Acts 15 Devotional Guide – Resolving Conflict
What was the nature of the conflicts in this chapter?
A. 1st Conflict: Was circumcision required for Gentile converts to Christianity? This conflict centered on theology. It was a public conflict.
We ought to ensure that we indeed have biblical warrant before we say, “Except you do so and so, you cannot be saved.”
What are some other comparable issues in today’s church?
Matthew Henry: “There is a strange proneness in us to make our opinion and practice a rule and a law to everybody else, to judge all about us by our standard, and to conclude that because we do well all do wrong that do not just as we do.”
“We ought not to make any conditions of our brother’s acceptance with us
but such as God has made the conditions of their acceptance with Him.”
B. 2nd Conflict: A sharp disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas on whether or not to take John Mark on their next missionary journey. This conflict centered on methodology. A private conflict.
What does Barnabas’ dealings with John Mark teach us? See 2 Timothy 4:11; Colossians 4:10.
What did they do to resolve it?
Discuss – Leaders came together to discuss the matter.
Debate the issue.
1. Hear testimonies. How God has given the Gentiles theHoly Spirit and saved them by grace so that any additional requirement would be a yoke.
2. Hear what the Scriptures say. Don’t avoid it, but deal with it gracefully by being quick to listen.
Conclude – make a decision.
Why was it crucial to resolve conflict well?
The unity of the church is at stake. Preserve the church from fragmentation. This was a victory of love in preserving the fellowship by sensitive concessions to conscientious Jewish scruples.
The preservation of the gospel of grace is at stake. Preserve the gospel from corruption. The unanimous decision of the first ecumenical counsel held in Jerusalem liberated the gospel from its Jewish swaddling clothes into being God’s message for all mankind and gave the Jewish-Gentile church a self-conscious identity as the reconciled people of God, the one body of Christ. The victory of truth in confirming the gospel of grace.
The furtherance of the gospel is at stake.
Why do you think the Gentile believers were given a list of four behaviors from which to abstain, even though they did not have to be circumcised or obey the law of Moses to be saved (vv.28-29)?
Would set them apart from the idol worship and the pervasive immorality of the day.
To respect the consciences of their Jewish believers by abstaining from practices that might offend them.
Not heeding these dietary matters would inhibit Jewish-Gentile common meals.
What are some ways that we could care more for the growth and well-being of others in our body of believers who are different than we are?
Can you think back to a time that you refrained from exercising your freedom in Christ to do something in order to respect the conscience of another and not offend them?