Summary: Exposition of Acts 15:1-5 about the conflict over how the gentiles get saved
Text: Acts 15:1-5, Title: Encouraging Conflict, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/3/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: Wycliffe died in 1384 of apoplexy, but the Council of Constance declared Wycliffe (on 4 May 1415) a heretic, decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed, burned, and the ashes cast into the river, John Huss was also summoned by this Council for errors related to scripture alone, Christ is the head of the church, and it is made up of all believers. He was sentenced to death, and after being stripped, chained, and offered one last chance to simply say that the Pope was right, and the priests were the church, he said, “God is my witness that I have never taught that of which I have by false witnesses been accused. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, I will die today with gladness."
B. Background to passage: the situation is that Paul and Barnabas have just returned from their first missionary journey having come back through and strengthen the churches that they had just planted. So while they are recovering from their trip, seeking the Lord about their next missionary trip (he took 3.5 trips), a controversy arose. And so the bulk of chapter fifteen is a very important interlude between mission trips.
C. Main thought: Today we will look at the roots of what is known as the Jerusalem Council in the first of a three part series on church conflict and how it is to be handled.
A. Good reasons to fight (v. 1-2)
1. The jury is still out on whether or not these guys were Baptists. First, we don’t know if they had lots of food at their fellowships or if they ate fried chicken. Second, we never see them take an offering. But we can hold out hope because they know how to fight and disagree with their own. Luke uses a word here that means to stand up as in an insurrection or riot. It means to get up in one’s face and bump chests. And he says it was not small, light, or insignificant. The question at hand was not whether or not Gentiles could be Christians, but how. These Judaizers came from Jerusalem, probably indicated that they had the apostles blessing (although v. 24 indicates they didn’t), and were of the Pharisaic tradition. They were law keepers, and felt a calling to go and “fix” anyone who doesn’t get it right. They insisted that to be a Christian, one had to also become a Jewish proselyte, meaning circumcision and law keeping. They were adding to the requirements to be saved. REALLY BIG DEAL! This is why I say that the conflict was good. Someone needed to stand up, biblical salvation was being called into question. To add to the work of Christ is to say that His sacrifice was not sufficient and to claim that our righteousness has helped save us. This is a damning theology b/c it causes us to trust partially in ourselves.
2. Gal 1:6-9, 2:5, 1 Cor 7:18-19, 1 Tim 4:16, Eph 4:14,
3. Illustration: recently a family visited b/c they are leaving their previous church b/c of doctrinal differences, mainly of believers baptism and regenerate church membership, The Baptist Reformation in the late 70’s and 80’s in the Southern Baptist Convention centered around one doctrinal truth, and it turned our convention around, only major denomination to ever do that, only ever had two families leave my churches over doctrinal distinctions, tell about our Sat training session whether theology was the main course for most of the morning, tell about the conversation that I had with a pastor that one of his leaders was concerned that the church would exclude someone from church based on baptism,
4. Most Baptists fight over differences in opinion, personality, agendas, power, money, or preferences. Very seldom do we divide over theology. But if this is ever the case, this is a good reason to disagree. Peace does not supersede truth. Theology is important! It is not just some boring thing that preachers discuss when they are board and done with all their ministry for the week. We are not discussing how many angels fit on the head of a pin, or whether or not Adam had a bellybutton. John Huss and Wycliffe and Luther and Zwingli and Knox were all willing to sacrifice life and liberty for it. What doctrines are you willing to give your life for? What doctrines would require you to leave this church? Particularly in the areas of soteriology and ecclesiology, we must make no compromises. We must be aware that to add to or take away from how we get saved is damning. And sometimes we make the prayer the goal, not Christ. We must be willing to stand up for the faith once handed down. We must know the faith that we stand for. And we must be passionate about truth. Blog this week on the vote mentality and the consensus mentality. Get excited or bothered about something.