Summary: What kind of Christian are you? God’s kindom is either growing or suffering because of your faith or lack thereof. Determine to serve as one who builds and blesses!
I watched them tear a building down;
A band of men in a busy town.
With a `HO-HEAVE-HO’ and a lusty yell;
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman, `Are these men skilled?
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?’
He gave a laugh and said, `No indeed!
Common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders have taken a year to do.’
And I thought to myself as I went on my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care?
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?
I’ll tell you one thing, the apostle Paul was a builder.
Just imagine starting over four churches in just 2 years and establishing elderships in each one. Now get this next part. No one sends them money for preacher support or buys their buildings for them. These new congregations are self-sustaining churches in Christ. And they flourish. That is until some Judaizers come to them from Jerusalem and corrupt their understanding of the gospel. Then Paul writes a letter to them to straighten out the doctrinal mess they are in and return them to the pure, faithful and true gospel of Christ. That letter would be the book of Galatians.
Paul was a builder and we see it in Acts 13-14 on the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. As they traveled about preaching the gospel, they went to the Jews first and this explains how there were men qualified to be elders so soon. Many of these Jews were no doubt waiting on the Christ and when they heard the word, they obeyed the gospel and continued their walk with God in the new covenant in Jesus Christ. But many Gentiles also believed and were converted to Christ meaning these were new churches of Jew/Gentile Christians.
In these chapters of Acts we find builders and we find wreckers.
As we see, all was not peaceful and calm. A powerful opposition faced these new Christians. It fell hardest on those that brought the message. Paul and Barnabas were endangered at every turn it seems. Paul particularly was the target of most of the opposition, likely due to his passionate and aggressive dedication to getting the message across and building new churches.
In every city, after they had preached and won converts to Christ, lo and behold, the Jews rose up against them and poisoned the minds of Gentiles to oppose Paul and Barnabas. The Jews were a constant threat to them and their work. Yet we see that God granted incredible success to their efforts. In spite of being chased out of every town and even stoned by a mob, Paul kept on preaching. When Paul and Barnabas finally got as far as they would go, they turned around and went right back into the very cities where they had been so in danger. There they established elders in every church. And I love this part. With prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Just think about this with me. They could set up leadership and commit these brand new churches with brand new Christians to the Lord and go home confident that they were in good hands. Why? They trusted God so Paul and Barnabas entrusted them to God!
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it. Look carefully at Paul and Barnabas’ report when they got home. It’s down in verse 27.
27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Let’s go over that report again. They reported all that who had done? God! Who opened the door of faith to the Gentiles? God did! This was why they could have such confidence in the success of these churches. They were built by God not by man! Paul and Barnabas saw themselves as coworkers with God.
That’s one of the great things about mission trips! This past summer several of us were able to go to in Nacaome, Honduras and see God do some wonderful things with us. We saw 21 people baptized into Christ in just 4 days. Santos told David that these new Christians are still faithful and continuing to grow. Also, Jenny has talked with Hector and Rachel and they are planning to go to Agua Fria and take some pictures for us of the church building there and see Santos and the church there in Nacaome.