The last in our sermon series entitled ‘Unity’, with preaching from Nathan Gordon and our (virtual) service led by Richard Sills.
A potential dividing issue for the early church – Acts 15:1 -35
From the early church to our context today there has and will continue to be issues that challenge unity amongst God’s people. The Gospel was now making an impact amongst gentile nations as Jesus said would happen, however there arose some of the Pharisee converts who believed the gentiles should observe and follow Jewish law. (E.g., circumcision) Such an issue had the potential to divide and split the church, however through the leadership of the apostles they were able to resolve the disagreement by writing a letter to the gentile Christians.
Even when things go on very smoothly and pleasantly in the church, it is folly to be secure, and to think the mountain stands strong and cannot be moved; some uneasiness or other will arise, which is not foreseen, cannot be prevented, but must be prepared for. – M Henry
A sharp disagreement amongst ministers – Acts 15:36-39
The disagreement became so intense they departed one from the other
Paul’s reluctance for including John Mark on the second missionary journey
John Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas during the first missionary journey – Acts 13:13
Barnabas – Favouritism at its finest? Or a genuine desire to train and develop John Mark into a good minister of the gospel and give him another opportunity?
Some scholars suggest he was either lazy and could not stomach the pains that must be taken, or maybe he was a coward and was not so keen on risking his life for the sake of Gospel ministry.
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. – Pro 25:19 KJV
Separation resulted in greater productivity – Acts 15:40-41
This disagreement caused the two great preachers to form two teams, opening two missionary endeavours instead of one.
More leaders were developed namely Silas and Timothy
Time apart brought healing and reconciliation – 2 Timothy 4:11 & Col 4:10
God works even through conflict and disagreements, Christians do not always agree, but problems can be solved by agreeing to disagree and letting God work and do his will.
- Do you think the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was a lack of spiritual maturity from the ministers? Discuss your reasons for yes or no.
- Put yourself in the place of Paul and then Barnabas. What reasons would you give for including or excluding John Mark from the journey?
- Do you think there was a clear right or wrong position in this conflict? Why or why not?
- Describe a time in your own life where God used a situation that you did not think was good, and yet God brought a great result.
- Is there someone with whom you are holding a grudge due to a disagreement? If so, how might you seek to resolve the conflict this week and agree to disagree?
- People will disagree about issues. Compare the satisfaction of “being right” with the importance of the mission of the Kingdom. Could any issue be more important than the saving of souls and expanding God’s Kingdom?
Sermon Title: Should we all be the same?
Bible Reading: Acts 15:30-41
Preacher: Nathan Gordon
Worship Leader: Richard Sills