Summary: This sermon explians and illustrates why Christians should become all things to all people so that by all possible means we might save some.

The First Board Meeting

July 28, 2002

Acts 15:1-35


A. [None Survived, from the book, "God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times" by Stan Toler]

There was a family who decided to move to the country.

They bought a ranch and made plans to raise cattle.

They completed the relocation process and set about building their ranch, and about six months later some friends came to see them.

They wanted to see the ranch and the cattle.

The friend said to the owner of the ranch, "What do you call the ranch?"

The owner of the ranch said, "I wanted to call it the ‘Flying W.’ My wife wanted to name it the ‘Suzie Q.’ My oldest son wanted to call it the ‘Bar J.’ And my youngest son wanted to call it the ‘Lazy Y.’

So the friend asked, "Well, what did you call it?"

"Well, we call it ‘The Flying W, Suzie Q, Bar J, Lazy Y Ranch,’" he said.

"OK," the friend said, "but where are the cattle?"

The owner replied, "Well, we don’t have any. None of them survived the branding."

B. Today, we come to Acts 15, where we learn about the first board meeting.

I. Salvation by meeting requirements?

Acts 15:1-5, Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."

A. Paul and Barnabas are now back in Syrian Antioch, having completed their first missionary journey.

1. It is now about the year 51.

2. It has been about 18 years since the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

3. Paul and Barnabas have completed their first missionary journey and were staying in Syrian Antioch—about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.

B. But we learn that life after the first missionary journey was not uneventful.

1. We see that there were some men who came from Judea to Antioch and began teaching people that unless they were circumcised (according to the law of Moses) they weren’t really saved.

2. Listen to how Paul described these very people in Galatians 2:4, "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves."

3. Acts 15:2 tells us that this teaching brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute with those false brothers.

4. Paul knew that God had lead him to the Gentiles.

5. Paul had not been circumcising anyone; he had simply called them to belief in Jesus Christ and baptized them in water.

6. But now these men had come down from Judea to tell the people in Antioch that if they don’t get circumcised, they really weren’t saved.

7. And verse two tells us that "This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them."

C. They were unable to resolve the debate, so they had to take another course of action.

1. In Galatians 2:2 Paul says that during this time, he got a revelation which told him to go to Jerusalem.

2. So Paul told the others that if they didn’t believe him, they should go ask the apostles in Jerusalem.

3. They weren’t ready to believe Paul, but they were evidently willing to listen to the apostles and so a number of people packed up and took a 300 mile journey to Jerusalem.

D. Along the way, they told people in different cities about the first missionary journey and how God had brought salvation to the Gentiles.

1. This news made people glad.

2. When they got to Jerusalem and the board was assembled, they reported to them about their first missionary journey and all that God had done among the Gentiles.

E. Then some others stood up in the meeting and started spouting their spiel about the Gentiles needing to be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.

1. Now we need to think about what they are saying.

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