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Summary: 3 encouragements for Christians

Where Always Is Heard an Encouraging Word

Acts 15:11-31

Sermon by Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church - June 13, 2007

*Encouragement is such a wonderful thing. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” (1)

*We all need encouragement, and believers, God wants to cheer you up. His Word is filled with encouragement for all who will receive it.

1. So be encouraged because God’s grace is sure.

*We started tonight with that wonderful statement of faith Peter made in vs. 11, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.’’

*The early church leaders had come together in Jerusalem to deal with the false teaching of legalistic believers. They claimed in vs. 1 that, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

*The question then was: Do we have to keep Old Testament law in order to be saved? And the loud and clear answer was “No.” We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!

*King Duncan explained that this is so critical to us, because ultimately, the only thing the law can do is condemn us. As Duncan said, “If we are saved by keeping all the laws and ordinances, then all of us are doomed.

-Henry Moorhouse tells of a lady who said to him, ‘I can’t see how a person who has broken just one of the commandments can be as bad as another who has broken five or even all of them.’

-Moorhouse explained to her that God had actually given only one law which consists of ten different parts. ‘Look at this watch of mine!’ he said. ‘If you counted all its cogs, you would find many. If you ruined only one, you might leave the other parts in perfect condition, and yet this would be a broken watch and would no longer run.’

-The woman still couldn’t see the point; so he said, ‘Suppose you were hanging over a [cliff], suspended by a chain with ten links. If someone took a hammer and smashed every link, where would you go?’

-She answered, ‘To the bottom of the canyon, of course.’

-‘But if he severed only one link, what would happen?’

-‘Why, that would be just as bad. I’d still fall and be killed!’ (2)

*Suddenly she got it. She grasped the truth that ‘whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ If we had to be saved by keeping the law, then we would all be doomed, but we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! And in these verses God confirms the Gospel of grace.

1-First, grace was confirmed by God’s works. As we see in vs. 12, “Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

2-Grace was confirmed by God’s works, and by God’s Word. As James began to tell them in vs. 13-15, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree. . .”

*Then James quoted verses from the Old Testament book of Amos, including this great news for us in vs. 17, “So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.”

*There is hope for the rest of us! There is hope for the lost! There is hope for all who will trust in the grace of God in the Cross of Jesus Christ!

2. Be encouraged because God’s grace is sure, and because God has made our spiritual life simple.

*Starting in vs. 19&20, James proposed to write a letter to clear up this controversy. James said:

19. "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,

20. "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

*Then in vs. 28&29, we see the requirements spelled out in the actual letter:

28. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:

29. that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

*One thing that stands out in this letter is the simplicity of these spiritual requirements: Not 400 things to avoid or 40 things to avoid, only 4 things to avoid. Paul talked about the simplicity of the Gospel in 2 Cor 11:3, where he said, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

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