Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Acts 11:22 – 24 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
The early church is in transition. God is moving the Jewish people out of their comfort zones by opening the door of the church to Gentiles. When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Greeks and Romans were getting saved, they sent Barnabas to the city of Antioch to check on what was happening. The choice of Barnabas was significant. The Apostles could have sent someone with more theological training to evaluate the truth of what was happening. They could have sent someone with more authority who could have put a stop to any non-Jewish activity. But they chose the man who was known as an encourager. This indicates that the Apostles were not closed-minded about the church but were already convinced that this was a move of God. They wanted to send someone who would encourage these new believers and who could motivate them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
When Barnabas arrived in Antioch he was overwhelmed with the evidence of the grace of God. He was thrilled to see that God’s grace for salvation was being offered to the Gentiles, and he was overjoyed that the Jews in Antioch were accepting the Gentiles as joint-heirs with Christ of all things in eternity. There was no racial discrimination or religious secularization taking place. All people who came to Christ for salvation were considered equals in the church.
What a marvelous testimony to the grace of God when all racial, cultural, social, and religious issues are removed as barriers to true fellowship. When the people of God who have met Jesus Christ as their Savior truly love and accept one another as equal members of the body of Christ, it is the full manifestation of the grace of God. Barnabas experienced that at Antioch, and he was glad. He encouraged the people to keep it up.
I want to encourage you to keep it up as well. Calvary is a marvelous place of grace, where people, no matter who they are, can meet God as they are, and begin a journey of growth that starts with acceptance by God and by other believers. The grace that is shown to people in our church is fantastic. When there are needs, we reach out and help. When people are hurting or rejoicing, we join with them in their pain or their celebrations.
Simple things mean so much when they are done in the grace of God. Recently our community of believers has had the opportunity to minister to several families in need. I received an email from one of the families we helped. It expresses perfectly the way that grace heals, and it encourages us to keep modeling it to anyone and everyone. I have permission from the family to share this information with you. I have removed the names so that God gets all the glory.
Dear Pastor John,
I was checking mail this morning and realized once again how much love was poured out on our family. I did not believe there was a church that still practiced this kind of Grace. I was so hurt when we came to you, but I have been persuaded that there is hope. I want you to know that I have caught a glimpse of the risen Savior through the love and support of his people at Calvary. God has not abandoned us. For a while that is what I believed. My husband and I are slowly coming out of our safe place and learning to trust again, only because our place of safety has changed. We no longer need to trust in ourselves, but we can again put our trust in the Lord and lean on His people. It was all of you just being you, consistently. Thank You.
WOW! If you’ve been tempted to think that your time, energy, gifts, and words of encouragement have no impact, then go back and read the letter again. God is healing two people’s hearts through your gifts of grace. You are being an encouragement to someone else and they see the risen Christ in you. Keep it up! Stay true to the Lord with all your heart, and continue to model His grace.
People are noticing.