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Experiencing God 14 - God Speaks Through the Church

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Reading: Acts 15:1-29
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: Acts 15:28 (NIV)

I.   The Church faces Conflict

     A.  How are Gentiles Saved?

           1.  This wasn’t a trivial problem!

                 a.  It’s not like they were arguing over the color of the carpeting!

                 b.  The Q: Are Gentiles saved as Gentiles, or do they have to become Jews?

                 c.  Is our relationship with Jesus enough, or do we need Abraham and Moses too

           2.  How do the Old and New Covenant relate?

                 a.  What about the Law God gave to Moses

                 b.  If you take out this, doesn’t the whole Old Testament become irrelevant?

                 c.  Does the New Covenant add to, or replace the Old Covenant? How?

           3.  How do tradition and God’s new path relate to each other?

                 a.  Is the spiritual experience of Jews submitted to God’s law, invalid?

                 b.  Can what we required become optional

     B.  The question is referred to the Church

           1.  Individualism is rejected.

                 a.  Why not just say, “let’s decide for ourselves what we think best?”

                 b.  This didn’t occur to them.

                 c.  Christianity is about belong to God and being a member of His people.

           2.  Congregationalism is rejected.

                 a.  How about every Church for herself?

                 b.  No inter church accountability?

                 c.  We belong locally, but globally too.

     C.  The Church faces the question Together

           1.  Nobody said “This isn’t my problem, I’m already circumcised.”

                 a.  “What’s so special about the Gentiles?”

                 b.  When part of the Church has a problem the whole Church has a problem.

           2.  The problem of the Church far away was the problem of the “Home” Church.

                 a.  Because the Church is the Church, distance doesn’t make it less relevant.

           3.  We’re all in this together.

                 a.  We belong to each other as God’s family.

                 b.  What God calls us to, He calls us as His people.

II.  The Church sees what God is Doing

     A.  Peter recalls God’s New directive

           1.  God showed him Gentiles were no longer unclean — Acts 10.

                 a.  It was through a vision that God told Peter that Gentiles weren’t unclean.

                 b.  That was a controversy too.

           2.  He found that God saved Gentiles as Gentiles!

                 a.  He received a vision while praying (11:5)

                 b.  Remembered Jesus’ words (11:16)

                 c.  He saw God in the circumstances (v.17)

     B.  Barnabas and Paul Report

           1.  God was doing a mighty work among and with uncircumcised Gentiles.

                 a.  God was gathering His people from the Gentiles directly.

                 b.  The Church listens in silence

           2.  If God works with Gentiles as Gentiles, why should Gentiles become Jews?

                 a.  If God builds His Church with Gentiles, who is the Church to stop Him?

                 b.  The whole Church heard God speaking through circumstances.

III. God leads the Church to a Decision

     A.  James applies Scripture to the problem

           1.  James makes a connection to a prophecy.

                 a.  Is what we’re seeing consistent with God’s written Word?

                 b.  God told us to look for what we see

           2.  We shouldn’t stand in God’s way

                 a.  Keep the road blocks away from those who are turning to Him.

                 b.  Let’s focus on the basics: unity and morality.

     B.  The Church recognizes God’s Voice

           1.  God spoke through prayer, circumstances and His Word.

                 a.  When they pooled their experience of God’s work, they saw it.

                 b.  What seemed a controversy, became an experience of God’s presence.

           2.  When they decided, they recognized that they were move to this decision by God.

                 a.  “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us. . .” v.28

                 b.  They knew God’s voice and recognized it when they heard it!

           3.  Those who heard the report were encouraged!

                 a.  Of course! Their experience of God as Gentiles was affirmed by the Church.

                 b.  When God acts the Church is always built up.

     C.  God Still speaks through His Church

           1.  Sometimes the Church gets it wrong.

                 a.  We have our controversies and don’t always end up with epiphanies.

                 b.  We get and stay divided.

                 c.  Sometimes we divide a little too easy.

           2.  Sometimes to help us settle disputes.

                 a.  Throughout history, God has led the church through many controversies.

                 b.  In our own times too, though not always in such spectacular ways.

           3.  Sometimes to guide us on our way.

                 a.  How do we deal with those God is bringing to us?

                 b.  How is God dealing with them?

                 c.  What is God up to in Alger?

The Bottom Line:

Listen as God speaks through His people guiding us as Individuals and as the Body of Christ.

R# 595 Lead On, O King Eternal v.1

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