And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 14 and 15 (Lesson 13) by clicking here.
Read and meditate on Acts 15.6-11.
I cannot overstate the importance of this pericope (paragraph), for at least four reasons. Let’s take a look at each.
1. First, we note that, to the people in the early church, theology mattered. To them it was very important to get the Gospel right. There was no room in the Church for a variety of views on central theological issues, and if dissension required “much dispute” to resolve it, then so be it. Do the leaders of your church promote sound doctrine? Are they aware and responding to challenges to the Gospel which are arising in our day?
2. Second, this passage shows us the power of God’s restoring grace. Peter had just been in Antioch where he dissembled in the presence of the Judaizers and offended the Gentile believers. Paul confronted and rebuked him in public, which must have been a humiliating experience. Yet here he speaks out boldly as if nothing had ever happened. Peter’s stumble was not his undoing; rather, it contributed to his growth and readiness to serve. What does this episode suggest about the importance of church discipline, and doing it consistently and well?
3. Third, we note that Paul is in the background here. He graciously allows Peter to resume his role as the chief of the apostles and to carry the debate to its proper conclusion. This, he understands, is part of Peter’s healing, and he’s happy to see it. What does this suggest about Paul’s reliance on the Spirit in the ongoing work of Christ?
4. Finally, we note the appeal to “church history”, such as it is. Peter pointed back to the earlier assembly in Acts 11 and its decision concerning the Gentiles. There was no reason to overturn that; instead, these present deliberations should be guided by it. Ignorance of church history is no blessing. Church history and contemporary experience and teaching come together under the Word to confirm the truth of the Gospel. What role does church history play in the ministry of your church?
5. These days in the church we don’t like disagreements. We don’t like debates. We’re not too keen on theology. We don’t think we should be confronting people publicly about their sin. We think every church should be allowed to believe what it wants, organize itself as it chooses, and still be allowed to think of itself as a church. Is it any wonder the Church today is nowhere near as strong as the one we’re observing in the book of Acts? Do you think churches should be looking more carefully at the Church in Acts and the New Testament, in order to learn and fulfill their role in the ongoing work of Christ? Explain.
The ongoing work of Christ has many facets: missions, evangelism, making disciples, appointing leaders, hammering out doctrine, doing good works, and so forth. Wherever Christ is at work and His Kingdom is expanding, we can expect to see these activities at work. In what ways is it apparent among the churches in your community that the ongoing work of Christ is flourishing?
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book, The Kingdom Turn (click here).
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