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Summary: Biblical truth is easily misunderstood, especially when people have pre-existing agendas. The early church had to grapple with controversy and theological confusion, just as we do today.The issue at hand was this: do gentiles have to first become Jews bef

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A Lot At Stake

(Acts 15:1-5)

1. This past week, the heating contractor came in to service the boiler that heats this auditorium.

2. My instructions. Turn off Wed. night. Best way: a single-fuse fuse box in boiler room.

3. But there were complications; the Security company called…11:30 and 3:30 a.m.

4. How often do we relearn the lesson: what seems simple is complex, and one action has several other unintended effects.

5. This is true in the realm of doctrine. Some people have simplistic ideas: as long as we all acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, that’s all that matters.

6. But they are completely wrong. There is a whole lot more that matters, and the effects of what we believe reach in all directions & have all sorts of connections to many issues.

7. The first big dispute in the church was not over the deity of Christ, the atoning work of the cross, or the reality of the resurrection. It was over what was and was not necessary for salvation. All the players believed in Jesus as God and Savior; they all believed he died on the cross for our sins and rose again. But some truths mattered beyond those.

Main Idea: Biblical truth is easily misunderstood, especially when people have pre-existing agendas. The early church had to grapple with controversy and theological confusion, just as we do today.The issue at hand was this: do gentiles have to first become Jews before they can be saved?

I. Salvation by Grace Can Be UNDERMINED in All Sorts of Creative Ways (1)

A. Theological Reasons: Sincere But Wrong BELIEF

1. School of SHAMMAI: What he taught about salvation and the 18 measures to reduce contact with gentiles which was opposed by Hillel

2. Salvation by grace but only for JEWS

3. This debate PRECEDED Christianity

4. According to 15:24, these men were NOT authorized

5. CIRCUMCISION represents converting to Judaism and Law keeping (5)

• Bet Hillel practiced ritual immersion as the entrance ceremony into Judaism, and this was for both men and women, but it was considered separate from salvation.*

• Bet Shammai did not practice ritual immersion, but demanded circumcision for males and no ceremony for women converts. Shammai taught full conversion to Judaism necessary for salvation, Hillel did not.

B. Possible ULTERIOR motives behind this theological error

1. DESPISING gentiles

• We are to love and interact with lost people. Tempted to isolate ourselves from lost people, avoid conflict & messy situations. Lost people view us as hating them, looking down our noses in self-righteousness. Sometimes the case!

• Tricky to be in the world, participating in society & yet not be influenced by the world. If others take offense, it should be because they find the Gospel offensive.

2. Loss of CONTROL

• Control freaks have a hard time with grace

• Devil not only tries to lead us to live in unrestrained ways, he uses well-meaning people to take away our freedom in Christ if we let them.

3. CHANGE

Bundling, We can be tempted to try to conform others into our image

4. JEALOUSY: Paul and Barnabas were getting results


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