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April 28, 2020 2:00 pm
Let's take a Bible and open it together. Ask chapter 15 this morning were continuing in our ongoing study of the life of the great man. The apostle Paul why you turning just let me say Washington DC is a pretty incredible place and you can see some really cool things in the city and among the things that you can see the really cooler down go down the national archives where you can see the actual original of the Declaration of Independence. Also down there you can see the original copy of the Constitution of the United States. I mean these incredible documents that our whole nation is based upon. You can see the original.
I think that's pretty amazing, and it's also interesting to remind ourselves how these documents came into being. They were the result of Continental congresses were political leaders from all over the colonies got together and after much debate they finally agreed upon and codified these wonderful documents. Now you know you may not realize it, but much of what we think of as biblical theology really came about through somewhat of a similar process accepted. Back then they didn't have Continental congresses. They had church councils and at these church councils and leaders from all over Christendom would come and they would codify biblical truth based upon both the Bible and their personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.
What are some of these councils well, there was the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. which settled the question of the deity of Christ, there was the Council of Constantinople, 381 A.D. that settled the question of the Trinity. There was the Council of Carthage, 397 A.D. that decided which books really belonged in the Bible and settled the question.
The Council of Ephesus, 431 adult with the virgin birth, the Council of Chalcedon, 451 that dealt with the dual nature of Christ, and these were just some of the early church councils. There were more, but these are the major ones today here in acts chapter 15 were to actually look at the very first church council ever held called the Council of Jerusalem was held somewhere around 49 A.D. and all the big players were here, Peter was here. James was here.
John was here the apostle Paul was here. Barnabas was here. I mean talk about a test. Think of all the people that were here all the apostles were here in the church within the church Council of Jerusalem was called together to deal with two issues that are related but somewhat separate issue number one was this just how do people get eternal life. In other words, do they get it on the basis of faith in Jesus plus nothing or on top of faith in Jesus. Is there some human work some human act of performance that people have to do in order to cement the deal that was question number one and question number two was once a person is become a follower of Christ. Once a person is coming to a relationship with Christ.
What is the basis of that person's ongoing relationship with Christ is a follower of Jesus free to act anyway they want to act without endangering their relationship to God or is God's continuing love, continuing good feeling continuing acceptance towards that person pays on some kind of human performance. So really, at the base of the Jerusalem Council lay this issue. Human performance how does it relate both to coming to Christ and once you are a follower of Christ. How does it play you that's really the issue. The Jerusalem Council dealt with.
That's a pretty important issue for us to have answers to. So over the next several weeks were to be dealing with this and all were going to do today's deal with issue number one just how does a person get eternal life. That's the issue were to be dealing with today. What little bit of background before we dig in and remember the apostle Paul and Barnabas have been on their first missionary journey they'd gone from Antioch, their hometown here in Syria, to Cyprus, then they going up into the southern underbelly of Turkey here and now. After completing their first missionary journey they'd come back home to Antioch where they're staying. As the events of chapter 15 begin to unfold remember and all that they've been doing in their first missionary journey. The apostle Paul and Barnabas primarily been dealing with Gentiles. Okay.
And here at this church in Antioch. It's primarily a church full of Gentiles. And so that's why what you're about to see happen become so important look verse one.
Some men it says came down from Judea, from Jerusalem to Antioch where Paul was staying, and they were teaching the brothers there unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved now because most of the people here were Gentiles.
This is a very this shakes them.
This is a very scary thought that all of a sudden what they been taught is not right.
Paul and been teaching up to this point that our personal relationship with Christ forgiveness of sins eternal life.
Going to heaven doesn't have anything to do with human performance is only by faith in Jesus.
These guys come down here and they say no, that's not the case at all these people of God to be circumcised. Got to keep the law of Moses and look what they say if you don't, you cannot have eternal life.
You cannot go to heaven. You cannot be in a relationship with God. Unless you do them first to this brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. I mean, Paul and Barnabas when they heard this, went and began arguing with these guys and the word they choose here for the first translated sharp dispute is a great word that another places means armed conflict, military action, I mean the Bible trying to tell us that this was no mild-mannered disagreement. These guys were having that Paul and Barnabas were jazz all in dealing with these guys, now you know what the deal would part Barnabas when he was jazzed up would really bother me that much on me Barnabas if he was jazzed up all that would mean is when you're through talking he wouldn't hug you. I mean that's all we need. But hey apostle Paul, could you imagine taking on the apostle Paul when he was jazzed up about something. Can you imagine facing the apostle Paul knows the nose one on one when he has a head of steam up about something man.
I'll bet you this was a confrontation to the whole and when they were all gone, they still couldn't agree.
So verse two Netflix offer second reminder still.
What is the issue they're fighting about very simple. It's the basis on which God gives people eternal life. Forgiveness of sin in a place in heaven. Is it on on the basis of faith in Jesus plus nothing or is it faith in Jesus plus some Connie human works whether those works be circumcision keeping the Old Testament church attendance church membership, baptism, communion, whatever. That's what they're fighting about now first two Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers to go to Jerusalem to see the apostles and the elders about this question and the church sent them on their way, and as they traveled to Phoenicia and Samaria. They told how the Gentiles had been converted and the news made all the brothers very glad when they came to Jerusalem. They were welcomed by the church in the apostles and the elders to whom they reported everything that God is done through them on the first missionary journey, but there were some of the believers there who belong to the party of the Pharisees who stood up and said the Gentiles, that you led to Christ must be circumcised and they must be required to obey the law of Moses, just faith in Jesus is not enough. Paul and so the apostles verse six and the elders met to consider this question. Here we have the Jerusalem Council meeting to look into this and would you notice it wasn't settled by majority vote of the Jerusalem congregation. That's not how they did it, but the leaders from all over Christendom came together and said we are going to make a decision that everyone knows what basis do people come into relationship with Christ that what happened verse seven and after much discussion Peter got up and address them. And he said brothers you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might first hear from my lips. The message of the gospel and believe what you talking about, well, if you remember us talking about acts chapter 10 where he was sitting on that rooftop and Jaco and the Lord appeared to him and said I want to go see Cornelius go to his home. I want you to tell them about Jesus not Cornelius was a Roman military officer.
He was as Gentile as Gentile can be when the party and that was Jewish, and Peter went he began preaching to him and while he was standing there. Cornelius believe what he was telling them about Jesus. Cornelius, what baptized Cornelius one circumcised Cornelius didn't go take communion. He didn't join a church. He just believed, and the spirit of God fell on him and Peterson while looking for. I guess it comes just by believing in Jesus. That's what Peter is talking about goes on to say verse eight God who knows the heart showed that he had accepted them. Cornelius and his family by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he did to us. He made no distinction between boss, the Gentiles, and them, for he purified their hearts look at this by saying he didn't purify their heart by circumcision or purify their heart by communion or baptism.
It was simple faith in Jesus. Verse 10. Now there why do you try to test God by putting on the neck of these Gentile disciples polls led the Christ yoke that neither we nor our Jewish fathers have been able to bear that what is this yoke that Peter is referring to gets the yoke of trying to earn our way to heaven by keeping the law of Moses, and Peter said that yoke that yoke of human performance was a yoke that we as Jewish people couldn't even make work lives. Peter couldn't even make work. Why would we want to take something that God, thank God finally liberated us wrong and now lay it on these Gentiles know he says, verse 11. No, we believe that it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus, that we are saved just like these Gentiles friends. This is a great affirmation of the Council of Jerusalem that salvation, eternal life. Going to heaven. Forgiveness of sin. Entry into a personal relationship with Jesus. Verse nine is by faith plus nothing. Verse 11 is through grace. The grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing eternal life is through the grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing going to heaven is through the grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing having our sins forgiven is by the grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing coming into relationship with Christ is by the grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing now since that's true, maybe it would be a good idea for us to stop for a moment and define what is great. I mean if all these things we get by grace are probably be good idea to know what grace is you say will GOT an idea would grace his lawn grace is on its mercy. Get some compassionate kindness. If benevolence well that's true, but grace is more than that grace is undeserved kindness. Grace is undeserved mercy, undeserved benevolence and compassion.
Grace means that even though somebody's performance doesn't deserve kindness even though somebody's performance doesn't deserve mercy God shows it to that person anyway. You know my son know my middle son Justin is on college when he was succeeded to start driving a high school and came about 40 minutes old Acura to draw the high school he came home one day and he said that he said I decided because the kid ran into the side of my car in the parking lot at school and really banged up the side of my car and I said I went out, looked at the car. It was pretty banged up as well. Did you get his insurance information and he said no swimming, no.
I said when he drove off before I could get it from an isolated when women you telling me this kid hit you and and he drove off without giving you his insurance information. He left the scene of the accident so will yeah so could you know this kid is and he said yes to give me his phone number so he got me the phone number and I called his dad up and I said Sir I told him I was not to did you did you know that your son hit my sons car at school today said no.
I said what he did and he said then I said then your son left the scene of the accident, and as you know that the criminal offense us today and I really want to be nice about this, but I need you to check with your son I need you to get confirmation of what happened then I need you to call me back and I need you to tell me whether you're going to pay to fix my sons car or whether your insurance is going to pay to fix my sons car because otherwise I'll have no choice but to call the police and turn your son in for leaving the scene of the accident. Well, he was a little upset and anything I look right into it. I look right into it. I got a call back later and he left a voicemail message. Any call back and set on the voicemail.
He said I talked to my son he said, and he tells me. First of all, that it was your son who pulled out in front of him in the parking lot and it was your son's fault and he's got witnesses to prove that any tells me.
Second of all, that after the accident. Your son jumped out the car went around the side looked at the didn't jump back in his car and drove all so that it was your son who left the scene of the accident, not my son and he concluded his message by saying why don't you call me back and will talk about who's going to call the police on I went to Justin. I think I just thought you told me that this other kid left the scene of the accident.
First, he said, not what I told you he said you asked me why I didn't get his insurance information. I told you it's because he drove off without giving it to me. He drove all. Right after I did wait a minute you're telling me now that you left the scene of the accident first and he said oh yeah Justin, you realize what I've done. I called his man up and threatened to call the police on his son and now I find out who left the scene of the accident verse I said why didn't you tell me that you left you last saw you ever asked me why didn't get the insurance information. I told you because he drove off before I could get. Oh my goodness, so I called Amanda message closer.
You know I got your message and he said yeah I said I talked to my son and and I think your son probably had more right than my son did.
He said really. I said yes or I could.
First of all let me say I think I'll fix my own sons car and I think that's a good place for us to begin. I still will what you think we ought to do about the police thing. There was silence and I just like oh she's he said well Mr. Solomon.
He said I gotta tell you that integral kindly you calling up your threatened to call the police on my son. I said yes or I can totally understand how you might feel the same but I tell you what he said I could understand how that might happen with two teenagers who took the why don't we do this will call it no harm no foul. What you think about that's a wonderful idea sir now friends that grace and also the fact that I didn't scan my son alive. That's grace to say what I'm saying grace doesn't depend on human performance. My human performance was herbal in that situation I call up and accuses the Sultan falsely impractical believability. My son performance. What real good either. He leaves the scene of an accident, but the man showed his grace and you know why here's the key point grace doesn't depend on the performance of the recipient grace depends on the benevolence of the person giving John Stan and what the Jerusalem Council confirmed is that God is a God of grace that God grants eternal life any grants forgiveness of sin any grants have been any grandson relationship to Christ. He grants that to human beings on the basis of grace. We don't deserve it. We don't earn it. We don't American. He gives it to us as a gift free and postage-paid because it's by grace. That's as far as we want to go right now that's 15 to come back and finish, but we want to stop now and ask the most important question everybody knows what this is so deep breath.
Go, nice allowed ready 123 Risa Alonso one say I understand what you're saying about grace. I feel sorry you got a son like that. What makes well let's see we can nail this down friends. You know what is the difference between biblical Christianity and every other-ism, and every other apology in the world. If this issue of grace.
This is what distinguishes the true faith at all that the Bible talks about from every other religious system in the world and every other religious system of the world. It's all about human performance. It's all about what we have to do in some form or fashion to work our way up to finally being in the good graces of God. Now, sometimes that's religious performance like keeping the 10 Commandments bathing in the Ganges praying five times a day making a pilgrimage to Mecca being in the synagogue for young people were doing your two years of Mormon missionary service or being baptized communion eyes. The sacrament ties sometimes just a secular human performance, you know, being a good person giving to charity doing volunteer work at the hospital driving the speed limit recycling but it's all human performance and what sets biblical Christianity apart is that the Bible says no human performance has nothing to do with this is not about what you do for God.
It's about what God has done for you in Jesus coming dying on the cross, shedding his blood to pay for all wrongdoing in the sight of God. It's about God's grace. It's not about human performance and friends because we don't deserve it because we can't narrative because we could never be worthy of it.
That's why the system of the Bible is based on grace God gives us on deserved mercy. When we activated. That is what the Bible this what the Bible teaches throughout list of Ephesians chapter 2 verse eight says, for it is by grace here is our is by grace, undeserved mercy that you have been delivered through say see that little phrase through faith tells us what we have to do to activate the grace of God. What we have to do we have to show faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross and once we do that we activate the grace of God.
And all this other stuff comes as a gift. The verse goes on to say this. Everything God given us is not the result of your own performance.
Rather, it is God's gift to you now.
Romans chapter 3 verse 23 says for all of us of sin and fallen short of God's glory.
If you like the Bible to comment on our human performance, there you have and is not pretty, but all of the word, but but we as followers of Christ are justified. We've been pronouncing not guilty by God and how did this happen because of our human performance. Ono this happen freely by his grace. There is our word and how do we activate this grace. Verse 25 goes on to say in Romans three we do it through faith in his Jesus Christ blood. That's how we activate God's grace. Titus chapter 3 verse five God saved us, not because of any righteous things we had done but because of his grace printed here here today and you can try to do business with God you been trying to earn your way to heaven. You been trying to merit eternal life by your own effort by your own works by your own human performance pay. The good news of the Bible is that you can't make it that way so that instead of giving a system of human performance to us God instead is given us a system of grace. That's a great news of the Bible system of grace that says all we have to do is activated by taking our personal reliance off of our own human works and putting that reliance on what Jesus did for us on the cross. That's all we have to do and we activate the grace of God. God gives us forgiveness of sin. God gives us eternal life, God gives us a place in heaven. God gives us a relationship with him that we don't deserve gives it to us anyway by his grace. That's the wonderful news of the Bible in just a moment to give you an opportunity right where you sit to activate the grace of God in your life.
If you've never done it before. So hold that thought, but just before we do that I want to close by talking for just a moment to those of us who've already done this to those of us were already followers of Jesus Christ.
We've already close this deal and say what is this mean for us, you, I came across an article a while back to talk about 100 reasons why it's great to be a guy and I thought some of these were hysterical.
I thought your couple with you hundred reasons why one of the reasons why it's great to be a guy is because you don't need a support group to go to the bathroom.
That's a great reason to be a God. Ladies lighten up just having some fun. Here is another reason why it's great to be a God is great to be a guy because you can open all your own jars in that. It's great to be a God because of somebody else shows up at the party with the same outfit you have on your probably become best friends. That's why it's great to be a God great to be a guy because same work, more pay.
Lighten up were just having fun. It's great to be a God. Because if you retain it in a canteen that I got one more. This is going south.
I can see that I got one more for your it's great to be a guy here's another reason why one all the time. Great to be a God place along what is this got to do with anything. Well, the last Windows. The first was were just having some fun.
But the last Windows because I'm here to tell you that when it comes to God. God is in one mood all the time God operates on one system all the time. It's called grace and friends. God doesn't use one system grace to bring us into relationship with God and then a completely different system to base our relationship on got with Donald once more in relationship with him. God does not switch systems halfway to heaven.
It's grace at the beginning.
Grace in the middle and grace at the end and that's why Romans 614 says for we are not under law, as followers of Christ we are under grace, which means that when we perform poorly. God doesn't love us any less, it means when we perform wonderfully God of love is anymore because were not under a performance system with God were still under grace.
The friends is wonderful news. This wonderful news to be set free from a performance system. You know, being in a relationship is based on performance as to whether or not you get law whether or not you get accepted. Whether or not you get cared for, that the miserable experience. And when did you ever done enough to qualify for the blessing of God, who knows when we ever done enough to leave the blessing of God, who know me. There is no liberty in a relationship like that. There is no freedom, no joy, no confidence in a relationship like that Jesus set us free from a relationship like that and put us in a grace relationship with God, which means God still shows us his blessings even when we don't deserve because were under grace. Listen to what Paul said in Galatians chapter 5 verse one Jesus Christ he said has really set us free, so make sure that you stay three and don't get caught up again. As a follower in Christ in slavery and human performance. The Bible tells us that as a follower of Christ Jesus has set us free and put us on the grace and the Bible says we need to believe it and we need to enjoy it when we walk out of our house in the morning. We need to enjoy knowing that no matter how good we perform that day or no matter how bad we perform that day.
It doesn't change how God feels about us one bit. That's wonderful news were under grace. Nice it will women you make a little nervous here because it sounds like to me you are saying that once a person really trust Jesus. They can go live anywhere they want to live, then go do anything they wanted to and is perfectly okay. It doesn't affect their relationship with God at all.
I mean, you're not really saying that.
Are you you not really saying that you can go to movies and go to bars and drink alcohol and smoke cigars and play cards in and buy lottery tickets and you not really say you can do all of that and it won't change a relationship with God at all is that what you're saying or are you saying friends.
This is the issue that we're going to talk about next week.
We are common answer that question for you next week, and it's a pretty important answer that we want to know but many come back this week and simply encourage you hate when you walk out tomorrow morning. As a follower of Christ, just remind yourself I'm under grace today, do my best. But you know what, no matter what no matter what my best looks like knuckle change how God feels about me one bit. Now you have joy or not, relationship, but many come back down say I said earlier, if you're here and you've never activated the grace of God will give you a chance to do it today.
So let's bow our heads and close her eyes together. If you been relying on human performance, your own efforts to try to get you to heaven or get eternal life get you in the God's good graces and you're willing today to make an exchange to exchange all your good efforts and instead simply trust what Jesus did for you on the cross and that'll activate the grace of God, God will give you eternal life to give you a place in heaven. He'll give you a relationship with him by grace. That's the wonderful news of the Bible and if you want to do that we can give you chance right where you sit I like you to pray after me silently will one little phrase at a time. As we tell God that you're willing to make that exchange and as you asking to activate the grace of God for you today so you pray silently right after me. Here we go, Lord Jesus, I come to you today because I want eternal life. I want to know that my sins are forgiven.
I want to know that I have a secure place in heaven. I want to have a relationship with you and so today I'm willing to give up trying to get these things on my own human performance and instead I transfer my trust today and I rely today on what Jesus did for me on the cross, shedding his blood to pay for my wrongdoing because I do this today. I ask you to activate the grace of God. For me to give me eternal life to give me a place in heaven to give me a relationship with you by grace.
And I ask this in Jesus name. Father, I want to pray for the people pray that prayer that you might confirm in their hearts right now that they've made a great transaction as the Bible said they passed from death into eternal life father. My prayer is that you would remind them that this is the beginning of a whole new life, a life lived under the grace of God, not under human perform given joy in knowing that Lord for the rest of us here have already done this.
My prayer is that you would encourage our hearts today that God doesn't change systems halfway through. That's great news that we were not on a performance system with God that his love and his acceptance of us is absolutely unchanging, no matter how we perform more. Even though we may talk about the implications of that next week. My prayer this week is that you would give us joy knowing every morning we walk out our house, our performance is not the basis on which God loves us more Jesus wonderful to be under grace. Thank you for doing that for us as we learn more about it in the weeks to come encourage our hearts strengthen our Christian desire to get back to you. Obedience and we pray this in Jesus name, amen