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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Acts 15:33

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A. When Paul and Barnabas returned from the Jerusalem council, there were certain leaders from the church in Jerusalem who returned with them to certify the genuineness of the letter, and to personally verify its contents.
1. These men ministered for a time to the Gentile church, but now are returning to Jerusalem.
2. However one of them, Silas, who was a prophet and one of the chief leaders of the church in Jerusalem remained in Antioch.
B. Paul and Barnabas remained there too for a period of time preaching and teaching.
1. There is a place in the church for preaching.
a. The Greek word literally means to declare the good news.
b. Thus preaching is mainly for the unsaved. It is evangelism.
c. Here at Calvary we have services that are designed for the express purpose of evangelism.
d. Services where the good news of God's love and His provision for the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. People are given the opportunity to accept Christ.
e. We have men on staff who have the gift of evangelism.
f. Preaching is mainly to and for the unsaved.
2. Once a person has received the good news and acted upon it by accepting Jesus Christ, then their need is for teaching.
a. There are many churches who have such an emphasis on evangelizing that the saints never get taught.
b. In Hebrews 6, the writer urges the people leave the first principles of the doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.
c. He said that they should not lay again the foundations of repentance from dead works, and faith towards God, the doctrines of baptisms, resurrection from the dead, and the coming day of judgment.
d. These are important things that are shared in preaching, for they need to know the necessity of repentance, and faith in God, the necessity of baptism, and that Jesus rose from the dead, and that a day of judgment is coming.
e. But beyond that they need to mature in their relationship with Jesus.
f. They need to know how to walk in the Spirit.
3. One of the great problems in the church is the immaturity of the saints.
a. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
1CO 3:1 And I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.
1CO 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for up till now you are not able to handle it, and even now are you still are not able.
1CO 3:3 For you are still carnal: for when you have envying, strife, and divisions, are these not signs of carnality and immaturity?
b. This is one of the banes of the church today, many who by now should be spiritually mature and strong are still carnal.
c. They are 25-year old babies kicking and screaming in the crib as they are crying for their bottles.
d. In Hebrews 5 we read:
HEB 5:12 For when for the time came when you ought to be teachers, you still need someone teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; you have need of milk, for you cannot digest meat.
e. Like babies they need constant attention.
f. They go to church to be entertained.
g. We had a Muslim guide in Turkey. He told us that Turkey was a Muslim nation. We asked him how it was that we saw so many Turks drinking, for that was strictly forbidden by Muslim law. He responded, that they were Muslim by name, that it did not affect the way they lived. I am afraid that there are many who are Christians in the same way. It does not affect the way they live.
h. Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
EPH 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. "For if God spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how much more then shall He not freely give us all things?"
EPH 4:8 Wherefore the scripture says, When he ascended up on high, he led the captives from their captivity, and gave gifts unto men.
EPH 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
EPH 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
EPH 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
EPH 4:12 For the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ:
EPH 4:13 Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fully matured man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
EPH 4:14 That we would be no more children, who are tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
EPH 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may you grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:
i. Grow up.
A. I do believe that Paul had kept in touch with them through letters, however, mail service in those days was far different than today. It could take months for a letter to arrive, and more months to receive a reply.
1. Also, as wonderful as mail is, it cannot replace a face-to-face meeting.
2. There is a special warmth that can be communicated by touch that cannot be communicated through mail.
3. Paul wrote to the Galatians:
GAL 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
GAL 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
GAL 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
a. He desired that they would not misunderstand what he was writing, he wished that he was present that they might hear the tone of voice. It was not harsh and condemning, it was tender and pleading.
b. You that desire to be under the law, do you really know what the law is saying?
c. It is hard to truly understand what is written unless you know the tone of voice.
d. Paul was concerned for them how they were faring. He wanted to see them personally, touch them.
B. Barnabas was determined to take John Mark with them again.
1. John Mark was a nephew of Barnabas.
2. He had accompanied them on the first journey through the island of Cyprus.
3. When they left the island to go to the mainland and continue into Asia Minor, Mark decided to go home.
a. We are not told the actual reason for his leaving them; it may be that he was homesick.
b. It may be that he was afraid of the uncertainty of going into the pagan territory.
c. His leaving them no doubt created some problems for he was along as an aide. He more or less served them. He was another hand.
d. His leaving displeased Paul deeply.
C. Paul was just as determined that Mark was not to go with them because of his defection on the first trip.
D. The contention became so great.
1. It was an issue that they just could not agree upon.
2. Both of these men had strong wills. They would need those strong wills in order to endure the hardships they faced as missionaries in those days.
3. Can Christians have differences of opinions?
4. Is it possible that there are issues that Christians cannot agree upon?
5. What are we to do in such cases?
a. Walk in love.
b. If it is impossible to come to some sort of agreement then we need to agree to disagree agreeably.
6. In this case they both could have been right.
7. It could very well be that this disagreement was from God.
a. Perhaps God wanted two missionary teams out in the field.
b. The only way this could be accomplished was to create this division over the taking of John Mark.
c. This was the ultimate outcome of the disagreement.
8. Barnabas took John Mark, and they sailed to Cypress.
a. Barnabas was originally from Cypress, so he was going back to familiar territory. He no doubt had family there. They would also be related to Mark.
b. Mark had been with them in Cypress before.
9. Paul chose Silas, and they departed. The church committed them to the grace of God.
a. They went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the saints.
Sermon Notes for Acts 15:23 ← Prior Section
Sermon Notes for Acts 16:1 Next Section →
Sermon Notes for John 1:1 ← Prior Book
Sermon Notes for Romans 1:16 Next Book →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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