CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
September 12, 2021
Can We Get an Amen?
ACTS 15:1-14, 19-20, 36-41
As we begin looking at what is happening among the believers this morning, we see there are some of the Jewish converts that believe the way to follow Christ has two basic steps to it. The first step is you must accept the Law of Moses and all that involves; then you will be ready to accept the teachings of Christ. There once again is a dispute that has arisen that basically says to be a Christian you must do things that way. All of the first to receive God’s message of salvation through what Jesus Christ did on the cross were of the Jewish faith. It would seem some were clinging to the belief you must become a Jew before you can become a Christian. We first saw Peter have the vision from God about the kingdom being made available to the Gentiles. It has been reinforced in every chapter ever since. Actually, the first reference of God opening the kingdom to everyone began with Saul’s conversion in chapter 9. We read in the first verse this morning that some point blank stated that if you are not circumcised as was the custom starting back in Moses time, you could not be saved. To this point, in the previous chapters, not a lot was said about what the requirements for the Gentiles should be. Paul and Barnabas as well as some of the other believers left to go to Jerusalem to address this latest controversy. As they made their way back to Jerusalem, they stopped at each church along the way to remind the churches how God was working in the lives of the Gentiles. When Paul and Barnabas first arrived back in Jerusalem, they reported on all the great things God was doing building churches in every town. Then some of the Jewish believers who had been part of the very rigid group called Pharisees stood up and said all that is well and good but these Gentiles must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses.
After what was certainly considerable debate, Peter stood up and reminded everyone of the fact that God had confirmed the message with the Gentiles the same way as with the Jewish converts. Peter turned the tables by asking the question, “Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of these disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?” Peter made it not a debate between men but a debate or a dispute with God. Peter reminded them we are saved by grace through Jesus Christ. In other words, we have never been able to earn our salvation and we never will. Then it seems Paul and Barnabas jumped back in to describe all the incredible things God was doing among the Gentiles in the church.
Then yet another apostle, James, quoted the Old Testament in verses 16—18, which we did not read, to show this day was foretold long ago through the prophets. After James listened carefully to all the different points that were made, the Holy Spirit led him to add his opinion. James said there are a few things we might want to have the Gentile believers avoid, but otherwise we must trust the same Holy Spirit that is guiding us to guide them as well.
We again skipped verses 21-35 but they basically tell us the church in Jersusalem agreed with what Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James said. Afterwards the church sent not only Paul and Barnabas but also Silas and Judas (called Barsabas) back to Antioch. After a while they felt led to check in with many of the churches they had helped start. We see, though, that this dynamic duo had a major disagreement. All through the years together they were seemingly always on the same page. But apparently John Mark was there in Antioch, and Barnabas wanted him to go out with them on that next missionary trip. If you recall, though, back in the 13th chapter John Mark abruptly left Paul and Barnabas. We can see now Paul was not happy with him abandoning the work that God was doing.
Barnabas was ready to give John another chance, but clearly Paul did not believe it was worth the risk. So, we read after Paul and Barnabas had what I am sure was a very intense heart to heart, they came to the conclusion Barnabas would take John Mark and they would go to the churches in Cyprus, and Paul would take Silas and go the churches in Syria and Cilicia. We can see even the most committed believers can, on occasions, have disagreements.
We started off the 15th chapter with a debate of what should be called the right way to be obedient and faithful to God, and we closed out the chapter with a sharp disagreement between two of the most important apostles for especially the Gentile believers. What is so encouraging in both cases was a way was found to keep moving forward for God. When believers are truly willing to seek God’s wisdom and guidance, there will always be a way. With the first disagreement, God through the power of the Holy Spirit got everyone to agree with the right way to share the word of God and receive salvation. The second disagreement found Paul and Barnabas in some ways agreeing to disagree. We are led to believe God did not allow this disagreement to stand in the way of the message of salvation to continue to go forward.
The title today is “Can we get an amen?” It should always be an exciting time when disputes or disagreements occur and yet we do not let it destroy the relationship God has established. God wants his church to emphasize the things we can agree on without compromising on the true message of Christ for our church, our community, our world, our lives.
God is continuing to show us valuable lessons of how to work with one another to achieve God’s purpose of reaching our world with the lifesaving message of Christ that should always be the most important focus. May we here in this church be examples of love, mercy and grace to our community. There will be times we do not always agree on everything in our church, as well as our families and elsewhere. If we follow the example shown us in the 15th chapter of Acts, we will see God’s love and it will win the day. To which will lead us to say in our own ways when it comes to serving God and sharing the message of Christ’s love, mercy and righteousness: Can I get an Amen?
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
October 2 All church wiener roast 4:00 at Shirley & Oren’s. Sign up sheet for food in the back. Women’s Fellowship will provide hotdogs, buns, tableware. Beverages will also be provided.
October 3 World Communion Sunday—bread and cup communion during worship
October 9 Rummage sale at Brethren Church to benefit the Lord’s Storehouse. Take items to Katie or Amy.
November 5, 6 District Conference--Delegates are still needed
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you!
Donation Box: Pastor’s Assistance Fund
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:
Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.
District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook
Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook
Keep in Your Prayers
Betty Sue Laird and family; family of Sherry Wright; Kres Lipscomb; Marlene Schultz; Randy West; Jen Durst; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); Tera Runyan; Carl and Wilma Cable; Marge Starr; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 660,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.