Message from Campus Chaplain, Bill Bennett


Acts 4, 9, 11, and 15

“If every member was just like me, what kind of church would our church be?”  Once I read these words on a church sign and began to ask if the Bible described an ideal church member and from reading the Book of Acts I discovered that the “church member of my dreams” was Barnabas.  Barnabas had seven marvelous traits which made him a wonderful church member, and this week the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart saying, “The same traits which made Barnabas an ideal church member are the same traits which make a mentoree an ideal member of MMM.

The question is, “Who was Barnabas?”  We first meet Barnabas in Acts 4:36-37 where he is identified as “the Son of Consolation” or Encouragement.  However, his real name was Joseph, but the Apostles nicknamed him “Barnabas,” and I believe probably shortened it to “Barney” like Barney on the Andy Griffith show.  Barney’s entire life was summed up by the word, “Encourager,” which is Parakletos, meaning “One who comes alongside” to another to assist him in his need.  Note the word, Parakletos is the word Jesus used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16).  In a word, Barnabas was used of the Holy Spirit to encourage others, which is the call upon every mentoree (Hebrews 10:25).

Please note the Seven Activities of Barnabas which make him a model for mentorees:

  1. Barney was a LOAD LIFTER – Acts 4:36-37 says that Barney sold some land and gave the money to the apostles to meet the needs of poor church members.  In any organization there are all kinds of “loads” which need lifting all the time. Some can meet financial needs, s Barnabas, others can meet emotional, spiritual, teaching, and family needs.  Praise the Lord for the growing number of “Load Lifters” in the Mentoring School.
  1. Barney was a “FRIEND FINDER.” – Acts 9:26 – The apostle Paul tried to join the apostles, but they rejected him at first, fearing he was a “phony” because he had persecuted the church. At that point Barnabas enters the picture.  He took Paul and brought him to the apostles and they received him.  Praise the Lord within recent weeks I have observed that several mentorees have reached out, brought friends to MMM, introduced them to me, and they are wonderful members of our school.  Every mentoree can do this to a certain extent.  Will you?
  1. Barney was a “BACK-SLIDER” BRINGER. Would you believe that it was Paul who was the back-slider?  He was on the side lines for 14 years.  Paul became disheartened and went home and probably became President of “The Tarsus Awning and Tent Making Company.”  But Barnabas  went to faraway Tarsus, brought him back to Antioch.  Praise the Lord for “Back-Slider” bringers who bring back the frustrated, discouraged, and the timid.  Note:  Next to Soul-winners, our greatest need is “Back-Slider” Bringers.  Some mentorees already are, how about you?
  1. Barney was a “BRIDGE BUILDER” – Acts 11:19-24 records that a revival broke out in the Gentile church at Antioch.  When news reached the apostles they wondered if this was “Holy Ghost Fire” or “wild fire,” whereupon Barnabas went and saw for himself that the revival was a work of God and informed the Apostles so.  So Barnabas built  a bridge between the old (Jerusalem) and the new (Antioch).  Even in Wilmington we have new kinds of churches and fellowships.  Since MMM is a Baptomethopaliancongrepresbygationalist ministry, some of our mentorees are building bridges to these groups, so is your President, Thad and Billy, and I encourage every mentoree to be a loving “Bridge Builder.”  And make sure that we build bridge to all races.
  1. Barney was a “Disciple-Developer” – Acts 11:25-26.  Barney saw that new converts need teaching and need someone to assist him.  Guess what?  He goes to Tarsus and brings Paul back to Antioch.  They taught the church for a year and “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (verse 26).  The primary purpose of MMM is “to make disciples who in turn will make other disciples.”  Some mentorees are doing this in a wonderful way.  Our 5th “I” clearly commands this “Inter-relating with others to share our lives.”  Our new format which will begin soon lays great emphases on everyone becoming a “Disciple Maker.”  Please begin to pray and arrange your schedule so you will be a vital part of this new and exciting thrust.
  1. Barney was a “FAILURE FIXER.” – Acts 15:36-41.  John Mark turned back on the first missionary journey, which caused Paul to lose faith in Mark, but not Barnabas. He saw great potential in this young man and invited him to go on the next missionary journey with him.  Guess what happened?  Mark redeemed himself until the Holy Spirit commissioned him to write the Gospel of Mark, acclaimed by most scholars as the earliest gospel.  Paul’s confidence was restored in Mark until his final request just before his decapitation was “Take Mark and bring him with thee (Luke), for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).  Every one of us knows of a “Failure.”  Don’t just know about him.  You are commanded of God to go and restore him if possible (Gal. 6:1).  Some mentores are doing this.  How about you?
  1. Barney was a “Soul Saver.”  Some would say that Barney only had the gift of Encouragement and not that of Evangelism.”  His primary gift was “Encouragement,” but he knew he was to use that gift in bringing lost persons to Christ.  Did he succeed?  Listen to his succinct biography in Acts 11;24, “Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and MUCH people were added (saved) unto the Lord.”  Note:  Though Paul and Peter were more visible and dramatic, Barnabas was long suffering and persuasive and may well have won more persons to Christ than Paul” (Bill Bennett)

Conclusion:  My father was a farmer-pastor for years and in the latter years of his life a powerful evangelist.  When he died, my family asked me to pick an appropriate Scripture verse to be inscribed on his grave marker.  Desiring to be wise in my decision, I described my father to the famous pastor-preacher-scholar, Dr. Robert Green Lee, and he immediately said, “I would choose Acts 11:26 which I did and which I must repeat:

“He was a good man and full of  the Holy Spirit and faith, and MUCH people were added to the Lord.”

My dear brother, you and I are writing our own epitaph.  I want mine to be like that of Barnabas.  What will yours be?

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