Category: Sermons

Christians in Conflict (Acts 15:36-41)

“In the summer of 1932, the [Monroe Baptist] church actually split into two rival factions as to who should be the pastor. One side was backing the Reverend W. W. Hill, an old-school preacher who had just been ousted; the other was supporting Professor Foster, a starched man with a standoffish wife and brilliant children whom some people saw as having enough influence as it was, seeing as how he already ran the school. The church grew so divided that people were no longer speaking. Enemy lines were drawn. The church had to shut down for two whole months. The authorities in Monroe took away the keys.

“The church reopened the first Sunday in September 1932, along with the wounds and hostilities that were no closer to healing than the day the church was shuttered. That morning, Sunday school had barely begun when “there arose a contention between the two factions as to who was in charge of the church,” the Chicago Defender reported.

“There was a question as to whether the apparent victor, Professor Foster, should speak, the Hill people saying it was perhaps best that he not, the anti-Hill faction urging him to go forward. Professor Foster was accustomed to running things. He arose and stood stiff and pious and was reading Bible scripture, when four women walked up to the pulpit and demanded he stop preaching, as if to suggest he had no right to be taking over as he had. It was an outrageous, unheard-of disruption, practically blasphemous, and the church broke into an uproar. Several men rushed the pulpit and began fighting. A deacon backed out of the door, hitting back at those who pursued him and falling down in the street.

“A parishioner named James Dugans, who was either a supporter of Professor Foster or merely enraged at the show of disrespect, picked up a chair, drew a pistol, and started shooting. A bullet struck a woman named Patsy Daniels in the stomach. Incensed, her father ran to a house next door and got a pistol of his own. The father came back to a fight that had now spilled out to the front of the church. When the first gunman, Dugans, saw the woman’s now-armed father, he shot him in the chest. The bleeding father continued firing as he fell, killing Dugans and wounding three other parishioners. Patsy Daniels died from her wounds. In all, as many as seven people were left wounded, including the dead woman’s father. Professor Foster and his family managed to escape unharmed—physically, in any case.

“The Monroe police again had to take the keys of the church. Until the congregation could settle its dispute, “the doors of the church were securely nailed up,” the Atlanta Daily World reported.”

That account from Isabel Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns might seem unlikely, but it shows that conflict is a reality in the church. It might not end in a gunfight. But disagreements about things, that ultimately of secondary importance, are a common feature of life.

Why? And why are we surprised by that?

Make no mistakes about it: There is conflict in the church because there are sinners in the church. Christians are sinners. We are free from the punishment of sin, and we are free of the power/reign of sin, but we are not yet free from the presence of sin. None of us is ‘better than’ that.

So, what should we believe about conflict between Christians? In Acts 15:36-41, God teaches us four truths:

  1. Conflict is Frequently Surprising (v36)
  2. Conflict is Often Over the ‘Small’ Stuff (v37-39a)
  3. Conflict is Sometimes Unavoidable (v39-41)
  4. Conflict is Always Redeemable (v39b-41)

Sunday 19th May 2019

Review questions:

  • There is conflict in the church because Christians are ______________
  • Christians are free from the power & punishment of sin, not its ___________
  • Were Paul & Barnabas believers? Yes/No
  • How can I love the church in different places (v36)?
  • What was the disagreement about (v37-39, 13:13)?
  • Most missionaries return home due to _______________________ (Akin, IMB)
  • How should Christians disagree (Phil 2:1-11)?
  • Sometimes we must __________ (v39)
  • Bad things happen because God will (Rom 8:28)
  • Conflict is redeemed when we are ________________________ (2 Tim 4:11)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Controversy Settled? (Acts 15:22-35)

The big question in Acts 15 is ‘What do I have to do to be saved?’

If we insist on anything in addition to faith in Jesus for ourselves or anyone else to be accepted by God then we have fallen for the trap of legalism.

When we last looked at this chapter one month ago, we heard what God is doing: He is saving a people from the nations for the glory of His name, and He’s doing so by grace through faith, not of works so that none should boast, as Ephesians 2:8-10 says.

You’ll only be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, as verse 11 teaches. You can only be saved if God gives salvation to you.

This is the conclusion of the assembly of apostles and elders.

But making a decision isn’t the end of the story. It must be communicated. The church assembly sends a letter with the outcome, and the Gentile churches respond. In their response, there are three messages for us:

  1. Be Free of Legalism (v22-24)
  2. Abandon Idolatry & Immorality (v25-29)
  3. Rejoice in Christ (v30-35)

Sunday 12th May 2019

Review questions:

  • The big question in Acts 15 is “What do I have to do to be ______________?”
  • What does legalism teach?
  • What is necessary to be saved?
  • Why shouldn’t Christians do these 4 things (v29)?
  • Paganism says God hasn’t _________ so _______ decide how to honour God.
  • Avoiding idols meant being _________
  • What is “sexual immorality” (v29)?
  • Sometimes I am tempted to want Jesus plus _____________
  • I can rejoice in Jesus because ____________________________________________
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest (Matthew 11:25-30)

Last week, in possibly a bored moment, I was looking at the ABC News website online. And I found this article. It is written by a young lady named Caroline Zielinski:

About eight months ago, I did a very scary thing.

I quit my job to search for meaning — and it dramatically improved my heath.

It may sound like a story as old as (millennial) time: young person gets job, job is not as great as young person thought, young person keeps quitting and looking for other jobs to satisfy them.

But switching from one unfulfilling role to the next failed to shift the insomnia, the abject anxiety, the mindless, nervous scratching and my painful gut.

Friends couldn’t quite understand why I was so miserable and so sick: you have a good job, they’d say. It pays well. You can travel.

Logically, I agreed. So, I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t so bad, while every day wondering: “is this all there is?”

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone.

Experts are calling this feeling of meaninglessness a “modern malaise that if left unresolved, can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, or physical decline”.

I quit my job and discovered the secret to good health, Caroline Zielinski, ABC News 1 May 2019.

Burdens, insomnia, depression, hopelessness, physical decline, nervousness, anxiety, the pressure of paying bills. In today’s text, Jesus has a remarkable promise regarding our burdens. An absolute – if you think about it – almost unbelievable promise, that He will take our burdens and deal with them on our behalf.

That’s the promise we’re going to look at this morning, because if that promise is true, then you would be a fool to reject it.

  1. Who is this promise for? (v25)
  2. On what authority can Jesus give this promise? (v25-26)
  3. What is Jesus actually promising to do? (v27-30)

Sunday 5th May 2019

The Most Important Truth (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

What’s the difference between Christmas and Easter?

Christmas is the start of the story, where God comes to mankind. Easter is the culmination of the story, where it is made possible for mankind to come to God.

The early church didn’t mark Christmas, but from the earliest days, the death of Jesus has been noted every week as Christians meet to worship on the Lord’s Day.

So, why is Easter so important? And what does it mean for us?

  1. Know and Receive This Good News (v1-9)
  2. Stand On It, Or You Have Believed In Vain (v1, 9-11)
  3. You Will Be Saved By It (v2)

Easter Sunday 21st April 2019

Review questions:

  •  _____________ & ___________ predicted Jesus’ death (Ps 16, Isa 52-53).
  • Without ___________________ there can be no forgiveness of sin (Heb 9:22)
  • Abraham said, “God will provide the _______ for the __________” (Gen 22:8)
  • What does Jesus’ burial prove (Mk 15:42-45)?
  • Because Jesus is the “firstfruits”, our resurrection will be ___________ (v49)
  • Where is the resurrection predicted in the OT?
  • Did Jesus expect to rise from the dead (Mtt 16:21, Mk 8:31)? Yes/No
  • To stand means ___________________ (v1)
  • If we don’t stand, we are in danger of ___________________________ (Heb 2:1)
  • The difference between knowing and believing is _____________________(v2)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:


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:

Who Are Missionaries & What Do They Do? (Acts 14:19-28)

When James Cook returned to England from his voyage through the South Seas, his journals were published. As well as inspiring significant scientific advances, they also stirred up the Christian missionary movement. A shoemaker in Northamptonshire, William Carey devoured the Endeavour journals. They fanned into flame his passion for the good news about Jesus to be brought to all the unconverted people of the world. His essay, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, led to the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society. Carey himself went to India, where he translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit.

But what about us? What do Christians like you and me have to do with missions? Are we missionaries? What part does the local church have in missionary work?

We read from Matthew 9-10 that there is a plentiful harvest ready to be brought in, and that we are to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. But is that it? Is our share in missionary work done when we have prayed for missionaries?

So, we need to turn to God’s Word. Here in Acts 14:19-28, we see:

  1. Missionaries are Sent Ones (v26)
  2. Missionaries Do God’s Mission (v19-26)
  3. Are We Supporting, Sending, & Being Biblical Missionaries? (v27-28)

Sunday 7th April 2019

Review questions:

  • ____________________ sent ___________ who sent ______ (Luke 4:43 & 24:47).
  • Just as it was necessary for Jesus to suffer, die, and rise, so ______________ & _______________ must be ___________ to _____________________ (Luke 24:47)
  • What is God’s mission? New ________, new ______________ & new __________.
  • Where is the mission field?
  • Why did Paul & Barnabas return (v21-24)?
  • What do we need to live a Christian life (v22-23)?
  • A church must have __________ (v23).
  • Our church does mission: True/False
  • How can I be a missionary?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Baptised Into His Death (Romans 6:1-14)

When you are confronted with someone who is hard to deal with, how do you respond? When you run into someone, and you find that they treat you badly, and they may be a Christian person, and perhaps you ask some people who know them, and they say, “Well, you know, that’s just Gertrude! That’s just who she is.” You know, that’s just the way they are. And we sort of shrug at sin and go, “That’s that person, and you can’t really expect them to be any different, because that’s who they are.”

That’s the sort of situation Paul is imagining here as we come to Romans 6. He has laid out in Romans 5 the great riches of Christ, and the benefits that we receive from Him (His perfect obedience given to us), and he imagines that the people in Rome would say, “Well, if God’s grace is so great, does it matter if we just keep sinning? You know, if we never actually manage to grow in grace, is that a big problem? Because God’s grace will be shown to be all the greater!” And we just shrug and say, “Well, that’s who I am.”

We see here that that is not the attitude that Christian people should take to their own sin or to other people’s sin. We see here that everyone who believes is baptised into Jesus Christ, and because of that, we are united with Him, and so we are to live like that.

  1. Everyone Baptised into Christ Jesus (v1-3)
  2. Is United with Him (v4-10)
  3. So, Live Like You Know It (v11-14)

Sunday 31st March 2019

Review questions:

  • Is our sin not so bad because God will forgive us (v1-2)? Yes/No
  • Does being baptised with water unite us to Christ?
  • How are we baptised into Jesus (v3)?
  • Who has been baptised into Christ Jesus (v3)?
  • Why are believers free from sin (v7)?
  • When are believers united to Jesus’ resurrection (v8)?
  • How do we know Jesus is not under the reign of sin (v10)?
  • Do Christians stop sinning? Yes/No
  • Can Christians resist temptation (v11, James 4:7)? Yes/No
  • How can I offer myself to God (v13)?