Goodness and Fullness of the Spirit and Faith {Acts 11}

2:45 AM

By Angie Benjamin

The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. -Acts 11:22–24

Disciples had been scattered all over the Mediterranean coastlands after the persecution of Stephen. Some went about 400 miles north to Antioch and preached to Gentiles. A great number believed.News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and the man chosen to represent Jerusalem in Antioch was Barnabas, a Jew from Cyprus. Earlier, Luke mentioned that he had an outstanding reputation for piety and generosity among the believers at Jerusalem, and that he was respectful of the apostolic leadership (4:36-37). 

Barnabas came and saw the grace of God, and he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord.

Barnabas has the nickname “Son of Encouragement” (4:36). He certainly lives up to his name in evaluating the progress of the gospel at Antioch. Luke says that when Barnabas sees “what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them” (11:23). How Barnabas knows the grace of God is working is not stated. Presumably the fact that so many Gentiles are accepting Jesus as Savior is considered proof in itself. Perhaps the evidence is in changed lives, or in a display of the gifts of the Spirit. Barnabas doesn’t find any defects in the new converts’ faith or theology. He simply encourages both missionaries and converts “to remain true to the Lord” (11:23).

Barnabas gives us a great example on how to help new Christians. He demonstrated strong faith; he ministered joyfully with kindness and encouragement. He taught new believers further lessons on God (Acts 9:26-30).

It is obvious that Luke admires Barnabas, "For he was a good man." But, what is the root of his goodness? Where does it come from? And how does this particular root produce the fruit of goodness we see in this text? How might it produce the same goodness in us?

Verse 24. says that:

1.Barnabas was a good man,
2.and Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and faith, that's the other assertion.

How do they relate to each other? Probably fullness of the Holy Spirit and faith is the root or source of Barnabas' goodness. Paul unpacks this relationship in Galatians. He says in Galatians 5:22 that goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. You don't get the Holy Spirit because you are good. The Holy Spirit takes over your life and starts to make you good.

But what do we do in that process? We are not passive in this affair of becoming good. That's why Luke doesn't just say that Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit. He is full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Faith is what we do. Now what does faith have to do with the work of the Holy Spirit?

Galatians 3:2 tells us: "Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?" The assumed answer is that we received the Spirit by faith in the Word of God. Then verse 5 says, "Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?" And again the assumed answer is FAITH! The Spirit is received by faith and goes on being supplied through faith.

You see, at the very beginning of the Christian life we receive the Holy Spirit by trusting in the truth of the gospel (Galatians 3:2). Then as the Christian life goes on and there is need again and again to be strengthened and filled with the Spirit, this too happens by faith in the word of God's promise (Galatians 3:5). One of the practical fruits or products of this Spirit-filled faith is goodness (Galatians 5:22).

So when Luke says that Barnabas was "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith," might refer to the fact that Barnabas had a great faith in God, and that by this faith the Holy Spirit became powerful in his heart, and that the result was a lot of practical goodness in Barnabas' life.

What made Barnabas tick? what was the key to his life as a successful Christian leader?
Well, Luke could have responded: "The key to his life was that he was full of the Holy Spirit." or in other words "The key to his life was that he was full of faith."

Six fruits of Barnabas' Goodness and Faith

1. His Empathy to Outsiders

Barnabas felt empathy for outsiders, because faith makes us feel the wonder of once having been an outsider but now accepted by God.

2. His Submission to God's Call Through the Church

Barnabas yielded to the call of God, because faith rests in the missionary promise, "I will be with you to the end of the age."

3. His Vision of God's Grace in an Imperfect Church

Barnabas saw the grace of God in an imperfect church, because faith has a homing device for grace.

4. His Joy over God's Grace in Other's Lives

Barnabas rejoiced over the grace of God in the lives of others, because faith not only sees grace but savors it.

5. His Exertion for the Saints' Perseverance

Genuine saving faith knows the necessity of vigilance for itself and therefore for others.

6. His Trustworthiness with Other People's Money

 verses 29–30: "And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea; and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."

Barnabas was trustworthy with other people's money, because the power of greed had been broken by his faith in the love of a never-failing God.

When we meet new believers, we should remember Barnabas, and think of way to help them grow in their faith.

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