Summary: This sermon is based on Charles Swindoll's book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Chapters 6 & 8. It covers the great revival that took place in Antioch and how when Barnabas needed help he teamed up with Paul.
A. The story is told of an elderly woman who had moved to the United States from Europe when she was a child.
1. After living all these years in the United States, she finally decided to become an official citizen of our country.
2. After months of going through all the necessary red tape, she was finally ready to take the required oath.
3. The Judge said to her, “Please raise your right hand,” and she did.
4. Then the Judge asked her, “Do you swear to defend the Constitution of the United States against all its enemies, domestic or foreign?”
5. The elderly woman’s face paled and her voice trembled as she asked in a small voice, “Uhhh...all by myself?”
B. That would certainly be a tall order, wouldn’t it?
1. Imagine being asked to defend the Constitution of the United States against all its enemies all by yourself!
2. My face would pale and my voice would tremble as well if that’s what I thought I had to do.
C. Let’s consider a different realm and a different calling.
1. Please raise your right hand…Do you promise to defend the cause of Christ against all its enemies and do you promise to take the Gospel into all the world?
2. How would you answer that question? Like the elderly lady in the story, would you meekly raise your hand and with a trembling voice ask: “All by myself?”
3. All of us will be glad to know that we don’t have to face the Christian life and ministry alone.
4. As a matter of fact, God never intended for anyone to sail through the uncharted waters of life and ministry all alone and without any assistance.
D. How many of you remember the Lone Ranger TV Series?
1. It ran from 1947 to 1957, which is before my time, but I saw it as a youngster in reruns.
2. Anyhow, the Lone Ranger had a strict moral code and even the actor, Clayton Moore, was a great role model for children.
3. But truth be known, the Lone Ranger was rarely alone.
4. Actually, he hung around with his Native American sidekick Tonto.
5. And he rode a white stallion named Silver who was like a best friend and protector.
E. When we look into Scripture, we notice that most, if not all, of God’s greatest servants never served alone – God made sure they had side-kicks to help share the load.
1. Moses had his brother, Aaron and together they led the Jews out of Egypt and on a harsh wilderness journey toward the Promised Land.
2. David had Jonathan, a friend who stuck closer than a brother.
a. David also had his 20 mighty men whom he names right down to the last one.
3. Elijah, is someone we admire for his heroic stand against the wicked pair King Ahab and Jezebel and their prophets of Baal.
a. Unfortunately, Elijah at that point was trying to fly solo and almost crashed and burned, but God sent him Elisha to be his assistant and his future replacement.
4. Do you remember how Jesus sent out his disciples to minister in pairs (Mk. 6:7)?
a. Jesus’ strategy never included sending out lone apostles to do the work of ministry.
5. Add to all this God’s design for elders in the church – elders must serve in a plurality – the New Testament knows of no individual elders serving a congregation all by themselves.
F. Aren’t you thankful that God’s will for ministers and ministries includes partnership?
1. God has not designed us and ministry to be loners and lone rangers.
2. In ministry there is no place for Rambos, or 007 Agents, or spiritual superstars.
3. It’s not only unhealthy, it’s simply not God’s will or God’s way.
4. The wise man, Solomon, said it like this: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:9-12)
I. The Story
A. So, with this wisdom of the need for partnership in mind, let’s return to the story of Saul of Tarsus.
1. When we left Saul in our last sermon, he was living there in Tarsus.
2. He had escaped danger in Jerusalem and was awaiting God’s direction for his life and ministry.
3. Meanwhile, while there in Tarsus he had the heavenly experience and was given the thorn in the flesh to keep him humble and dependent on God.