Time to Acts – Part 15

Here is almost an entire chapter about people who don’t agree with each other, people with different opinions. In fact there is even a split amongst people who had ministered together. Sound familiar? This is ripe amongst Christians today. Let’s take a look at what Acts chapter 15 has to say.

First of all we have the issue of circumcision. Some were saying that the Gentiles should be circumcised and others were saying that they didn’t. If you replace the circumcision with just about any other ‘religious practise’, it sounds very similar to the kinds of discussions that go on today. I have said before that Christians will sooner accept non-Believers into church (which they should) than fellow believers with a different theology. We don’t like it when other believers don’t agree with us, do we? This is also a tug of war between grace and works. Grace that Jesus has given us by dying for us, and the works that we are called to do. Now I am pro works and grace. You may have heard one of my favourite sayings, “God’s Power, Our Actions”. Unfortunately, some people think that we don’t need to do anything, and others underestimate God’s grace. This is also about being ‘religious’. Religious, not as in being a Christian, but as in doing what were told to do just because we have been told to do it. There are things that we have been told to do, which I do. I do these things because I understand why we do it, and why God has called us to do it, not just because ‘that’s what we do’.

Peter gives what I believe to be the best answer in verses 8 – 11, So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” The law was there to show us that we fell well short of God’s standard. Then Jesus came and made a way for us to get to God, through faith in Him. We now do what pleases God because we love Him, not because we have to do it to get to heaven.

Then we see a common modern day experience. Paul and Barnabas had been doing ministry together for a while, and then they split. Over a disagreement. Now this passage doesn’t really give too many details, but they split because Barnabas wanted to take a guy John, called Mark along, and Paul didn’t. Verses 39 and 40 say, “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.” Sad, but I guess that it happens.

What do you think about situations like this? I personally think that it is better to go your separate ways and partner with people that you agree with. I think that we are called to love each other, but we probably won’t agree with everyone all of the time. I don’t think that this is a huge problem, as long as we deal with it correctly. The thing to remember is that even after this ‘sharp contention’, God still used them. God wants to use us, and wants what is good for us, no matter what we do. Us doing the wrong thing may stop us from receiving what God has for us, but it doesn’t stop Him from providing it. It may effect us and the way that we see God, it doesn’t effect God and the way that He sees us. When He looks at me He sees what Jesus died for, and for that I am eternally grateful!

Be blessed!

Richard

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5 thoughts on “Time to Acts – Part 15

  1. This has been my recent issue. Not necessarily with fellow Christians though but with non-Christian religious people. I have always been open-minded and accepting of others’ views but it really ticks me when I start hearing offensive condescending comments about my faith. It’s hard to be objective and try to forgive when your beliefs are being attacked. I think I still need to practice to be more sympathetic and patient with them. It’s soooo difficult as I’m only human, but I’m striving to be better with my relationships with EVERYONE—non-Christians included.

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  2. Lux, you’re preaching to the choir here. I was in the exact same boat, and I still struggle to love the person who attacks me. If I may give you some advice (the only advice that helped me), we are here to fight powers and principalities, not flesh and blood (Eph 6:12). Try and start to see those that oppose you, not as the opposition, but a prisoner of the enemy. They are merely coming against you because you have said something that upsets the devil. They are doing his work, just as we set out to do the work of God. When I got my head around this, it really helped me. I now get less irritated with people, and come against the powers behind their actions. We have far more authority over demons than we do people, and they’re generally the ones causing the issues in the first place. I hope this helps, I know your frustration.

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  3. That was well sorted out Brother
    When one leaves or we leave one or many. It is not over the contention in reality, Both that do believe that do not agree are on their way to a new place that either of can’t go to yet in our growths. Paul could not go with Barnabus and Visa Versa. Each were going to their new location to their new understanding in maturity to God, as from God seeing it to us it fro the good as in Romans 8:28
    Thanks

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  4. Well said Richard. It seems that we have trouble accepting the fact that we are still a broken people. I remind my church often, “If I haven’t offended you this week, just wait until next week.” Soon or later something will come out of my mouth that should have stayed there. Jesus Christ has saved me by grace and we need to learn to give grace to each other. A lesson I am trying to learn.

    If I remember the situation correctly Paul had an issue with John Mark because on a previous trip John Mark left early. However years later Paul will ask for him. – 2 Timothy 4:11 – “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” – At some point Paul came around.

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