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Son of Encouragement (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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May 18, 2024 4:00 am

Son of Encouragement (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 18, 2024 4:00 am

God uses ordinary men and women to fulfill His purposes. One such man, Barnabas, was simply an encourager! Scripture teaches that there are no inconsequential tasks, chance encounters, or irrelevant people. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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All through church history there have been ordinary men and women who have been working behind the scenes fulfilling God's purposes. One such man was Barnabas. He wasn't an apostle or a famous preacher.

He was simply an encourager. Today on Truth for Life weekend, Alistair Begg takes a closer look at Barnabas to show us why in God's economy there are no inconsequential tasks, no chance encounters and no irrelevant people. Some of us have been reared in environments in conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity where the motto of so many of our churches has been, Us four, no more, shut the door.

We're very happy to have our little group. We know who's in it, we know who we want to be in it, and we know who we don't want to be in it. When that exists in the fellowship of God's people, we are just in point of identification here with the group in Jerusalem, because Saul himself had no place to go and there was no one to take him. And then come these four fantastic words that begin in verse 27, But Barnabas took him. And when you take somebody, it involves time, it involves effort, and it involves a rearrangement of your plans.

And since most of us are cagey with our time, are not necessarily committed with our effort and don't like our plans being rearranged, as much as we want to be Barnabas, we may be one of the disciples that closed the door in Saul's face, because we didn't want to give up the time. If you think about the evangelism of our churches in terms of their outreach, when we greet people and we tell them about our church and about the pastor that we have and the ministries that are there, and we invite them, we say to them, Oh, you know, you ought to come along some Sunday. And the individual is intrigued and they say, And how do I get there? It would be a lot easier to say, Do you know such and such a petrol station? Do you know such and such a petrol station? Is that near you?

Yeah. Well, I'll tell you what. I'll park my car in the forecourt of that BP station, and you park your car there, and you come and drive with me. That'll give us a chance to talk. That'll give us a chance to get to know one another.

That will give me an indication of some of the people that you may need and like to be introduced to you. Sometimes we ask the person, Where do you come from? And they say, Oh, I come from Georgia. And we say, Oh yeah, we've got a lot of people from Georgia in our church. When you come, look out for them.

Maybe you'll bump into them. Barnabas wasn't that kind of guy. Barnabas took him.

Can I ask you something? When's the last time you took somebody to church? You see, it is the spirit of Barnabas.

When it's in the heart of an individual, it exudes this kind of compassion. How I long for Barnabases in my church and in my life. I told you before that I was brought up in Glasgow. Glasgow was the second city of the British Empire. When I went to church in Glasgow, it was actually to a mission hall near to the fish market, a real stinky place. And it was there that they had built this large mission hall, the tent hall, it was called, after the meetings of Moody and Sankey at the turn of the century. There had been a tent on the Glasgow Green, a park by the River Clyde. And when Moody had gone, he had gathered up some cash.

He'd left it behind so that they could build a permanent structure and build a permanent structure they had. And there on a Saturday evening, when I used to go as a wee boy, there would be 2,200 people and again on Sunday, another 2,200 people. They used to have seats that were in the window ledges. The window ledges flipped down and made into a seat. So once everyone had been seated all through the auditorium, then all the people began to sit on the window ledges all around. And it was there as a small boy that I heard many of the great American preachers as they came to do evangelistic campaigns in that place.

It was a vast spot, and the responsibility that was given to those who were the ushers was a real and important one. I tell this story with purpose because my granny had told one of my aunts, who died as a missionary in India before I was born, on this particular evening when she was heading for church, she told my aunt, now when you go to church tonight, look out for somebody. Don't just go with your friends. Look for someone who may be lonely. Look for someone who perhaps is a visitor.

Just be on the lookout. And so she went. My aunt was a nurse.

She nursed at the Southern General Hospital there in Glasgow in Govan. And she went to church with her mother's instructions ringing in her ears. She took her seat, and as she sat there, she was involved in the opening parts of worship. And suddenly a man who was an ex-professional boxer, who was a dreadful usher, if you like, in the sense that he always made an awful lot of noise. And people in the mission hall used to complain about him. We don't need characters like this as our ushers.

We like nice, demure and quiet ushers. He used to go, there's a seat over there! And you could hear him booming all throughout the hall. And then his big boots would be coming across. And when he'd get to the seat, and he'd have hymn books coming all over the place, dropping on the floor and crashing and banging.

And he didn't just dish out Bibles and books and throw people into seats. He looked them in the eye, asked them their name, and found out where they were from. And into that vast crowd walked a girl who had arrived that weekend to be a nurse in Glasgow. She had come from the north of Scotland. She was completely on her own. She knew nobody. He said to her, who are you?

And detecting her accent, he discovered that she was from the Black Isle of Scotland. Immediately thinking through the group that represented the church, he said to himself, I bet that girl Bertha Begg would be just the person to sit next to. And so he went on one of his crash-bang wallop traipses all around the church.

And, doubtless, there were a bunch of old fogies complaining about him that night as well. Why doesn't he just put them in the first seat? Why does he have to roam all around the church, for goodness' sake?

What's going on here? And he went and he brought this girl who knew no one to a girl whose mother had said, look out for someone. And I can't continue the story for you, dear ones, but the implications of that man doing that on that night have spanned four generations since, as a result of one act of genuine friendship and encouragement. There are no inconsequential moments in our days. There are no chance encounters. There are no irrelevant people.

There is no inconsequential task. The church, my church, is sustained every single week as a result of men and women whose names you will never, ever know—men and women just like you and just like me. Let's turn to Acts 11, because this is the last little vignette that we have of Barnabas that I would like to consider with you, and we will do this just briefly. Acts 11, verse 19, tells the news of the great blessing which followed the scattering of the Christians as a result of the persecution which had accompanied the death of Stephen.

This is a reminder to us, incidentally and in passing, that we ought not to judge the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace, as Cowper says, because behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face. And in the persecution which hit the church in Jerusalem, the believers themselves realized that they were buffeted and tossed, but God in his purposes was scattering them through Phoenicia and through Cyprus and through Antioch. And the message up until then was going only to the Jews. But then in verse 20 we read, However, men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. And the Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. And so the news of this goes back to headquarters, back to the church in Jerusalem. This was not an immediately welcome story for them because it confronted them with a whole new departure that they weren't necessarily ready for. Up until now, the expansion of the gospel had been Judaistic, almost wholesalely so. But here the word had come back that Greeks now were becoming Christians. This was a new departure.

Who could they send for an encounter such as this? It's no surprise to us. And when the news of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. It's not everybody in your church can cope with new things. It's not everyone in your group that is prepared to see God's Spirit at work in different ways. If we have lived our lives channeling the Spirit of God into our own concrete little trenches, determining this is the way and only the way in which God will work, then the day that God expands the banks and pours His Spirit out in a new way and in a new dimension, there will not be too many of us that will be able to respond to that with the kind of alacrity that was marked here by Barnabas. And what are we told of him? Barnabas, when he saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad.

Glad. How many people are there in your congregation who are glad when things are new and things are different? Are you glad when things are new and different? Can you rejoice in new songs and in new hymns, or must we only sing those same old hymns? I love those hymns.

I know them off by heart, too. I have no word to say against them. Let's sing them and sing them all. But there is more that God is doing. Some of us who have lived a little longer need to realize that as the Church moves on into a new generation, while we have an unchanging message, we have a changing world, and we have changing times. And it is not everybody who can see the evidence of the grace of God and be glad. Are you glad for the evidences of the grace of God? Are you glad when you see young people sing his praise? I preached in Ireland a few years ago.

These are dear and godly people, but I share the platform with a bunch of guys that were all old enough to be my dad and some of them to be my grandpa. On one particular evening, we didn't have the same people playing the piano and the organ. Indeed, we didn't even have the piano and the organ. We had a group of about twenty-five young people playing all manner of instruments, banging and crashing and blowing and sucking and doing all manner of things, making a right royal hullabaloo down on the right-hand side as I sat on the platform. The hymns had all manner of beats. Some of them sounded like Israeli folk songs. Some of them sounded like half-baked pop songs. Some of them sounded like glory all knows whatnot. And, you know, there were at least a couple of men on the platform beside me who refused to sing a note. Now, a younger man is not supposed to rebuke an older man.

The Word of God says that. But in the flesh I could gladly have taken the two of them and banged their wooden heads together right there and then right on the platform. For what they did not realize was that there, from the streets of the troubled-torn province of Ulster, were young men and women redeemed by the grace of God. They did not come from their background. They did not know their songs.

They did not come out of the chute from which they had emerged. But they were in love with Jesus Christ. It was stinking hot in this tent, and on the evening before the final day's meetings I made a dreadful tactical error. I said to the chairman, Do you think it would be okay to preach without my jacket on?

He replied, We will have a meeting about that, and I will let you know. This is the gospel truth. They had the meeting, and they informed me that it would be inappropriate to take one's jacket off. While I was the last to speak, I spoke on the Sunday afternoon at three o'clock. I was flying at four-thirty, and midway through my message, with the perspiration running all down my face, I took off my jacket in mainstream and threw it on the old boy's chair right beside him.

It landed right on his knees. I preached, and I flew, and I was gone. And guess what?

They invited me back. I might not even wear a tie just to rattle them up a wee bit. Where in the world did we get half of this junk? We're as bad as the Pharisees, Ten Commandments, and then another forty-five that we came up with. And the whole forty-five of them, not worth a hill of beans, all added together? Oh, no, give us a Barnabas.

That's what I say. Give me a Barnabas. When he sees the grace of God, he was glad.

And what did he do? He encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. That's the kind of encouragement we need, isn't it?

I don't care what age you are. That's what you need. That's what I need. I need somebody to encourage me to remain true to the Lord with all of my heart. That's it.

That's all I need. Because all that throws itself against me in this wicked world encourages me not to be true, not to stay the course, to lie down and to quit, to let go of the baton before I finish my lap of the relay, before I get it safely in the hands of the person who is to take it from me. I need someone—you need someone—to encourage us to stay the course, to run the race, to finish the task. Only in heaven will it become apparent just how successful Paul was able to be in his earthly ministry as a result of the fact that God initially placed by his side Barnabas. I wish I had a wee song just like Dare to be a Daniel.

You know that? Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose for him and dare to make it known. I have to make up a poem. Dare to be a Barnabas, you know. Dare not go alone.

You know, gather someone on your arm and buy yourself a phone. I mean, I don't know, but I mean, it's just—we just so desperately need this in our churches. Fifty percent of the marriages in America are falling apart. Kids are brought up in daycare centers—lonely people. Now, let me do something and just give you all a real scare. Let me quote the Beatles to you.

Hey, Alan R. Rigby picks up the rice in the church where the wedding is being. Oh, look at all those lonely people. Where do they all come from?

Oh, look at all those lonely people. Where do they all belong? I'll tell you where they belong. They belong in the church. They belong in the bosom of Jesus. They belong in the embrace of grace.

And they will not find their way there in a vacuum. But you may be that link. As the pastor said Sunday morning, a substitute for the substitute, a Barnabas, a friend, an encourager in a world that can be so cold. When you're down and troubled, said James Taylor in the 1960s—and you need a helping hand, actually, it was Carole King—nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me, and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest night. You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend? Because people can be so cold. They'll hurt you. They'll desert you. They'll take your soul if you let them.

Oh, now, don't you let them. You've got a friend. Do you have any friends? Are you a friend to anyone? I figure if I have one true friend in the whole world, then I am a rich man. Poor is the friendless master of a universe.

What makes a good friend? A guy like Barnabas. He was a good man. Do you know anyone else that was described just as a good man in the New Testament?

Check it out. He was a good man. He was full of the Holy Spirit, and he was full of faith. God, give us more, Mr. and Mrs. Barnabas. You are listening to Truth for Life Weekend, and that is Alistair Begg challenging each of us to be more like Barnabas.

Alistair returns in just a bit to close today's program. If you listen regularly to Truth for Life, you often hear me mentioning our mission, which is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance so that unbelievers might be converted, believers would be established in their faith, and local churches would be strengthened. We are always encouraged when we hear from listeners who tell us how they are benefiting from this ministry.

We recently heard from Julie. She lives in New South Wales, Australia, and she wrote to say, I've been benefiting from Truth for Life for many years now, and I use what they offer for many purposes. I can listen online to Alistair's teaching, read the daily Truth for Life devotions, the one from Charles Spurgeon and the one from Alistair, and take advantage of the books I receive as a supporter. These books have become great gifts to give to friends who are keen to know more about Christianity. Truth for Life is so easy to recommend to others who need further teaching and encouragement during the week.

I praise and thank the Lord for the impact they have through this ministry. We are thrilled when we hear about how God is working through Truth for Life, and if you'd like to know more about some of the benefits that Julie talked about, like free access to Alistair's teaching archive, or the devotionals, the articles, and more, just explore our website And while you're on the website, check out a book we're recommending. It's titled Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children For Life. If you are a parent or about to become one, we think this is a book you will benefit from greatly. It offers practical advice from folks who have been in the trenches. The authors are a married couple, parents of four grown children.

For more information about the book Parenting Essentials, visit our website at Now here is Alistair to close with prayer. Some of us have a business colleague or a friend over coffee or a neighbor down the street, a schoolteacher, a Sunday schoolteacher. Our lives are literally littered with the evidences of the need for encouragement, of the need for friendship, the need for the spirit of Barnabas to be reincarnated in our lives. Take our lives and let them be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take our moments and our days and let them flow in ceaseless praise. For we ask it that Christ may be exalted, that the Church may be encouraged. And it's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us this weekend. Did you know each of us is born with a life-threatening condition? We'll hear about it next weekend and we'll learn about the cure. I hope you can join us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-18 06:07:44 / 2024-05-18 06:16:15 / 9

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