Summary: Every church will face problems. How can we overcome them? 1. Beware of misguided convictions (vs. 1-5). 2. Seek wise counsel (vs. 2; 5-9). 3. Consider the right questions (vs. 10). 4. Reaffirm our core beliefs (vs. 9-11).
Problem Solving in the Savior's Church
The Book of Acts - Part 49
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 20, 2014
*George Mallone told about a psychologist who spoke at a pastor's conference, and he decided to do a little experiment. Every time he introduced himself to a preacher, he said, "I'm sorry to hear about the problem in your church."
*Nearly half of the pastors replied, "It was there before I came." The other half said, "It's getting better." Only one pastor responded by asking, "What problem?" But maybe he was dealing with a whole boatload of problems. (1)
*Every church will face problems. How can we overcome them? God's Word shows us in today's Scripture because the early church had problems too.
1. First, we must beware of misguided convictions.
*Misguided convictions were the big problem in vs. 1-5, so please listen to these verses again:
1. And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.''
2. Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
3. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.
4. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.
5. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.''
*As believers, we must beware of misguided convictions. Some of the Pharisees had trusted in the Lord, but they were tenaciously hanging on to Old Testament rituals. They were zealous for the Lord, but they were zealous in a misguided way.
*Most Christians need more passion for God, and that's a big problem. But another problem is that some of the most passionate people are passionately wrong. Some of the most passionate people are also some of the most misguided people. Muslim fanatics prove that every day.
*We must beware of misguided convictions, like the legalism we see in vs. 5. There some of the Christian Pharisees said this about the saved Gentiles: "It is necessary to circumcise them, and command them to keep the Law of Moses.'' Those Pharisees did not understand that we are living in a new day. On the resurrection side of the cross, we are living in the age of grace. And those Pharisees did not understand that all true Christians are under the New Testament or New Covenant which was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
*Therefore, it is no longer necessary for us to keep Old Testament ritual law. Of course, that doesn't mean anything goes. Anyone who looks at the teachings of Jesus Christ will quickly see that He calls us to a much higher standard in the Old Testament law.
*For example, in Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus said:
43. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45. that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
*The Lord calls us to the highest standards of love, goodness and holiness, but we are free from Old Testament ceremonial law. And the Pharisees in this Scripture remind us that we must beware of misguided convictions. For them it was circumcision.
*Man is always looking for something to do to be saved, some kind of action to take, some kind of ritual to perform. It's a kind of idolatry that takes something symbolic and turns it into a literal requirement for salvation. This has happened with the two ordinances that the Lord gave to the church: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Both ordinances have been falsely identified as requirements for salvation.
*Many of our Church of Christ, Pentecostal and Catholic friends teach that you cannot be saved unless you are baptized. And by that, they mean you must be baptized by them, according to the formula they have adopted.
*Catholics also teach transubstantiation of the Lord's Supper. This is the belief that the bread and wine are literally transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And that the Lord is literally sacrificed over and over literally thousands of times every day around the world.