Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas
After the conversion of Cornelius and his household, as led marvelously by the Holy Spirit, the believers in Judaea got to hear about the same.
However, those of the circumcision had reservations about Peter going to visit and eat with the uncircumcised, vs 1-3!
Peter patiently explained to them that he went there, only on specifically being led by the Holy Spirit, and also narrated how the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and those gathered in his home, whilst he was sharing the good news of the Gospel with them, for which reason he could in no way withstand this move of God, vs 4-17! On hearing this, they held their peace and glorified God in knowing that God had granted repentance leading to eternal life to the Gentiles too, vs 18.
This move of God continued to spread, as those who had scattered abroad on account of the persecution began witnessing initially to the Jews and subsequently to the Grecians in Antioch too, vs 19,20, and the hand of the Lord being with them, a great number of them believed and turned to the Lord, vs 21! On hearing about this, the Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas, (who was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith) to help out with the work of the Lord going on in Antioch.
He encouraged them to cleave to the Lord, and many more were added to the Church as a result, vs 22-24.
It was then that Barnabas sought out Saul from Tarsus and took his help in the work of the Lord in Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, vs 25,26. It was during that time that a prophet named Agabus came to Antioch from Jerusalem, and foretold about a famine that was soon to sweep across the world, which indeed did take place during the reign of Claudius Caesar, vs 27-28.
In response to this, the disciples, each according to his ability, sent relief to the elders for the brethren who lived in Judaea by the hands of Barnabas and Saul, vs 29,30.
From these incidents we can clearly see how the New Testament Church must be led purely by the Holy Spirit and not by the whims and fancies of any particular man or woman of God!
Even Peter who was a leader in the Church at Jerusalem did not dare to counter the definite leading of the Holy Spirit, which he experienced in more ways than one, through visions and a definite experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as encountered by those gathered in Cornelius’ household.
We must also note the patient manner in which he communicated these happenings to those of the circumcision who had reservations about the Gospel being preached to the Gentiles.
The truth, on graciously being conveyed to them, they eventually heartily consented. Barnabas’ leading to trust Paul and take him along to Antioch to help in the ministry was also another example of how one needs to be led by the Holy Spirit while doing ministry in the Church. For, humanly speaking, one would not naturally think of trusting an ex murderer and persecutor of the Church to be a co worker of the Gospel, unless led by the Holy Spirit!
This spirit of unity in the midst of diversity, as led by the Holy Spirit, ushered in the blessing of the Lord and the subsequent growth of the Church. It must also be noted that when help was to be sent to the believers in Judaea, it was sent to the elders of the Church by the hands of trustworthy men.
This seems to be the best way of practicing generosity in the Church, as it can be done both discreetly and wisely too, while ensuring unnecessarily mishaps in the matter as often tends to take place!
So, let us determine to be led by the Holy Spirit in all things and always in line with God’s Word, for it is such who are, indeed the sons of God, vs Roman 8:14! Amen.