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The Counsel Meeting

by on November 7, 2015

Acts 15 – – Fare Ye Well

I. Issue – circumcision v.1
Leaders from Judea require male converts to be circumcised

II. Debate v. 2
Debate results in decision to go to Jerusalem to the Apostles and elders
Decision made by the gathered Church leaders

III. Approach to the issue v.3-5
Paul and Barnabas brought joy to the believers by describing conversion of Gentiles
Received at Jerusalem by the Church, apostles, and elders
Strict Jews wanted to retain the requirement to keep the Law of Moses

IV. The Meeting v.6-12
A. Much debate – afterward the multitude kept silence
B. Peter – God knows the heart
1. God gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as He did to us Jews
2. God made no distinction between them and us
3. God cleansed their hearts by faith (this is the real circumcision of the heart)
4. Do not require new believers to keep the law that we have not been able to keep
5. Do not put God to the test
C. Paul and Barnabas – God did signs and wonders among Gentiles through them

V. James v.13-21
A. Peter’s experience and message agree with the Scriptures (Amos 9:11-12)
B. Let us not expect Gentiles to keep Jewish laws
C. These are the three essentials/requirements for Gentiles
1. Abstain from any association with idolatry
2. Abstain from immorality
3. Abstain from eating blood
If you keep yourselves free from these things, you will do well – Farewell
D. Jews already have this teaching and more

VI. The letter v.22-29
A. From the apostles and the elder brethren to the Gentile brethren
B. Sent by a delegation – Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas:
Prominent men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
C. We are of one mind
D. The letter will be testified by the verbal report
E. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
F. There were men who spoke on their own without the counsel of the Church v.24
G. Those men were guilty of subverting the souls of the people
H. Paul and Barnabas were “beloved” leaders v.25

VII. The letter delivered v.30-35
They delivered the letter to the gathered congregation
The brethren at Antioch rejoiced and were greatly encouraged
Prophets, Judas and Silas, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a long message
They left the area with the blessing of peace of the brethren
Paul and Barnabas and others remained teaching and preaching the word of the Lord

VIII. The sharp disagreement v.36-40
A. Paul and Barnabas cannot agree about John Mark
B. Paul and Barnabas part ways on this subject
C. John Mark needs Barnabas to encourage him
D. Paul needs a travel companion who will not desert in difficult times
E. This is a personal matter and not a doctrinal issue
F. Differences can be reconciled (I Cor. 9:6; Gal. 2:9; Col 4:10; Philem. 1:24; II Tim 4:11)
G. There can be doctrinal agreement while having personal disagreement

IX. The continued growth of the Church 16:1-5

Lessons from the counsel
• Emphasis was placed on the Spiritual nature of the law – circumcision of the heart
• The gospel contains non-negotiable truths
• The gathered Church must be in agreement with the Holy Spirit
• God has prophets who encourage and strengthen the Church with messages
• It is better to part ways with those with whom we have personal disagreements
• The gospel should not be hindered by trying to get people to agree on non-doctrinal issues
• Acts 16:1-5 – the gospel and the Church continue to strengthen and grow

Important principles of effective Counsel Meetings
1. An obedient and Holy Spirit led Church
2. Willingness to recognize and deal with important issues
3. Wise, Holy Spirit led leaders
4. Willingness to hear and consider the pertinent information
5. Make sure that the discussion and decision are in harmony with the Scriptures
6. Decisions reflect the wisdom of the Holy Spirit through obedient leaders
7. Decisions thoroughly explained
8. The Church must be of one mind – the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16)

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