Honesty That Follows
There is such a thing as Holy Spirit endowment of power for your witness. But the other side of the Holy Spirit’s work is, “great grace was upon them all”.
And hello, radio friends, how are you? Got your eyes open and are you launched on the day? Some of you are driving a car so you better have your eyes open, I’m sure, otherwise you end up a statistic, right? Well, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, God bless you and keep you in His will today, is my prayer. Now, we’re just finishing up Acts Chapter 15. Paul and Barnabas had had their first big argument and had decided that they were going their separate ways. The contention was so sharp, you remember I told you that contention word is the Greek word from which we get our English word paroxysm, a fit. They had fits. [chuckle] The contention was so sharp between them that they departed asunder, one from the other.
So Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. And God blessed Barnabas, remember this. He blessed Barnabas and he blessed him to Mark, especially, for Mark became profitable for the ministry. And we have no record that Mark ever again quit under pressure, which leads me to a small thought here. Because a person has failed once, you need not assume that he will fail again the same way. Now, I said the last time we got together that when you learn a person’s besetting sin or weakness, you become aware of that. You are no longer naive or gullible. You’re aware and you watch as well as pray. But by the same token, don’t assume, as Paul did, that it is necessary for him to fail again, because we have no record, have we, that Mark ever again quit under pressure, you see? The blessed ministry of Barnabas to him evidently was used of God to mature this young man and to strengthen him in the things of God, so that he never again fell a prey to that particular weakness.
Expect God to work in people’s lives. That way you have hope for them. One of the most distressing things, I think, is to give up on a person. And you have not only the feeling of guilt at having given up on them, you also have the distressing evidence that people on whom you give up, many times other people seem to give up as well and there is seemingly no hope. I heard a high school teacher say with tears not long ago, that she just felt so bad over one teenager on whom she had given up, she’d just decided that she couldn’t be bothered to try to communicate with this person who consistently and routinely and deliberately shut her out of his life. And so she gave up on him. And then she read in the paper that he had died of an overdose of heroin. And oh, the remorse that she felt, she told us, and she realized that she had given up on someone who probably needed her worse than she knew.
So I say don’t give up on people. It’s a sad and frustrating and heartbreaking experience to give up on people. Don’t be gullible, don’t be naïve, don’t be childishly trusting, so as you can be led astray. Be watchful and be aware of human nature. Be realistic in other words. Have your eyes open. But oh, have your heart open too, will you? Barnabas did, and he was used of God to bring this young man, John Mark, into a kind of maturity where he was profitable to Paul for the ministry after the years had passed. And we don’t have any record, do we, that he ever again quit under pressure. It is not necessary to repeat your mistakes and tragic failures. Aren’t you glad that’s so? It is not necessary to repeat your failures and blunders and mistakes. The tragedy of one mistake does not presuppose that there will be another. There could be, human nature being what it is. There could be. And so you’re aware of it. You’re aware of it, but you also are aware of the grace of God. Hallelujah for that. Aren’t you glad?
Well, it says, “They departed asunder one from the other, and Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.” And Paul chose Silas. Incidentally, a very small thought here, but I’ll drop it in. Whenever you break up with somebody, you have the inevitable task of saying, “What do I do now?” You better be sure you’re in the will of God at that point. Paul chose Silas. “Barnabas is gone, John Mark is gone. There’s a strange silence about the place. What am I gonna do?” Paul chose Silas. He had found out that Silas knew how to preach, because it says earlier that Silas was one of the prophets. “Judas and Silas being prophets themselves exhorted the brethren.” So he knew he could preach. He also knew that he had a good reputation in Jerusalem, because these two men had been sent by the congregation at Jerusalem as men who would tell a true witness, tell a true witness. ” Chosen men from Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, who were chief men among the brethren.” So this man knew leadership. He knew how to preach with power. He was a man of God, he had a good testimony, so Paul said, “Alright, I’ll choose him.” And indeed, he proved to be a very fine co-worker in the days that were to follow.
Incidentally, it says here that Paul chose Silas and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. I wonder how the rest of the church must have felt when this argument was going on with Paul and Barnabas. I don’t know whether anybody else was in on it, but they certainly must have known about it because they could see the team breaking up, Barnabas leaving with John Mark, “Goodbye Barnabas. Goodbye John Mark. God bless you on your way to Cyprus.” And then there was that silence. What do you say when people have had a fight? [chuckle] Well, you better not say anything. That’s about the size of it. But finally now Paul says, “Well, I think I’ll take Silas.” And he talks to Silas, says, “Silas, you wanna go with me on this trip?” Silas says, “Alright, I’ll go.” Now, what do you do? You get around and you pray with this man. And you ask God to send him forth with his grace. It says, “They were commended by their brethren unto the grace of the Lord.” That’s an interesting and telling and revealing phrase, isn’t it? They didn’t pray for the power of the Lord, they didn’t pray for the guidance of the Lord, they didn’t pray for the supply of the Lord, they prayed that these men would know the grace of the Lord.
It’s possible for God to use some very rough-hewn people, but one of the things that He will show you as the days and months and years go by, is He’ll reveal some of His grace to you. You don’t always have to tromp on people’s feelings and you always have to answer people and argue with them. You don’t always have to split off from people because you disagree with them. You can learn, and so can I, please, God, the grace of God. And the brethren, they didn’t scold Paul. [chuckle] There’s no evidence here that anybody exhorted him and said, “Now, Paul, you really have pulled a boo boo here in quarrelling with Barnabas like this.” They didn’t do that. But they got around them and they prayed, said, “Oh God,” said, “We wanna commend these brethren to your grace. Let them know your grace, Lord.” Isn’t that wonderful?
This is a beautiful example of how to deal with a rough-hewn brother who still has something to learn. You don’t push it down his throat, you commend him to the God who knows how to reveal His grace. And one of the evidences, you know, of the working of God in people’s lives is His grace. There’s a combination of boldness and grace which is the trademark of the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:33, “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord.” Now there’s one side of it, great power. Every word loaded with a God-given force which gives it a telling impact upon the minds and hearts and consciences of the hearers. Great power they gave witness. There is such a thing as Holy Spirit endearment of power for your witness. But the other side of the Holy Spirit’s work is, “Great grace was upon them all.” And it was the grace of giving, and the grace of sharing, and the grace of devotion, and the grace of honesty. That comes out in the passage that follows. Oh, the grace of God upon one’s life.
Now, it says these brethren commended Paul and Silas to the grace of God. They didn’t scold him. They didn’t beat on him. They didn’t say, “What did you fight with Barnabas for?” They just got around him and said, “Come on Paul and Silas, let’s pray over you before you go.” And they commended them to the grace of God. That’s beautiful, isn’t it? Oh, yeah.
Now he says, “Paul chose Silas and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God, and he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches.” How do you confirm a church? How do you confirm a church? Did you ever stop to think about that, you pastors? Well, the sense of the word I think is encouragement, actually, you encourage people. That’s the meaning that many of these people give in their various versions of the scripture. I know that’s the one that’s given in Living New Testament. Let’s see what the Amplified Version, it says, “Establishing and strengthening the churches.” That’s what that says. “Establishing and strengthening the churches.”
Now, how do you do that? Did you ever think of this? Ever think of how you do this? Well, I don’t know. I don’t know. I think it depends on the condition they’re in when you reach them, don’t you think so? I think it depends on the condition they are in when you reach them. Now, for instance, there’s a church where there’s dissension like it was in Corinth. If you’re going to strengthen them, you have to show them that they need to keep their eyes on the Lord Jesus. I’ve had experiences like that. I’ve been called to minister for a short space of time in a church, for example, where there was a sort of a power play going on. What do you do? You beat the people over the head and say, “Shame on you, the way you’re politicking here”? No, you get them on their knees in prayer and turn them toward the Lord Jesus. That’s how you establish that kind of a church.
Then if it’s a church like for instance in Galatia, Paul wrote to the Galatians. Well, they were having difficulties based on a false idea of the Gospel. People were saying, “Look, you can’t be a real Christian unless you keep the law.” And so Paul pointed there straight to the idea of salvation by grace through faith plus nothing, you know? And so to establish them meant to straighten them out on the Gospel, didn’t it? And Philippians, of course, to establish them meant simply to show how the Lord Jesus Christ is the center and the circumference and the altogether of life, and so that he’s Christ my life in chapter one, and Christ my mind in chapter two, and Christ my all in all, and so on, that I know him in chapter three, and Christ the supply of my need in chapter 4. And to establish that church meant point to Christ, but in a little different way there, you see? So it all depends, doesn’t it, on the condition of the church. Well, your job, my pastor friend and my Sunday school teacher friend, is to confirm, to establish, to strengthen, to encourage the believers. Do it today, will you? Let’s pray.
Dear Father, help us to do our job well this day, in Jesus’ name I ask, Amen. Amen. God bless you, my dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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