty tremendous when you think about it. But in reality, he may have had just that mustard seed!
By the way, I checked out your blog a few minutes ago (because you so graciously “liked” and commented on my post. However, I did not see where one could leave a comment. Was this purposeful, or just an oversight? I ask because I was going to leave a comment or two, but was unable.
I’m still trying to figure this thing out lol. I sincerely apologize! Let me try to get it working. I’m not as they say, “computer savvy”…..
Ok try again. I think I got it working. I thought comments were automatic? I don’t think I’ve done anything to remove them.