Summary: God is intent on His church being a church of change and when we are not obedient he will accomplish that change by any means necessary

Never The Same Again

Acts 15:4-19

Read the text--I want to talk to you one more time about change-- Specifically about this idea of our ability to relate to and engage the culture that we are a part of—

As far as I can see it there are a couple of kinds of churches- Book of Revelation does a real good job of outlining the different kinds of churches

1. The church that hides(John calls it the dead church or the loveless church)- This is the church that has gone underground- A lot of talk about the dangers of the world, a lot of talk about how we need to be separate and set apart- (all of these things are true, but the church that hides preaches them in a way that is out of balance)- Most of the sermons are about how the world just keeps getting worse and worse and how heaven is the only way the church will be able to escape-- The church that hides seems like a very spiritual place when you visit it, but when you stay around for a while, it starts to smell bad- Like a pool of water where fresh water is never added- New faces and new souls are rarely added to the church that hides and so it kind of smells bad and it is a very unhealthy spiritual atmosphere- Nothing going on--

2. The church that conforms- This is the church that engages the culture and likes it so much that they decide to be just like it- Boat/Skier on Sunday-- The conforming church instead of skiing behind the boat just jumps in and enjoys the ride- Everything the culture says is ok is ok with the conforming church- The standards for the church become whatever the standards of the culture the church is a part of- (John calls this church the compromising church)

3. The Overcoming Church(The faithful church)- John says in Rev. 3:8- that this church is one that “has strength, has kept God’s Word and not denied His Name”- Why did he say that “Because you kept my command to persevere”-

Persevere means to -- to persist at doing something even though there is opposition and discouragement— Being the overcoming church is not gonna’ be easy- you are faithful because you kept on going even though it was tough- This is the church that God is calling us to be—

It’s not gonna be easy to engage our culture- We get opposition on the outside and we get opposition on the inside-

The opposition we get on the inside is almost always about change- It is a question of change that brought Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James together in text that we read-- I want to illuminate a couple of things to you real quickly tonight—

This is a record of the First Church Council- The first church council was not at all about theology it was to answer this question- Should the church adapt itself to the new cultures it was engaging or should the new cultures adapt themselves to the culture of the church- The whole question was not about morality or doctrine, it was about change, would the church engage the culture or not—

Verses 4-6 are funny and sad all the same time- Explain- Personal story- Christian Rock concert- “did they speak in tongues”- we’ve got our own culture- spirit filled church- we’ve got our own set of hoops to make people jump through- “we know you’ve placed your faith in Jesus Christ, now here’s a whole ‘nother set of things you need to get started on-

That’s what happens here- “not good enough that people are converting they need to do it exactly like we do it”-

Interesting- living Bible - guys that said this ‘ those that used to be Pharisees- the heart of the Pharisee is not easily softened- I come from a heritage of Pharisees- I belonged to the first church of the Pharisee- I have seen it first hand- the Pharisees heart is much harder then the heart of the most evil sinner-- Former Pharisees- Must daily break up that hard soil, daily water it and soften it—

Here’s the question that is raised that is important for us-- Was the church required by God to preserve the Jewish culture?—

Did Gentiles need to do it the Jewish way in order to be saved?-- For us—Is there one sacred culture that we have to preserve, one sacred way of doing things, that we must do forever and ever amen!- The answer as we can see now as we go through it is - NO!

Read verses 7-10-- why are you making it hard on the Gentiles- why are you putting yokes on their necks- why are you weighing them down with stuff that isn’t important-

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