The title of this sermon is: From Celebration to Controversy.
Our text for this sermon comes from Acts 14:24-15:5.
vs. 24-25 Paul and Barnabas continue retracing their steps back through the cities in which they had preached the gospel and made disciples. Some theologians believe that as they passed back through these cities, they gathered the believers and helped form them into churches.
vs. 26 Antioch is a special place for Paul and Barnabas. This is the church that prayed for them and blessed them and sent them out as missionaries. God had called the two men to do the work that He had set for them to accomplish. The church recognized this and gave them their blessing. The church had come alongside them and stood by them because it was evident that God had called them to this work.
vs. 27-28 There is a time of joy and celebration. As Paul and Barnabas meet with the elders of the church in Antioch. Paul and Barnabas tell exciting stories of what God has done in every city where they shared the gospel. There is nothing that they have done apart from just being obedient messengers of the gospel. They share how God drew many people to Himself and they started to make disciples. Seeds of the gospel were planted everywhere they went.
But the celebration does not last.
15:1 But some men: These men came with false doctrine. These men were trying to tell the church that unless they as Gentiles converted to Judaism, they were not saved. The men from Judea were trying to burden the Gentiles with Jewish cultures and traditions when all the Gentiles needed was Jesus.
vs. 2 Paul and Barnabas were not going to stand for this trash. They took a public stand against it. The elders at Antioch did not have a doubt in what was the truth. However, the men were from Jerusalem so the elders at Antioch decided to send the matter to Jerusalem so that the apostles could confront these men about this “doctrine.”
vs. 3-4 Again much celebration happens as Paul and Barnabas tell the disciples all that God has done and how God used them to share the gospel.
vs. 5 The Pharisees show back up. What is going on here is not much different with what we struggle with today in 2012.
Why does the church today feel like we must impose rules, culture, tradition, and regulations on people to allow them to be part of our church?
You cannot legislate behavior and morals. This is a heart issue.
If all you do is tell someone what they can’t do then they will want to see how far they can push the envelope. They want to push the boundaries and test the limits of the rules. The rebellion of the self wants to break the rules without fear of consequences.
I have a toddler. He likes to push the limits on obedience. You do not have to teach a child to be disobedient or rebellious. The depravity inside of them makes it natural for them. I can tell him not to do or touch something. I can tell him to put his toys away or to not throw something at the dogs. He will look at me and the second I look away is the second he does exactly what I asked him not to do.
We do the same thing with God.
Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian (I cannot spell his last name) has a formula that I would like to share with you.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
All a person needs for salvation is Jesus.