WHAT IS THE CHURCH AND WHO IS THE CHURCH?--PART V
SERMON TITLE: CATERING TO THE INSIDER
SERMON THEME: THE CHURCH WILL DRIIFT TO THE COMFORTABLE
SERMON TEXT: ACTS 15:1-2

THE FIRST CONTROVERSY IN THE CHURCH WAS ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE A PART OF THE CHURCH?

ACTS 15:1-2
Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS IN
TERMS OF LIFESTYLE?

I) IT MEANS TO LIVE BY OFFERING GRACE AND TRUTH AT THE SAME TIME.

 

ACTS 15:3-5
Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

 

ACTS 15:6-11
The apostles and the elders came together to [a]look into this [b]matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that [c]in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

 

II) IT MEANS NOT MAKING IT DIFFICULT IN BEING A PART OF THE CHURCH.

ACTS 15:12-14; 19
12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.13 After they had stopped speaking, [a]James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,

ACTS 15:20-21
20 but that we write to them that they abstain from [a]things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since ]he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

TWO THINGS YOU ARE TO DO IF YOU WANT TO JOIN THE CHURCH:

 

ACTS 15:30-35
30 So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its [b]encouragement. 32 Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message. 33 After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out. 34 [But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.] 35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord.

 

III) IT MEANS NOT DRIFTING TOWARDS THE EASY WAY OUT.

A) THE CHURCH TENDS TO DRIFT TOWARDS INSIDERS AND AWAY FROM
     OUTSIDERS.

 

MATTHEW 18:15-20
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you [i]loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

B) THE CHURCH TENDS TO DRIFT TOWARDS LAW AND AWAY FROM GRACE.

ROMANS 6:11-14
11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting [a]the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
C) THE CHURCH TENDS TO DRIFT TOWARDS PRESERVING INSTEAD OF
     ADVANCING.

EPHESIANS 4:29-32
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

CONCLUSION: WE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THOSE WHO ARE TURNING TO GOD SO THAT PEOPLE CAN EXPERIENCE BOTH THE GRACE AND TRUTH OF JESUS. 

JOHN 1:16-17
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.