Summary: People are always hurt when believers disagree to the point of fighting among themselves. I imagine the vast majority of you understand what I'm talking about • you've may have been a part of a painful split • Or some other form of church infighting.

Christian conflicts

Date: September 11, 2011

Scripture: Acts 15:1-41, Matthew 18:15-16


We come to our journey in the book of Acts were we see some Christian differences.

• The Jerusalem Council. “Doctrinal”

• Paul and Barnabas dispute with John Mark. “non-doctrinal”

This brand of Christian infighting is nothing new.

• Thousands of churches/even entire denominations have been started down through history simply because Christians couldn't get along.

People are always hurt when believers disagree to the point of fighting among themselves.

I imagine the vast majority of you understand what I'm talking about

• you've may have been a part of a painful split

• Or some other form of church infighting.

• You may have had a falling out with another Christian and your relationship has never been the same

• Or maybe your feelings were hurt in a business meeting and you've withdrawn from active ministry.

• unfortunately, all of us have been wounded in some way

• All of us know how painful it is when Christians allow their disagreement to hurt their fellowship.

Now, I bring all this up-because in the next portion of our study of the book of Acts, there are two examples of Christians disputes.

Let’s look at these disagreements

How they were handled and pray God will help us to understand how important it is that we get along as believers.


The first example of conflict we find there is recorded in Acts 15:1-2. 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.

Now remember a few times we already studied that there were conflicts:

• From the beginning Jewish believers had trouble accepting Gentiles.

• It began with that God-fearing centurion in Caesarea, Cornelius.

Remember? God had to repeat his "vision-lesson" three times before Peter began to understand.

Then Peter had to go back and explain the full facts to the Jerusalem leaders, instead of raising objections they “praised God.” (11:18).

Next came the movement in Syrian Antioch when unnamed missionaries ‘began to speak to Greeks also’(11:20).

• A great number believed.

• Jerusalem church heard this sent Barnabas/Remember.

• He saw great evidence of the grace of God.

Then the third development was the first missionary trip.

• Which the first outsider “Sergius Paul” believed.

• And then Paul/Barnabas responded to Jewish unbelief with the bold declaration ‘we now turn to the Gentiles’ (13:46)

Thereafter, everywhere they went, both Jew and Gentile believed.

Now, one or two Gentiles becoming Christians-like Cornelius and that Ethiopian eunuch fella-well that was at least tolerable for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem.

But, in their opinion, things got out of hand when Paul and Barnabas returned from the first ever mission trip and told how God had "opened a door of faith to the Gentiles..." (14:27).

• After the conversions/Cornelius/Antiochene Gentiles.

• Jewish leader were able to reassure themselves that God was in it.

• The trickle of Gentile conversions/fast becoming a torrent.

• They didn’t have problem with the general concept of believing Gentiles.

• The OT passages predicted their inclusion.

But something quite different was happening.

• Something that disturbed and even alarmed them.


Gentile converts were being welcomed into fellowship by baptism without circumcision.

To them, this was simply too much.

• It incensed many Jewish believers,

• Those who had been Pharisees-the guardians of the law.

• They were called “Judaizers” “The Circumcision Party”

• Something had to be done.

• So they sent emissaries to Antioch saying that enough was enough.

Now here is the dispute, the heresy.

If a Gentile was to become a Christian, he must first become a Jew and be circumcised.

"These converted Pharisees and their followers were not bad people; their problem was that they stood with one foot in Moses' Law and one foot in Christ's love. And now the ground was separating beneath them."

This is a good word picture for us to use because these Pharisees were saying that becoming a Christian was a "both-end" deal.

They were saying, "You had to have faith in God's amazing grace AND you had to be circumcised!"

And you know, unfortunately these days many Christians make the same sort of mistake.

They say the grace of God is not enough-that to be a be saved...there is something "extra" a person must do:

• That they have to tithe their 10%.

• That they have to attend church 3 times a week.

• That they have to speak in tongues.

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