And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
This week’s video is presentation 14 in our study of Acts, and completes the introduction to disciple-making from presentation 13. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 14).
Read and meditate on Acts 15.30-35.
We note that the Gentile believers in Antioch did not feel “put upon” by the directive of the Jerusalem council. They rejoiced and were greatly encouraged to receive this word of clarification and instruction. I can’t help but wonder if the same result – a huge, corporate sigh of joy and relief – might settle on churches today if a council were convened to deal with some of the theological and moral issues currently vexing believers in many places.
1. Following the delivery of the council’s decision, Judas and Silas were given the opportunity to speak, and not just once. They stayed around for some time, doubtless so that they could answer questions, observe the situation in Antioch, and help Paul and Barnabas deal with any issues that might arise from the implementation of the council’s directive. Do you think it’s a good idea, from time to time, for churches to hear teaching from preachers and teachers other than their own? Why or why not?
2. Their work completed, they were sent off in peace, and Paul and Barnabas were able to get back to business as usual, preaching and teaching the Word of God, together with many others who were teachers in the churches there. It seems that preaching and teaching are a continuous need in the churches. Why?
3. It was a bit of a struggle and something of an inconvenience, but at last the problem vexing the believers in Antioch was resolved, and a foundation laid for dealing with similar issues that might arise in the future. From what we’ve seen thus far in Acts 15, outline an approach for local churches to deal with issues that threaten to divide or derail them.
4. The peace of the Church has been restored, and the work of the Gospel is back on track. Paul reminds us that we have to “work hard” to maintain the Church’s unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4.3). Certainly the work of this first Church council was hard, but well worthwhile. (The best manuscripts of the Greek New Testament omit verse 34, and I’ll have a bit more to say about this verse on Friday). Compare what we saw in Acts 15 with what we read about in Acts 6.1-6. What similarities can you identify? What do these suggest about a Spirit-led approach to addressing problems in the church?
5. Meditate on John 17.21, Ephesians 4.3, and Psalm 133. How would you apply these passages to your own church? To the churches in your community?
The Word of God is central to building a church in unity and maturity. We saw this in the council that met at Jerusalem, and we see it in the churches in Antioch. How does such unity over the Word of God come about? How is it maintained?
Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all are Your servants.
Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have given me life.
I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
The wicked wait for me to destroy me,
But I will consider Your testimonies.
I have seen the consummation of all perfection,
But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
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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