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Jerusalem: Facing Conflict    Acts 15:1-2, 6-15, 22-23a, 27-28    July 27, 2008

        This dispute represents the first doctrinal problem in the church. How does conflict start? Many times it starts with some members projecting their ideas above those of the church. Take a look at verse 24 and note this false teaching that caused the problem never received authority from the leaders. These men may have been Pharisees who came into Christianity but failed to throw off Jewish customs. Do all of us hold some ideas that are more tied to traditions than scripture? Let us not be guilty of forcing our thoughts on others. If and when this happens in your church the pastor and deacons need to confront these ideas as quickly and as firmly as possible.

1. The Desire To Identify The . . Source Of The Conflict. 15:1-2

A. The Source Of Conflict; Doctrine Without . . Substantiation. 15:1
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you
are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

B. The Diminishing Of The Source; Doctrine With . . Substantiation. 15:2
2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with
them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to
Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

    Today with several hundred churches with different doctrine we must be sound in the faith.  In a Baptist Church nothing should be taught that does not agree with the Baptist Faith and Message. This confession agrees with the Word of God, therefore it can be accepted as authoritative. Note; Paul and Barnabas strongly disputed with this false doctrine. Today we have too much tolerance of false doctrine.

2. The Desire For . . Studying The Conflict. 15:6-15

A. The . . Assembly And The Study. 15:6
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

B. The . . Apostle Peter And The Study. 15:7
7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men
and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the
Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

C. The . . Authority Of The Spirit And The Study. 15:8-11
8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit,
just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts
by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the
disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through
the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

D. The . . Assessment Of James And The Study. 15:12-15

        1. Assessment Based On The . . Testimony Of Barnabas and Paul. 15:12
                12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among
                 the Gentiles.

        2. Assessment Based On The Correct . . Thinking Of James. 15:13-15
            13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

        This conflict was sent to Jerusalem for an authoritative study by the apostles, and elders.Part of the problem stemmed from the lifestyle the Gentiles approved of before their salvation.  New Christians may come from a very worldly background, and we may need to give some space for their habits and Christian lifestyle to grow. In the text the Apostle Peter gave testimony telling how God saved Cornelius and other Gentiles confirming their salvation with the gift of the Spirit. This is the last time words from Simon Peter are recorded in the Book of Acts. Note the silence in the church after Simon spoke. Truth usually helps to bring silence. A further testimony comes from the gift of the Holy Spirit. James makes an assessment of the testimonies given but then calls attention to the words of the Old Testament Prophets which really clarified the issue. All of these speakers call attention to the work and Word of God. The final word of authority must always agree with the teachings of Scripture.

3. The Desire To . . Silence The Conflict. 15:22-23a & 27-28

A. The Desire Of The Leaders And The . . Entire Church. 15:22
22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen
men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was
also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

B. The Desire Of The Leaders With An . . Epistle From The Church. 15:23a
23 They wrote this, letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

C. The Desire Of The Leaders With . . Emissaries From The Church. 15:27
27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

D. The Desire Of The Leaders With . . Enlightenment From The Holy Spirit. 15:28
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: NKJV

        The eleven apostles were members in the Jerusalem church and any church conflicts received an investigation from them. Led by the apostles; this entire church wanted to quell conflict, and especially unauthorized false doctrine. All sides were given an opportunity to talk; this is a good practice. After general agreement the church sent an epistle to all the Gentile churches taken to them by Paul, Barnabas and other well thought of emissaries. This action received a confirmation from the Holy Spirit as the church sensed His enlightenment and confirmation of this action. These actions will be great to follow in any times of conflict. Amen? Amen!