Summary: The truth of the gospel of Christ comes under attack and the whole church meets to deal with it. What do we learn from this?
(From Steve Shepherd) ILL.- A very wealthy man was dying and decided to face up to the fact. He called his attorney to his bedside and after telling his wife not to cry, he started to dispose of all his worldly possessions.
“I want to leave my Cadillac to my son George.” His wife Bertha interrupted and said, “You should leave it to Joe. He’s a better driver and he’ll take care of it.” “Okay,” the man said.
He went on, “I want to leave my Rolls Royce to my daughter, Linda.” His wife Bertha interrupted again and said, “You’d be better off to leave it to the your nephew Willie.” “All right,” he said, “I will leave my Rolls Royce to my nephew Willie instead of my daughter, Linda.”
He went on, “And I leave my Volvo to my niece, Sally. She is such a sweetheart.” Again, his wife Bertha interrupted and said, “I think Judy should get it.”
Unable to take it any longer, the man said, “BERTHA, PLEASE, WHO’S DYING? YOU OR ME?”
Disagreements happen all the time, don’t they? Some are serious and some are just a bother. What we see in Acts 15 are two disagreements, the first is serious enough to split the church and the second is serious enough to split up a mission team.
The first disagreement involves the truth of the gospel, the second involves the trustworthiness of a traveling companion.
Let’s read this account together and then draw some applications for us and the lesson will be yours.
Acts 15:1-41 And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."
2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren.
4 And when they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
5 But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses."
6 And the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.
7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
8 "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
10 "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
11 "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."
12 And all the multitude kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
13 And after they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, "Brethren, listen to me.
14 "Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
15 "And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 ’AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT,
17 IN ORDER THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,’
18 SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM OF OLD.
19 "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,
20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
21 "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath."
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas-- Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,