The Church in Controversy (Acts 15:1-21)

We love a story of transformation.  There are any number of great stories of people who have risen to be something than what they were.

At the moment, one of the bigger films of this year is a remake of A Star is Born, starring Stefani Germanotta, who I’m sure you all know as Lady Gaga. It’s a remake of the Barbara Streisand film, which was a remake of the Judy Garland film of in the ’50s, which was a remake of another film back in the 1930s. Which just goes to show how much the thought of someone coming from one place, from being small and insignificant to being this great superstar really grabs our attention.

You might be more familiar with films like My Fair Lady, where this rough Cockney girl in London learns how to speak proper, and drink her tea with her finger up in the air, or whatever it is that qualifies you to live in the high-class society of London.

We love those stories where people learn to say the right thing and do the right thing, and suddenly they are a great success. It’s a story of rounding off the rough edges. But in films such as My Fair Lady, the kicker comes at the end, where after months and months and months of learning to do the right thing, it is revealed that she is still the same person at heart. And we find that the things we do don’t change the real you.

We can learn to be charitable, to do good things, say the right things, without transforming the soul. And we see that problem here in the book of Acts. It is a problem that Christians wrestle with all the time. We think that if we get the outside right, then we’ll be okay.

But we see here that the transformation God brings doesn’t come from the influence of well-meaning people around us, who help us to stand up straight and dress right and speak right and do the right things. The change that God brings must begin in the heart, with the work of the Holy Spirit. And it beings with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so we see here, in Acts 15, there is a problem. And the problem is legalism.

  1. Recognise the Problem of Legalism (v1-5)
  2. Hear What God is Doing (v6-21)
  3. Don’t Update the Message (v16-17)
  4. Apply it to Us (v19-21)

Sunday 14th April 2019

Review questions:

  • Legalism: You must _________________ __________ to be able to be saved (v1)
  • Why did Paul object (v2)?
  • Why were the first Gentiles saved (v7)?
  • Why is anyone saved (v11)?
  • Did the way to be saved change from the OT to the NT (v15-17)? Yes/No
  • Can there be another Jerusalem Council like this? Why/Why not (v17-18)?
  • Who leads the Church now?
  • Decisions: ____________what God has done, ______________ the Scriptures, & engage in ___________________ debate.
  • Acts 15 is P_______________ in action.
  • Truth sometimes demands _________.
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Published by Stephen McDonald

Christian, preacher, broadcaster

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