Summary: Part One concerned disagreement over doctrinal issues. Part Two deals with disagreement over personal issues.

TEXT: ACTS 15:36-41


OPEN: A. Last week, we talked about conflicts that arise over doctrinal differences

1. Tonight, we want to look at conflicts that arise over personal conflicts

2. David Eubanks, former president of Johnson Bible College, in an article several years ago in the

Christian Standard entitled “Unity in the Local Church”:

The problem that I address in this article … is the growing and alarming division that appears to

be taking place in local congregations … The division spring most often not from differences

over the lordship of Christ, the authority of the Scripture, the essentials of salvation and so forth,

but from matters of opinion and expedience, personal preferences, personality conflicts, loyalty

to preacher, immature leadership, failure to communicate, hurt feelings, inability of leadership

to deal with conflict, [and] sometimes just lack of planning.”

a. Dr. Eubanks’ observations are right on track

--Many times we can work out or work through doctrinal differences but can’t get over the

personal conflicts

b. More people leave congregations over real or imagined personal conflicts than over doctrinal


c. More congregations split over real or imagined personal conflicts than over doctrinal


B. One of the founding principles of the Restoration movement was the unity of all believers around

the authority and guidance of the Bible

1. Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address (1809) said “that division among Christians is a

horrid evil, fraught with many evils.”

--He called division anti-Christian, anti-scriptural, and anti-natural

2. The Restoration movement was born out of the agony its leader experienced over division in the


C. They were simply reflecting what the Bible teaches concerning unity

1. Jn. 17:20-23 – “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me

through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in

you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given

them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved

them even as you have loved me.

--unity of the church in Christ is essential to its evangelistic witness to the world

2. Ps. 133:1-3 – “ 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like

precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard,

down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

--Unity = healing, refreshing, and anointing

3. God values unity. It’s precious to Him

--Someone: “The Word of God is as full of commands to live in unity with the people of the

Lord as it is to be separate from the people of the world. Separation from those wh are His is

as wrong as union with those who are not His.”

4. Satan, on the other hand, despises unity

--Satan values division. It’s precious to him

D. Let’s study our passage this evening for some insights into personal conflict

--As we do, we need to remind ourselves of a guiding Restoration movement principle: “In

essential, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. But in all things love.”


--Acts 15:36-41 – “Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the

towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take

John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them

in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they

parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by

the brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”

A. After clearing up one mess, they step into another

1. Not sure how long after Jerusalem conference but Paul suggests that he and Barnabas out to revisit the

places they’ve been on their previous missionary trip

2. Most likely, the circumcision controversy had caused Paul to worry about how the newly-formed

congregations were faring

--After all, if a strong congregation like Antioch was vulnerable to false teachers, then these fledgling

congregations were probably more so.

3. In fact, the churches in Galatia had some problem with “Judaizers”

--Paul wrote a letter addressing this very matter

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