Sunday School Material 11-8-15: Saved by Grace

(Acts 12:1-11; 11/8/15)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God saves through grace, not the law. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to share the simple Gospel.

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Read Acts 15:1-3

I. Conflict Defined. In our Sunday School material there was a group of people who took upon themselves the task of teaching believers that they had to be circumcised, in order to be saved.

This caused tension in the church. Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to address this matter. When they gave their report about what the Lord was doing among Gentiles, the believers were very glad.

Applications –

- Staying in your lane. Notice in vss. 1, 2 that we should be careful about teaching others. First, we should be careful about teaching, especially when we have not been appointed to do so. We should operate in our area of giftedness.

Look at the tension caused by people doing what they wanted to do, instead of doing things decently and in order.

Second, when we have been appointed to teach, we should make sure that we teach the truth, not just traditions. The world wants and needs truth, not simply traditions. Let’s work on operating in our areas of giftedness and sharing the truth.

- Disputes. Notice in vs. 2 that disputes are subject to happen. The challenge of our day is not to avoid disputes but to learn how to handle the disputes in a Christian way. In too many cases, the disputes become too personal, and God gets no glory out of the outcome.

Let’s work on dealing with disputes in godly ways. “Godly ways” include some time for discussion and then yielding to a decision.

Read Acts 15:4-6

II. Council Convened. In our Sunday School material many of the believers were glad to hear what Paul and company had to say. However, the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees were not as pleased. They called for the matter of circumcision to be considered.

Applications –

- Pharisees. Notice in vs. 5 that there were those who were “believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees.” Unfortunately, there are too many who still fit into this category today.

There are some who at least claim to be believers, but they seem to be more concerned with traditions than with the salvation and discipleship of people.

Let’s work on keeping our priorities right. God is more concerned with people getting saved and growing in the Lord than with our traditions.

- Dealing with issues in a godly way. Notice in vs. 6 that the leadership responded to the issues in a prayerful and thoughtful way. They did not just give a knee jerk response to the Pharisees’ pressure.

In like manner, there are times when the leader of the church should respond to the disputes and conflicts that are presented. This point assumes that the dispute has been presented in a way that allows for open and honest discussion.

Cowardly anonymous letters, parking lot meetings, and the like are not of God. Let’s work on dealing with issues in godly ways. Open and honest discussion can help us get through so many of the things that causes us stress.  

Read Acts 15:7-12

III. Judaizers Overruled. There is much discussion in our Sunday School material. Peter talks about how the same grace that saved the Jews was available and has been extended to the Gentiles. The people are listening to the report about God’s work among the Gentiles.

Applications –

- The simple Gospel. Notice in vss. 1, 8-9, 11 that salvation comes only by accepting Jesus as savior by faith. Jesus paid it all. None of our sins are paid for by way of circumcision, baptism, church membership, or anything else we may be tempted to add to the simply Gospel.

Let’s work on sharing the simply Gospel with our loved ones and those we meet along our way.

- Glad about the work of God. Notice in vss. 3, 12 that we should be glad to hear about what God is doing in the lives of others. This will call for our allowing God to work in and through our lives.

This will call for our sharing what God is doing in and through our lives. And this will call for our being glad to hear about the work of God, instead of being self-centered and jealous. Let’s work on sharing and being glad about the work of God.

Conclusion: Let’s work on sharing the simple Gospel. God has much for those who obey His will.

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