Then tidings of these things came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas…
I. WHAT BARNABAS WAS.
1. "He was a good man" — a man of a kind, affable, and courteous disposition. This "goodness," which is one of the fruits of God's Spirit, should characterise all Christians. It —
(1) Adorns the doctrine of God our Saviour.
(2) Attracts the notice of the unhappy worldling.
(3) Wins the affections of the young.
2. He was also full of the Holy Ghost. An amiable disposition does not make a Christian. There are many whom we esteem for their sweetness of character, but who, like the young man that Jesus loved, yet lack one thing — the gift of the Holy Ghost.
(1) No man can be said to be a true Christian till the Holy Spirit has shown him his guilt, and led him to the Saviour.
(2) No man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost.
(3) The sons of God are led by, pray, walk, and live in the Spirit.
3. He was full of faith. He had the most implicit confidence in the remedy he was to apply to the souls of men.
II. WHAT HE SAW. "The grace of God" — i.e., its effects. These are sometimes seen in men's —
1. Countenances. Wisdom "maketh the face to shine." "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance." And what can make the heart so merry as the assurance of salvation? Stephen's face was as "the face of an angel." Thus, too, was it with Moses. The believer may not be conscious of this heavenly expression. Others, however, will observe it.
2. Conversation. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." A man cannot himself feel the value of the Saviour without commending His preciousness to others.
3. Conduct. A tree is known by its fruits, so are believers known by their works.
III. WHAT HE FELT. He was glad because —
1. Souls were saved. A thirsty traveller would not rejoice over a dry well, nor a musician over a tuneless organ. Nor will the believer rejoice over ordinances, however well administered, unless he has evidence afforded that Christ is faithfully preached, and that good is being done to the souls of men.
2. A public profession of Christ was made. "With the heart man believeth, but with his mouth he maketh confession." Nothing gives so much consolation and influence to a minister and his people as when they first see one and then another coming out from the world and joining themselves boldly to the Lord's side.
3. Christ's presence was vouchsafed. Excellent as are a pure creed, a large Church, and an attentive congregation, the faithful minister will esteem them but formal and unprofitable unless he can see resting upon his labours Christ's presence and blessing.
IV. WHAT HE DID. Barnabas knew the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan; and hence, although he saw the grace of God, he rejoiced with trembling. He saw the tree covered indeed with blossoms, and this made him the more anxious lest any of those blossoms should be blighted. He therefore exhorted these disciples. In every age similar exhortation has been needful. There are now, as there were then, false teachers, and temptations to seduce men from Christ into the world. Suffer ye the word of exhortation.
1. Do I address any who are growing weary in well-doing? — any who are beginning to be backsliders? I have an errand, O worldly professor, to thee: "Remember Lot's wife." Arouse yourselves, then, and do your first works.
2. I am doubtless addressing some who do not wish to be considered as religious professors. Now you I cannot exhort "to cleave unto the Lord," for you have never yet come to the Lord. To you I address this: "If in that day the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
(C. Clayton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.