Greetings to the Father, Son, Spirit, angels and saints in Christ our Lord. Today we are going to deal with the official ordination of Saul and Barnabas for the work of the ministry or preaching the gospel to the gentiles. We have already learnt that elders were selected by the brethren based on certain predetermined criteria (Acts 6 and 11) and also that the Lord Himself assigns individuals based on their relationship with Him, as Ananias’s example revealed.

I would like to further draw our attention to the fact that these were men described as being full of the Holy Ghost. They were not just tongue talking church attendees, but had all the characteristics of the Holy Spirit in knowledge and fear of the Lord, quick understanding in the fear of the Lord (like Ananias). They were full of the Spirit in discernment, counsel and might/power of the Lord, wisdom and understanding, faithfulness and righteousness.

We can readily match these men with these attributes of the Holy Spirit because they manifested the fullness of the Spirit and the wisdom and power of God in their lives above all the other brethren who were present in the early church at the time. For example, Ananias recognized the Lord when He appeared to him in the vision (spirit of knowledge). He also responded appropriately and respectfully because he was wise to the ways of the Lord, knowing that this was an appropriate response. He obeyed the Lord because he feared Him and also did not argue much about Saul’s past status. The Spirit of wisdom in him allowed him to address Saul as “brother”, giving the past persecutor the acceptance that he needed from the body of Christ. The might of God was manifested in Saul’s deliverance from blindness and his infilling with the Holy Ghost.

You cannot transfer the power of God to another unless He is in you. You cannot produce Christ in another (like Saul and Barnabas did for the believers in Antioch) unless He is in you. This is another evidence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit which is manifested in the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, if your assembly is not producing people after this caliber, you need to question the authenticity of your leadership and that of your leaders. Something is missing. You may be able to produce great dancers, orators, singers, choirs, administrators etc, but where is Christ in them? Why isn’t Christ in them?

THE HOLY SPIRIT ORDAINED MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL

The Holy Spirit’s example in Acts 13 shows that God began using another approach to selecting men for leadership roles in the church, namely those of laboring in the word and doctrine. This approach is the one that the Lord wanted the church to follow. Based on Paul’s (formerly Saul) letters to Timothy, it seemed to have become the accepted route that the church subsequently followed in selecting men for leadership. Acts 13 is therefore the first documented instance of the prophetic presbytery in the early church, although we must note that Apostle Jesus followed this example when He selected the 12 and other 70 disciples. Why did God use this approach? I believe that it was for the benefit of the church in that the Lord wanted to confirm to the church His will.

The scriptures show that the elders at the church at Antioch sort of “accidentally” came upon this method as they ministered to the Lord in fasting and prayer (Acts 13: 2). There is nothing like fasting and prayer to obtain spiritual revelation. As the elders fasted and prayed, the Holy Ghost told them to “separate…Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13: 2).

What was that work? Saul certainly knew since his conversion and Barnabas sort of fell into it by appointment by the Jerusalem church, not knowing that the Lord had called him to this. This shows us how God had divinely brought these men together in the ministry, beginning at Antioch. We must pay attention to the fact that that the pastoral work at Antioch had been a training and preparation period in which Saul and Barnabas would have honed their skills in teaching gentile believers. They were Jews, after all. Furthermore, God was moving them on to another dimension of glory in ministry after having proved their faithfulness in the work at stage 1, which was their pastoral role in Antioch.

PLEASE PROVE THE PEOPLE’S FAITHFULNESS TO THE LORD BEFORE APPOINTING THEM TO LEADERSHIP ROLES

Do we prove the faithfulness of our leaders before appointing them to leadership or do we appoint them wholesale, with no test or preparation? Do we even fast and pray in order to obtain this information from the Lord? This is a lot of work, isn’t it? Even Paul said that novices should not be assigned to leadership positions in the church. He was not talking about novices to the routines of the church, but he referred to people who were novices in the things of the Spirit of God.

How can we test faithfulness and love for God in individuals? They can be appointed to some task that requires discipline and faithfulness, something like a Food Pantry Ministry or a street ministry where they cannot “show off”. They can visit the sick and shut in where no one can see them etc, teach Sunday School etc. I realize that these ministries are considered to be behind the scenes, menial tasks that do not get to the view or the pastors.

Check out your wonderful choir members, singers etc. Do they get their hands dirty or are they the elite in the churches? It is possible that people can be attracted to ministries that look favorable and glamorous without being called to it. Why do the ministries that are less glamorous suffer for want of support from the unlicensed ministers (the clergy calls them the laypeople). What are the evangelists doing? They are most likely building their kingdoms preaching to believers in other churches and not unbelievers on street corners, in prisons, hospitals etc. What is the point in that?

This is a misappropriation of the ministry and these people should be assigned to the outreach ministries of their local churches. The failure of evangelists and other so called ministers to work in their areas of calling (hopefully they are called) shows that the church either does not understand the role of the evangelist or that people think that they can acquire fame if they become evangelists. God is hitting the evangelists hard today.

The Lord certainly is not confused. He tested Saul’s and Barnabas’ motivation for a full year. They had to “cool out” in Antioch where they had no apostles to pat them on the back and just do their pastoral job faithfully because they loved the Lord. There are many performers in churches, who do well on the pulpit, but who will not even greet the brethren and who show an “attitude” to people they dislike. I am talking about mothers, evangelists and other people with such wonderful titles. Where is Christ in them? This is the reason why leaders complain that they have to bribe people to come to church on time, to be faithful etc. This is hypocrisy and is wrong. If we continue to train people to be men pleasers, then men pleasers they will be.

Please pay attention to the fact that the people that the Lord spoke to about Saul and Barnabas’ ministry promotion were elders of the church at Antioch. They were prophets and teachers, such as Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul (Acts 13: 1). God did not leave it up to the general assembly of believers to determine Saul and Barnabas’ future, because they might have wanted to hold them in Antioch as pastors forever. God had a plan for advancing His kingdom in the earth through them.

PAUL AND BARNABAS’ MINISTRY

The book of Acts showed that Paul and Barnabas immediately went forth preaching the gospel to the gentiles. This ministry was accompanied by signs and wonders and persecutions (Acts 13: 42-52, 14: 1 -11, 19). In other words, they were now working in the role of evangelists. They also established churches in cities such as Iconium and Derbe. In Derbe, for example, they switched to the pastoral role, teaching the disciples in the way of the Lord (Acts 13: 21). The Lord began to establish them in the role of fathers or overseers of the churches of the gentiles as they left Derbe and returned to the cities of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch where they confirmed the souls of the disciples (prophetic ministry) and exhorted them to continue in the faith (Acts 14: 22).

Who gave them the authority to do so? They also began to ordain elders in these churches after fasting and prayer (Acts 14: 23). They had to establish order in the churches and could not leave the flocks without responsible leadership. This was the ministry to which the Lord had called them and they could not send to Peter to enquire whether or not they had their permission to ordain elders. It was the only course of action. Furthermore, the Lord had already showed them the method for establishing His will in this area and thus avoiding conflict that could have ensued from man made appointments. Further reading of the book of Acts will reveal more of the ministry of Paul and Barnabas.

In conclusion, I want to ask modern day leaders if they are practicing God’s choicest methods for the selection of ministers and leaders in the churches today through the unfailing method of prayer and fasting. Are your leaders working in their areas of calling or are they building their kingdoms of personal fame and success? Do they have a clear mandate from the church (if they have not heard it from the Lord) as to their job description? Does the church know the full scope of the leadership roles? Are you seeing the fruit of the ministries that people claim that they possess? Is the church coming into the unity of the faith as a result of the work and labor of the leaders selected? Are the evangelists bringing souls into the kingdom as a result of their ministries? Do the believers resemble the Lord in His fullness, or is the assembly plagued by carnal behavior like strife, envying over positions etc? Do the people see by your example that the Lord is the one who does the choosing, or are leaders etc selected by favoritism, sexiness, charisma or public opinion? There are so many questions that can be asked. Many of us are guilty and will have to give some serious accounting at the judgment seat of the Lord. What kingdom are you building? Yours or His? Then do it His way and you will live. Blessings!

CAN YOU HAVE A MINISTRY OUTSIDE OF YOUR LOCAL CHURCH? Coming next time. Blessings!

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