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The Church United

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the importance of a joyful church to our witness
It is a powerful testimony to unbelievers when churches go through difficult times with peace and joy.
my title chosen carefully
what constitutes a united church?
how is unity achieved?
One popular method of achieving unity is to remove doctrine and theology and simply agree to agree on everything.
this is very important to our culture and it has destroyed some denominations!
this is not the unity I am speaking of and it is not what is taught in the NT
Doctrine and theology are the foundation of the church, remove them and the building crumbles. (Mt 7:24-27)
Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the wise and foolish builders
Matthew 7:24–27 ESV
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus not teaching about physical houses but the lives of individuals
the church is the collection of saved individuals
the first major doctrinal issue to face the NT church had to do with how we are saved
the issue: Jewish Christians who could not let go of Judaism and tried to force it on the Gentile believers
the question: is the work of the Father, the Son and the HS sufficient and complete or is there something remaining for us to do?
the answer:
Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey: saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone
Peter’s vision and subsequent experience with Cornelius: saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone
ultimate answer: the testimony of the scripture
salvation is God’s sovereign, gracious work of raising a dead sinner to new life in Christ and giving that new believer the gift of faith to trust in the Lord Jesus and his finished work on the cross
Faith is aroused by grace, upheld by grace, and energized by grace. Grace reaches into the soul of the believer, generating and maintaining faith. By God’s grace alone we trust Christ, and by grace we continue to believe. (John MacArthur, Blog Post 06/19/19)
the result: a life of joyful love and obedience to Jesus as Master and Lord
no joyful love and obedience = no saving work of God (James: faith without works is dead; Mt 7:21-23)
with the major doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace resolved James turned his attention to the critical matter of maintaining unity between believers with radically different beliefs and backgrounds
Church unity is a key New Testament goal. (Eph 4:3; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:13; Php 2:2)
Ephesians 4:3 ESV
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Ephesians 4:13 ESV
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
how were the weak Jewish Christians to treat their immature Gentile brothers and sisters who were not circumcised and did not live according to the law of Moses?
how were the spiritually immature Gentile believers to treat their weak Jewish brothers and sisters who could not let go of their Jewishness?
the leaders of the Jerusalem church were not only concerned that the Jewish believers not trouble the Gentiles believers but that the Gentile believers not trouble the Jewish believers and that a door for witness remain open for witness to Jews
The Jewish believers were not to trouble the Gentile believers and the Gentile believers were not to use their freedom in Christ to pressure the Jewish believers into violating their consciences.
“… freedom in Christ does not grant the right to sin, or to offend another believer” (John MacArthur, Acts: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Acts 15)
What Eastwood needs to learn 2000 years later: work hard for unity and guard against disunity while staying doctrinally pure and theologically sound.

The Delegation

Acts 15:22 ESV
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,
“it seemed good”
to resolve positively in favour = there was a vote
the result in v.25 - “having come to one accord” = the vote was unanimous
“with the whole church”
the decision by James was made in a closed meeting of church leaders
that decision and the plan to write an explanatory letter was made known to the church
that there was universal agreement indicates that the leaders sought feedback
Although they were primarily a Jewish church and this decision could have been viewed as a rejection of an important Jewish tradition it was united in doctrine.
they were united in their affirmation that salvation was by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone
on this most important doctrinal issue, truth was more important than tradition
“to choose men from among them”
men from the Jerusalem church were chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with the letter
Jerusalem was the centre of Jewish Christianity and Antioch the centre of Gentile Christianity
this was to help Paul and Barnabas avoid the perception of bias
“leading men”
Judas and Silas were men who had a proven track record of ministry and leadership
they were among their most accomplished leaders
that and the fact a letter was written shows how serious the issue was and that they get it right with the Gentiles
“Judas called Barsabbas”
nothing is known about him other than that he was a leading man and a prophet
Important and effective leaders sometimes minister in obscurity.
Principle:
since this is true of leaders how much more of those who are not leaders!
those who minister to God’s people often do so with little to no recognition
what is our attitude when we don’t get noticed or affirmed in our service?
what do we think when someone is recognized but we aren’t?
who or what are we really working for?
“Silas”
also known as Silvanus
was given a prominent role in the history of the NT church
accompanied Paul on his 2nd missionary trip
served as Peter’s secretary (1 Pet 5:12)
Principle:
God raises a select few to high profile positions but the vast majority of his faithful servants minister in obscurity
this does not mean that the majority are inferior
the problem of making them into celebrities:
Jesus is our only celebrity
fame is a dangerous burden to place on a pastor or teacher
most eventually break under the burden
puts a very heavy burden on local pastors who do not have the time or resources to measure up
may lead to an inability to be satisfied in your local church and produce spiritual voyeurism
may also open a believer up to false teaching
the pressure on celebrities to conform to the world is very powerful and we have seen many of them cave in on important issues!

The Delivery

Acts 15:23-29
“the brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers” (23)
these are family terms not corporate or political terms
The Jerusalem church was a family. (Acts 4:32-37, 2:42-47)
the church is an organism not an organization
example of family attitude:
held everything in common (Acts 4:32-37)
did not look selfishly at their possessions but sold what they did not need in order to provide for the needy
Acts 2:42-47 - devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer, had all things in common, attending the temple together, received their food with glad and generous hearts
there was no sense of superiority from the Jewish Jerusalem church towards the newly established Gentile Antioch church!
Gentile believers were considered full fledged brothers not unbelievers as some of the weak Jewish believers had labelled them
“the apostles and the elders” (23)
Although they were a family there were leaders in the family who ruled with authority.
Apostles were chief - held extraordinary authority and power
according to Peter’s definition in Acts 1:21-22, 24 apostles no longer exist
had to be male
had to have been a member of the inner group of disciples from the baptism of Jesus to his ascension
must serve as an eye witness of and to his resurrection
personally chosen by Christ himself
elders were next in order of authority:
men of exemplary spiritual character recognized by the local church as leaders
qualifications in Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3
were generally older men (but not exclusively, eg. Timothy)
exhortation to church members to obey (Heb 13:17)
“with the following letter” (23)
this issue was so important that a letter was written
did not rely solely on a verbal summary
wanted no doubt among the Jewish or Gentile believers as to the decision of the Jerusalem church
Paul and Barnabas could not be accused of colouring the report to suit their own opinions
Acts 15:24 ESV
24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,
acknowledgment that the source of the problem was the predominantly Jewish church in Jerusalem
the Jerusalem church owned its problem
Principle:
practices and traditions we hold without thinking can become contentious issues when forced on others
what are we doing at Eastwood that are unnecessary barriers to other believers?
what are we doing at Eastwood that are unnecessary barriers to unbelievers?
need to be careful that our desire to reach the lost does not lead us to compromise the purpose of the church or the offence of the Gospel
purpose of the church: to mature believers for the work of the ministry, to protect against false teaching, to keep reminding of the truth
unbelievers are more than welcome to join us as we worship God and pursue Christ by the power of the HS
“troubled you”
a strong word meaning “to deeply upset, deeply disturb, perplex, cause fear”
result: unsettling your minds
used in extra-biblical greek of going bankrupt or of an army plundering a town
it was as if the Gentile believers had suffered a guerilla attack!
they were confused and frightened over the prospect they had to do something in order to ensure their salvation
Principle:
False teaching caused great havoc amongst the well taught believers in Antioch!
Paul had been brought in to the Antioch church by Barnabas for the specific purpose of teaching and strengthening the new believers (Acts 11:19-25)
because the Antioch church had been well taught by Paul and Barnabas and their other pastors they were troubled by false teaching, they were able to recognize it but needed help to resolve their confusion
sad reality: although false teaching is rampant in the church today professing Christians are not troubled or unsettled by it!
most likely due to their ignorance of the truth!
“although we gave them no instructions”
they were not in submission to the Apostles and elders
they took it upon themselves to “enlighten” the Gentile believers
the result: a troubled church
Principle:
what do you do when you have an opinion you feel strongly about?
humbly run it past your elders?
seek godly counsel?
pray?
wait?
what do you do when someone else has what you think is a disturbing opinion?
go to them first and ask them what they mean?
if they are clearly wrong be prepared to go with them to the word
if they are right be prepared to grow in your understanding of the word
if unable to resolve the dispute, humbly seek the counsel of your elders
be prepared to agree to disagree on matters that are not core doctrines and which are not matters which would cause other believers to stumble in their walk
what do you do when you have ministry you think the Lord is calling you to?
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The Church United: Part 2

The Delivery Cont’d

Acts 15:25 ESV
25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
“it seemed good to us, having come to one accord”
it seemed good = to resolve positively in favour = they voted
of one mind = they were unanimous in their decision = unity
Unity was achieved but not without time and effort and much debate! (Acts 15:2, 7)
in Antioch Paul and Barnabas had a heated debate with the Judaizers (15:2)
In Jerusalem there was much debate amongst the Apostles and elders (15:7)
in spite of testimonies by Paul and Barnabas (15:4 & 12) as well as Peter (15:7-11) coming to a consensus took time and effort
highlights the difficulty of coming to a decision based on experience!
finally James brought the Word to bear on issue (Acts 15:16-17) and this point the Apostles and elders came to agreement (15:22) and so did the church
The matter was settled when the Word was brought to bear on the issue. (Acts 15:16-17)
Principle:
the importance of the Word in decision making
Romans 12:2 ESV
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
context:
I cannot surrender myself to God as a living sacrifice and have the world telling me what to do, what to say or how to think. (Rom 12:2)
do not be conformed to this world = it does not have the answers we are looking for!
if anything the world leads us further and further into darkness (Rom 1)
that by testing = judging what is right or commendable
Every Christian’s responsibility is to use the Word of God as a measuring stick and compare everything to it.
by doing so we discover what is right and commendable and also which is wrong and despicable
the Word of God gives to those who soak themselves in it the ability to discern right from wrong
it is only when we are able to discern right from wrong that we can know and do the will of God and the only way to know the will of God is to search the scriptures
so Paul instructed Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
literal rendering: “Best to present yourself to God approved, a worker unashamed, analyzing correctly (cutting straight) the word of truth”
“no need to be ashamed”
We avoid embarrassment before God when we are able to handle His Word in the right way. (2 Tim 2:15)
the Word can be a curse when we use it improperly
example of improper use of tools - Mike’s improper use of hammer
requires extended daily time in the Word with prayer and meditation
very few Christians do this
most common excuse: they do not have the time
example of recording every single expenditure for a period of time
take one week and diligently record where you spend your time
you will likely find that you have the time, you are simply using it for lesser things
Acts 15:26 ESV
26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“men who have risked their lives for the name”
for the name = all that Christ is = his glory
Paul and Barnabas were dearly loved and cherished because of their willingness to suffer even to the point of death for the sake of Christ and his church. (Acts 15:26)
consider an example from Paul’s first missionary journey:
was stoned, dragged out of the city of Lystra and left for dead! (Acts 14:19)
Paul’s account of his sufferings when defending his ministry in 2 Cor 11:23-27
Willingness to suffer for Christ was the consistent pattern of Paul’s ministry.
it is also the history of the church!
no individual or church can stay true to the Word of God and not suffer for it
we are called to suffer
Philippians 1:29 ESV
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
we must suffer
2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Principle:
do we value those who have paid and are paying a personal price for their Christian service?
most Christians do not know the price that many believers throughout history have paid for their faith and witness
knowing would help us gain a new appreciation for the Word of God
will also help us persevere with joy when ministry is hard and thankless
examples:
NT believers who would not say, “Caesar is Lord” because only Christ was their Lord
holding to believer’s baptism by immersion resulted in many believers being put to death!
what price are we willing to pay for the truth of God?
who are you serving as you use your gifts in this church?
the problem of serving for recognition or reward
Because ministry involves working with sinful people it will sometimes be hard, even painful!
will eventually give up and possibly leave the church if our motivation is recognition
how do we value each other here at Eastwood and especially those who give of their time and effort to serve?
Elders? held to a higher standard because of their responsibility to teach (Jas 3:1)
Deacons - Leadership Team?
Ministry Servants?
Staff?
suffering for the gospel is an essential part of being a Christian
there is no such thing as being a Christian and not suffering!
2 Timothy 3:10–13 ESV
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
1 John 3:16 ESV
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
example of Moses interceding and mediating on behalf of a sinful and rebellious people
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The Church United: Part 3

The Delivery Cont’d

What made the Apostles and disciples willing to suffer for the Gospel?

Their concern for believers. (Php 2:17)
Philippians 2:17 ESV
17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
that the Philippians were rejoicing with Paul indicates the source of persecution was coming from outside the church
“as a drink offering” is supplied
literally: “Even if poured out upon the sacrificial offering of your faith I am glad ...”
the faith of the Philippians was a sacrificial offering
just as the OT sacrifices made the heart of God favourable to the offerors so does our faith when we exercise it
made possible by Paul’s sacrificial labours to bring them to Christ and strengthen and encourage their faith
Paul’s goal was to glorify the Lord with his body by paying whatever price necessary to bring people to Christ and teach them to obey him
was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of their spiritual wellbeing
They experienced greater grace through suffering. (2 Cor 12:9-10)
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 ESV
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul would not have become strong apart from suffering through his weaknesses!
as Paul accepted and embraced his weaknesses God worked powerfully through him
Paul adds to his weaknesses insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities as the things through which God worked to make him strong
note: weakness and strength coexist when the Gospel goes out with life changing power!
Paul’s weakness and God’s strength
They focused on eternal life. (Rom 14:7-9)
Romans 14:7–9 ESV
7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
life was no better than death because in both the desire is to glorify the Lord
also in both we are the Lord’s
“for to this end Christ died and lived again”
Jesus was their example
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
shame is not to be feared but despised!
how backwards we have it in Canada!
the fear of shame keeps us from living all-out for the Lord!
They knew that death was simply the door to heaven. (Php 1:21-23)
Philippians 1:21–23 ESV
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
which shall I choose? I am hard pressed between the two.
if the worst that his enemies could do to him was usher him into Christ’s presence, something he dearly wanted, he had nothing to fear from them
if they let him live, he won because he could keep preaching the Gospel
if they killed him, he won because he got to be with his Lord
They passionately desired to imitate Christ. (1Pet 2:21)
1 Peter 2:21 ESV
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
presupposes a deep loving attachment to Christ
we follow those we love
we honour those we love
we respect those we love
we serve those we love
we suffer for those we love
we die for those we love
perhaps one of the reasons we are afraid to suffer for Christ is because we have lost our first love?
perhaps what he suffered for us has become old and tired?
They had a consuming desire to glorify Christ. (Acts 15:26)
Acts 15:26 ESV
26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
for the name of Christ = for the glory of Christ
it is glorifying to Christ when we willingly suffer for him
1 Pet 3:14-18
you will be blessed (14)
have no fear, nor be troubled (14)
those who slander … put to shame (16)
for Christ also suffered (18)
identification with Christ
1 Pet 4:1-2
ceased from sin (1)
no longer living for human passions but the will of God (2)
1 Pet 4:12-19
to test you (12)
you share in Christ’s sufferings (13)
rejoice and glad when his glory revealed (13) - reward for suffering
you are blessed (14)
Acts 15:27 ESV
27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.
their responsibility was to say the same things as Paul and Barnabas
Paul and Barnabas spoke
Judas and Silas spoke the same thing
there was the letter for any to read
the goal: to leave no doubt about the decision of the Jerusalem church and to avoid any hint of bias on the part of Paul and Barnabas
Acts 15:28 ESV
28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:
“it has seemed good to the HS and to us”
in all their deliberations their goal was to discern the will of the HS
when the decision was made there was confidence that it was not theirs but the HS’s
because they they were united in their goal they were confident in their decision
they experienced the guidance and direction of the HS as they wrestled over the issue and invested much time and effort to find a solution
Principle:
The Holy Spirit wanted the Jerusalem and Antioch churches to know his will concerning the doctrine of salvation.
God sovereignly saves his elect by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone.
what is true of the church is also true for individual believers
how can we know his will?
personal righteousness and holiness
Isaiah 59:2 ESV
2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
time in the Word (he is the Spirit of Truth and his mission is to lead us into all truth)
John 16:13 ESV
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
prayer and fasting (example of the demon possessed boy)
wise counsel (the debate and discussions that went on in Antioch and Jerusalem)
Proverbs 15:22 ESV
22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
waiting (Ps 33:20; 37:9; Pr 20:22; Isa 40:31)
Isaiah 40:31 ESV
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
believing God and seeking him
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
the result for the church in Jerusalem:
When the decision was reached the Jewish believers were in agreement even though it went against their own Jewish history and beliefs!
The question was not who was the winner and who was the loser but making sure Christ was glorified!
in effect they were looking for the HS to be the winner!
attitude of John the Baptist when Jesus’ ministry was becoming greater than his: “he must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30)
another way of putting this: “not my will but yours be done”
rooted and grounded in the belief that God’s way is always the best way
when those seeking guidance humbled themselves before the HS the result was knowledge and understand with unity and joy
Principle:
when we lack unity and joy in our church it is because we lack knowledge and understanding
must humble selves before the HS and seek his will
problem: too often we are more focused on our will than that of the HS
Acts 15:29 ESV
29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
while these may look to us like OT laws being forced on Gentile believers they were in fact necessary restrictions if the unity of the churches was to be maintained
obeying the restrictions would maintain fellowship with Jewish Christians whose consciences were still bound by the OC
would also keep the door open to share the gospel with unbelieving Jews
we’ve considered the Delegation, we’ve examined the Delivery, now let consider the outcome: their Delight

Their Delight

Acts 15:30–35 ESV
30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
note the reaction of the Antioch church to the letter:
they rejoiced
a great burden of worry had been lifted from them
they were free from circumcision and the law
they were encouraged
the discouragement which had fallen on them was taken away
Principle:
We experience joy when we are free.
“know the truth and the truth shall set you free” Jn 8:32
they had been set free from the bondage of works righteousness by their knowledge of salvation by grace alone
Joy is a gift from the Lord Jesus to those who keep his commandments and remain in his love (Jn 15:10-11)
John 15:10–11 ESV
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“Judas and Silas who were themselves prophets”
note how these prophets exercised their spiritual gift!
encouraging believers :
was one of the works of prophets (forth-telling vs. foretelling)
with many words: these weren’t brief meditations or devotionals!
these were extended times of teaching and preaching
contrast with the trend of shorter messages with a de-emphasis on doctrine and theology
the result of the preaching and teaching of Judas and Silas
they believers were encouraged
they were taught about the nature of salvation
they were given assurance that they were true believers
hymn, Blessed Assurance
they were strengthened
they became stronger as they understood the nature of their salvation and their standing in Christ
they were no longer being blown to and fro by the “wind” of false doctrine we must contribute something to our salvation
Ephesians 4:11–16 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Acts 15:35 ESV
35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
after the delegation from Jerusalem returned, Paul and Barnabas resumed their work of strengthening the Antioch church
did so by teaching and preaching the word of the Lord
Principle:
The key to church growth is the preaching and teaching of the Word.
The ongoing work of the church was encouraging and strengthening the believers through the preaching of the Word of God. (Acts 15:30-35)
contrast with much of the church growth today
if you want to attract people you must have high quality of programs
if you want people to come you have to have flashy and hip leaders
if you want to grow you must make your worship service entertaining
dear brothers and sisters where do we find this in our bibles?
the example of Acts: church growth through the preaching of the word
as believers grew in their understanding of the Word they devoted themselves to prayer, and to fellowship of 2 kinds: hospitality/meeting needs and worship
the focus of the NT letters is on a growing understanding of truth leading to holy living
they are all about how to apply the Word to daily life
the absence of v.34 in the ESV vs. inclusion in the KJV
while the KJV is a very good translation of the bible, many more manuscripts have been discovered since it was translated in 1604
the majority of manuscripts reveal that v.34 appears to have been added most likely an attempt to reconcile v.33 with v.40
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