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.

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Bible Lesson 3, Acts 2: Lecture

Acts 2 Aim: Being saved, (accepting Christ and being baptized in the spirit), creates a changed life both in activity and quality.

I want you to picture the earth in your mind.  The entire earth.  Got it?  Ok, using one hand I want you to make a shape showing me what you picture.  (Everyone makes a fist).  Look around, notice anyone holding up a flat hand?  But even just a few generations ago, everyone would be doing that.  But notice how that small revelation changes so many things about how you think about stuff.  If someone goes out in a boat, do you worry about them falling off the end of the earth?  Do you have spend time thinking about what happens to the sun at night?  No.  Simple understandings completely change the way we look at things.

Tonight we are going to learn from a very large group of faithful jews who completely had their understanding of things rocked upside down by the truth spoken through a fisherman.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back where we left things last week. 

(at this point I’ll go back over Acts 1,40 days post resurrection, the final command of Jesus, the ascension, the MIW’s, the obedience to the command, the prayer and bible study that went on while waiting, the selecting of the 12 apostle)

1st division: Acts 2:1-13.  As promised by the bible and Christ, the Holy Spirit comes

Principle: The H/S is given to God’s adopted children

Seriously, do we need better illustrations that tongues of fire and speaking in tongues?  I plan on pointing out some of the background about pentecost as a Jewish Holy Day, both in terms of the festival of first fruits as well as the day Moses was given the 10 commandments (see my earlier post about pentecost).  In studying this, I found it interesting that the emphasis is on the giving of the law as opposed to the receiving of it.  It is about the grace of God and His desire to save, over my want and need of salvation. (probalby too deep for level 1, but I’ll work it in because it is so cool).  The law through moses was an outside thing – there was the structure of the temple, the sacrifices, all the various offerings and observances.  The spirit is an inside thing – no longer are we outsiders, we are adopted children.

Application:

  1. What are you on fire about?
  2. If God gave you the ability to speak in another language that you didn’t know to communicate with people you didn’t know – what would you say?
  3. Are you truly thankful for this gift? Not just focused on receiving it, but understanding the grace with which it is given?

Division 2: Actions 2:14-41

Peter preaches and calls for repentance.

At this point I’m supposed to give a lecture (aka. sermon) about a sermon formulated by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and delivered through the Apostle Peter.  I’m taking the safest route and literally reading the sermon he gave. 

Principle: Repent and accept Christ

Illustration: I have a nephew named James who is a toddler.  When James was an infant, the doctors noticed that his cranium (head bones) were not forming or shaping just right (very common condition called Plagiocephaly), so they gave him this device to wear on his head to help shape things.  It basically was like a baby helmet.  So, when baby James he would crawl and bump into something or fall backwards, it wouldn’t hurt – he was wearing a helmet.  Now he is fine and doesn’t wear it anymore, but he also seems to have absolutely no fear.  He will walk right up to the edge of stairs, or a tall drop-off, and just keep going, stepping out into space.  The adults watching him, jump to his rescue, but for the rest of us, it is terrifying. 

I think this is how it was for Peter and the Apostles.  Filled with the H/S, they were compelled to warn those around them, just as adults do with James, of the impending doom.  Stop – repent – you are on the wrong path.  We need to see that the path we are on is leading to a cliff and we may be only one step away from the ledge.  Stop, turn the other way and take Christs hand for guidance to the correct path.

Application:

  1. What paths are you on that take you away from God?
  2. What do you need to stop doing that leads you to sin?
  3. Are you willing to take Christ’s hand and go a different direction?

Division 3: Changed Lives: Acts 2:42-47

Having their eyes opened to the true meaning of the scriptures and the fact that they pointed to Jesus Christ, the gathered Jews cannot look at things the same way any longer.  The earth is no longer flat. 3000 immediately accept the gift and the spirit fills them up.  They are no longer the same people and they can no longer act the same way.  They eat together, they share, they help each other, they tell others and their numbers grow and grow.

Application:

When someone at school or in your neighborhood sees you and your family, the way you act, the way you talk to each other, the way you treat each other and other people.  Does it look different?  Does it look like something they would want?  You can use a million words, but the biggest testimony is in how you act and live as a changed person – as a child of God.

I’m closing with a big prayer:  I’m going to pray that God bring a mighty wind of the H/S and light up each of these kids.  I’ll ask that He give them 11 ofther friends who, no matter what anyone says, will always stand up together.  But even bigger, I am going to pray that God give each of them 3000 people to see the way they live, to hear the words they have to say and who, as a result, see things in a completely new and holy way.

Can I get an amen to that one?!?!?!