I hate church meetings.
JULY 11, 2022
I hate church meetings. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re studying the book of Acts. And we’re up to the 15th chapter of Acts, a major church meeting. By the way, I hope you had a great week-end. And I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. Tell you what, on Mondays we pray, we’re going to do that. And then we’re going to get down and as we all hate them, we’re going to go to a church meeting. That requires prayer. So let’s pray. Father, we come into your presence and we come here so glad that we can laugh here and cry here and be honest here and be authentic here and tell you what we think here. And that’s a gift. And we praise you and worship you for it. You know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast and how hard it is sometimes. And you know those of us who are going through a really good time right now. Remind us that you are our God and the God of everything, the laughter and the tears, the joy and the sorrow, the dark and the light. We praise you and we worship you. We thank you for your love, for your forgiveness, for your gentleness and generosity, for your patience, for your compassion. But if you were none of those things, you’re still God, the sovereign Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of all that is and worthy of our worship. Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches, that you would forgive him his sins because they are many. We would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. The 15th chapter of Acts is a very important chapter in the Bible. And certainly in the book of Acts. This is the place where the church decides to pick up her skirt and to begin to run. This is the place where a monumental decision is made that changed everything. Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. God had gone beyond the Jewish community with Paul and some of the others. You know the testimony that Peter gave and you know what he experienced, but God’s covenant people had been centered on a particular people. That would be Israel. That would be the Jews. And when Jesus came, it was for Goyam. It was for black and white. It was for you. It was for me. And this church meeting and the 15th chapter of Acts is the place where that decision was made. So, let’s look at, well, I’m not going to read the whole chapter, but we’re going to be looking at the whole chapter. Let me look at the first 21 verses of the 15th chapter.
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they pass through both Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of the Gentiles and they gave great joy to all the brethren. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. And some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to charge them, to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days, God made a choice among you, just by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did us, and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as they will.” and all the assembly kept silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. And they, after they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has re related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take them to the people of his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, “‘After this I will return, and will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and we’ll set it up, and the rest of the men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’ Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble these Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols, and for unchastity, and from what is strangled, and from blood. But from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
Now, before you go to bed tonight, read the rest of that chapter because I’ll be referring to it. But the essence of it is in the verses that I just read to you. And it is so good to read what our family did in the early days and how they set a vision and a passion for the world that changed everything. They reached out to the world. And this was the place where that decision was made. Now, what we’re going to do is we’re going to visit that church meeting. We don’t have much more time here, but we’re going to visit that church meeting and apply it to other church meetings that take place today in the churches we attend. I’ve said this often, and you’ve heard me say it that if I get to heaven and Jesus calls a meeting I’m in the other place. I would rather, I was at a religious meeting one time and everybody was giving their testimony and it started at six with dinner and it was going at 11 and I said, I’m leaving, I can’t do this anymore. I went back to the hotel. And I got on my knees and I said, Jesus, I’m so sorry, I should have stayed. He said, no, you shouldn’t. I left an hour before you did. So, I don’t think anybody is really happy about meetings, but they are necessary, absolutely necessary in the church. And as we see what happens in the early church and they did it right. We need to kind of hold up that standard in our own church meetings and make sure, because we can learn a lot from them. Testimony, truth, reality, experience, Scripture, understanding, respect. I’m going to pick about seven of those over the next week or two. And we’re going to look at those and see how that applies to the church today. But the important thing to see here is that God moved and he said, follow me, or get out of the way. And so, Paul and Barnabas did what nobody else would do. They went to the synagogues of course, that is God’s ancient covenant people, but they also went beyond the synagogue to the town square. And today we do the same thing. We should be in the town square. We should be in the church. And we should be in the synagogue. But here, something God was doing in the world had changed. And he was doing it for everybody. And so the gospel, the ultimate and bottom line is this. The gospel is meant for everybody, everywhere, in every time, and in every place. Dear friend, Jerusalem and Acts 15 is where that started. And God did a great and wonderful thing. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our guided tour of Acts. And today we were ushered into our next chapter, Acts 15. And of course we really just set the table today with verses one through 21 and starting tomorrow, we’ll really start digging in, hope you will join us for that. So, when I say the word agendas, what do you think of? Well, maybe it’s neutral, like the agenda for one of those meetings that Steve just mentioned. But if I say hidden agendas, different vibe, right? The hard truth is that we all have hidden agendas. We don’t have our act together. And the pressure to act like we do is frankly overwhelming. But the good news is God invites us to drop our masks and discover how his love and grace propel us into the real relationships we thought we’d never have. Steve talks about this in a special booklet called Hidden Agendas based on his book of the same name. Get your free copy of that booklet right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet, to mail your request, send it to
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