Sunnyside First Baptist Church
Decisions made and Divisions Avoided
      • Acts 15ESV

      • Acts 15:8–9ESV

  • Let’s Review...

    Acts 15 stands at the very center of the Book of Acts. The first half of the book focused on the Jewish community. On their leaving behind 4,000 years of legalism, law, law fulfilling the law.
    The Apostle’s were sent, they went two by two into Jerusalem, Samaria a place where no Jew would ever have went before the Advent of Jesus.
    Peter and John, followed by Peter and his witness to Cornelius and the outreach to the Antioch.
    Where we were first called “Christians” and where our “group” was called ecclesia, “the called out ones,” THE CHURCH!
    In Chapter’s 10-14 all the steps have been tried, formulated, strategized, tried and failed and tried again.
    The Apostle’s and the growing number of disciples were ready for the major effort to reach out to the gentiles.
    Acts, Chapter 15… “Must’s,” “Have-to’s” vs."Freedom and Acceptance”
    Jesus started with this ragtag bunch of kids really, in their teens and early 20’s. Called to them while fishing, building, just beginning their life-long service to their families and their community.
    They answered the call, left everything behind and joined a group of other guys who had been called in similar fashion.
    Who were they following… Jesus of Nazareth. That was about all they knew.
    They watched and saw and understood that this was no ordinary man. This man could heal at the touch of his cloak, He could call out evil spirits, He knew what they were thinking.
    This man was the WAS the Messiah… the one waited so long for. He was going to change the world!
    One of those called was Peter
    You remember Peter. Told everyone he would NEVER betray the Lord. He did, not only once, but twice and finally a third time.
    Any army would have had him courts martialed and condemned to death.
    But Jesus said I pick you!
    I pick you to bring the Good News, the Gospel to everyone regardless if they are Jew or gentile, slave or free, male or female.
    All were to be part of the ecclesia, the called out ones, the church.
    To the whole bunch… Jesus said I am going away, but I am sending someone who has more power than I.
    The Holy Spirit will dwell in you. You will do great things, greater than even I.
    Peter and John began bringing 1,000’s to Faith in Christ. Sometimes 1 at a time. Other times 5,000 at once. The Jews and Gentiles who professed faith, were baptized on the spot and joined Peter and John winning others away from the law and Judaism and to faith in Jesus the Messiah.
    There was a final hurdle… The Jerusalem Council. They hadn’t yet agreed on the mission to the gentiles. On what form it was to take, who could and could not be a part of the “The Way,” of who could and could not be called a “Christian.”
    The “debate” in Jerusalem probably occured in 49 AD concerned the issue of “how” gentiles were to be accepted into Christian Fellowship.
    The more conservative Jewish Christians demanded the usual way that you were accepted in a Jewish synagogue. Circumcision and complete acceptance of the Mosaic Law.
    For all intents and purposes, the person would have to become a Jew and then accept Jesus as Messiah.
    Should the Gentiles be required to become Jews in order to share in the Christian community?
    Were the men required to be circumcised and were all required to “become” a Jew before accepting the Kingship of Jesus.
    There was no other more important question that came to the council than this...
    Let’s get to the passage… Acts 15
    Acts 15 starts on the heals of the last two verses of Acts 14.
    Acts 14:26–28 NIV84
    26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
    We now shift to Paul and Barnabas!
    I hope that we, knowing what we know and in the world that live in would have a huge celebration that these missionaries had returned reporting success and victory in winning people to Christ.
    But that was not to be the case...
    Acts 15:1 NIV84
    1 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.”
    These men insisted that you could not be a follower of Jesus unless you were first a complete adherent to the Torah, the Mosaic Law.
    You had to physically be a Jew before you could be a Christian.
    We look at that today and thankfully, shake our heads, in disbelief.
    First of all, what about women, could they not be followers of Jesus unless they were married to a man… who was circumcised, who became a Jew and then followed Jesus? It was a legitimate question.
    You know we scoff at theses ideas. What do we REQUIRE ahead of faith to belong to our body?
    Do you have to dress in a certain fashion?
    There was a time, not that long ago that Jill would not have worn jeans to church, except maybe on Sunday night
    Should I be wearing a suit and tie?
    Do I have to wear one of those white collars?
    Do we have to sing hymns instead of modern contemporary Christian music?
    Is the only way to please God is through the liturgy?
    Is tradition on the same level as scripture?
    Does the Pastor have to be a man, does the man have to be celibate?
    To be an Elder or Deacon do you have to be a man?
    Can the Pastor be a woman?
    As your Pastor, should I stay at this church only 3-4 years and then be re-assigned and move on?
    As your Pastoral family, should none of you be our friends? Should we live in isolation?
    Some of these things are a matter of style vs. matters of substance.
    Others are man made interference with the will of God to bring the GOOD NEWS of salvation to Jew and Gentiles.
    I’ll make a BOLD STATEMENT!!!
    This was Paul and Barnabas’ argument
    Acts 15:2 NIV84
    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.
    Specifically, these were Judaizers. They insisted that men only, be made into a Jew before accepting Christ. There is no mention of women or girls.
    This group would hang around the Apostle’s and first disciples following behind them everywhere they went, drawing people back to Judaism after they had won salvation based on faith alone.
    What barriers did we or do we put on people who want to become followers of Christ?
    Must you walk the isle on a Sunday morning?
    Is there a “magic” prayer that all of sudden saves you from the clutches of satan and hell?
    Do we insist on public confession of sin and then acceptance of Christ to be a follower and member of his church
    Jill and I served in a church that insisted on a video recording of your salvation experience to be a member. This was BIG DEAL!!
    I know that we, this church may NEVER have done any of these things… First Baptist is the the first church to ever be “barrier-free” to those who wish to be a follower of Jesus.
    I hope that you are snickering on the inside.
    When Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem
    Acts 15:4–5 NIV84
    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.”
    There was a faction in the church, they were a divided church.
    Division in the church, we know all to well leads to splits, splinters and lots of hard feelings. The only one who succeeds in church conflict is satan and his minions.
    Last week, if you were with us we talked about distractions. Those distractions did not serve the church well in the first century nor do they serve the church well in the 21st century.
    When we are held up by baseless tradition, by non-biblical ideas that stop the progression of the Gospel in our community, I’m going to call it what it is… SIN!
    But you also know that the church is a resilient church… Nothing that satan is throwing at us, in an attempt pull us apart is ever going to succeed…BECAUSE WE ARE A RESILIENT CHURCH!
    Acts 15:6–7 NIV84
    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.
    Way to go Peter… He is drawing a line in the sand! He knows that He is right, he knows that he has the whole of the Word of God.
    He has the letters and the impact of the Jesus on the world. He knows the Torah, he knows what it says about the Gentiles. He knows it’s God’s will that ALL be included.
    Paul says this...
    Acts 15:8–12 NIV84
    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 made no distinction 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 the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 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 miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
    As a decision document this is almost perfect...
    Invoke the standard… “God showed that he accepted” and “made no distinction.”
    As a decision document this is almost perfect...Consequences of a wrong decision… “why do you try and test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke [?]”
    No one Jew or Gentile would want to “test God.”
    The best decision that could be made!!
    Acts 15:11 NIV84
    11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
    As a decision document this is almost perfect...Peter’s impassioned plea...
    Jews and Gentiles are “saved” to the same Grace, just as they are… All of us are saved just as we are!
    Decision time...
    Acts 15:12 NIV84
    12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
    James (not the 1/2 brother of Jesus spoke up.)
    Acts 15:14–15 NIV84
    14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
    Then James seals the deal by using the Old Testament to make the important point
    Amos 9:11–12 NIV84
    11 “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, 12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things.
    The Judaizers of the council were beat with their own words. They retreated.
    I wish this were the last time that we see them… It will not be. They are present, gnawing at the heals of the apostles, disciples throughout the new testament.
    Distractions did not stop there… I hope you heard last week. I hope that it was very clear to you. Distractions keep us from our primary mission, DISTRACTIONS KEEP ME FROM MY PRIMARY MISSION
    The Jerusalem Council affirmed it
    Acts 15:19 NIV84
    19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
    To win as many as possible to faith in Christ, using all the power of the Holy Spirit, to marshal all of power of the Gospel to bring the world to faith in Christ… Using words if we have to. Speaking BOLDLY, when necessary and ALWAYS loving unconditionally.
    What does the Lord REQUIRE OF US!
    Micah 6:8 NIV84
    8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • Days Of Elijah
  • The Lion And The Lamb
  • This Is Amazing Grace
      • Acts 14:26–28ESV

      • Acts 15:1ESV

      • Acts 15:2ESV

      • Acts 15:4–5ESV

      • Acts 15:6–7ESV

      • Acts 15:8–12ESV

      • Acts 15:11ESV

      • Acts 15:12ESV

      • Acts 15:14–15ESV

      • Amos 9:11–12ESV

      • Acts 15:19ESV

      • Micah 6:8ESV

  • No Longer Slaves

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