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Look like Barnabas

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Student Led Reading:

Trevan Powell


Gospel —> Samaritans | Gospel —> Gentiles | Gospel —> spreading like wildfire
Why? Because men and women are listening and responding and allowing the Holy Spirit to work
Even in the midst of persecution


So thanks to Trevan we are picking up the story with those who were persecuted by Saul, and had scattered. And they had shot north, about 400 miles north of Jerusalem to be exact, all the way up to Antioch
Antioch was no small place either…there were around 500,000 people in Antioch, and it was the 3rd most important city in the Roman Empire at this time
So if you’re a believer…you head to a big city and you can blend, it makes sense to me
So believers had spread way north, and remember what we read in , in verse 4, we read this, “Those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
What we don’t know is who they were preaching to, who they were witnessing to…until this text tonight
Verse 19 told us that they were only speaking to Jews, which, we talked about this last week, all are worthy to hear
But verse 20 & 21, we see that God is working on other Christians just like he was working on Peter last week, and started leading them to share with people who weren’t Jews.
Hellenists = Greeks
Now remember last week, when Peter led Cornelius and gentiles to Christ how the church responded?
“How dare you eat with unclean people Peter!!!”
Well we see here in verse 22, that the church has repented of that viewpoint, they’ve changed their tune, they’ve embraced God’s plan to bless all nations
And we know that because we see that they send somebody to Antioch, to encourage and bless and teach and help the believers that are there.


Which brings us to our main character tonight…a man named Barnabas
Now I want you to think really hard, and I want you to tell me something about Barnabas....because he’s a somewhat popular figure
Or how about this, someone tell me what Barnabas means
, “36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Right there you can see into the heart of Barnabas, a new believer (they were all “new” believers), selling all excess he had. Forsaking the world, pursuing Christ as his treasure.
Barnabas was a man of faith
36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
So we read tonight that they sent this same Barnabas to Antioch, which brings us to this question....WHY?
Cuz remember, this is a big city, this will be a very important church…why wouldn’t they send an apostle?
We don’t know the exact reasons, other than God was working, which is true, but there are some reasons we can infer from knowing the little bit about Barnabas that we do know:
1. He was a man sold out to Jesus
2. He was a man not caught up in the world
3. He was an encourager
You ever described someone by some great attribute that they possess?
Like with me, you probably say, “Oh you know Pastor Derek, the one who is very wise.” or “Oh you know Pastor Derek, he’s the really really cool one.” or “Oh you know Pastor Derek, he’s the one full of wisdom.”
The church leaders heard about the new church in Antioch, and they met and were like, “We need to send someone to encourage them, to help them....whom should we send?”
“Let’s send Barnabas, who we renamed, who’s name means son of encouragement, let’s send him!!!”
But Barnabas wasn’t an apostle, he hadn’t seen and followed Christ during his earthly ministry....why Barnabas?
Because he was known for his encouragement, his faith, and his understanding of the grace of God.
Why was he an encourager? Well, I put to you today, that the main reason he was an encourager, the main reason he built people up…was what we read in verse 23:
Hone in on verse 23
Barnabas “saw the grace of God and he was glad”
What in the world does that sentence even mean?
It means this, upon Barnabas arriving in Antioch, hearing about the gospel spreading to non-Jews, seeing God’s grace being extended to them, it says he was glad
No pre-conceived notions, no “well you should be doing it this way”, none of that, he was just glad and exhorted (encouraged) them to pursue the Lord with an unwavering commitment
Which is a huge thing to me.
Barnabas hadn’t forgotten the grace that he was shown by God, he hadn’t forgotten that he had done nothing to earn the grace of God either, none of that.
He saw the grace of God in his life and he wanted the grace of God to be proclaimed
He was glad that others were experiencing it
He longed to see the grace of God in other’s
But this isn’t the first time he had demonstrated an understanding of the grace of God.....
In acts 9:26-27…when Saul, a believer, had attempted to join the apostles, to partner with them in sharing the gospel, he was rejected, he was feared, he was exiled
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas saw this same grace of God evident in Saul’s life, you know the guy who was killing Christians?
Barnabas was able to look past that, and see God’s hand of grace at work
Which, to me, is a main reason God caused Barnabas to be the one to head to Antioch.
Kids can show us a perfect picture of this ability, I think
I think about in our own house, when Savannah or I are just in a terrible mood, and we’re angry…maybe due to stress, finances, or maybe because we just want to inevitably gets taken out on the kids.....EASY, I don’t mean physically, but whether by yelling at them, disciplining them, expecting too much of them....they bear the brunt - parents, can I get an amen?
See, our kids see all of that, they watch us daily and they can, and do, pick up on all of that
But then one of them will come up and hug you and say “I’m so glad your my mommy, or I’m so glad your my dad”
I kind of think of Barnabas being like that, able to look past the imperfections, the impacting circumstances, able to look through and past all of that and see the grace of God at work
And when you think about him being an encourager, I think that is the key thing for us to remember
If we are going to be sons/daughters of encouragement…we’ve got to be able to look past everything and focus on the grace of God at work in people’s lives.
And we should be… says this, “ 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Well Barnabas proves this to us one more time in this passage. Look at verse 25-26 with me:
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”
Get this --- Barnabas gets to Antioch, is extremely glad at the work God has done, encourages them to stay faithful to Jesus Christ, and sees many more people coming to Christ every day
So Barnabas, rightfully so, realizes he can’t “lead” this church by himself…so he decides to go get help
And instead of heading back to Jerusalem to bring an apostle or another faithful brother back, he heads to Tarsus, to look for.....Saul
Now, put two and two together with me here:
The gospel spread to Antioch because why? Saul’s persecution
Therefore, the very same people who fled to Antioch fled because of fear of Saul
So as Barnabas goes to get Saul, I can imagine there was some concern or backlash to this plan among believers, but Barnabas went anyway, and returns with Saul
Do you see Barnabas’ understanding of God’s grace pouring out not only in being an encourager, but also in being willing to accept people regardless of their past
And not only accept them, but Saul here essentially becomes a co-pastor with Barnabas!
Barnabas saw the grace of God in Saul’s life, and whether he knew it fully or not, God was using Barnabas to set Saul up for what is going to be a world-changing mission.
See, there probably were not many people who thought Saul was going to amount to anything…sure he was a believer, but, please, what can an ex-murderer do for the gospel of Jesus Christ
Barnabas wasn’t focused on that.
Barnabas understood that the grace of God is greater than past mistakes, he understood that the grace of God was what mattered…not how good of a person you were, or are
, “For it is by grace you have been saved”


So tonight, the take away is like Barnabas
Don’t expect perfection amongst an imperfect people…and I’m preaching to myself here:
I expect a lot out of my kids
I expect a lot out of myself…ask Savannah, I’m so over-critical of myself
For instance, tonight I’ll go home and self-analyze how I taught tonight…it’s a bad habit
I expect a lot out of you guys even
Instead though, let’s focus on the grace of God
Focus on the grace he extended you
And then look past people’s imperfections, look past their quirks, look past all of that, and look to the grace of God that He:
Either wants to extend to someone
Or has extended to someone
And you likewise, show grace to them as well.
And see the grace of God and be glad
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