Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Acts to Revelation Part 40 – The Council's Letter


From Acts to Revelation
Part 40 – The Council's Letter
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Last week, we began looking at Acts 15. Some men came to the church in Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas had been preaching and teaching the Word of the Lord for a couple years, and they began to tell the Gentile believer's that they also needed to be circumcised and obey the Law's of Moses to receive salvation.

Although Paul and Barnabas corrected the church, they members were confused, and demanded that Paul and Barnabas return to the mother church in Jerusalem, and confer with the Apostles and Elders there about this question.

They did so, stopping in a few other towns along the way, continuing to spread the Gospel.

Paul and Barnabas originally traveled from the church in Jerusalem on the first mission trip, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. They moved and stayed here and there, spreading the Gospel of the Lord as the Holy Spirit led.

This time, they were moving because of man's instruction.

Today we will see from the scripture, that the Holy Spirit is at work in the church in Antioch, and working through Paul and Barnabas. There was no need for them to confer with the church in Jerusalem, no need for them to risk their lives traveling at the command of men, and that the church should have trusted the Elder's that God had brought them, who had been faithfully preaching and teaching the Word of the Lord for two years now.

The scriptures show us, that there is no need for “denominations”, or church “hierarchy”, where man has placed themselves once again in charge over others, making themselves leaders above leaders.

The church order is given in scripture as follows, Christ as the head, Elder's preaching and teaching the Word of the Lord to the leader's of the households, who then teach and instruct in their homes and to their children.

There are no churches overseeing other churches, and small churches paying tithe to bigger churches.

The only thing denominations, and hierarchy has achieved, is creating modern day Sadducee and Pharisees, who think more of themselves than they aught.

We will see where we have an advantage over the church in Antioch.

We have the Holy Bible that we can read for ourselves, and measure what we are being taught in our home church. We can pray to the Holy Spirit, and seek understanding, searching the Word of God, and ensuring we understand what is being preached, and that it is in line with what the lord teaches.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

Acts 15:22-35
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
Greetings.
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. [34] (Some manuscripts include here) But Silas decided to remain there.  35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.



I.       IT WAS DECIDED BY THE COUNCIL
a.      The question brought to the Jerusalem council by Paul and Barnabas, was whether or not it was required of the Gentile believer's to be circumcised, and obey the Law's of Moses.


b.     After discussions, the council decided that it was not good to place burdens on the gentile believer's, that no one else, including their ancestor’s,  were able to keep.
i.       vs. 22 tells us it was a unanimous agreement
ii.    vs. 26 tells us, "men who have risked their lives..."
iii. This was a very dangerous, and unnecessary journey Paul and Barnabas had been sent on, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the church congregation.


c.      The council chose to send a letter back with Paul and Barnabas, telling the Gentile believer’s this, along with Silas and Judas, to confirm what was in the letter.



II.   THE ONLY BURDEN PLACED ON THE GENTILE BELIEVERS
a.      The letter simply said;
i.       Abstain from eating sacrificed animals
ii.    Abstain from eating blood
iii. Abstain from eating strangled animals
iv.   Abstain from fornication (All Immorality)


b.     The letter then says, “You will do well to avoid these.”



III.  THE RETURN TO ANTIOCH
a.      Once in Antioch, Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Judas, gathered the church together and delivered the letter from the Council in Jerusalem.


b.     The people were glad, and encouraged when they heard it.


c.      Judas and Silas (both prophets), encouraged and strengthened the church
i.       Exactly what we are supposed to do with each other, through the Holy Spirit.


d.     Some manuscripts say in vs. 34 that Silas chose to stay, some don't.


e.      Paul and Barnabas stayed though
i.       They taught and preached the Word of the Lord with many others.






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