Volume. XXVIII, No. 18
Sunday, 03 November 2013


Son of Encouragement


Barnabas is first mentioned in Acts 4:36, 37. “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,  having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

The Apostles noticed something in Joses which was very different from many other people who had also come and given their possessions to the Apostles for distribution. They must have seen that this person had a genuine concern for the welfare of other people and wishing others to be more esteemed than him. They must have seen him comforting people in distress, encouraging them and showing genuine love toward them and so they gave him the name Barnabas, meaning Son of Encouragement.

God had given Barnabas this special gift by which he could encourage his fellow believers to grow in their faith. He was specifically used by God in bringing Paul into the ministry and so to become one of the greatest missionaries in the early Church.

After Paul was converted in Damascus he went up to Jerusalem, to join the disciples, but they were afraid to accept him as their brother in Christ, because of his past. They all knew how he persecuted and harassed Christians, dragging men and women to prison and he had also consented to Stephen being killed by the Jews. To think that such a person was converted overnight would have been very hard for the disciples to accept, were it not for Barnabas. Barnabas took the step of bringing Paul to the Apostles and declaring to them how Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus and was converted and started to preach boldly in Damascus in the Name of Jesus (Acts 9:26, 27). Thus Paul was accepted and he started preaching boldly in Jerusalem also. But Paul had to leave Jerusalem and depart for Tarsus because of some Jews who wanted to kill him. He again remained in the background for some time, until once more the “son of encouragement” went to look for him in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch,  the new headquarters for Christian missionary work.  Barnabas had been sent to Antioch by the Apostles to build up the new believers  and he encouraged them all, that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and God used him to cause the Church to grow in Antioch (Acts 9:23, 24). It was in Antioch, where Paul started on his missionary journeys accompanied by Barnabas.

We can learn some important things from these few instances in Barnabas’s life.

First of all, Barnabas gave willingly for the growth of the Church. He encouraged the Church to grow by his generous giving. Once his life was touched by the Lord, once he had set his hope on the eternal inheritance, houses and lands meant nothing to him. They were just things to be used for furthering the Gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God. He gladly spent for the sake of the Church, for the people of God who were in need, not counting his own necessities.

Then he discipled the new believers,  helping them to grow in the Christian faith. He always seemed to be on the lookout for those still struggling in their faith, helping them become strong. He could see the potential in every convert. We don’t know when exactly Barnabas met Paul and came to know about his conversion experience. Perhaps Barnabas could have been in Damascus before Paul went there, as many Christians had fled to Damascus because of the persecution in Jerusalem. He could have met Paul in Damascus while he was preaching about Jesus after his conversion. Barnabas thus trusted Paul and brought him to the Apostles after they came to Jerusalem.

We who know the Lord are called to strengthen new believers who could be  struggling in their faith. There could be some new converts with a very sordid past, and bad memories. And there is always a danger that they could get entangled in their past sins again. Perhaps some of you may have heard about Pastor David Wilkerson, founder of “Teen Challenge,” who was pastoring the “Times Square Church” in New York City. God used him mightily in bringing many drug-addicts and under-world gang members to the Lord, from 1958. He passed away in 2011. He wrote a book, “The Cross and the Switch blade” and there was also a movie made. In it, he describes how he used to visit  gang members and drug addicts in some of the squalid suburbs of New York and share with them about Jesus. Many hardened criminals were converted. He then worked with them to make them true disciples of Jesus Christ. Some backslid, but he never gave up on them, and they eventually were brought back.

Beloved, sometimes we may be very harsh in our treatment of certain Christians who we think have backslidden.  Instead of showing Christian love we can be very self-righteous, trying to show ourselves as better Christians.  We think we can counsel some brethren in some areas, but we end up becoming like the “miserable comforters” of Job. As you know, Job was severely afflicted by Satan, by which he lost everything and his body was in great pain, being covered with sores. His four friends, who came to see him, instead of comforting him, started accusing him of wrongdoing as a cause for his sufferings.  And Job said to them – “I have heard many such things. Miserable comforters are you all!”  Let us not be as “miserable comforters,” further wounding an already wounded person.  Let us remember that we are also potential backsliders. As the Bible says,  it is by grace we stand and if any person thinks that he stands, he should take heed lest he falls.

As regards to Barnabas searching for Paul in Tarsus, this can in some way  be compared to the parable of Jesus in which he talks about a shepherd searching for his lost sheep which had gone astray. The difference being that Paul had not gone astray. His ministry only seemed to have been silent for some time.  Again, it was necessary for Barnabas to bring him back. After that, the great Apostle Paul went everywhere, preaching Christ.

Even though Barnabas was such an encouragement to the Apostle Paul, there were some instances in their relationship which were far from amicable. One very contentious issue arose between them when Paul and Barnabas
wanted to set out on their second missionary trip from Antioch. Barnabas wanted to take his cousin Mark who had also accompanied them on their first missionary trip, but returned back half way. On account of this, Paul did not want Mark to join him. And so there was a sharp contention between Paul & Barnabas. Both were men of God but having two differing opinions, so how does one reconcile between the two? Barnabas apparently wanted to give Mark a second chance, as he always wanted to build up fellow Christians, while Paul did not want to risk  taking an immature believer on a rigorous missions trip. Paul being more of an intellectual and very strong willed used his head in making the decision, while Barnabas being of a compassionate nature used his heart. The issue became so sharp that they had to separate and go different ways. But it was in God’s providence that there were now two missionary parties. Paul took Silas and went on a longer and more dangerous trip to Asia and Europe, while Barnabas and Mark went on a shorter and safer trip to Cyprus, Barnabas’ own native country. Apparently Barnabas, with God's help, built up Mark as he accompanied him in his missionary work, as many years later when Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he commended Mark for his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul also learnt from Barnabas’ compassionate nature to be more understanding of others’ weaknesses as can be seen in his later life from all his epistles.

Beloved, in this short article I have briefly touched upon some of the encouraging traits of Barnabas who became a disciple of Jesus, so that we may follow his example in being a source of encouragement to our fellow believers rather than being a stumbling block in the way that we live. Remember that we really do not have many years to live in this world and I am glad about this, because I wouldn’t like to live in a world where we have to constantly struggle against sin and temptations. But as long as we live in this world, let us join forces with our struggling brothers and sisters and help them to understand that they are not alone in contending for the faith. If anyone falls, let us gently lift him up and enable him to continue running the race, so that at the end he will receive the full reward.

Brother Edwin D’Mello

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster: Next Lord’s Day: Bro Edwin D’Mello
*Worship Services from next Lord’s Day will be held at The Stone Mansion, DV.
*Christmas Concert rehearsals - There is no Ladies’ Choir practice next Saturday.
*Sanctuary repair work almost completed. Special Working Bee - Needs volunteers next Saturday to prepare the Sanctuary for Worship Services.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward (post-op recovery) & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong, Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Sylvia White & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Bro Yaw Chiew Tan (Chemotherapy): Bro Edwin D’Mello’s sister (Jennifer) with Dengue fever; Sis Margaret Pearson  - healing, rehab & health, Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).
iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & preparation for Ordination: Ps Hai Seng Lim.
Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Rev Srun Chivan (Sihanoukville); Khmer pastors & families.
Batam Missions: Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.
New Life BPC (London) - new Pastor & God’s guidance for the future.
Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng.  
Journey mercies: Bro Samuel Ki & Sis Xandrea Cai (Adl); & others travelling.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Xiao Hui Chye, & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.
Australian PR Visas - Sisters Clara Sim & Sharon Ying (Perth).
Hope BPC - God’s wisdom & encouragement for Session & congregation.
Year 12 & Uni students: for strength & encouragement in their studies as they prepare for exams.
Federal, State & Territory MPs, Councillors &  Senators not to pass laws contrary to God’s laws.
Repairs at Sanctuary & library to be completed without delays, accidents & problems.
Believers suffering persecution in Islamic & Communist countries.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward (post-op recovery) & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong, Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Sylvia White & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Bro Yaw Chiew Tan (Chemotherapy): Bro Edwin D’Mello’s sister (Jennifer) with Dengue fever; Sis Margaret Pearson  - healing, rehab & health, Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).
iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & preparation for Ordination: Ps Hai Seng Lim.
Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Rev Srun Chivan (Sihanoukville); Khmer pastors & families.
Batam Missions: Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.
New Life BPC (London) - new Pastor & God’s guidance for the future.
Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng.  
Journey mercies: Bro Samuel Ki & Sis Xandrea Cai (Adl); & others travelling.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Xiao Hui Chye, & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.
Australian PR Visas - Sisters Clara Sim & Sharon Ying (Perth).
Hope BPC - God’s wisdom & encouragement for Session & congregation.
Year 12 & Uni students: for strength & encouragement in their studies as they prepare for exams.
Federal, State & Territory MPs, Councillors &  Senators not to pass laws contrary to God’s laws.
Repairs at Sanctuary & library to be completed without delays, accidents & problems.
Believers suffering persecution in Islamic & Communist countries.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063