Summary: We should do our best to lead others to Christ and not around him.
Be A Conduit Not A Detour
Text: Acts 15:1-21
1. Illustration: Recently, I was having a phone conversation with my brother, and he was telling me about a detour to get to his house. He told me that when I come to his house, rather than turning where I normally turn and cross a bridge over the river, that I needed to go another five mile down the road, turn there, and come back several miles in order to get to his house. The reason for this is the bridge is currently closed off, and as a result, I have to go five miles out of the way.
2. Unfortunately, this is what too many Christians do to unbelievers. We insist that they look like us, think like us, and act like us. All the time we forget that we didn't always look like we look, think like we do now, and we certainly didn't always act the same.
3. In doing this we make roadblocks to Christ that make it difficult for people to come to faith in Jesus.
4. We can sometimes become...
A. Detours To Faith
B. Conduits Of Faith
C. Transmitters Of Faith
5. Let's stand together as we read Acts 15:1-21.
Proposition: We should do our best to lead others to Christ and not around him.
Transition: What we should try not to be is...
I. Detours To Faith (1-5).
A. Unless You Are Circumcised
1. One of the greatest movements in the church of the 20th Century was known as the "Jesus Movement." Many young people were come to faith in Christ, and many of those young people are now Pastors and leaders in the church today. What was unique about this movement was that the majority of these young people were hippies. They began walking into church with long hair, beards, and wearing blue jeans, t-shirts and sandals. The church's that were in tune to the Holy Spirit accepted and embraced these young people right where they were at. However, other church's rejected them because of the way they looked and dressed.
2. This is very much like what happened in the early church. As you recall, Paul and Barnabas had gone to the Gentiles and the Holy Spirit had done a great work causing these Gentile's to come to Jesus in droves.
3. Then, however, there came those who tried to cause detours for these new believers. In v. 1 we read, "While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
A. These unnamed Jewish believers began teaching the Gentile brothers that their salvation was conditioned on circumcision "according to the custom taught by Moses."
B. What these people were really saying was that the Gentile believers must be circumcised and come under the old covenant of Moses' law; otherwise, they could not be real Christians.
C. By this they also implied that Gentile believers would lose the salvation they had already received if they did not become Jews and undergo circumcision.
D. This has often been the cry of false teachers: You will lose your salvation if you do not accept our special teaching.
E. Some still say that a person is not really or fully saved unless they go through certain prescribed rites or ceremonies. All these fail to recognize that salvation is by grace through faith alone, as is clearly taught in the NT (Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, 261).
4. Now this didn't set well with Paul and Barnabas. Look at v. 2, it says, "Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question."
A. This was no small difference of opinion. The Greek words for disagreeing and argued forcefully convey the idea of great strife, discord, disunion.
B. This debate over circumcision and keeping the law was a major dispute, a serious theological and ecclesiastical crisis.
C. If not handled wisely, the debate could have split the church. So Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers.
D. They would meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this question (Barton, 525).
E. Since Paul and Barnabas couldn't persuade these Jewish believers they took it to the Church.
5. Now notice something amazing about Paul and Barnabas. In v. 3 it says, "The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted."
A. They stopped along the way to encourage the believers and share testimonies!