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Acts 15

Talks for Growing Christians

The First Church Council in Jerusalem; Paul’s Second Missionary Journey Begins

Acts 15

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Lesson Number 25

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The First Church Council affirmed that salvation is by grace through faith alone.
  2. The First Church Council advised that separation from certain things is proper for Christian living.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t quit because of a split!

Questions

  1. What teaching caused conflict in Acts 15?
  2. What are Judaizers?
  3. What was the topic of the first Church Council?
  4. Why did Peter especially have credibility to speak on the issue of salvation for the Gentiles?
  5. What was James’ purpose in quoting this prophecy from Amos 9?
  6. What was the conclusion of the first Church Council?

Answers

  1. Men came from Jerusalem to Antioch and began teaching, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1
  2. A Judaizer was a person who was persuasively influenced by Judaism. They claim you must adhere to Judaism to one degree or another to be saved.
  3. What was required of the Gentiles in order for them to have equal status and full fellowship in the Church with the Jews.
  4. It was through Peter’s ministry at the home of Cornelius that the Gentiles were brought into the Church. No one could deny that this was a work of God.
  5. James was not saying that the prophecy of Amos was being fulfilled in the early church. His point was that Gentiles should be included in the Church as Gentiles, because God’s program for the future included Gentiles.
  6. Gentiles do not have to be circumcised in order to be saved. However, they advised a list of activities for the Gentiles to abstain from.

Discuss/Consider

  1. We do not have many problems with Judaizers today, but there are certainly still people who threaten the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. If there are any requirements added to salvation, then it is no longer a free gift by grace. Do you know the arguments to combat this bad theology?
  2. It might strike us strangely that the Council added stipulations to their letter to the Gentiles, after defending salvation by grace through faith alone. But these instructions were not for salvation, but rather for proper Christian living. This addresses the important distinction between justification and sanctification. Discuss the difference between working for your salvation, and working as a believer to live a proper Christian life.

Challenge

  1. Christian splits are never pleasant, whether they involve individuals, ministries, or churches. But a spilt should not cause the believers to quit doing ministry. Let God pick up the pieces and continue His work in you and through you.

Key Verses

  • “Certain men…taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” Acts 15:1
  • “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” Acts 15:7
  • “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15:19

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