Body: Read Acts 15:19-29 3. The Decision. In this section of the Book of Acts James, apparently the leader of the council, concludes that circumcision is not necessary. However, he does have a short list of things that he wants the Gentiles to live by.
Dietary restrictions and sexual immorality are the issues. A group of respected men are sent with a letter to try to make things right with the Gentile believers.
Applications – - From discussion to action. Notice in vs. 19 that James ended the discussion and did what he believed to be best. Let’s seek the wisdom and courage to know when to end the discussion and do what we believe to be best.
Too little and too much discussion can be dangerous. And then not acting on what we believe to be true can be just as dangerous as finding out what we believed to be true is not true. The need for divine assistance should be obvious.
- Concessions for the body. Notice in vss. 19-21 of this section of the Book of Acts that it seems as if a concession was made for the sake of unity, not salvation. In other words, the restrictions were not requirements for the Gentiles to be saved.
They were strongly requested for the sake of unity throughout the churches. We should all be willing to do some things for sake of the unity in the body.
The denial of self that we talk about under discipleship will come in handy, as we try to live out this application. Let’s work on being willing to make some concessions for the sake of the body.
Examples that come to mind include how we serve communion, when we serve communion, the need to complete the Membership Orientation material, etc.
- Diet and sex. Notice in vs. 20 of this section of the Book of Acts that there are still some things that apply to us today. We should still watch what we eat. Our bodies belong to God.
Therefore, we should work on putting only healthy foods in God’s body. Meat can be healthy, when cooked properly. We do not all have to be vegetarians. However, the idea of healthy food is still important.
And of course, sex outside of marriage is still wrong. Let’s work on continuing to living godly lives in the areas of diet and sex.
- Echoing the message that you are giving. Notice in vss. 22-29 of this section of the Book of Acts that there were some sendable men who echoed the message they were sent with.
First, there is a great need for sendable disciples of Christ today. Being sendable calls for humility, discipleship, and competency.
Second, it is a good leadership practice to write important information down. Writing helps us all remember what was said and what was not said, long after the initial event.
Third, it is important for those who are sent with a message to stay with the message. The lay teachers in our church are instructed and expected to echo the sentiment of these teaching notes with those whom God has sent the Pastor to feed and lead.
The church will be stronger, when we all eat from a similar wholesome spiritual diet. The church will be weakened by unauthorized teachings.
Let’s work on developing sendable messengers and supporting the idea of echoing what God is saying through whom He has sent to feed and lead the church.
- Wisdom in responding. Notice in vs. 24 that James talks about responding to what they had heard. It takes wisdom and courage to know what to respond to and what not to respond to.
If the leader responds to everything that comes to his/her ear, the agenda of God may never be carried out, because there are always small fires burning somewhere. However, if the leader ignores all that comes to his/her ear then things can quickly go from bad to worst.
Let’s seek the wisdom to know what to respond to and how to respond. If you are not a leader, you should be praying for your leader. When your leader suffers trouble, it will have an impact on you.
- Acting within authority. Notice in vs. 24 of the Book of Acts that a root cause of all of the discussion and activity seen in Acts 15 is some people “went,” instead of being sent.
Some people went off and did what they wanted to do. Perhaps they thought they were right. The problem is they did not have authority to go and say what they were saying. The same thing is likely to happen in our church, if we do not guard against such.
Obedience is better than sacrifice (see I Sam. 15:22). All things should be done decently and in order (see I Cor. 14:40). Let’s work on staying in our lanes or our areas of assignment.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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