BARNABAS: "A GOOD MAN"
. Acts 11:24.
1. The early church went through three different phases.
2. Beginning -- Peter. Transition -- Barnabas. Expansion -- Paul.
3. The transitional period of the church was probably one of its most difficult times.
A. Christians had been scattered abroad. Acts 8:1-4.
B. Gentiles were being converted. Acts 11:19-21.
1) Gentiles were despised by the Jews.
2) They were looked down upon and treated as dogs.
C. This period could be compared somewhat with our situation in the South some decades ago.
1) Many adjustments had to be made.
2) Such called for men with cool heads and conciliatory dispositions.
a. Barnabas was such a man in his time.
4. So, what we have here is the right man in the right place at the right time.
5. The Jerusalem church recognized Barnabas as the right man. Acts 11:19,20,22.
A. Antioch and the Holy Spirit also recognized his abilities. Acts 13:2,3.
6. There are five qualities of character that made Barnabas the ideal man for the period of time in which he lived, the Transition:
I. HE WAS A GENEROUS MAN. Acts 4:36,37.
A. The Bible refers to him as "a good man" Acts 11:24, which would also indicate his generosity.
B. He was willing to share with others when he found them in need. Acts 4:32-37.
C. His generosity was in contrast with that of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1-11.
D. He was also generous in many other ways.
II. HE HAD THE ABILITY TO GAIN THE CONFIDENCE AND ACCEPTANCE OF DIFFERENT CLASSES OF PEOPLE.
A. We have already observed the confidence which the Jews in Jerusalem had in Barnabas.
B. But, he was not long in gaining the confidence of the Gentiles as well. Acts 11: 27-30.
1. Also, the controversy over the question of circumcision provided the second occasion for their show of confidence. Acts 15:1,2.
2. We have another statement made by Paul about the work of Barnabas among the Gentiles. Gal. 2:1,9.
C. How wonderfully blessed is the man who can so conduct himself as to gain the confidence of two such widely divergent classes of people as Jews and Gentiles.
III. HE HAD THE ABILITY TO EXHORT.
A. Our first introduction to Barnabas in the scriptures suggests his ability as an exhorter.
1. He was not named "Barnabas" "Son of exhortation or consolation" by his parents.
a. They named him Joseph or Joses.
2. But, he was named Barnabas by the apostles who were in the best position to observe his actions and his life. Acts 4:36,37.
B. A good exhorter is one who is persuasive, who can motivate others to do what is right.
1. He can persuade the lost to obey the Lord, the wanderer to be restored, the faithful to be even more diligent, the alienated to be reconciled.
2. He can cheer the despondent, strengthen the weak, lend a helping hand to the new convert.
a. Barnabas was so adept at this type of work that he was called "the Son of exhortation."
C. We know of many great preachers.
1. In fact, we often sit in awe of their abilities in handling the word of God.
a. But frankly, we do not know many great exhorters at all.
b. We know of very few preachers that have the ability to challenge an audience to see themselves as they really are.
1) Bringing them to a real change of heart and leading them to exclaim "Men and brethren what must we do?" Acts 2:37.
2. The goal of preaching is response; it is to "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Col. 1:28.
a. Preachers of the first century successfully reached that goal. Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7; 8:6; 18:8.
b. I just wonder if many of this generation have not overlooked that goal?
D. But, what are some of the qualities of a great exhorter?
1. He is one that has a genuine concern for the welfare of others and the ability to communicate that concern.
a. Parents, in exhorting their children, may be more concerned about their own reputation and standing with the brethren than they are with the welfare of the children themselves.
b. A personal worker may be more interested in building up the number in the congregation than he is in leading an individual to heaven.
1) Such lack of concern for the individual himself will lead to failure as an exhorter.
2. His character must be above reproach.
a. Very little success will be realized if the person being exhorted is thinking: "who is he to be talking to me?"
1) Remember what Jesus said about the "mote" and the "beam". Matt. 7:1-6.
3. He must have faith in God and the power of His Word. Rom. 1:16.
4. He must have faith in his fellowman.
a. A good exhorter has to "believe in people."
b. He must expect the very best in those whom he seeks to change. 1 Cor. 13:4-7.
5. He must have humility.
a. A "holier than thou" attitude can never get the job done. Phil. 2:3.
1) To say that Barnabas was a good exhorter is to say that he had these qualities, for no man can be a good exhorter who does not have them.
E. We see Barnabas' ability as an exhorter in his work with Saul. Acts 9:26,27.
F. We see such again in his work with Antioch. Acts 11:22-24.
G. His work in Antioch also afforded him further opportunity to demonstrate his concern for Saul. Acts 11:25,26.
H. His abilities as an exhorter are further exhibited in his work with John Mark. Acts 12:25; 13:5,13; 15:36-40.
1. Who was right in this controversy between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark?
a. You might desire to accept Paul's position on this point.
1) Someone has said: "If a man deceive me once, it is his fault; but if twice, it is my own, for trusting him."
a) Such may be good philosophy for some, but the faith and interest which the son of exhortation had in his fellowman could not let him adopt such an attitude.
b) Barnabas had a marvelous, almost unreal, faith in his brother in the Lord.
c) Such faith changed what might have been John Mark's weakness and caused even Paul to recognize his change. 2 Tim. 4:11.
d) So, when one searches for the earthly influences that changed John Mark, he must think of Barnabas.
I. What a value this great exhorter must have been to the church in this transitional period.
IV. HE HAD THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE HIS AREA OF GREATEST EFFECTIVENESS AND TO BE CONTENT WITH IT.
A. Every man and woman in the church needs to evaluate accurately his strengths and weaknesses.
1. Then, develop his strengths for the greatest possible use in the Lord's service.
B. There have been many scholarly men that have stood before the people of God and kept them in awe with their abilities in handling the word of God.
1. But, every one cannot do this. Every one cannot speak on the deep complexities of life.
2. We all have different talents and abilities. Matt. 25:14-30.
3. If one is able to be a scholar, wonderful!! We need more scholars.
4. But, wouldn't it be wonderful if one could be both a scholar and an exhorter?
a. But remember, there is room in the kingdom for abilities both small and great.
5. Let every man determine the role he can fit best, and work diligently and cheerfully in that role for the Lord.
6. Barnabas is a great example of this.
a. First, it was "Barnabas and Saul" but soon is changed to "Paul and Barnabas".
1) But even in this change of leading positions, we find no hint of jealousy on Barnabas' part.
V. HIS ABILITY TO TRIUMPH OVER WEAKNESS THROUGH FAITH.
A. Barnabas was an unusually strong man, but, along with all others, he had his weaknesses.
1. An incident which took place in Antioch reveals his weakness. Gal. 2:11-13.
B. Men of God are great, not because they are perfect, but because they are able to overcome their imperfections through faith in Christ.
1. But, the very disposition that makes a man great in certain areas may leave him vulnerable in others.
a. The fierce, unyielding nature that qualifies a man to be so effective in fighting error on the one hand, may leave him insensitive to the weaknesses and difficulties of his fellowman on the other.
b. Barnabas' disposition, that qualified him on the one hand to be a great exhorter, may have been the very factor that made him susceptible to the weakness displayed in this passage.
1) But, regardless of the cause of the weakness, we recognize Barnabas as one who was able to triumph through Christ.
1. Let us all look back to the "Barnabases" in our own lives, to those who have helped us in our weaker and more difficult moments.
A. No doubt, in doing so, you remember many who have been a Barnabas to you.
2. But, are we to always be on the receiving end of everything?
A. Remember, we are debtors, and that debt can only be paid by serving others.
B. All around us are those that need us.
C. yes, the qualities of a Barnabas are needed in every age.
3. Let me close with these lines, written by Francis R. Havergal:
Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of thy tone;
As thou has sought, so let me seek
Thine erring children, lost and lone.
O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the Rock and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
O teach me Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
O fill me with Thy fulness, Lord,
Until my very heart o'erflow;
To kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
This sermon on Barnabas was adapted from a lecture that was given by Bill Hall at FC many years ago.
By Jim Sasser
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