Book of Acts Chapter 15 (Part Four)

Introduction: A key idea in the Book of Acts is that believers should be witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. Today, we hope to discuss the delivering of the letter and choosing personnel for the second missionary journey.

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Body:
Read Acts 15:30-35
4. The Letter Delivered to Antioch.
In this section of the Book of Acts the letter was delivered by those sent to deliver it.

The Gentiles received the letter and encouragement as well. Some people went back to Jerusalem, while Paul, Barnabas, and others stayed and ministered (i.e., teaching and preaching).

Applications –
- Being sendable.
Notice in vs. 30 that men were sent to do an assignment, and they carried out the assignment they were sent to do. They were letter carriers.

In order for the church to be what you need it to be for your edification, what the world needs it to be for her evangelization, and what God is calling for her to be, there is a great need for sendable people.

Being sendable calls for humility and availability to be sent and competence to do what you are being sent to do. Let’s work on being sendable for the sake of church effectiveness.

- Open mindedness. Notice in vs. 31 of the book of Acts that the people read the letter and were glad about its encouraging message. Their gladness was the result of reading with a certain amount of open mindedness, as opposed to being defensive or closed minded.

There are too many negative feelings in the church that come from not being able to listen or read what is being said with an open mind. Too often, we assume that we know what will be said and that we are opposed to it.

Worst than our negative experience is the contagiousness of our negative attitudes. Let’s work on being open minded. If the idea being presented is bad, we will have time to respond. But the idea being presented may be good.

- Encouraging. Notice in vs. 32 of the Book of Acts the effort given to encouraging the believers. The believers in Antioch were not traditional believers, but they were yet believers.

There is too much criticism and too little encouragement in many of our churches. And too often, we are criticizing issues of tradition like dress code, worship style, and who is entitled to what, which is similar to the circumcision, in our text.

Let’s work on being encouragers. Often the more we encourage others, the more we are encouraged ourselves.

- Preaching and teaching. Notice in vs. 35 the emphasis given to preaching and teaching. The church is a faith community. Our faith is nurtured by hearing and obeying God’s word.

The priority of preaching and teaching should be obvious, especially when we think about how without faith, it is impossible to please God (see Heb. 116). Let’s support the high emphasis on preaching and teaching.

We can carry out this application by being present and attentive, in the preaching and teaching sessions. We can help by obeying what we are taught and urged to do. And we can help by being open to God calling us to be preachers and teachers.

We can at least echo some of the high points of the material to those we meet along our journeys.



Read Acts 15:36-41
C. The Second Missionary Journey. 1. The Personnel Chosen.
Paul talked to Barnabas about going back to the churches they had preached at previously. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark. Paul was opposed to the idea.

In sharp disagreement, Barnabas took Mark and left for Cyprus. Paul took Silas and the commendation of the brothers and went to Syria and Cilicia.

Applications –
- On going nurture.
Notice in vs. 36 of the Book of Acts the idea of going back to see how the believers are doing. Think about how similar to seeds needing to be sown and watered, believers need ongoing nurture and support.

We should not expect one sermon, one class, or one conversation to be all that a person needs to stay faithful in the Christian walk. Let’s work on ongoing nurture and support of one another in the Body of Christ.

- Godly handling of conflicts. Notice in vss. 37-39 that there are times when departing in peace is better than staying in sharp disagreement. Give Paul and Barnabas credit for talk to one another, instead of at one another and about one another.

Give them credit for apparently having good motives. Paul thought Mark’s track record disqualified him. Barnabas thought that Mark deserved another chance. As much as we may want to side with Barnabas, the sway of scripture seems to support Paul.

What can be clearly taken away from this text is that conflict can come between even those who are mature Christians. Conflict is not the problem. The problem is often how we handle our conflicts. Let’s work on handling our conflicts in godly ways.

Godly ways include trying to talk with one another. Godliness calls for us always demonstrating love and respect, even if we still disagree. And godliness acknowledges that sometimes the best move is to go our separate ways and trust God’s will to be done.

In the local church setting, our members are reminded to take a letter of dismission with them, if they feel like they need to leave. The letter is evidence that they left the right way, so if they need to come home, they can come home the right way as well.

- Continuous service. Notice in vss. 39-41 of the Book of Acts that Paul and Barnabas kept on ministering. There are too many who get so upset with people that they stop serving the Lord. This is not of God.

We ought to love God so much that we keep on feeding and serving His people, even when things are not going the way we think they should go. We should keep serving because of our love of God and because we know that serving the Lord will pay off. Let’s work on continuous service.

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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