The Book of Acts - Chapter 15
The Book of Acts
The First “Christian Church” Council Meeting
The Council at Jerusalem
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “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 believers 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 keep the law of Moses.” [“Judaizers”] 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? [Unrealistic expectations] 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles…13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ 18 things known from long ago. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult [Theologically] for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. [Not “making it difficult” Practically] For “No offense” reasons. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” 22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter… Greetings. 24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. [Have you ever had someone wrongly represent you?]
The reason for Councils is to CLEAR UP Wrong
Beliefs & Sloppy Language
• First Council of Nicaea (325)
• First Council of Constantinople (381)
• Council of Chalcedon (451)
• Second Council of Constantinople (553)
• Third Council of Constantinople (680–681)
• Second Council of Nicaea (787)
25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. 30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 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. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
The Basics of Agreeing to Disagree
(While standing firm)
1. Only God is All-knowing
The doctrine of Original Sin reminds us that are susceptible to pride and deception
“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous…12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
The Word of God is crucial
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
2. Slow down and listen
People are getting sloppier with their words and meanings.
Know what a person has said before you disagree with them.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
3. It’s OK to feel angry
In your Anger, Don’t Sin
“In your anger do not sin… Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
4. Identify whether the disagreement is over a something “theological” or “practical”.
Ie. Is it an issue of salvation?
“Substance” & “Style” Differences
We should never compromise on Salvation being by Grace through faith and not of works.
“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved… 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Saved FOR works.
NOT Saved BY works.
Is the disagreement an “Essential” thing?
End Times, Baptism, Communion, Style of Worship, Philosophies of outreach and evangelism, etc.
Exchanging gifts at Christmas, Guest lists for weddings, Food for Hospitality on Sundays, etc.
In Essentials Unity
In Non-Essentials Liberty
In All Things Charity