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Summary: Even in the face of persecution, God still delivers His favor on the church! In 2013, we must stand strong and tall, persevering constantly as we seek God’s favor.

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God’s Favor Is Required

Acts 15:1-21

Introduction

Two weeks ago we defined our purpose for each of us to pray over and consider

-- Our purpose is: “Connecting people with Jesus Christ and each other”

Last week we examined the “how” of accomplishing our mission:

1. The example we follow is Jesus; whom the disciples received and preached

2. We are teach the Word of God and that Jesus saves … period

3. The evidence is the multiplication of what God is doing, not our numbers

-- IMP: Lives changed is THE result we seek; not membership cards

4. God brings the results and people to Himself; IF we will GO and TELL

This week … we will examine the importance of knowing how to reach others

IMP: Even in the face of persecution, God still delivers His favor on the church

-- This is where we are today in 2013, and why it’s important we know the Word

The enemy will try to confuse us in every way possible; it’s his mission

-- In John 8:44 Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

WE MUST stand strong and tall, persevering onward seeking God’s favor

-- Some see this passage as a chance to settle arguments in doctrine

-- Personally, I see it as an encouragement to stand firm and press forward!

Read Acts 15:1-21

Acts 15 shows us that the church will suffer through pain as it grows

It is not a pleasant feeling to go through growing pains; but it is important

-- It is a sign that things ARE happening, IF the Spirit is moving in them

IMP: We can do things all day long, but if God’s not in it then it’s futile

-- Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”

What we see right from the start is in v1 … “circumcision is the ONLY way!”

-- If you don’t have this medical procedure, then you aren’t really obeying God

In this, the church faced two problems and we’ll examine them today:

Point 1 – Two Problems the Early Church Faced (1-12)

Problem #1: The relationship between the old law and the gospel of grace

-- What the Jews knew is “eat this, don’t eat that, say this, don’t say that, etc.

-- Jews were even commanded to ONLY worship a certain way (OT)

The Disciples had an issue with explaining how they could relate to that

-- Today, we see people who feel that “their church” has to be this or that

-- The danger is that what is missed is most often, God and Jesus Christ

The biggest question for Jews to reconcile is the relationship of Moses and Jesus

-- Jews who had actually been converted still worshiped the old way

-- It is all they knew and so they thought it was God honoring

Then, out of the blue, the Jews wanted to insert Moses into Jesus (read v5)

However, v11 is the IMMEDIATE response to that – NO! (read v11)

Today, most cannot accept this truth: GOD ACCEPTS YOU AS YOU ARE

-- It is OUR (yours and mine) responsibility to tell them this critical truth

Problem #2: The acceptance of the Gentiles into church fellowship

-- Before, the Jews had held a special place as a chosen people, a royal priesthood

-- Some thought that simply because they were Jewish, they were special

Consider this as a thought …Imagine it is 1950’s Alabama and we want to be the first to integrate our church

Now, with the cross, there is no more distinction, there is NO DIFFERENCE in us

-- This is where it is critical that we understand that no one is to be left out

Paul called it a mystery, turn to Ephesians 3:4-6, “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

This really was something that took some time to accept

God had to show him that it was okay to try to convert Gentiles

TRANS: So with these problems the Disciples had to make a decision

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