Acts 15

Acts 15

Great Church Fights

Introduction:  Leslie B. Flynn, a Conservative Baptist pastor, is one of my favorite leisure‑reading authors because of his quick wit and profound insight.  The book of his that I have enjoyed the most is one entitled, Great Church Fights.  In this book he humorously treats the friction over widows that resulted in the appointment of the first deacons in Acts 6, the knock‑down drag‑out between the two women, Euodias and Syntyche, at Philippi, the politicking behind Apollos, Paul, and Peter in the Corinthian church, the heavy‑weight bout between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2, the dispute with church‑boss Diotrephes in 3 John, and several others.  Curiously the only chapter in the Bible that records two major church fights is Acts 15, which is where we find ourselves today in our expository journey through the Book of Acts.

“Fights” may not be the best term to use of the incidents in this chapter, but at the very least we are dealing with strong disagreements.  Differences of opinion are inevitable in the Church, as everywhere else, and Scripture makes it abundantly clear that disagreements in and of themselves are not wrong.  The question is, “How are they handled?”  In other words, we must learn to fight fair, and we must learn to compromise on issues without compromising on principles.  If we can do that well, then the whole church can win.

Round #1 in our chapter is a fight over basic theology, while Round #2 is a fight over personal perspective.  Round#1 consumes the bulk of the chapter, as well as the bulk of this sermon.  We will get to Round #2, Lord willing, if we have time.  

Round #1:  A fight over basic theology. (1‑35)

Listen to the text:  

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had a heated argument and debate with them, the brothers determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, after being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they were bringing great joy to all the brothers and sisters. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to keep the Law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Since this is the case, why are you putting God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.

13 After they stopped speaking, James responded, saying, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has described how God first concerned Himself about taking a people for His name from among the Gentiles. 15 The words of the Prophets agree with this, just as it is written:

16 ‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.

19 Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not cause trouble for those from the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols, from acts of sexual immorality, from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has those who preach him in every city, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 and they sent this letter with them:

“The apostles and the brothers who are elders, to the brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles: Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have confused you by their teaching, upsetting your souls, 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore, we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from acts of sexual immorality; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and after gathering the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brothers and sisters with a lengthy message. 33 After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brothers and sisters in peace to those who had sent them out. 35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul and Barnabas had just returned from their first missionary journey.  Their reports concerning the many who were turning from paganism to Christ in Asia Minor excited the church, and they could hardly wait to get back on the road again.  But further missionary work had to be postponed until a vital question affecting the whole Church had been faced and settled.  

For background we need to recall that the Jerusalem church was composed exclusively of believing Jews.  Some consternation was created among them when Peter ministered to Cornelius and the other Gentiles in Caesarea, and even further questions were raised by the growth of the Gentile church at Antioch.  But the Jerusalem Church generally passed those tests with flying colors.  

However, when Paul returned from his first missionary journey with reports of thousands of Gentiles turning to Christ, this loomed as a significant threat to some in the Jerusalem church.  Who was going to be calling the shots in the future?  How could they maintain the church in the manner to which they were accustomed when thousands were flocking in who had no background of godly moral standards or knowledge of Jewish‑Christian culture?  

The threat they felt is not that much different from the one felt by the Swedish and Norwegian leaders of our own denomination several decades ago when suddenly the Free Church began to explode in growth.  Some of these newcomers didn’t appreciate the great old hymns of the faith.  Some were using new‑fangled translations of Scripture.  Some were advocating forms of church government other than the congregational form.  Why, some didn’t even care to learn the language of heaven until they arrived there (that language being Swedish, of course).  The fact that some of these hymns, translations and forms of government were perhaps more biblical than the old ones did not lessen the threat, for the real fear was that of losing control.  When our comfort index is threatened, we can go to unusual lengths to protect ourselves.  

Well, in Acts 15:1 we find that some men from the Jerusalem church came to visit the Antioch church to straighten them out and, so to speak, get them back on track, which being interpreted means back under the control of the traditions of the Jerusalem church.  A couple of things need to be pointed out about these men.  In the first place, they had no official authority; that is, they had not been sent by the leadership of the Jerusalem church, but rather had assumed this task on their own.  That is obvious from what James says in the letter he wrote after the Council to the church at Antioch.  Look at verse 24:  “We have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls.”  

Second, these men were probably Pharisees, since in verse 5 those clearly identified as Pharisees expounded the identical viewpoint.  True, they were believing Pharisees, but Pharisees no less.  A legalistic attitude was natural for a Christian who had once been a Pharisee, for the Pharisees were the legalistic branch of Judaism.  They tended to judge every book by its cover; they evaluated everyone’s spirituality by his adherence to the Law; and they elevated Law above love.

The argument of these Pharisaical Christians from Jerusalem was not that the faith of the Gentile believers in Antioch was not genuine, but rather that it was not complete.  Historically, when Gentiles wished to identify with Judaism they were required to be circumcised and to live according to the Law of Moses.  These now claimed that what the synagogue had done over the years the Church must now do, namely receive as full members only those Gentiles who first became Jews.  In other words, they viewed Christianity as a branch of Judaism.  They wanted to make sure that no one slipped by Mount Sinai on the way to Mount Calvary.  They even dared to suggest that if Gentiles chose not to submit to these requirements they could not be saved.  

This situation reminds me a great deal of the teaching of the Church of Christ today to the effect that if you are not baptized for the remission of sins you cannot be saved.  They would not argue that those of us who have not been baptized in one of their churches do not believe, but rather that our faith is incomplete.  For them it is the act of going under that water that guarantees one’s salvation.  The two situations are quite parallel.  

         Dissension at Antioch (1-2).  The dissension was over whether salvation is according to the Law, or salvation is by grace alone.  Paul and Barnabas saw the issue clearly and got into serious debate with these visiting Pharisees.  The Pharisees claimed that salvation was by grace plus the Law, while Paul and Barnabas with equal vehemence held that it was by grace alone.  The dissension at Antioch called for deliberation at Jerusalem

         Deliberation at Jerusalem (3‑21).  The church at Antioch decided to send Paul and Barnabas and certain others to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles and elders concerning this issue.  I think that shows tremendous wisdom.  This issue threatened a complete cleavage between the Jewish churches and the Gentile churches, and therefore needed to be decided on the highest level.  When a local church has a dispute within its Body, it too often tries to solve the problem by itself.  Often that cannot be done because everyone is too close to the problem.  One of the great values of a denomination is that it can provide a forum to help a local church find a solution to its problems, if that denomination’s leadership is biblical and mature.

For those who are not part of a denomination things can be more difficult, but even for them there are some encouraging developments.  Last year Tony Compolo was accused of false doctrine by some fellow evangelicals and was eliminated from the list of speakers at the National Youth Congress in Washington, D.C.  But the Christian Legal Society arranged for a special conference of Christian leaders to meet with Tony, question his doctrine, and make a judgment on the matter.  What a refreshing change from the old way of simply denouncing one’s opponents and trying to excommunicate them from the Church.  

Paul and Barnabas were received warmly in Jerusalem and were asked to give a report of their first missionary journey.  But it didn’t take long for everyone’s attention to be turned to the debate over the Law, for some Christian Pharisees got up (verse 5) and boldly put the matter on the agenda, claiming that it was necessary to be circumcised and to obey the Law of Moses.

Now, in examining this Jerusalem Council I want us first to look at its 

1.  Purpose and procedure (6-7).  The purpose, according to verse 6, was limited to the question of what is necessary for salvation.  The procedure was to allow for debate, presentations, and conclusions.  Although no vote was scheduled, it was undoubtedly hoped that a consensus would appear.  Peter was, interestingly, not the first one to speak, perhaps for the first time in his life.  He had learned some lessons on impetuosity, and he listened during the long debate before he finally spoke.

2.  Peter’s review of God’s revelation (7‑11).  In essence Peter’s point was that this whole issue was settled ten years before, as recorded in Acts 11.  Since we studied that chapter in some detail a few weeks ago, we won’t go into it again here except to point out two phrases of great importance in verse 8 and 9.  God “who knows the heart” … “made no distinction.”  In essence Peter is saying that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.  Furthermore, all hearts are equally sinful and all are equally candidates for His grace.  To deny that would be to put God to the test.

Peter also claimed that to demand that the Gentiles observe the Law of Moses is to demand something that not even the Jews had been able to accomplish consistently.  In other words, no one can possibly keep the Law completely, and partial compliance is worth nothing.  As they say, “close” counts only in hand grenades and horseshoes.  Gal. 3:10 puts the same truth this way, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law to perform them.'”  

No, says Peter in verse 11, “we (i.e., the Apostolic church) believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as the Gentiles are.”  I think it is significant that Peter puts it that way, rather than saying, “we believe the Gentiles are saved in the same way we are.”  

The response to Peter’s speech was silence.  How could the Pharisees respond to such a water‑tight argument?  They couldn’t.  And they weren’t going to get any relief from Paul and Barnabas, whose turn it was to speak next.

3.  Paul’s and Barnabas’ review of their recent experience (12) They relate in detail how that on their first missionary journey God had performed great signs and wonders through them, evidence that God was pleased with their witness among the Gentiles, and evidence that God was indeed accepting Gentiles into His spiritual family.

With all the principals having had their opportunity to speak we find that James makes a proclamation.

4.  Proclamation by James (13‑21). James was apparently the recognized head of the church at Jerusalem.  Whether or not he was elected to this office we do not know, but he seemed to have the confidence of all parties in the Church.  (This was not the Apostle James, of course, for he had been beheaded by Herod, as we learned in 12:2; it was James, the brother of Jesus).  The best way I know to grasp the essence of James’ proclamation is to summarize it by means of four affirmations.

         a.  A new work is being done by God, not man.  (14)  In other words, this movement among the Gentiles was not a man‑inspired, man‑activated movement; rather it was the result of God calling out from a Gentiles a people for His name.

         b.  The Scripture is being fulfilled, not contradicted.  (15‑18).  In verses 15‑18 James quotes a passage from Amos 9 which he claims is in total agreement with the spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles.  We do not have time to examine James’ use of the passage, which has some difficulties, but we can at least see that it predicted both the rise of the house of David (fulfilled in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ) and the presence of Gentiles among the people of God.

         c.  The basis of salvation must be grace, not law.  (19)  He says in verse 19:  “Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles.”  In other words, the answer is “no” to those who want to require circumcision and observance of the Mosaic Law‑‑these will not be considered necessary for salvation.  Salvation is by grace and there is nothing that can be added to grace without destroying it.  

         d.  Salvation must be followed by a lifestyle of sensitive liberty, not license.  (20-21).  Now it is here that James is frequently misunderstood.  He has finished speaking of salvation in verse 19, and here in verse 20 he turns his attention to the Christian’s lifestyle.  While there is nothing that can be added to grace for salvation, there are things that a Christian should observe if he is to live an effective witness before a watching world.  All things may be lawful for the Christian, but all things are not expedient.  

James names four things that the Gentiles should abstain from, and all of them are things that Jewish people would find particularly offensive.  If the Gentile church desired to enhance fellowship with Jewish Christians, ease their suspicions, and increase the effectiveness of Jewish evangelism, these would be wise practices to adopt.  First, he mentions things contaminated by idols, i.e., things that had been sacrificed to idols.  The Jews hated idolatry so much that they transferred their hatred of idols even to things associated with idols.  The Gentiles are urged to respect that scruple and likewise abstain.

Skipping the second item for a moment we find, thirdly, that they are to abstain from what is strangled.  Leviticus 17:13 forbade Jews to eat an animal from which the blood was not first drained.  Fourthly, they are to abstain from blood.  Lev. 17:10, 14 forbade the pagan practice of drinking blood, since the life is in the blood, and life is precious to God.

Returning to the second item, fornication, it seems strangely out of synch with the others.  The others appear to be ceremonial matters, not overwhelmingly important except to Jewish people and those who desired to have a ministry to Jewish people.  But fornication is a moral issue of great importance, and one on which God has spoken clearly.  It is forbidden, period, and is hardly to be viewed as something one abstains from just for the sake of his testimony.  The best answer to this dilemma may be that “fornication,” a broad term in Greek, refers here to the marriage of close relatives, which is forbidden in Lev. 18:6‑18.  This practice was common among Gentiles but anathema to the Jews.

The fact that these four items were never considered by James as requirements for salvation is seen clearly in verse 29, where the same exhortation is repeated in the letter sent by the Council to the Gentile churches.  In that letter it says, “if you keep yourselves from such things, you will do well.”  It does not say, “you shall be saved.”

The issue having been decided (not apparently by vote, but by consensus), it seemed good to the church leaders in Jerusalem to send a deputation or delegation to Antioch with the answer.

         The delegation to the Gentiles (22‑35).  This group included Judas and Silas, two leading men from the Jerusalem church.  Their task was principally to deliver a letter laying out the decision of the Jerusalem Council and to confirm it by word of mouth.  In addition, we learn that they had quite a ministry encouraging and strengthening the brethren in Antioch.  Their reception was very warm.  The Gentiles rejoiced at the decision of the Council, and when Judas’ and Silas’ ministry was completed, the believers sent them back to Jerusalem in peace.

Now we come to the most important aspect of Round #1.  

         What are the lessons we must learn for the church today?  I’d like to summarize the principal lessons by means of three observations:  

1.  Legalism emphasizes works and results in personal slavery and exclusivism toward others.

2.  License emphasizes rights and results in personal selfishness and offensiveness toward others.

3.  Grace emphasizes Christ and results in personal liberty and outreach toward others.

Now let’s compare these three entities—legalism, license, and grace—so that we can be sure we understand the difference.  Legalism emphasizes works, license emphasizes rights, and grace emphasizes Christ. 

The legalist is always looking at what a person has done or not done.  He has his rulebook out, checking it twice, ready to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice.  His entire focus, both for himself and for others, is, “how do you measure up to my standards?,” (which he always assumes are God’s standards as well).

The licentious person, on the other hand, emphasizes his rights, and naturally comes into great conflict with the legalist.  He claims, “I have freedom in Christ, and therefore you have no right to tell me what I can do or not do.”  Furthermore, he is often found pushing the limits of the allowable.

The person who understands grace, however, has his focus on Christ.  He is not unmindful of works, nor of rights, but that is not where his focus is.

Now let’s go back through these three and see how their outlook affects one’s personal life.  The legalist’s approach results in personal slavery.  He becomes a slave to his rulebook.  He has no joy in the Christian life, and he can’t really relax, for the moment he does he may break a rule, or more commonly, you may break a rule and he will need to correct you.

The licentious person’s lifestyle results in personal selfishness.  He does what he has the right to do without concern for the effect it may have on weaker Christians or upon his witness to unbelievers.  He usually does not have much of a witness to unbelievers because his focus is so much on himself that he has no real passion for souls.

The person who understands grace has a lifestyle that results in personal liberty.  He is really free in Christ.  The things he chooses to do or not to do are not chosen out of obligation but out of love for Christ and other people.

Now let’s go through once more and see how the lifestyles of these three affect their relationships with others.  

The legalist develops an attitude of exclusivism toward others.  If you don’t dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s just like he does, then you’re spiritually out to lunch and he will separate himself from you, and perhaps from anyone who chooses to associate with you.  

The licentious person, not surprisingly, cultivates a lifestyle that results in offensiveness toward others.  He doesn’t care whether Jews are offended by blood, or, for that matter, whether Baptists are offended by beer.  It’s their problem, not his.

The person who lives the grace life, on the other hand, has a lifestyle that results in outreach toward others.  There’s nothing to attract other people like grace lived in the life of a believer.  Since God’s grace reaches out to every person, lovely or unlovely, the believer who lives grace will do likewise.

Now quickly we want to look at Round #2, which is a fight over personal perspective.  

Round #2:  A fight over personal perspective (36‑40)

The unity of the Antioch church, so recently crowned with joy over the victory at Jerusalem, was soon disturbed by a disagreement between its two outstanding leaders and missionary representatives, Paul and Barnabas. 

         The dissension between Paul and Barnabas (36-39).  The issue was over whether they should take John Mark on a second missionary journey they were planning.  The issue arose because Barnabas wanted to take Mark along on the second journey, but Paul didn’t because John Mark had deserted them during the first trip.  

The viewpoints of Paul and Barnabas differed greatly on this question.  Paul was tough and Barnabas was tender.  We could guess at why they felt the way they did, but fortunately we don’t have to because an archaeologist friend of mine has just recently dug up a stenographer’s notebook dated about A.D. 51 which purports to be the record of a conversation between Paul and Barnabas in an elder’s meeting at the First Apostolic Missionary Free Church of Antioch.  I would not lay my life on its authenticity, but neither would I reject it out of hand.  At any rate, here it is—you decide:

         Paul:  Mark?  We can’t take him.  He failed us last time.  

         Barnabas:  But that was last time.

         Paul:  He’s likely to fail us again.  He’s a deserter.

         Barnabas:  No, he’s not a “deserter.”  He’s a person who happened to desert once.  He’s had time to think it over.  We’ve got to give him another chance.  He’s got the makings of a good missionary.

         Paul:  Tell me, Barnabas, isn’t it because he’s your cousin that you want to take him again? 

         Barnabas:  That’s a low blow, Paul.  You know I’ve tried to encourage many people who weren’t my relatives.  I’m convinced this lad need understanding and help.

         Paul:  We need someone who can stand up to persecution, an angry mob, beatings, perhaps jail.  Our team has to be close‑knit, thoroughly reliable.  How can be trust a lad like Mark with that kind of responsibility?  No, Barnabas.  Recall the words of the Master:  “No man who puts his hand to the plow, and looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  

         Barnabas:  I’ve talked with him about his failure.  I’m sure he won’t defect again.  To refuse him might do spiritual damage at the moment of his repentance.  It’d be like breaking a bruised reed.  

         Paul:  Barnabas, there’s too much at stake here.  I won’t do it.  Either you leave Mark at home or I’ll have to go without you.  That’s final.

         Barnabas:  Then, I guess you’ll have to go without me.  But I’m not going to stay here.  You know, God called me to the missionfield, too.  I’ll take Mark with me and I’ll show you that you were wrong.  One of these days you’ll regret your attitude toward Mark.

         Paul:  Good luck, just don’t get in my way.  I’m heading back to Asia Minor and I don’t want to run into you two.  


         Barnabas:  Paul?

         Paul:  Yes.

         Barnabas:  Paul, this isn’t right.  I’m sorry for some of the things I said.  I love you, brother.  I want the best for you.  If we can’t work together, at least let’s part as friends.

         Paul:  I agree, Barnabas.  Why don’t you go to Cyprus, where you’ve had such a significant ministry in the past.  I give you my blessing.  Write to me so I can hear how God is using you.  

         Barnabas:  Will do, and God bless you, Paul.  Take care you don’t get stoned again in Lystra.  (Just kidding)!  Meet you back here in Antioch![i]

As I said, I wouldn’t stake my life on the authenticity of this document, but I do believe it’s not far from what may have happened. 

         Decision by Paul and Barnabas (39-40).  The solution was separation, but the result was multiplication.  Instead of one missionary team there were now two.  

         What lessons do we learn for today from this fight?

1.  Personal disagreements are inevitable.  Wherever you find people you will find disagreements.  

2.  Even godly people will disagree occasionally.  In fact, they will sometimes strongly disagree, as in this case.  Verse 39 says there was “sharp” disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.  This was no matter of simple discomfort with one another.  This was a prize fight.  Let me suggest to you that we don’t necessarily have to fear disagreements in the church; in fact, I would have greater fear for a church where there were no disagreements, for that would be a sign of uniformity, not unity, and an indication that the believers’ thinking was being done for them by someone else, always a dangerous situation.  

3.  Sometimes both sides are valid.  As I look at the issue that separated Paul and Barnabas, I honestly have a hard time deciding which side I would have taken.  Both had good arguments.  Is it even necessary for us to decide who was right and who was wrong?  Many have tried.  Some have suggested that the fact that the church committed Paul and Silas to the grace of the Lord (40), while nothing is said of a commissioning for Barnabas and Mark proves that Paul was right.  Others, however, point out that John Mark did indeed redeem himself and that Paul acknowledged such in one of his later epistles as proof that Barnabas was right.  In the absence of any clear statement from Scripture, I think we should probably withhold judgment.

4.  God is able and willing to bring good out of honest disagreement.  The work of missions seems to have been advanced by the separation, even though that was not the purpose of it.  Contrary to the ecumenical thesis for church union, a division of forces may actually further the Lord’s work.  Had Paul and Barnabas parted enemies that probably would never have happened.  Ugly church splits bring disrepute to Christ’s cause and sometimes disaster to the participants.  But when leaders can part as friends, albeit disagreeing friends, God’s grace can step in and produce progress

John Wesley and George Whitefield were good friends in their earlier years, Wesley having begun his outdoor preaching ministry at Whitefield’s encouragement.  As time went on the men disagreed, with Whitefield leaning more heavily toward Calvinism, while Wesley moved toward the Arminian interpretation of theology.  When Whitefield died, Wesley was asked if he expected to se Dr. Whitfield in heaven.  In exaggerated but honest respect he answered, “No.  He’ll be so near the throne of God that men like me will never even get a glimpse of him!” [ii] Though differing, they did not lose their sense of oneness in Christ.

The issue in both of these fights, the one over doctrine and the one over personal perspective is really how to fight so that the whole church wins.  It is my prayer that when disagreements arise in the Evangelical Free Church of St. Louis County, as they undoubtedly will, we will go to the right source, fight fair, and remain friends.  

As we bow our heads, I would be remiss in not focusing on the issue stated so clearly in this chapter of how a person becomes a child of God.  It is not by works; it is not by Law; it is by grace.  God’s grace is seen in that he gave His only Son to die in your place and pay the penalty for your sin.  He asks you to believe that and to put your faith in Jesus Christ.  In fact, He commands you to do so.  If you refuse, your blood will be on your own head.  Don’t leave today without making sure that your sins have been forgiven.


Church fights




Personal perspective


[i]Adapted from Leslie B. Flynn, Great Church Fights, 39-40.

[ii]Flynn, 44.

Acts 16