Summary: The fourth message in the series deals with tolerance. It focuses on inconsistent behaviors that tell others we are "not of God"

Avoiding Costly Mistakes At All Costs - Tolerance

Acts 15:1-29; Galatians 2:11-14

Pastor Don Jones

West Glendale Baptist Church

We live in a world today that expects tolerance; tolerance of alternate life-styles, tolerance of other religions, and tolerance of others habits and sexual preferences. If you are not tolerant on the job you will be sent to diversity training within the company. If you do it again you risk dismissal. You are expected to accept everyone and everything.

There are even new words that have replaced old ones to better reflect this culture of diversity. I did a little research this last week and found lists of politically correct words to help us better understand what is happening in our world. John Leo says in, "Double Trouble Speak," U.S. News and World Report, 4, 11 July 2005, 30:

"We have trouble saying what we mean. A receptionist is now a "director of first impressions." Singles and childless couples are called by Disney "pre-families", which also seeks to welcome "post-family" customers (widowers, empty nesters). Hospitals are really good at this: When your hospital bill registers $58 for a "thermal therapy unit," that means you got an ice pack. If you’re told your problem is "supratentorial," that means "it’s all in your head." Getting fired is always ripe for language somersaults: in England firing someone is called "icing" because someone from ICE: Involuntary Career Event breaks the news. My favorite though is "selected out through performance management assessments" or "agreed departures."

Cue slide - The Dictionary

The trouble with this new dialogue is that it only confuses communication, it really doesn’t help. When we don’t use the same dictionary it becomes impossible to communicate.

Recently, a judge was presiding over a case in a small,

rural county. The defendant was charged with drunk driving and trying

to assault the police officer who arrested him. To convict the

defendant on the assault on an officer charge, the District Attorney

had to prove that the defendant knew the person he was assaulting was

a police officer. And the easiest way to do that is to show that the

officer was wearing a police uniform, and therefore the defendant knew

that this was a police officer.

So the District Attorney asked the officer on the witness stand "And

how were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness looked at him blankly. It was clear he didn’t know what

the District Attorney meant by "attired". Everyone saw this but the

District Attorney.

"Would you repeat the question, please?"

In a slightly irritated voice the District Attorney said, "And how

were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness still was puzzled. "Say that again", he pleaded.

"How were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?" barked the

District Attorney.

My friend said you could suddenly see the light bulb come on in the

officer’s head, and he proudly proclaimed " I was traveling on

standard issue radial tires!"

This officer needed an interpreter even within the English language!

In a few months, we are going to ask everyone in the church from teen to adult to take a series of classes on what we believe. We all need to use the same dictionary, to speak and understand the same language.

Cue slide - The Dispute

We find the New Testament deals with this problem of communication. The church in Antioch was in its beginnings and it was already having this crisis of definition. One of the words they were using was causing quite a stir. There was difficulty with it being defined. That word was salvation. Verses 1-2 says,

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

The Judiazers were saying that in order to be "completely" saved, a gentile must accept Jesus as Lord and needed to be circumcised and follow Jewish customs and traditions. Imagine, we are at a point in time when the gospel of Jesus Christ is in its infancy and there are some who are already trying to add their own interpretation to what it means.

Paul and Barnabas were in sharp disagreement. They knew that in order to attain salvation a person need accept, believe, and trust on the name of Jesus Christ. "It is by grace we are saved". Unfortunately at this point there was no New Testament to affirm what Paul was preaching. He hadn’t written most of it yet.

Cue slide - The "Defining Moment"

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