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Barnabas the Risk Taker October 7, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Barnabas, Holy Spirit, Religion, Sermons, Witnessing.


Acts 13:46: “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”

Think of the risk that is taken in this verse. These men are putting their reputations as faithful Jews on their line. These men are putting their safety on the line. They are well aware of the price that Christ paid and that others have paid and that they themselves have been threatened with over the past years. They know that what they are going to say is not going to endear them to the natural prejudices of the nationalistic Jews nor to those Jews who are simply ethnically and religiously proud. They are aware that there is no human guarantee that their message would be accepted by the Gentiles. Yet, these two men take that risk. For Barnabas this is typical of his Christian life. Barnabas was a risk taker.


  1. Barnabas was a good man. Inside he was good. He did not just look good. He did not just keep up good appearances, he was truly good. His goodness though was not just a matter of maintaining a high standard by keeping the rules. His goodness is accompanied by kindness. In fact, this is where his name comes from. His given name is Joses according to Acts 4:36 but the apostles called him, Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, one who is called alongside to help, one of whom it is known that if you need help, you can call on him. That is what it means to be a good man.

  2. Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit. We do not know what type of person Barnabas was before he accepted Christ but he like many others mentioned in the book of Acts were full of the Holy Spirit, controlled by the Spirit of God. There are many things that we cannot transfer from the book of Acts to our present day but the very premise of the book of Acts is that Jesus has gone away and left us the Holy Spirit to empower us to tell the world of Jesus Christ. Barnabas is an exhibition of what it means to be filled with that Holy Spirit. He sold his property and gave the money to the poor of the church through the power of the Holy Spirit. He invested his life into Paul and Mark when others were suspicious of him and he did this by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. His life in every area is typified by the fact that he is full of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Barnabas was full of faith. You cannot be full of the Holy Spirit unless you are full of faith in Christ. This does not come from ourselves. Spiritual risk taking is a direct result of dependence on Christ. Certainly there are many people who take risks and there are a lot of different reasons why people take risk. People take risks for money, for fame, for power, for family, for survival but the risks that Barnabas took and the spiritual risks that you and I should take are established on the foundation of faith in Christ.


The Empowerment of a Risk Taker – Boldness comes through goodness and being filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith (Acts 9:27, 13:46, 14:3) The power of the Holy Spirit takes away any excuse to not be bold in our witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). This power was always accompanied by believers boldly witnessing of the gospel of Christ. Boldness is implied in the word witness. It means martyr. One who is willing to die. Our witness should be such that we are willing to take huge risks to be a witness. I am afraid that most of us, if we had to choose between our possessions (1 Corinthians 9:3-7) and our witness, we would choose our possessions. If we had to choose between investing our lives in others who may not be dependable and those with whom we are comfortable, we would choose the comfortable safe way. If we had to choose between personal safety and witnessing of the One Who is our Salvation, who would we choose? Why do we not want to share with the unbelieving world, what God is doing in our lives? I don’t have the answer but it surely has nothing to do the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit gives us plain speech, ready speech, boldness to speak of what we know. (This paragraph is a reworked portion of this sermon.)

Let’s look at Acts 13:45-50. Barnabas’ and Paul’s witness was so bold in Antioch Pisidia that after the Jews rejected the gospel, they did something that was unheard of, they preached to the Gentiles, to the outcasts from the Jewish nation the message of Jesus Christ and these Gentiles became glad and glorified the Word of the Lord and believed to eternal life. Those of the Jewish religion who rejected the gospel persecuted Barnabas and Paul and expelled them, not out of the city but out of the whole region.

Witnessing by the power of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by boldness (See also Acts 2:29; used three times in chapter 4). They didn’t dance around issues but plainly gave the truth. The Holy Spirit led them in giving the truth and empowered them in giving the truth and gave them the wisdom to just tell the truth.


Being bold today does not guarantee that you will be bold tomorrow. Everyone of us have an Achilles’ heel. Barnabas was no different. Look at Galatians 2.


    11 ¶ Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;

    12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.

    13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

    14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you {NU–Text reads how can you.} compel Gentiles to live as Jews?


    What happened? Did Barnabas change his mind about the message of God for the Gentiles? I think not. It appears that Barnabas allowed a great man, Peter, to become a great hindrance, to lead him into hypocrisy. Here is a good man overcome by hypocrisy. Here is a Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled believer allowing himself to follow the lead of a man, a great man, but still just a mere man. Here is a man who is full of faith in Christ living in such a way that denies the very Christ who died for him, who lives for him, who has helped him to do great things but he got his eyes off of Christ and on to Peter and it caused him to fail and to fall.


    Are you motivated by the Spirit of God working in your heart and producing goodness and faith? Is He giving you boldness to witness and to invest your life in others?



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