Storytellers: Paul and Barnabas

Storytellers: Paul and Barnabas



llustration:
About three years ago, my wife and I made a trip to Beijing, China.  Yes, China.  Now were were on a mission to adopt our third son Jett, so we didn’t just go over there to visit.  So, Angela and I decided to take advantage of the trip so we did some sight seeing.  One of the most interesting things we did is visit The Great Wall of China.  When I visited the Wall, I realized why they call it Great.  The Great Wall was built over several of the imperial Chinese dynasties.  The Great Wall was built to protect China from northern invaders or barbarians as we know them.  It is an impressive structure.  It is said that over 400,000 men died while building the wall and to cut the costs of burials, the men were placed right inside the wall.  



The Wall is 4000 miles long.  So, just how long is 4000 miles?  4000 miles would stretch from the American East Coast to the West Coast and still have some wall to go.  It is a really really big long wall.  

Here is a fun fact about the wall.  As big as it was.  As long as it was.  It only worked for a short period of time.  China was eventually still invaded by the barbarians.  What China discovered was that the physical wall served more as a physiological deterrent.  Meaning this, that when invaders came to the wall, they saw its size and length and simply gave up.  They quit.  They left and went home.  

After a time though, theses same invaders came back and they were more determined.  They brought ladders, rope and hooks and they were able to scale the wall.  They were no longer going to just give up. They saw that the barrier, although Great, could be conquered if they just committed themselves to overcoming it.  

Point:
Friends, what barriers have you encountered?  Are they physical barriers or physiological?  Over the past several weeks we have talked about sharing your Jesus story with your friends, co-workers and classmates.  We have talked about being bold, being courageous and being a witness for Jesus.  Some of us have taken part in this challenge.  Others of us feel like we are looking up at The Great Wall of China.  We want to conquer the challenge.  We want to share our testimony and led someone to Jesus but there are just to many barriers.  

You are standing face to face with the barrier of…

Time: You simply just don’t have enough time.

What to say: You feel that your story is just not that good, or that inspiring.

Embarrassment: You are afraid that people will mock you, and you feel that you will be embarrassed.

Lack of Knowledge: You feel that you just don’t know enough to adequately share Jesus with anyone.

Maybe there is another barrier in your life.  It is tall and it is long.  

Friends, let me share with you this morning this simple truth, there will always be barriers to communicating Biblical truths with the outside lost world.  These barriers are often Satanic in nature.  Meaning that Satan himself is the barrier builder.  

Here is the good news.  Like The Great Wall of China, these barriers are often times not physical, but physiological.  Meaning that we must simply make the choice, the commitment to overcome these barriers in order to see Jesus move.  The Lord has given us every tool we need. He has given us His Word.  He has given us our faith.  He has given us His Spirit. He has given us our testimony.  Friends thats all we need.  

Remember, when sharing your story, you WILL encounter barriers and blessings. 

When Sharing Your Story, You Will Encounter Barriers and Blessings!

Background of Text:
We are first introduced to Barnabas in Acts 13.  Barnabas is later referred to in Scripture as the Son of Encouragement.  What a great nickname. I think that I would have gotten along pretty well with Barnabas.  He must have been a lively, winsome person to earn such a nickname.  We first discover Barnabas worshipping God in Antioch.  During this worship service, the Lord set’s aside Barnabas and Saul (or the Apostle Paul) for the challenging work of evangelism.  These men, along with John, would travel in and around the middle East sharing the Gospel not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles.  For the record, sharing the Good News with Gentiles was quite a controversy.  Paul and Peter had some sharp disagreements on this issue as we find out later in Scripture.  

So, Barnabas and Paul set out.  They left Antioch and went to Seleucia and then on to Cyprus.  So, the first barrier that they ran into was travel.  Yes, travel can be a serious barrier when desiring to take the Gospel to the nations.  Then then run into some interesting characters.  They have an encounter with a magician named Bar-Jesus and a philosopher named Sergius Paulus.  Bar Jesus was a false teacher and he desired to serve as a barrier to Paul and Barnabas.  Yes, people can be a serious barrier.  Notice Paul’s response to Bar Jesus. 

Acts 13:9-11 ESV
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.

So basically, Paul calls Bar Jesus the devil and blinds him.  Now that is one way around a barrier.  The act was so astonishing that Sergius Paulus sat in amazement at the teaching and power of Paul and Barnabas.  

So Paul and Barnabas head back to Antioch.  Perhaps they needed to refuel or recharge.  Perhaps they had some family matters to attend to.  Perhaps it was just God leading them back home.  When they arrived back in Antioch, they went to the Synagogues to teach, preach and read Holy Scripture. They read from the Law and the Prophets.  Paul then turned to his fellow Jews and enlightened them on how the Law and the Prophets pointed directly to Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  The people were again amazed at their teaching and they begged Paul and Barnabas to come back the following Sabbath and teach them again.  

That is where our story picks up today.  It has been a week since Paul and Barnabas last taught in the synagogue.  A massive crowd has gathered to hear them.  The crowd was not just Jews, but also Gentiles.  The Jews, thinking that the message of salvation was meant only for them, became jealous.  They began speak out against the two men.  The following selection is the response of both Barnabas and Paul.  Let’s listen to them tell their Jesus story. 

Acts 13: 44-52 ESV
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

3 Lessons To Learn From Barnabas’ Boldness!

I. Barnabas’ Message Was Not Convenient vs. 45
Acts 13:45 ESV
But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 

Point:
As I stated earlier, there are lots of barriers in communicating the Gospel.  Sometimes it is travel.  Sometimes it is difficult people.  Let’s just say that Paul and Barnabas run into some difficult people in Antioch.  Scripture tells us that when the two men began to share their Jesus story with the crowd, the Jews, began to revile them.  

What exactly does that mean? What does revile mean?  What is really going on here?

The Greek word for revile is λοιδορέω or loidoreó and is pronounced loy-dor-eh’-o.  It means to say harsh things (make verbal assaults); to revile; to spue bitter (tasteless) statements, using mean-spirited, insulting words to demoralize (humiliate).

For the record, these are the same people that begged Paul and Barnabas to come and share with them their teachings about Jesus a week before.  Now they are hurling insults and harsh words towards them.  They want to humiliate them. 

People are fickle animals.  Imagine how Paul and Barnabas must have felt.   They had seen God move in worship. They had just defeated a wicked magician.  They saw the Spirit of God do amazing things.  Their teachings were so powerful that massive crowds had turned out to see them.  I imagine that they were pretty excited, maybe even patting themselves on the back.  

Then the revilers come out.  They start putting it to Paul and Barnabas.  They start shouting and saying horrible things.  Why?  The crowed hated Paul and Barnabas because they were opening the door of the Gospel to the world. You would think that was a good thing but they, the crowd, were not feeling it.  They were upset.  They were angry.  They reviled Paul and Barnabas.  

Point:
Friends, there is nothing easy or convenient about the message of the Gospel.  Delivering the Good News is not for the faint of heart. It is a difficult calling to embrace and it should be met with utmost seriousness and trepidation.  The road of evangelism is often times not paved with gold.  Sometimes, sharing the Gospel means that we must crawl through the gutters of life.  

Saying this, it is absolutely worth it.  To see God move and save another human’s spiritual soul is the greatest vision a Christian can have.  Believers may be denied and reviled by the masses, but seeing that one lost person come to know God is absolutely fantastic.  It is wonderful.  

Sure, sharing the message of the Gospel may not be convenient, but it is crucial. When we decide to climb the barrier of inconvenience, we put our faith and our total dependance on God.  We see Him move in ways that we cannot see if we just stay at home.  

Point:
Why is the Gospel so important?  Why is it so critical?  Here’s why, because everyday 155,000 globally die.  That’s right, you could fill Bryant Denny Stadium everyday and have a spare 50000 people with dead bodies…everyday.  Now there is your visual.  That’s 155000 people who have an eternal destination, an eternal home and without a witness from us, may never hear about the Gospel of Jesus, the Good News.  

Is that not enough for us to dedicate ourselves to overcome and inconvenient message.  Yes, it may be hard, but if we can just save one, it will be worth it.  

Illustration: Just One Starfish

One day an old man was walking along the beach. It was low tide, and the sand was littered with thousands of stranded starfish that the water had carried in and then left behind.
The man began walking very carefully so as not to step on any of the beautiful creatures. Since the animals still seemed to be alive, he considered picking some of them up and putting them back in the water, where they could resume their lives.
The man knew the starfish would die if left on the beach's dry sand but he reasoned that he could not possibly help them all, so he chose to do nothing and continued walking.
Soon afterward, the man came upon a small child on the beach who was frantically throwing one starfish after another back into the sea. The old man stopped and asked the child, "What are you doing?"
"I'm saving the starfish," the child replied.
"Why waste your time?... There are so many you can't save them all so what does is matter?" argued the man.
Without hesitation, the child picked up another starfish and tossed the starfish back into the water... "It matters to this one," the child explained.

I Corinthians 9:22 ESV
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

3 Lessons To Learn From Barnabas’ Boldness!

I. Barnabas’ Message Was Not Convenient vs. 45
II. Barnabas’ Message Was Not Just For The Chosen vs. 46
Acts 13:46 ESV
And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 

Illustration:
During World War II there was one immigrant who was serving in the army. He had a language barrier. So before the general came to inspect the camp, his friend taught him how to answer if the general came to ask questions. His friend said the first question definitely would be, "How old are you?" He should simply answer, "Twenty-two!" And the second question definitely would be, "How long have you been serving in army?" He would simply answer "Two." And the third question definitely would be, "Have you been receiving good treatment and good food?" He should say, "Both."

The general did come and did ask him. But not in order. He asked:

"How long have you been serving in the army?"

The immigrant answered 22.

"How old are you?"

"Two."

"Do you think that I am foolish and stupid?"

He answered "both." 

Point:
So, this gentleman may have suffered from a language barrier, but there are other barriers that we Christians suffer from as well.  Sometimes, the message itself is understood.  People that should know better, can sometimes be the barrier in between sharing the Gospel and staying at home.

Point:
Here is the rub, the Jews really thought that the message of Christ was for them. They thought that the Good News was exclusive and that, as God’s chosen people, that they had ownership of said message.  Surly the gross, dirty Gentiles would not have access to God’s mercy and forgiveness.  

There was just one problem.  The message of the Gospel IS for everyone.  The message the Gospel was to be preach to all the nations.  Not just to the Jews, but also to the dreaded Samaritans and yes, the vile Romans.  This did not sit well with the Jews.  So, what does Paul and Barnabas do? They quote Scripture.  

Point:
Remember, knowing Scripture is the key to good, theologically sound, evangelism. 

Acts 16:47 ESV
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Point:
How did Paul and Barnabas overcome their fears.  Surly they must have been shocked the behavior of those who were clamoring for them to return to the synagogues.  Last week they were happy, even joyful.  Today, they are an angry mob of misfits hell bent on doing horrible things to Paul and Barnabas.  So, what kept the going? How did they overcome the mob?

The answer is simple. It was their knowledge of Scripture.  Knowing and memorizing Scripture can turn the cowardly bold.  It can give the defenseless man a sword. 

How well do you know Scripture.  Perhaps you are fearful about sharing Christ because you have no defense.  Why not commit yourself to not just reading God’s Word but memorizing it so when the time comes, you can be ready to fight.  

So, What Are Some Helpful Hints To Memorizing Scripture?

A. Be Timely (Mark You Calendar)

B. Be Thoughtful (Think About The Verse)

C. Be Typing (Write It Down or Type It In My Case)

D. Be Talkative (Say It Aloud)

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

3 Lessons To Learn From Barnabas’ Boldness!

I. Barnabas’ Message Was Not Convenient vs. 45
II. Barnabas’ Message Was Not Just For The Chosen vs. 46
III. The People’s Response Was Curious vs. 48-52
Acts 13:48-52 ESV
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. 

Illustration:
The young salesman was disappointed about losing a big sale, and as he talked with his sales manager he lamented, "I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." The manager replied, "Son, take my advice: your job is not to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty." 

Point:
So it is with evangelism. Our lives should be so filled with Christ that they create a thirst for the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas made the Gentiles thirsty. 

Point:
Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch. They are speaking about Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles.  The message is good.  It is true.  It is correct.  It is the Good News.  Yet, the reviews are mixed.  Notice verse 48.  Upon hearing the news, the Gentiles are rejoicing.  They are glorifying the God.  The Word of God begins to spread throughout the region like wildfire.  

Then comes verse 50.  There were Jews that wanted to shelter the message and they stirred up persecution against the disciples.  I think it is funny that it was the devout women who led their men to persecute Paul and Barnabas.  Imagine that conversation.  

“You get out there”

“But honey, the game is on”

“You better get out there and do something”

“Baby, I just got the chicken wings out of the oven”

“You never do anything around here.  You make me do all the persecuting”

“But sugar plum”

“But sugar plum nothing. My mother was right.  You are just not interested in persecuting anyone are you”

“Ok, Ok, I my going.  Let me get my rock.”

To me it is one of the most humorous verses in the Bible.  Thankfully, my wife has never driven me to persecute anyone.  

All joking aside, you see two different responses don’t you?  Some are happy. Some are angry.  

Let me tell you something, the same is true today.  When you speak a message of God, you will have some that are joyful and you will have others that are jilted.  Jesus even tells us that it is the nature of people.  Some will go God way and many others will not.  

Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

James even assures the believer that persecution is in our future, if we are truly living for God.  

James 1:2-4 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So, if the road is broad and there is an assurance of hardship, why do it?  Why commit to something so hard and difficult?  The answer is still the same.

Because people are worth it and God tells us to do it.  

People’s souls are at stake and we cannot turn a blind eye to people who die with the Gospel.

God command His disciples to obey Him and His teachings.  Evangelism, telling your Jesus story is clearly our burden and our Holy privilege.  

Quote:
Evangelist Vance Havner, preaching at the Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week in 1974, stated: “Evangelism is to Christianity what veins are to our bodies. You can cut Christianity anywhere and it’ll bleed evangelism. Evangelism is vascular, it’s our business. Talk about majoring on evangelism, you might as well talk about a doctor majoring on healing. That’s our business.” 


Make Evangelism Your Business Today!

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