Berlin Sunday Service: He Was a Good Man, Full of the Holy Spirit and Faith
Berlin Immanuel Church gathered on Sunday, 27 May, holding a service with a sermon on Barnabas with the main passage in Acts 11:19-30. We must look at the outcome of the lives of those who walked before us in God's history and imitate their faith - Heb 6:12, 13:7.
In Acts, Barnabas plays an important role in helping Paul to become a leader that he was. He was called Barnabas, meaning the 'son of encouragement', by the church because of his heart of compassion shown towards outsiders. That heart comes from faith that knows that I was once an outsider, an enemy of God, someone not to be trusted, but God has accepted me and embraced me unconditionally. And so when the whole church in Jerusalem was afraid of Paul in Acts 9:26,27, it was Barnabas who accepted Paul first brought him in the church. It was because of that heart that the elders of Jerusalem chose Barnabas to send to the believers in Antioch to strengthen them and encourage them in their new faith. Barnabas was obedient to the calling of God and the guidance of church and left to Antioch.
Arriving to Antioch and stepping among the believers, he didn't see the imperfections and problems that the church certainly had as a Gentile church without the basics of the law, but he saw grace of God. They eyes of faith see beyond the flaws of men and see the seed of God's grace planted in their heart and working in them. Faith sees the future glory of God in people and rejoices in his grace that works amongst sinners. Barnabas in verse 23 exhorted the believers to persevere in their faith, because faith knows that we depend daily on the grace of God and we must fight daily against unbelief in our hearts. Barnabas was a generous man, who sold a field and gave all gains to the church in Acts 3:36,37. He overcame the love for money and trusted God with his life, and that's why he was trusted with the collection for Jerusalem in Acts 11:29-30.
All these qualities are the display of his goodness - in verse 24, in original language the verse starts with "for he was a good man". But we must ask very important question - where did the goodness of Barnabas comes from? Was it his nature, his character? Luke immediately answers in the same verse that the goodness of man is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22, Mark 10:18). When we are full of the Spirit, he works out in us a good heart that overflows and acts with goodness in the world each through his own gifts. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Spirit. How then did he become full of the Spirit? Luke answers that it was by faith (Gal 3:2,5). When we trust absolutely in the love of Christ, we are filled with his Spirit and united with him.
Let us then imitate, not the outward actions Barnabas but his faith so that God can work out his goodness in our life and that we may be remembered as those who were good men and women of God, full of the Spirit and faith.