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Barnabas – Son of Encouragement Acts 11.


On our first Lord’s day back at church after the Lockdown, we looked at Acts 11, to see how Barnabas encouraged the brethren at Antioch.


Barnabas – Son of Encouragement Acts 11.

Opening Prayer.

Praise Psalm1 (Tune St Petersburg)

1 HOW blessed the man who does not walk where wicked men would guide his feet,

or stand in paths with sinful men, or sit upon the scorners’ seat.

2 The LORD’s law is his chief delight, his meditation day and night.

3 He will be like a growing tree well planted by the water side,

which in its season bears its fruit, and has a leaf which does not fade.

In everything that this man does, he’ll surely prosper in that cause.

4 Not so the wicked! They are all like chaff the wind will drive away.

5 They will not in the judgment stand, nor sinners with the righteous stay.

6 The LORD the way of just men knows; the sinners’ way he overthrows.

Bible Reading Acts 11:1-4, 15-26.  



It was to Antioch that some of the persecuted Christians had fled after the persecution at Jerusalem, and as always the gospel message had travelled with them. Many were converted, a great number turned to the Lord, because the hand of the Lord was upon them.  So it is at Antioch that we first encounter Barnabas.

1. The Grace of God in Presentation.

“When he came, and has seen the grace of God…”. Barnabas had SEEN the grace of God at work!  So, how do you ‘see’ the grace of God?  In changed, transformed lives.  The grace of God can be perceived…

  • In the change that occurs in the soul.  The bible teaches us that if any man is in Christ he is a new creation, that old things have passed away and that all things have become new.  What a wonderful change that is!  What a powerful change.  It’s a radical change!    It’s not just a renovation, or a clean-up, it is a whole new creation.
  • In a different attitude to the body.  Body and soul are closely connected.  Holiness in the soul will work itself out in holiness in our physical and sensual activities, in our words and our deeds. When a person is born anew of God, born from above, there will be a desire to stop sinning.  The inward change of the soul is seen in the transformation of  the outward life. 

In essence, we see the grace of God in the outworking of regeneration in the believer’s life.  Look at verse 24 in our text.  See that principle in Barnabas’s own life…  He was

    • A good man.  He would have moral and upright and just, a lifer that was pleasing before the Lord.  He was what every Christian should be, for the the outward aspects of his life reflected what had occurred inwardly at his conversion to Christ.
    • Full of the Holy Spirit.  Barnabas was conscious of the leading of the Holy Spirit in his own life.   Galatians 5:22-23
    • Full of faith.  He trusted the Lord, and accepted his purpose in his life, and God’s power to do that which he had purposed.  

No Christian should be any less that Barnabas, and certainly no Christian worker or Christian leader.  Barnabas is an example for us all.

2. The Grace of God in Praise.

We read that when Barnabas saw what God was doing at Antioch, he was glad.  When the Lord’s people see the Lord at work, it should always gladden our hearts. We do always need to be cautious, but when we observe a genuine work of God, it should rejoice our hearts.  And it should encourage us to pray for more!  Barnabas was glad:-

  • For his own sake.  He had heard that the gospel had been blessed with God’s grace at Antioch, he had visited the city, and now he had seen it for himself.  Nothing will bring us more joy than knowing that the Lord is bringing sinners into his kingdom. 
  • For the sake of the sinners who had been saved.  What great joy, to know that a hell-bound sinner was now saved and on the road to heaven and home.  The very angels in heaven are rejoicing when a sinner comes to Jesus!  Luke 15:10  
  • For the sake of the church.  We are to pray for the church.  Not just our local church, but for the church which is the Body of Christ, that it might be built up and strengthened and prospered.   
  • For the Lord’s sake.  Ultimately the preaching of the Gospel and the saving of precious souls is all so that honour and glory can be given to Jesus.  We rejoice when souls are saved, for our Saviour’s sake.

3. The Grace of God in Perseverance.

Seeing God’s grace in action, Barnabas ‘exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  he encouraged the new Christians to remain very close to the Lord in their daily walk. So Barnabas has a task, commissioned by the elders at Jerusalem, to encourage the new believers at Antioch, and he preaches the need for a daily walk with God.  Notice:-

  • The person of the steady walk.  Now there are many distractions for the Christian, in this world.  There are many snares to trip up the unwary young believer.  So we must stay close to Jesus, who keeps us safe in his care, and protects us, bringing us safely to glory.  We must therefore:-
    • Cleave to his merits alone.  For it only through the work of Christ on the Cross that we are saved.
    • Cleave to his word alone.  The word of God is our guide and comfort in life and in death.  It is a lamp out for my feet and a light unto my path.
    • Cleave to his Spirit alone.  For only the Holy Spirit can sanctify us, and keep us close to Jesus.
    • Cleave to his ordinances.  He has commanded us to be baptised, and commanded us to remember him at communion.  These are not just optional extras, these are divine commands which we must humbly obey.  
    • Cleave to his people.  They are our brothers and sisters.  We may not always like them, but they are the Lord’s people and they are our people, and our companions and we must go with them.
  • The pattern of the steady walk.  Notice that Barnabas tells the people HOW they are to achieve this close walk with God, and it is by perseverance!  With PURPOSE OF HEART.  1 Corinthians 15:58  Philippians 1:27  
  • The parameters of the steady walk. TBarnabas “exhorted them all”. None are excluded from this demand for consistency in their Christian life, living close to the Lord. We all need this steady everyday walk with Jesus.

So the Christian life is not an ‘up and down’ kind of experience, where you go to church on a Sunday and get all whipped up and excited and elated, and then when Monday morning comes, you’re suffering from that ‘morning after feeling’ down in the dumps and depressed.  Just live the Christian life, pray, read the Bible, attend the public worship of God.  Steady growth, not fits and starts, not highs and lows.  Just steady.  Not not a standstill also!  A walk that goes nowhere is a pointless exercise.  

So this new church is full of baby Christians.  It’s doing a great work for God, under Barnabas, their new Pastor.  Like them, every church can reach people for the Lord when the believers are witnessing faithfully for the Lord, when the church is showing interest in the wider work of the Lord here and abroad, when pastors and people are encouraging one another and developing in their Christian growth.  

© BobMcEvoy July 2020  

Prayer and Benediction

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