22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
The Apostle Barnabas was sent by the church in Jerusalem to verify the rapid growth of Gentile believers in Antioch. When he arrived and saw the incredible evidence of God’s grace amongst them, he was both pleased and glad by the Lord’s doing.
It was easy for the Gentile believers to grow ever-increasingly in grace because they were never under the Law. They didn’t have to deal with any mixture of law and grace, but saw God moving freely to work His wonders in their midst.
Law and grace cannot be mixed together.
When the Christian life is a mixture of law and grace, it is like mixing vinegar and wine. It is undrinkable. This mixture, the Apostle Paul warns us, leads to hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is religious showmanship. It is both self-serving (you feel satisfied when you are able to please God by your own fleshy self-effort) and self-defeating (you become unhappy when your flesh fails you).
Without any hesitation, Barnabas exhorted all the believers to continue in their commitment to the Lord. The Greek word for “continue” is prosmenō which means “to hold fast to, to stay”. Here Barnabas is telling them to carry on living in the reality of God’s grace.
We can learn a lesson from the Antioch church here.
Many believers start well but often get distracted by all kinds of spiritual fads and extremes within the Body of Christ. These flaky doctrines and misleading teachings can really distort the truth of the gospel and hurt your faith. Never chase after teachings that stress on your ability to earn God’s love and favour, and not lead you to rest on Christ’s finished work.
Anything that does not exalt Jesus is not worth believing.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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