Summary: Grace on trial.. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dealing with tradition
Reading: Acts chapter 15 verse 1-35
A very poor holy man lived in a remote part of China.
• Every day before his time of meditation in order to show his devotion,
• He put a dish of butter up on the window sill as an offering to God,
• One day his cat came in and ate the butter.
• So to remedy this,
• He began tying the cat to the bedpost each day before the quiet time.
• This man became a well known who was revered for his piety;
• So much so that soon others joined him and became his disciples;
• And worshipped as he did.
• Generations later, long after the holy man was dead,
• His followers placed an offering of butter on the window sill during their time of prayer.
• Furthermore, each disciple went out and bought a cat;
• In order to tie it to the bedpost!
Question: What is tradition?
Answer: "That which is handed down from generation to generation."
• Traditions can be both good and bad;
• Often they can provide a sense of stability and normalcy
• At the Tower of London every afternoon at exactly 4:00 PM;
• There is a traditional ceremony that takes place.
• The Beefeaters, British royalty’s ceremonial guards,
• Come out of the tower and feed the raven on the front lawn.
• There is a legend that says;
• As long as the ravens are fed, London would never fall to her enemies.
• During WW 2, when London was being bombed by the German Luftwaffe,
• The ravens were frightened away.
• Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a secret order to the Beefeaters;
• He told them to secretly clip the wings of the remaining ravens so they couldn’t fly.
• Question: Why?
• Answer: To provide a sense of stability and normalcy to Londoners in a troubled time.
I guess we like traditions:
• But often they can provide a sense of permanence, a solid standard.
• Most of us like the familiar, the norm.
• Ill: How many of you always try to sit in the seat that you are now in?
• So some traditions can be good, but some traditions can also be bad;
• In our culture arranged marriages are deemed to be wrong!
• We have grown up with the tradition that male & female are free to find their own partner.
• But to many people around the world (large groups in this country);
• Arranged marriages are the norm! It’s their tradition!
• So traditions can be both good and bad;
• Because often they can provide a sense of permanence a solid standard.
In Acts chapter 15 we face a conflict:
• A conflict of ideas, the old and the new.
• Do we stick to what we have always known (tradition) or do we accept new ways!
• In 1786,
• William Carey a shoemaker/pastor from Northamptonshire,
• Was burdened by the needs of the worlds people,
• He stood before a counsel of representatives at a ministerial meeting in Northampton,
• He explained his burden to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
• He was rebuked by the eminent Dr. Ryland who said to him,
• "Young man, sit &down! When God pleases to convert the heathen,
• He will do it without your aid or mine!"
• Carey refused to accept that advice and so he followed his heart and his Bible,
• And the rest, as they say is history.
• William Carey has been called the ‘Father of modem missions’.
• He initiated the modem missionary movement as we know it today.
Long before William Carey, Paul and his associates faced this same challenge:
• This time it was not in Northamptonshire, England.
• But Jerusalem, Israel.
• Not in 1786,
• But about 2,020BC – about 20 years after Pentecost, the birthday of the Church (Acts 2).
• And Paul and his associates like William Carey, would have to be courageous,
• To defend both the truth of the Gospel and the missionary outreach of the church.
• Paul and Barnabas have arrived back at Antioch after their first missionary journey.
• They have reported to the church how God has been working through them.
• So far so good!
• Everyone can rejoice with the news of conversions!
• Well…..almost everyone;
• Verses 1-5 tells us of those who could not!
(1). The dispute (vs 1 & 5):
“Certain individuals came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.