Grace Can Be Seen

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:19-30.

While some people still hadn’t gotten the memo that the Gospel could be preached to the Gentiles, some did it anyway. When Barnabas saw that this was bringing in many new disciples, he was glad. He saw this as evidence of God’s grace, His unearned favor. In the original Greek language, this word translated as “grace” is the same familiar one in Ephesians, where it is written, “For by grace you have been saved.”

Barnabas knew a move of God when he saw one. In fact, while the rest of the disciples were still afraid of Saul and avoided him, Barnabas recognized Saul’s conversion and brought him into the fold. And he brought Saul to Antioch to bring that fresh anointing to the work of building up the body of Christ. Barnabas saw Saul as an asset, someone God had gifted to help the church grow. Agabus, also, was using his gift to prepare the church for hardship. He is a recognized New Testament prophet, bringing the word of the Lord to bring warning, which is a benefit, and an example of grace.

Warning and preparing the body of Christ has not passed away. We should be open to hearing from God, and recognizing a move of God when we see it. Like Barnabas, we need to be open minded about what God is doing. And like Agabus, we need to speak it when God gives us warning. We are the only mouth He has.