How do we determine what a good man or woman is today? Is it one who lives a good moral life? Is it someone who is respectful to those older than he or she is? Is it one who helps the poor and destitute by arranging Trusts and Organizations to benefit the needy? Is it one who is a good wife or husband, parent, child, employer or employee, learner, student … member of society? Is it one who leaves wealth to the needy or organs to research? How does one determine a good person?
(1) Jesus told us that God alone is good.
Mt 19:16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
This is quite phenomenal. In the face of man in his raw sinful, unconverted state, Jesus says only God is good and to enjoy life with God and to be good one needs to “obey the commandments”. No man can!
(2) Jesus however came and fulfilled the Law’s requirements.
Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets at Calvary. He met the Laws demands.
(3) In Jesus Christ alone, God sees all saved by grace as good. Follow this:
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
A good person is therefore one saved by grace through faith, enjoying the indwelling Holy Spirit and a recipient of every spiritual blessing in Christ, having been chosen, being predestined, adopted as a son of God, redeemed and God’s possession. Today we pick up our reading in Acts 11:
Ac 11:24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
1) Barnabas was a good man. Considering the above, we read:
Ac 11:24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
(1) He was truly converted to Jesus.
(2) He was full of the Holy Spirit. This needs to be seen not as the Spirit being in residence because of being born again, but because of a willing, eager, faithful soul, saved by grace, wanting to serve Jesus as Lord anywhere, anytime and anyplace. Into this condition of complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and wanting to serve Him, God in grace gave Barnabas a huge portion of His Holy Spirit to effect the ministry God required him to execute for the Kingdom.
(3) He was also a man of faith. This “faith” was not faith for salvation. He was saved, indwelt by the Spirit and enjoying a special portion of the Spirit for ministry. This faith is faith to believe God was using him for ministry and motivating to ministry.
All Christians are indwelt by the Spirit and all enjoy spiritual gifts. Not all have that special portion of the Spirit to be used in extraordinary ways … and sadly, not all have faith to be used by God. This faith is not just believing God is able to work through you, it is believing God is using you for service and ministry. If all Christians believed this, the results will be similar to those of Barnabas … a great number of people were brought to the Lord!
It all starts with our view of self and God. If we see God as all supreme and authoritative as our Master, we shall see ourselves as his subjects, chosen and saved to serve Him for His glory and not our own. Would it not be wonderful when people look at us and our ministry and say … “What a good person because they serve and glorify a good, great God, whose name is Jesus”?
2) Irrespective of spiritual ability and usage, all Gospel Workers need helpers. Barnabas knew this and so:
Ac 11:25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch.
Why did he do this? Because he knew the value of Saul … he would support and boost his ministry to the new converts. We know this because:
Ac 9:27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
We shall return to this, but for today allow me to ask … “Who can you team up with to further the Kingdom?” Team work is always more successful!
Glorious Father, thank You for including Barnabas in the Bible, revealing his character as a model for us to follow. Lord, shape us for service within Your Kingdom. Amen.