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Part 4 of Dr. Danny Campbell's "Facing Life's Challenges with the Apostle Paul" series.  This is Dr. Danny Campbell's sermon from the 10:15 a.m. service.

Sermon Notes:

Saul gets recruited  

As I look back on those early opportunities the Lord gave me to grow and serve, I am so thankful for those guys seeing something in me, and adjusting their own time to include me in the ministry.

Read Acts 11:19-26           Saul gets recruited                        

This is the fourth message in a series entitled “Facing life with the Apostle Paul.”        

First message: Saul becomes a believer (33 AD)

Second message: Saul grows in Christ (36 AD)

Third message: Saul did not get healed but he does get a promise (41 AD)

Today’s passage brings us forward to about 45 AD

Saul has been a believer for about a dozen years. For nearly a decade he has been back in Tarsus in Cilicia growing in Christ, running his tent-making business to pay the bills, serving faithfully in local churches.

Meanwhile in the city of Antioch in Syria…                                      V. 19-21

Look at verse 19

Those who were scattered after the persecution that arose because of Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch

Stephen was killed in 32 AD

Phoenicia would be what we now call Lebanon, North of Israel, West of Damascus in Southern Syria.

Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean (Barnabas was from there)

This Antioch is in Northern Syria

These Jewish background believers took the gospel to Jews in those places

Turn to Acts 6:5-9

Stephen and all the first deacons were all Hellenistic, or Greek Speaking Jews who had believed in Jesus.

Stephen had gotten into a dispute with other Greek speaking Jews who rejected Jesus. Verse 9 tells us they were Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicia and Asia.

Cyrene was in North Africa, in what is now Libya.

Alexandria was in North Africa, in Egypt.

Saul was among those from Cilicia.

Did you see that Nicolas was a proselyte from Antioch. Makes you wonder if he wound up back in Antioch sharing Jesus.

Certainly he would have been aware of what Saul had done to fellow believers like Stephen. We already saw that Saul had been converted on a trip to persecute some of the believers in Damascus in Southern Syria.

Look at verse 20

But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus

Just like people jump from big city to big city today to find work, the same thing happened in the Roman Empire.

Here we read that African born Jews and Mediterranean born Jews who became Christians in Jerusalem were among those winning Gentiles to the Lord in the Northern Syria city of Antioch. This church was multicultural from the start!

Look at verse 21

And the hand of the Lord was with them (just as He had promised in His Great Commission!), and a great number believed and turned to the Lord!

The Apostles sent Barnabas to organize the church at Antioch             V. 22-24

Look at verse 22

It makes sense they sent Barnabas, who was from Cyprus, to organize the people between Jerusalem and Antioch into churches. Men from Cyprus had led out in bringing the gospel there! Maybe Barnabas knew them personally!

I love these words about Barnabas in verses 23-24

In verse 24 we read three things about Barnabas –

He was a good man

You don’t read that many times in the Bible! The emphasis is not on our goodness, but God’s. We are sinners saved by grace. I believe Luke wrote this about Barnabas based on what Paul told him to write.

I think because of a problem Paul and Barnabas had later on that Paul wanted only the best things said about Barnabas! What is said next is the key to being a good man in God’s sight.

He was full of the Holy Spirit

All believers are indwelt by the Spirit, but to be full of the Spirit you have to flush sin out of yourself through confession and respond to the Spirit’s leading as you apply the Bible in your life.

He was full of faith

Barnabas never put the emphasis on what he could do – he knew that God could do anything! Barnabas knew the Roman Empire had big problems, but that God was bigger than the Roman Empire!

When Barnabas came and saw the grace of God, what God had done in the lives of these disciples, three things happened –

He was glad

Barnabas would have loved the hymn, “I love to tell the story!”

He loved to hear what God had done in others lives!

He encouraged them to live a purpose driven life!

He told them, “with purpose of heart continue with the Lord”

We already saw there were a great number who had believed before Barnabas got there – verse 24 ends by saying a great many people were added to the Lord as a result of Barnabas being there

And that leads to the third thing that happened in Barnabas –

He knew he needed help!

So he asked himself, “Self, who do I know that really knows both the Jewish and the Greek mind and could help the work of disciple-making and growing here?”

And he thought of Saul of Tarsus!

So he sent Saul an e-mail in Tarsus, right?

Nope, it was a little harder than that – he had to go to Tarsus and find Saul, not knowing if Saul would leave what he was doing and come to Antioch or not!

Barnabas recruits Saul for the work in Antioch                               V. 25-26

Look at verses 25-26

Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for the whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people.

In a moment I want to talk to you about team ministry, but there is something I want us to see first. Think about this for a moment…

Saul had been partly responsible for the death of Stephen. Some of Stephen’s associates had probably brought the gospel to Antioch. Now Barnabas is helping that work grow by bringing their former enemy Saul to help there.

I am guessing the first inclination of those friends of Stephen was not to vote “Yes” on this Associate Pastor candidate who had helped kill their friend. Think about how painful that must have been for them at first. 

When I think of that, I find great hope for our nation during this time!

Saul coming to Antioch to help with the church shows how the grace of God makes it possible for forgiveness to flow, and walls to be torn down!

No wonder verse 26 ends with saying, “and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

The word Christian means “Little Christs!” Scholars believe it was actually the enemies of the church that derisively called them that.

These “little Jesuses” are like Jesus was, bringing people of all different backgrounds together and forgiving ancient hostilities.  

Jesus brought together Jews and Samaritans, and they are bringing together all kinds of people in His name. And they practice love and forgiveness like He did also – so naive! So unworkable in this world we live in!

Now listen to me, brothers and sisters -

Don’t you ever join the world in calling Christ’s teaching unworkable. He knows what He asks us to do is impossible without us walking in faith. We must allow His Spirit to do through us what none of us can do in our own strength. When we do what He commands us to do, it changes this world for the better!

If you don’t have anybody in your life accusing you of being like Jesus, you are doing something wrong! Paul was later able to write, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” Make Imitating Christ your passion! 

The final challenge: be part of team ministry like Barnabas and Saul!

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan where one guy helped another by himself. And if you are the only one around, by all means help if you can!

But Jesus modeled for us ministering with His disciples as a team. AND…

How did Jesus send His disciples out?            Two by Two (Matthew 10; Luke 10)          

Philip led the Ethiopian man to Christ by himself. If you are the only one there to witness, by all means do it!

How does Acts primarily show the disciples ministering?           In Teams

Barnabas knew two things – the saints in Antioch needed more than he could deliver by himself. Saul had more to offer the larger body of Christ.

So Barnabas went and found Saul and brought him to Antioch to help him in team ministry.

Team ministry helps the church of the present and the church of the future. Present work is done while leaders are raised up for the future.  

If Barnabas had not recruited Saul and given him the opportunity to serve, we may not have the 13 books of the Bible that Paul wrote. Paul went on to plant many churches. If he had stayed in Tarsus, it may have taken much longer for the gospel to get throughout the Roman Empire.

Of course for team ministry to emerge in Antioch, Barnabas had to have the heart to recruit a co-worker, and Saul the co-worker had to say yes. The same is true today!     

Now let’s relate this to the day we are in. Because of Coronavirus many of our teaching ministries have been on hold. We have started back our adult and youth Sunday School classes, with plans for the children’s ones to resume August 9th. AWANA will start back in either August or September.

Many of our ministries are only possible because of faithful servants who are over the qge of 65. God bless them! They are our Barnabases! 

 Many of them need to be more careful than they have been before. We want them to minister at the level they feel safe ministering at. If any feels their health concerns mean not resuming their roles, we completely understand!

For those who do start back, whatever your age, let me encourage you to think like Barnabas. Recruit yourself a Paul, or a Pauline, to join you in the work. As the weeks pass, give them more responsibility.

DO expect them to grow and serve as faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus Christ. DON’T expect them to do everything like Mrs. Hundley did! The message NEVER changes, but the methods get adapted for the audience.

Now for those of you who are like Saul of Tarsus, going through his life there in Tarsus, wondering if God had something more for him or not. If someone recruits you to one of our ministries, begin praying about saying ‘Yes!’ But there are so many great opportunities to serve here, don’t be afraid to inquire if what ways you can join one of the ministry teams here!

Let’s Pray!