Summary: In this sermon you will study the life of Barnabus. Barnabus is described as a good man. This sermon will cause people to rethink their definition of "goodness."
Have you ever known anyone you would describe as “a good person?” A person is described as “good” based upon varying criteria. For some it means a person of integrity. For some it means a person who treats their neighbors kindly. For some it refers to a person of upstanding moral character.
American people have a major struggle with this concept of goodness. Public opinion polls reveal this. There is a growing tendency to believe that all good people, whether or not they consider Jesus Christ to be their savior, will live in heaven after they die on earth. In 1999 the public was almost divided on the matter: 53% agree, 40% disagree. This represents a significant change since 1992, when 40% agreed with this notion and 1994 when 46% agree. Half of all adults (51%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven.
(SOURCE: From Barna Research Online…adapted from Brian Mavis contribution to Sermon Central)
Ill- Pastor James Kennedy came from such a background. In the 1950’s Dr. Kennedy was an Arthur Murray dance studio instructor. It’s hard to believe it now. Back then, Dr Kennedy was a drunk. He slept around. And he lived a very worldly life. When he started dating a Christian girl, she asked him, "Where do you go to church?" And he said, "Nowhere. You don’t have to go to church to be a good person." Then, with an air of arrogance, he said, "You can be a good Christian WITHOUT going to church!"
And the girl said, "No you can’t!"
Years later, Kennedy said, "That was the first time anyone had ever challenged my little pet saying. I was taken aback. And it made me rethink everything I believed."
A week later, Kennedy was asleep in a drunken haze. When he woke up, he heard a preacher on the radio. He got up to turn it off. But before he got to the radio, he heard the preacher say this: "Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God. And he asked you, "What right do you have to enter my heaven?’ what would you say?"
The question stopped Kennedy in his tracks. He sat back down on the bed and listened as Dr. Donald Barnhouse shared the gospel message. Right then and there, Kennedy completely surrendered his life to Christ.
The next day, as he was shaving, he kept looking at himself in the mirror and saying, "I’m forgiven! I’m completely forgiven! I’m going to spend eternity in paradise with Jesus!" He was so happy, so grateful. He decided right then and there, "I want what happened to me to happen to as many people as possible." He started going to church with his new Christian girlfriend. For the last 45 years, Dr Kennedy has shown his appreciation for Jesus Christ by living a life of loving service to Him.
(Adapted from Marc Axelrod’s contribution to Sermon Central)
So, what is a good man? We are going to use the life of Barnabus to define this term. In Acts 11:24 Barnabus was described as a good man. From this text we can learn how God defines "goodness.”
I. A good man is a Man of Faith.
A. One of the questions people struggle to answer is “Does goodness bring faith or is goodness a by-product of faith?” According to this passage goodness is a result of faith. Martin Luther once said “It is not good works which make a good man, but a good man who does good works.” The Bible says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.“( Ps. 37:23 NKJV)
Ill- Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, wrote a very insightful column about goodness. He writes:
"No issue has a greater influence on determining your social and political views than whether you view human nature as basically good or not. In 20 years as a radio talk show host, I have dialogued with thousands of people, of both sexes and from virtually every religious, ethnic and national background. Very early on, I realized that perhaps the major reason for political and other disagreements I had with callers was that they believed people are basically good, and I did not."
He goes on to state the problems that arise from believing that people are born "good." The most notable went like this: "... if you believe that people are basically good, God and religion are morally unnecessary, even harmful. Why would basically good people need a God or religion to provide moral standards?"
When we come to communion we are agreeing with Dennis Prager. Man is not born good. Man needs God to make him good.