On Sunday 7 June 2020, District Apostle J Kriel conducted the Sunday morning divine service at Silvertown congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into sign language at the altar.
He was accompanied by Bishop Anthony Hartzenberg, a small NACTV crew and a music ensemble. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Let your hearts be ever joyful (EH: 136)
Bible word: “For he was a good man, full of the holy spirit and of faith...” Acts 11:24(a)
My dear brothers and sisters, we welcome you as we celebrate another Sunday as the church. When we hear the word ‘church’, we picture a building, but the church is really the gathering of believers and this is what we are, wherever we are. Even if it is only one person, we gather as the church today where our God never fails us. Our opening hymn today was ‘Let your hearts be ever joyful’, and here and there others could say “what have I got to be joyful about?” The hymn that was rendered gives us some reason to rejoice - Jesus never fails. No matter what our circumstances, remain near Him and we shall remain joyful.
We still find ourselves in the season of Pentecost. If we recall when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, many were also sealed in those times, so there must have been exceeding joy and great activity. The Apostles allowed the Spirit to fill their lives and decided upon all their actions. Today, we celebrate Trinity Sunday where the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is celebrated. Man has already experienced the activity of all divine persons that formed the Triune God. Our Bible word today says, “he was a good man, full of the holy spirit and of faith”. This references Barnabas who became a follower of Christ. In Jerusalem, one can assume, he was baptized and sealed, and became a soldier for the Lord, committed to the gospel. Barnabas was a Levite from the lineage of the priests, and was moved by the word and the gospel, and thus became a follower of Christ. He became a Christian. It could be said that he was a good man because he was full of the Holy Spirit. One can receive a gift, and it can lay unused for a long time. This was not the case with Barnabas. He received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and he allowed the Holy Spirit to work within him. He could thus be called a good man. He allowed the Holy Spirit to guide him in the decisions he had to make.
Later, Barnabas became an Apostle. The gospel meant so much to him, and as was expected at that time in the church, he sold all his possessions. He gave it to the church and to the Apostles for the furtherance of the gospel and the caring of the Christians. This deed is the first lesson we learn from Barnabas. We are aware of the history of Paul before his Damascus experience. He persecuted Christians and this was known to all. However, when Barnabas encountered Paul, he took it upon himself to take Paul by the hand and introduce him to the Apostles, who were very scared of this man and were hesitant about bringing him into their circle since he persecuted them. After all, Paul was present at the stoning of Deacon Stephen. Barnabas, however, did not allow the past to influence his decision to invite Paul into the circle of the Apostles, nor did he allow what others said to influence him – this was unimportant. He wanted to do what was best for the gospel and best for the work of God. Hence, he brought Paul into the circle. One could reason that if it were not for Barnabas, Paul would have been unknown. We may not have known this fighter for the Lord and this great Apostle. Barnabas was responsible for bringing him into this circle. This is another example of the nature of Apostle Barnabas which is not that well known.
Another aspect of Barnabas was his role in changing the perception held by the Apostles that the plan Jesus brought was only meant for the Jews. Together with Paul at the Apostolic conference, they stood their ground and said this work is open for all – Jesus Christ died for all man. This was a decisive moment in the church. A final excerpt from the life of Barnabas relates to an experience in Antioch where, accompanied by Paul, they became aware of the suffering of the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Together they raised funds so that the suffering of the Christians in Jerusalem could be lessened. They also encouraged others to help. This simple story of Barnabas reveals that Barnabas, indeed, was full of the Spirit. The Spirit cannot be seen, but what it does within you certainly can. The testimony ‘for he was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ in this instance is a great example for us.
We remember Pentecost as well as our own experience when sealed with the Holy Spirit. What did the Holy Spirit do within us? How active is the Holy Spirit within me? Each one can ask these questions, and each one can give the answer themselves. What influence does the Holy Spirit have in my life? Am I a Christians with only a small portion of the Holy Spirit within me? Is this what can be said of me or can it be said of me, like with Barnabas, that I am full of the Holy Spirit? Let us examine ourselves and determine to what extent the Holy Spirit influences our lives and decisions. If we are like a Barnabas, then we can sell that which is important to us such as our attitudes or the things we hold against others. Jesus told the rich young man to sell what he possessed. Today, as Christians, do we have something to sell? This we can only answer to ourselves. Barnabas wanted to follow Christ, and he wanted to sell what he possessed. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us learn from the life of Barnabas.
Barnabas introduced Paul into the circle of the Apostles and Christians. So too, let us bring our family and friends. The Lord loves all and salvation is available to all mankind. If the Spirit works within us, we will realise this and extend an invitation to others irrespective of their past because we have a loving God. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, there is much that can take place and this enables us to invite others no matter their past.
Barnabas did not want anyone excluded from the church. The Spirit that He has given is available to all mankind, and we want to ensure that this happens. God created all people equal. In the book of Genesis, it says ‘then God said, let us make man in our image.’ This is a reference to the Trinity; in the beginning, they were all there. God created man in the likeness of Himself and man became God’s representative on earth to take care of the earth as He created it. Male and female were created equal by God. Both were created in the image of God. No one was there to dominate the other. Man and woman were created for each other as well, but not for the one to be ruled by the other, “so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female, He created them, and thus He created male and female equal.” (Genesis Chapter 1 verse 27). In our time, we experience the abuse of the one or other in violence. This is not why God created us. He said we should take care of the earth and love each other. The teaching of Jesus did not change. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the love we need. In the book of Romans, it says that when we were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the love of God was shed abroad in our heart. Use this love. Use this Spirit and if we are full of the Spirit, we shall be full of love for our neighbour. If we love our neighbour, we shall take care of them because we were all commissioned to take care of the earth – the creation of God. Since God created us all, this serves as enough reason for us to love one another. Therefore, we love our earth and take care of it. If we are full of the Holy Spirit, we shall do this. Dear brothers and sisters, if we find it hard to love each other start by not hurting each other. If we find it hard to preserve the earth, please do not damage it because it is God’s work and He created us all equal. No one is superior to the other, no race is superior to the other – we were all created equal. So, we are full of the spirit and we see all men as equal, all created by God. Today, please do not hurt the children of God – God made all of us. God created all man. Do not use your power, authority and money to hurt another. In God’s eyes, we are all equal. If we are filled with the Spirit like Barnabas was, we shall see it. Let us do that which Jesus wanted us to do. Therefore, He gave us His Spirit. Jesus said, “I come from the Father and I go back to the Father” and the Spirit within us says I come from the Father and I go back to the Father – let us allow this and let it be seen in our deeds.
Barnabas, through the Spirit, saw the needs of the poor. He saw those who suffered and determined to do something about it. He decided, together with Paul to collect funds and took it to the poor and made sure that they had a meal and that their life was a little more comfortable. In this time, so many do the same and I am thankful for this. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit gives us the impulse to ask how we can help. I am moved when I hear of the happenings in the congregations – how much care is given and how much love is translated into actions where we are prepared to do with less to share with others. Barnabas was prepared to do with nothing so that others could have. Let us be filled with the Spirit and let the goodness in us be visible.
Finally, it says also that he was filled with faith. This faith is the faith that will see the goal ahead of us and makes us trust in God. For He says: “When I come shall I find faith?” We want to affirm this because we believe and we want to continue to believe to ensure our participation in the great promise given to all that we can be with Him as He is. Despite our situation, despite the circumstances, we shall rejoice. Let your hearts be ever joyful - God and Jesus love us and the Spirit guides us. We want to be full of the Spirit. We want to sell what we have. We want to bring those closer who are disregarded. We want to ensure that salvation is open to all, and we want to help the poor wherever we can. We also want to believe, and that remains vital to us – that all of us are found faithful to our God. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle JL Kriel