Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

On the Lookout for Grace

Acts 11:23, 24. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

The pastors and sponsors of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Scotland met recently for their autumn ‘excellence’ retreat near Pitlochry. Pastor Richard Duerksen was our speaker and inspired the team with wonderful stories of the work of Maranatha International and great insights into a number of Bible passages.

Among the studies that struck me was one that dealt with Acts 11. This chapter deals with the challenge that Jewish Christians had when Gentiles begin by their faith in the Lord Jesus to flood into the church.

As Christians fled the persecution that arises after the martyrdom of Stephen they ‘tell’ the good news ‘only to Jews’ [v19]. Choosey aren’t they! However – and it appears that the central Church [Jerusalem] must learn not from its leadership but from Christians on the edge [Cyprus and Cyrene] – some begin to share with the Greeks, and the Lord – contrary to what the wisdom of the Church so far – blesses so that “a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”[21]. Still coming to terms with this the Jerusalem church dispatches “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith” whose name is Barnabus [22-24] to find out what is going on.

Now, if you or I had been sent to check out the genuineness of the conversions of pagans – I wonder what we would have looked for to measure whether God was at work? I wonder if we would have been tempted to look at their health habits or dress styles or outward appearances or spiritual exercises or their clarity of doctrinal beliefs. I guess we may even have measured them against ourselves!

Praise God for good men like Barnabus, who have the mind of the Spirit and faith [both in what God is able to do and in the people who He is working with], that looked for the evidence that grace was at work, rejoiced in that and “encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” [v23].

What I like about Barnabus’ approach is that we cannot be sure if God is at work amongst people who appear outwardly clean and shiny like us – He may be, He may not be – but where grace occurs you can be sure God is at work. Grace is God’s authenticating signature.

May we be churches that are always open to God’s working – good people – full of the Spirit of God and on the lookout for where grace occurs eager to encourage it on with all our hearts.

Llewellyn Edwards
President – the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Scotland