Faithlife Sermons

A Reasonable Faith

Jerusalem Council  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro

1st Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg:
A conflict arose with one man. He and his family left the church.
At school the young daughter told her friends she no longer was a Christian,
The child had been catechized in that church, this was their church home and church family.
That child grew up and had a family of her own.
This woman was known as Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Founder and President of the American Atheist activists group
She was known for the lawsuit Murray vs. Curlett, which fought against mandatory prayer and Bible reading in schools.
The removal of prayer from school ca be traced back to a church conflict
A church in conflict needs to handle that conflict carefully.
God’s people need to handle conflict carefully, especially issues of Doctrine.
This is the same meeting discussed in
How to turn a disagreement into a feud:
1. Be sure to develop and maintain a healthy fear of conflict, letting your own feelings build up so you are in an explosive frame of mind. 2. If you must state your concerns, be as vague and general as possible. Then the other person cannot do anything practical to change the situation. 3. Assume you know all the facts and you are totally right. The use of a clinching Bible verse is helpful. Speak prophetically for truth and justice; do most of the talking. 4. With a touch of defiance, announce your willingness to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss the problem with you. But do not take steps to initiate such conversation. 5. Latch tenaciously onto whatever evidence you can find that shows the other person is merely jealous of you. 6. Judge the motivation of the other party on any previous experience that showed failure or unkindness. Keep track of any angry words. 7. If the discussion should, alas, become serious, view the issue as a win/lose struggle. Avoid possible solutions and go for total victory and unconditional surrender. Don't get too many options on the table. 8. Pass the buck! If you are about to get cornered into a solution, indicate you are without power to settle; you need your partner, spouse, bank, whatever. 
Here Paul shows the centrality of the gospel to understanding right practice
Ron Kraybill, Tell it to the Church, Lynn Buzzard, David C. Cook, 1982, p. 23.

Drama

Church conflict is a part of church life. Paul and Barnabas were no exception.
This is the same meeting discussed in
Here Paul shows the centrality of the gospel to understanding right practice
Jews did not understand the gospel and how he law was to work
The conflict arose because God was not explicit in abolishing the practices and traditions developed from the law
Matthew 5:17 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
They did not understand this fulfillment and how it then worked out in real life.
Men start teaching on something that is not explicitly from God. The law was a command for Jerusalem, but was not what saved.
They go to Jerusalem - The Jerusalem Council to deal with the theological question and proper practice. What did God say? What do the apostles believe and teach? Is circumcision required?

Doctrine

Be Trained! We should not only expect conflict, but embrace it in the gray areas of truth
15:1 - “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
This was a part of the covenant given to Moses and was carried out until Christ
But, circumcision is not what saves, only Christ
If an act done by man could save then this would be sufficient. It is not and therefore Christ and his work was necessary.
App: We should see the church as a place to grow and sharpen our own faith through reasoning.
GROW - we should be growing in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word.
Illus: Puritans used to go into a room and not leave until they reached a consensus and everyone agreed.
They did not
Be Teachable! We should NOT be teaching something as truth that is not explicit in Scripture

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto

This was a tradition out of God’s law to prepare the Jews for Jesus
It ended when Christ completed the work that was necessary for salvation
Salvation was a sign of the covenant, nothing more
OT - circumcision, NT - Baptism
Legalism - is placing man made restrictions from faulty logic.
Illus: - Six antithesis
“You have heard it was said . . . Bu I say to you . . .”
App: Trust but verify! Test everything that you are told by comparing it to God’s Word and what Jesus taught.
Avoid pride and arrogance! Seek help from those in the church who have already reasoned these things from Scripture.
Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem to reason through these things.
Be Tolerable! Our practice as believers must be out of our theology
The gospel must be at the center of our theology
Keeps from the error of legalism or antinomianism
The gospel must inform us of how we put theology into practice
Once we have searched and the HS has shown us the truth, we must live according to that truth.
Denying it can lead to sin.
App: Denying this is denying sanctification and makes room for Satan to attack.
1 Peter

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Satan looks for these conflicts as ways to divide God’s people, to destroy churches and to thwart God’s Work.

Doxology

These conflicts produce a people that have reasoned theology and practice from Scripture and are in line with God’s will as convicted by the HS.
Conflict actually makes God’s people stronger. It isn’t that we desire to see more of it so we can grow, but we should not shy away from it either.
The Jerusalem Council is an example of God’s people being strengthened by conflict.
Conflict in the church is a meaningful part of life. How we handle it is crucial.
Illus: Look at the editors of your Bible.
How to turn a disagreement into a feud:
1. Be sure to develop and maintain a healthy fear of conflict, letting your own feelings build up so you are in an explosive frame of mind. 2. If you must state your concerns, be as vague and general as possible. Then the other person cannot do anything practical to change the situation. 3. Assume you know all the facts and you are totally right. The use of a clinching Bible verse is helpful. Speak prophetically for truth and justice; do most of the talking. 4. With a touch of defiance, announce your willingness to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss the problem with you. But do not take steps to initiate such conversation. 5. Latch tenaciously onto whatever evidence you can find that shows the other person is merely jealous of you. 6. Judge the motivation of the other party on any previous experience that showed failure or unkindness. Keep track of any angry words. 7. If the discussion should, alas, become serious, view the issue as a win/lose struggle. Avoid possible solutions and go for total victory and unconditional surrender. Don't get too many options on the table. 8. Pass the buck! If you are about to get cornered into a solution, indicate you are without power to settle; you need your partner, spouse, bank, whatever. 
The Product of a group of Christians who were discerning and thoughtful in their interpretation of God’s Word.
Ron Kraybill, Tell it to the Church, Lynn Buzzard, David C. Cook, 1982, p. 23.
Starting next week we will look at how to handle conflict from an example given by the Apostles.
Today, I want to simply warn you that it happens and we need to be careful how we handle it.
A first, good step is to search God’s Word and Jesus teaching to give us clarity and discernment. Embrace the church and God’s sovereign hand in His church providing these timeless truths. And, above all embrace the gospel and let it direct your thoughts and guide your hearts.
I imagine as Paul and Barnabas were traveling and encouraging churches they had on their mind Jesus teaching:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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