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A Hinge in History

Acts 11:30-13:4

First the finance team, then the teaching team!

As Dr. Luke penned his documentation of the “Earthly Life and Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth: The Sequel," it must have read almost inverted. “One who is faithful with very little is also faithful with much…if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the TRUE riches?” Luke 16

First prove a leader by placing into his care what can, even if squandered, be replenished or replaced. Give a man some oversight responsibility for tangible things, for small budgeting decisions, for financials. If he proves that he can be trusted with those, then give him the ministry of the gospel, the stewardship of the Word, and you will find him to be faithful with those riches that are eternal.

First the finance team, then the teaching team! That’s the Jesus way.

A team of gifted “prophets” (defined as “those who shed the light of understanding on the Word of God”) arrived in the great cosmopolitan center of Antioch and joined themselves to the ministry team of Barnabas and Saul. Then one of them, whom the Lord had found to be trustworthy for the delivery of His word without compromise, declared the impending worldwide famine, which was beginning to darken the horizon. Stirred by the Spirit and not by some emotional, manipulative fundraising endeavor, the members of the believing fellowship began converting skills, possessions and funds into dollars. The love offering was significant in both its size and its intention. Gentile believers who were distrusted by the Jewish saints were displaying unprecedented grace. So not only was the security of the sizable purse (no cashiers check system in those days ☺) a concern, but also the articulation of its intended purpose. So, who should they send?

Certainly Barnabas had proven himself to be trustworthy. He was the first to make a major life-altering financial decision a decade earlier and liquidating personal assets to meet the economic crisis of his brothers and sisters in the Body. And he represented the gold standard in relational reconciliation by being the first to rejoice in the conversion of the great enemy of the Church and connect Saul to the Apostles. Barnabas was a 5-star recruit for the mission. But who would go with him? This was definitely more than a one-man task and the choice of a partner was critical. Again the decision would not have been difficult. Saul had turned his back on the privileges of his training and his enviable status to follow the Lord. He has now proven himself a gifted expositor of the scriptures and a tireless teacher of new converts. Discipleship for young believers requires extraordinary patience, wisdom, endurance, and grace. Check it off. Saul was a proven servant!

But as Luke is penning this historical documentation, he must have been at least slightly amused that the Lord of the Church had instigated an inversion. Rather than “First the finance team, then the teaching team,” they sent their treasures in the care of two men whom had established themselves as trustworthy stewards of the gospel of grace!

It is no surprise then to the first-time reader that when the Spirit of God stirs the Church of God to commission Messengers of God, the two names that He would place upon their hearts were “Barnabas and Saul” who had proven themselves to be faithful. Proven faithful stewards of the “unrighteous wealth” who have also proven dependable with the “riches of the gospel.”

Prove yourself to be faithful with little things, and the Lord will grace you with much greater impact. When it comes time to send, we must always send our best. First the finance team, then the teaching team!

See you Sunday, Church!
Pastor Tom