BSF Acts: Week 18: Lecture

Lecture: Rough Outline

The church in Corinth was challenged with the same thing many christians struggle with today – sin and confusion.    When we rely on human knowledge and our own world view of things it is easy to become lost – to lose our way.  We are by nature sinful, prideful and our view of things is based on this perception.

When you are lost, what helps you find your way?  Well, a map would be ideal.  The great news is that when we are lost, confused and struggling with our sin – God has a given us a map – one based on a spiritual view which sees everything.

But – here is the really amazing thing – this isn’t an ordinary map.

This is a treasure map.  And on every treasure map there is a special mark that indicates the treasure.  The X… but on this map it is turned a little bit – it is a +… a cross.  The Cross!

Division 1: 1 Cor 1-4.  Spritual wisdom is from the Holy Spirit.

Everyone may know the story of the blind men describing the elephant.  One felt only the side and described it as flat and leathery.  One felt the tusk and described it as hard and slick.  One felt the tail and described it as snake like (and a bit smelly).

The point is that each only saw things from their own perspective and, as such, they totally missed the big picture – This is the same thing that happened in the church in Corinth.  They were so busy climbing up the wall that separated them from God – looking down and gloating over how much higher up the way they were than others – they totally missed that there was a door – a gate – that led through to the other side.

Are you asking God each day to show you the way?  Do you trust your own judgment or trust in God?  Are you asking God to open your eyes as well as your heart?

2nd Division:  1 Cor 5,6  My body is God’s temple

How would you describe yourself?  6′ tall, brown hair, green eyes.  weight?  age?

Now describe a treasure chest.  If you describe the box and not the gems and precious materials inside, aren’t you missing the most important part?

In the same way, what is most important about me and you?  The outside or what is inside?

When God sees us he sees us as a soul with a physical body.  when we look at it, we see a body with a soul.  Which is more correct?  God’s view – of course.

Start seeing yourself as a soul with a body, not a body with a soul

Division 3: 1 Cor 7

Either married or unmarried – either way is a blessing from God.

Did you and your friends all receive the same gifts at Christmas?  Of course not – you are all different and each received different gifts.  Does that mean one received a better gift than someone else?  No, different doesn’t mean better.

In the same way – marriage is a gift from God.  Is it the same gift for everyone?  Of course not, because we are all different.  Some receive the gift of marriage.  Some receive the gift of not being married and devoting more time to spreading the gospel.  Either way – both are gifts.

Do you thank God for the gifts that He has planned for your life?

Do you thank God that he chose the gift of marriage for your Mom and Dad so they could have you?

Do you ask God to bless the marriage of your Mom and Dad so they can enjoy the gifts God gives you?

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BSF Acts: Week 17: Lecture

I don’t lecture this week, but wanted to add my notes.

In this week’s lesson we get to see and learn a lot about power.  In some ways the salvation that we receive when we believe and receive the holy spirit in our lives to begin living an eternal life is a lot like a power tool.  Think about it.  People can build amazing things with power tools.  We can build homes, furniture, bridges, buildings.  We can shape rock and literally move mountains.  But there are two really important things that have to go with it.  One is training.  If you don’t know how to use a power tool it doesn’t do much good.  The word of God is similar.  We’ll see this week that just knowing the name of Jesus doesn’t get the job done, you need to actually know Jesus through his word.  The second is that, to work right, the power tool needs to be plugged in.  We need to stay connected to God and to other believers and we see not only Paul encouraging and spending time with other believers, but we see those believers spending time with Paul when he is in need.  We can stay connected today by reading the bible, connecting in our church and through BSF.  Let’s get into the word.

1st Division: Acts 18:23-28

In this first section we get to meet Apollos.  Apollos was blessed in many ways by God.  Not only did he have knowledge of, what we call today, the old testament, but he had fervor – energy – for speaking God’s word.  He had been baptized in the cleansing water of John’s baptism, to wash away sin.  But he hadn’t been exposed to the entire teaching about Jesus after the resurrection.  God set his path so he met Priscilla and Aquila.  These teachers took him in and provided him with additional training.  They expanded his knowledge and helped the spirit touch his heart.  Not only that, but they helped him further his ministry and mission work by sending letters ahead to friends in Corinth.

People were given power throughout the old testament.  One thing we saw that was interesting, particularly with Moses is the way he would get charged up from time in the tabernacle – he even had a glow to him – but over time that charge faded and he had to keep going back.  You see, when God first created us (Adam and Eve that is) we were completely connected to Him.  They walked and talked together everyday, living fully in the presence of God.  But then they decided to pull the plug on the relationship by breaking the one rule He gave them.  But, with the good news of Jesus Christ, the circuit has been completed again.  When we accept the gift of salvation we don’t just get charged up, but God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us – connected forever to the source of all the power in the universe.

Who do you need to help get connected to the power of Christ?  Who is afraid, hurting or sad, that you can be a witness to?

How are you going to use the power flowing through you?

2nd Division: Acts 19

In this next section we see the role that people play in relaying the power of God through teaching and healing.

First we see Paul planting a new church in Ephesus.  Let’s look at the way he did it.  First.  He went to where people were going who were hungy for the word of God – he went to the synagogue.  He did that for 3 months, touching many people, but he ran into so many barriers in the form of opposition from the jews that he moved out.  But he didn’t form a new church to meet every Sunday.  Let’s look at what he did.  He moved into a school.  He set up every afternoon to welcome and dialogue with people who wanted to learn.  Not once a week, not him up front in a one way speech/sermon.  It was a round table dialogue of learning.  Notice what it says – he stayed for 2 years until all Asia heard the word – talk about being thorough!

Then we hear this story about the seven sons of Sciva.  They obviously did not participate in these daily training sessions.  They knew the name of Jesus.  They knew the power of that name – but they did not actually know Jesus.  They didn’t have a relationship with Him.  They weren’t plugged in.  Now, we learn that demons may be unfriendly but they aren’t stupid.  The demon possessed man knew Jesus and Paul – but didn’t know them.  He jumped them and beat them until they changed from the sons of sciva into the sons in skivies!

From this people got the message and turned more and more to the ways of the Lord.  Things get rolling so much that the business people who make and sell idols start getting nervous and upset.  They have inventory to move and turn into an angry mob.  A city clerk steps in an calms things down and we see from this interaction that the city is pretty set on keeping one foot in the world of idols.  It is going to be a challenging area for the church – as areas of commerce and wealth often are.

Through this all we see how powerful God is compared to everything else and how he moves.  But as importantly, we see that God is in complete control of His power.  With less than a whisper, He could cause everyone to know Him.  But, that isn’t faith.  He doesn’t want to convince us – He wants us to believe, to trust and have faith.  To want to know more about Him and to want to connect to His power.

Besides BSF – how are you learning more about God?  Who do you need to spend time talking with daily?  Do you talk with God daily  – that might be a great place to start?

 

3rd Division – Acts 20 – 21:15

Paul wraps up this missionary trip with teaching and conviction.  You know, conviction is an interesting word – literally, it means “with proof”.  Paul is so connected to the power of God that this is no longer any question.  He doesn’t just believe it – he knows the good news as fact.

Paul joins believers in Troas and teaches late into the night – so late that one of the believers falls to sleep and falls out of a third story window and dies.  That’s right – if you ever feel like I’m boring you to death – I’m doing just as good as Paul!  But talk about being connected to the power of God – Paul rushes out and hugs the boy and he is brought back to life.

But Paul is also convicted to his calling.  There is no question this is going to be a tough road and Paul has no expectation of returning – but he is being called to Jerusalem.  Despite tearful good byes.  Despite prophesies of being bound and killed.  Paul is determined to do God’s will – period.

Why is Paul not afraid of going to Jerusalem?  Of being bound and probably killed?  Because he knows that death is not the end.  He is living an eternal life right now – connected to the Holy Spirit.  Death only means shedding the constraints of this world to continue what he is doing – living for God.

What are you afraid of?  Is God bigger that it?

BSF Acts: Week 16 Lecture: 2 Thessalonians

Imagine that you are a teacher.   You and your fellow teachers learn that your school is going to be recognized as the best school in the nation.  The president is going to come to your school.  All of the TV stations will be there, there will be a parade and everyone will show up to applaud and cheer.  But, no one knows the exact date when the announcement is going to come.

Well, of course, you immediately bring your lawn chair, stop teaching and camp out in front of the school to get the very best seat for the show, right?

Of course not.  But that is what some of the Thessalonians were doing.  They heard Christ was going to come back and call all of His people to a very big party in the sky.  So, they decided to stop everything and camp out to get a good seat for the show.

In Paul’s first letter we heard him tell them to keep their focus on this reunion with Jesus.  But this week, while he is thrilled that they continue to grow in their faith, he is concerned they are spending too much time in the lawn chairs and not enough time doing the work of spreading the gospel.  But let’s get into what he writes:

1st Division: 2 Thes 1

Christ’s return constitutes a huge family reunion.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been on some cool rides at an amusement park, but I don’t think anything is going to compare to getting to surf on a cloud in the biggest party in the sky you ever imagined.

But this is a family reunion and only family members are welcome.  While everyone was invited, only those who chose get to come.  The rest – well – let’s say there is a big difference between clouds and smoke!

Who do you want to make sure is at the party?

Have you sent them a personal invitation by sharing the good news about Jesus with them?

Who do you need to pray for so they will decide to be part of the family of believers?

2nd Division: 2 Thes 2

Have you ever heard the term “sitting on the fence”?  It is not all that different than “keeping your options open.”  God isn’t so big on this.  He is offering the greatest gift anyone can imagine – He is offering to make us a brother to His only son: Jesus!  But some people go, “well, let me think about it – maybe I’ll see if there is anything better.”

Well, in the final days, God gets sick and tired of the fence sitting – he is going to make it so everyone chooses, one side or the other. Period, end.

How close are you living to the fence?

Is every part of your life on the right side of the fence?

3rd Division: 2 Thes 3

God did not make us to sit around – he made us to do work.  We are blobs of jello.  We have muscles and strength.  We have thoughts and words.  We had drive and initiative.  We are made to work.

Now, Paul is clear – we need to work.  That does not mean is against helping people in need.  And he clearly distinguishes between those who can vs those who will.  Someone who is unable to work has Paul’s full support and healing ministry.  Those who choose not to work, get a strict admonishen to do the work God called them to do.

Paul is not simply talking about working with our hands, but being engaged in work with others as the best place to demonstrate God’s message.  It is through mutual labor that we earn the ability to share a deeper work – the work of saving lost souls.

Did you put in a full day’s work today for God?

How would your performance evaluation go if it was time for your annual review?

God makes it so easy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part.  He calls people.  He sends us to them.  He gives us the words to say.  He sanctifies them with the Holy Spirit.  He strengthens and encourages us and protects us from the evil one.

Truly, we are nothing but the messenger service – but would you rather hear, “Good job”  or “I’m disappointed in you”?

Bible Lesson 14: Hebrews 11-13 Lecture

Scripture: Hebrews 11-13

Aim: CATL faith is essential in God’s family

Introduction: Last week we learned about covenants, the old and new, our need for a priest and how Christ serves as our permanent high priest interceding on our behalf with the Father.  We learned that a covenant is made between two or more people, like God and mankind.  This week we learn about faith.  What is really interesting is that faith is a form of covenant.  Faith is the foundation of our relationship with God and the demonstration of His relationship with us.

1st division: Hebrews 11: 1-16 Biblical characters model faith.

Principle: Faithful followers stand as pillars to build on

Illustration: Every home land has culture, norms, traditions, laws and practices.  (Talk briefly about some different cultures, driving on different sides of the road, etc.)

Application: Have you justified something based on comparison to your neighbors?  If so, is that comparison to your current neighbors or the ones who will be down the block from you in heaven, like Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham?  Are you conforming to earthly culture or do you look forward to your heavenly  home?

2nd division: Hebrews 11:17-12:29 Faith is like a muscle – it needs work to remain strong

Principle: God provides work and challenge to strengthen our faith

Illustration:  I have an issue with my elbow.  The range of motion is restricted and I’m going to a physical therapist to help me.  She is having me do some challenging and painful exercises, stretching and building back the motion in my joint.  I don’t enjoy it, but I understand it is necessary.  God works the same way in our lives.  If we weren’t tested, if we didn’t face resistance we would grow weak.

Application: Are you actively participating in God’s exercise and training plan for you?  Do you seek out God’s spiritual therapy or do you try to avoid it?  What are you doing that is outside of your comfort zone?

3rd division: Hebrews 13 True faith is demonstrated not just discussed

Principle: Faith is the character of a christian

Illustration: There was a man in a small town who was “the bravest man in town”.  He wore a t-shirt with that slogan on it.  He had a sign in his yard.  It was on his business cards.  He rode on the back of a convertible in the annual parade.  Then one day some robbers came to town and the man was found hiding behind a group of children.  Faith is the same way – the true nature is evident in our actions in difficult times, not in how much we talk about it in easy times.

Application:  Are you a hypocrite or poser?  Do you live one life at church and a different life at school or work?  Do you wear your faith on your sleeve, chest, around your neck, on the back of your car or is it something people clearly see in times of trouble and need?

Conclusion: Chapter 13 sums it all up – what it means to be part of God’s family:  It starts with love, ends with grace and at the center of it all is the sacrifice Christ made for me so I can be his brother.

Bible Lesson 11: Hebrews 2:5-4:13 Lecture

Hebrews 2:5-4:13

Aim: Jesus became man to rescue mankind

Introduction: Picture a family run campground, run by a Father and Son team.  Now the son, who helped build the campground would have every right to sit in His office and send out memos to the counselors and campers.  But He knows that to really train the counselors, it would be best if He didn’t just tell them, but showed them.  Jesus did exactly that, and so much more.  Last week we learned about how Jesus was above all, higher than the angels, King, creator, sustainer of all things, an exact representation of God.  And this week we learn how He became fully man, not only to teach us – but to save us.

Division 1: Hebrews 2:5-18: Jesus became lower than angels to sit down as king

Principle a: Jesus suffered death to give us life

Illustration: Several years ago I went camping with my son and we slept in the old canvas army tents.  Besides the fact that they smelled bad and had spiders, it rained that first night.   Now, I know you aren’t supposed to touch a canvas tent in the rain, but, it was just too tempting.  Sometimes it was just accidental, brushing against it trying to get out of the way of the times before when I touched it to see what would happen, but soon we had water pouring in.

While we may live in a stinky old tent that we got from our parents who got it from their parents (i.e., our sinful bodies), Jesus offers us a gift of a brand new tent to live with Him.

Application: what are you doing that you know you shouldn’t?  Are you holding onto your stinky old ways or do you accept the gift?  Are the rains falling in your life now (if not, they will) – what shape is your tent in?

Principle b: God didn’t lower the bar, Jesus lifted us up on His shoulders

Illustration: I’m not perfect.  No one is perfect.  Have you ever said that?  I have.  But it is wrong – Jesus was perfect while fully a man.  The only way to stand in the presence of God is to be completely without sin – otherwise you would be undone by the conviction of your sin.  We don’t get into God’s presence by being better than others, we get there by being perfect – God didn’t lower that requirement – he didn’t lower the bar – but he did raise the floor by allowing us to stand on the one who was without sin and step over the bar without any work of our own.

Application: Are you trying to be good to be better than others or to obey God?  What are you trying to earn that has been given as a gift?  Do you recognize the perfect son of man?

Division 2: Hebrews 3:1 – 4:11 Jesus/Moses – faithful servants, but Jesus is supreme

Principle: Faith and obedience have always been the requirements to enjoy God’s promised rest

Illustration: One of the things to watch for when camping is where you pitch your tent.  It is tempting to pitch it down next to a river.  Water and food are handy, its comfortable, sure there are the mosquitoes and bugs, but such is life, right?.  But when rains come it is important to be on higher ground.  God brought his people out  of the slavery of Egypt, but they refused to move their tents – they fought him, they ignored him, they disobeyed.  His desire for them was that they would heed his warning , they were creating their own storm of disobedience and they were not safe – but they refused.  As a result, they died, drowning forever in their own stubbornness.  We are warned to listen and not be deceived by sin, to put our obedience in God and do not follow the example the Jews did with Moses.

Application: The storms of life and temptation are coming – are you listening to the warnings or fighting them?  Do you learn from the stories in the bible or relive them?  What part of your life do you need to submit to obedience to God?

Division 3: Hebrews: 4:12-13 The word of God is alive and active, cutting, judging and saving

(These 2 verses are the memory verses for the kids this week and one we would all be wise to commit to memory!)

The word of God is alive (not history, not dead, not just words – it has life)

The word of God is active – not passive, not waiting, not absent – active

The word of God cuts ( I sure felt this one throughout this week’s study – meditating on the living word, encouraging others every day, honoring the sabbath day of rest, living like someone given new life, obeying)

He is the judge – there will be an account taken for the time I am given on this earth

There is nothing hidden, period.  If that doesn’t strike fear into you, then you are truly in denial – imagine every action, thought, glance, deception, lie you every made, exposed for all to see.

And, most amazing of all – through all of those facts – Jesus became like me to die for me to pay the price to save me from the very judgment that I deserve.  When you think about it, it makes no logical sense – why would the creator of everything, knowing everything do this for me?  There are only two things to say:

1. John 3:16 answers that question in one of the only places in the bible that it gives us a “why” in regard to God’s behavior – “for God so loved the world” – it was love

2. The only thing that could possibly make less logical sense than what God did would be to reject the gift that He has provided – to reject His love rather than sharing it back to Him and to others.

Luke 8:18 says “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” When we think about our response to God’s love we can see how this becomes not only understandable, but the only thing fair and true.  Fill your hearts with God’s love and share it, protect it, cherish it, encourage others, grow in closeness with Him and He will pour out more and more love to you.  But if you take the love of God only for your own gain, complaining, disobeying, continuing to sin, trying to use God and His church only to better your own life, then that life that you think you have will not last – nothing is hidden, not even our hearts.

Conclusion:

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul was a tent maker.

The storms are coming – how about a new tent?  If anyone’s in Christ, he is a new creation.  While you are at it, why don’t you just go ahead and pitch your tent right inside God’s house?

Division 1: Hebrews 2: 10-18: Jesus became man to raise us up to be his brothers

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 10, Hebrews 1:1-2:4, Lecture

Aim: The choice we make in accepting Christ in this life is an eternity-long decision

Introduction:

Our lessons the last couple of weeks have been very interesting.  See, the road map is changing.  Prior to Jesus and Peter, Paul and Barnabas, the path you took in life and beyond was largely based on the path you were born on.  There were many different paths, heading many different directions, but they seldom crossed.  You rarely got the opportunity to choose your path.  (I’m going to draw some lines, some straight, almost parallel, but mostly winding in different directions.)  But even then there was only one path to God.

But with Jesus paying the price for the sins of the whole world it has changed.  Everybody is at the same point, we’ll call it NOW (I’m going to draw something that looks like a wheel hub and spokes).  But here is the difference, we all get to choose which path we take.  Any path gets us to the end (where we die), but only one path keeps going after that to spend forever with God.  But you get the choose.  It isn’t what family you were born to or what language you speak, it is how you decide.

So where does it all start, well let’s look at our lesson this week, we start in Hebrews 1:1

First division: Hebrews 1:1-3 – Jesus is the only son of God

1:1-2a God speaks to us through the prophets and now through His Son Jesus

1:2b-3a Jesus is heir of all, creator of all, the radiance and exact image of God’s glory, and sustainer of all

1:3b Jesus saved us from sin and reigns in heaven at the right hand

Principle: To know Jesus is to know God

Illustration: I’m going to bring in a chest X-ray and show a picture of my heart.  This is the only way I can see my heart.  In a similar way Jesus is an exact image of God.  He isn’t like God, like this X-ray isn’t like my heart.  He is God the same way that this is my heart.

Application: Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?  If someone asked you to describe Jesus would it be as an acquaintance, friend or a member of the family?  How long could you talk to someone about your Lord?

Division 2: Hebrews 1:4-14 Angels are messengers and ministering spirits.  Jesus is both the giver of the gift and the gift itself.  He is God.

1:4-5 Jesus is superior to angels by name and birthright

1: 6 Angels worship Jesus

1:7-13 Jesus was the creator and He is eternal, God, Ruler

1:14 All angels are ministering spirits to the elect

Principle: Angels serve, Jesus saves

Illustration: If you were captured in a foreign country and  thrown into prison, it would be great to have people from your homeland that come and help you and protect you and bring messages from home.  But it is even better when the “big guy” comes and gets you out of prison.  All believers (current and future) are foreigners on this earth.  This is just a temporary home.  Angels are sent by God to help and protect us, but only Jesus sets us free.

Application: Do you think of angels as messengers of God or in some other way?  Do you thank God for the angels he sends to minister to you? 

Third Division: Hebrews 2:1-4 Warning to pay heed

2:1 Pay attention so you don’t drift away

2:2-3a Aside from salvation we can’t have justification

2:3b-4 Jesus announced salvation, Apostles taught it, God showed it (signs/miracles) we experience it in the Gifts of the Spirit.  There are no excuse for not believing!

Illustration: I think about a little boat tied to a big boat.  Now, if I like the comfort of being able to participate in some stuff on the big boat, I may tie my small boat to it.  But maybe I don’t want to be too associated with the big boat.  May be some of my friends aren’t tied to the boat at all and I don’t want to be different, so I might still tie onto the big boat, but not too tightly and not too close.  And while things are calm, that may have no repercussions.  But things don’t stay calm in life.  They get stormy and when they do and I’m way far away with a really long rope, I start to drift and I might just drift right up into rocks or other dangers.  The only safe place is being directly connected to God’s ship.

Application: what are you waiting for to tie the knot?  How tightly are you cinched up to God’s boat?  What areas of your life are still adrift?  Who do you need to throw a rope to that is drifting into the rocks?

Conclusion:

Jesus has fulfilled a new covenant.  Salvation is through faith in Him alone and we all get to choose.  If you are unsure about your choice and whether you are on the right path, BSF has a pamphlet called the “Steps to Assurance.”  Read it.  This isn’t something you want to be pretty sure about since it last forever.  Be certain in your salvation.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 9 – Acts 15: Lecture

Acts 15

Aim: Salvation (justification) comes from faith through grace alone and cannot be earned either by adherence or works

Introduction: You can’t afford the gift you are receiving.  When I look around the room of children’s leaders in our class I am surrounded by business owners, executives, doctors, the chief legal counsel for a multimillion dollar company, accountants, law enforcement officers.  Frankly the bill rate of the people I sit with for three hours every Saturday morning would be astounding.  Yet, the gift of time is freely given in love, not only for the children and other men in the group, but more importantly for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Do not lessen the gift that you are being provided by even imagining that you could pay for it.  You simply can’t afford it!  There is no level or adherence to the law that could even provide a fraction of the cost that Christ paid in dying on that cross and to imply that it could is insulting to our master.  (OK, this’ll preach!)

Division 1: Acts 15: 1-11 – A dispute over circumcision requires a decision by the church leadership. Peter, Paul and Barnabas testify to the Holy Spirit’s presence in Gentile believers.

Acts 15: 1-2 – P&B sent to Jerusalem to conclude: circumscision required or not

Acts  15 3-4 – P&B to Jerusalem, testify  on the way, welcomed by apostles, they give a report.

Acts 15: 5 – Party of the Pharises states their belief: become Jewish to become christian

Acts 15:6 – Apostle and elders meet to consider this question

Acts 15: 7-11 – Peter presents: no distriction between J&G, through grace we are saved.

Principle: The rock stands strong in his testimony: Faith is sufficient

Illustration: I don’t agree.  You say yes I say no.  How do we resolve it?  That was the question facing the new church.  When disputes in belief or practice arise, what do we do?  Go our own ways?  Give in?  In these verses we see step one.  The dispute is presented to a body of leaders and elders who discuss it and look for the hand of God and the direction He is leading.  We see that in the testimony of P, B and Peter.  Look – see – There is God!

Applications: Are you watching for God’s hand moving in your life and your church?  What disputes do you need to quit harboring and get resolved? Do you rely on your intellect first or do you first look to God?

Division 2: Act 15: 12-21  James states the judgment of the Jerusalem Council

Acts 15: 12-18 James reinforces the works of God by the word of God

Acts 15: 19 James judgment: remove difficulty from Gentile converts to Christ

Acts 15: 20-21 James directs Gentiles to follow the Mosaic laws specifically stated  for Jews and Gentiles

Principle: God’s word is the final word

Illustration: In the United States, the Supreme Court is the ultimate decision on the interpretation of laws.  If a judge rules against you, you can take it to the next higher court.  But if the Suprement Court rules a certain way – it is done.  In the same way, God’s word is the final word. 

Applications: What do you want to be right or OK that God’s word says is wrong?  Do you yield to the authority of the gospel or ignore it?  Do the words of the bible hold weight to change your convictions or do you try to change the words to match your desires?

Division 3: 3 witnesses are sent back to testify to Antioch: P&B, S&J and the letter

Acts 15:22-23  – Judas and Silas are picked to go to Antioch with P&B and the letter

Acts 15: 24-29 – The letter: becoming a christian not a burden, but there are suggested restrictions

Acts 15: 30-31 – The letter is delivered and received with gladness

Acts: 15-32-35 – A time of peace, blessing and strengthening continues in Antioch

Principle: The is only one body of Christ on the earth – one church

Illustration: God describes His church on the earth as a body of believers.  We can sit around in our big comfy chairs watching college football and our body will rot away.  God tells us to do something different.  To work.  To go.  To spread His news.  But like any other work, sometimes the work of the body of the church causes strains and they can be painful.  But we have the choice when our arm hurts from a strain or injury.  I guess we could just lop it off.  At least it wouldn’t hurt anymore, right?  But we normally don’t do that.  We nurse it.  We tend to it.  We protect it and we help it get stronger.  That is the message God has for us as His church as well.

Application: Who among believers have you “lopped off”?  What is dividing you from doing God’s work?  What is wrong that you need to be bold about and cause it to stop?

Conclusion:

This wasn’t easy for anyone.  The Judaisers believed they had scripture behind them.  Paul didn’t have a relationship with anyone in Jerusalem – he had only spent 15 days with them.  Barnabas did, but he clearly could see both sides of the argument.  And the leaders in Jerusalem had never faced a challenge like this before.  But they did three very smart things: 1 they looked for God’s direction 2. they stood on the bible 3. they maintained their sights on the ultimate goal – spreading the good news of the gospel.