As followers of Jesus Christ, how can we know what doctrines/practices are non-negotiables for us and which ones are okay to compromise on?
In Acts 15, we see the early church wrestling with this very question, as Jewish believers in Antioch begin teaching that circumcision is required for the salvation of Gentiles. In an effort to protect the true message of the Gospel, Paul & Barnabas and some other church leaders make the trek to Jerusalem to meet with elders there for important discussion known as the Jerusalem Council. They come up with proposal to this issue, with the unity of the church being the primary goal moving forward.
Join Pastor Nate McLaurin in Acts 15, as we learn from these men how to work together to keep the unity in the our church community.
1. In 14:27, Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch after a long missionary journey, declaring “all that God had done with them.” Take time to “declare what God has done with you” recently—especially in your efforts/attempts to share the gospel.
2. Over the span of your life as a Christian, what are inappropriate ways you might have been tempted to fill in this statement: “Unless you ______, you can not be saved” (15:1)?
3. How has God helped you work through those requirements that you’d added to the gospel’s simple call to repent and believe in Christ?
4. How can we know what doctrines/practices are non-negotiables for followers of Jesus and which ones are okay to compromise on?
5. The heart behind James’ proposal (15:19-21) seems to be the unity of the church moving forward. Have you ever experienced tension with another believer—or a group of believers—about a certain issue? If so, how did you resolve it? Was the final outcome unity or further division?
6. In the process of resolving this dispute from Acts 15, what do you notice and what can we learn from how these men worked together to reach a final conclusion? (Examples: humility, willingness to involve others, submission to authority, thoughtfulness, going to Scripture, mutual respect, working together between churches, etc.)
7. In verse 31, at the end of this disagreement, once it’s resolved and communicated, the believers in Antioch “rejoice” and are greatly “encouraged.” How have you experienced rejoicing and encouragement through a process of disagreement and resolution?