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Enacting the Assembly’s Decision – Acts 15:22-41

Misunderstandings in church! 

There must have been a perception in Antioch that the incident in Acts 15:1, where men had come from Jerusalem, was an official delegation, ie that they were preaching the ‘salvation by faith and works’ message with the sanction of James and the Jerusalem Church.  Certainly it seems that James had SENT that delegation, Galatians 2:11-12  Perhaps they had simply exceeded their authority?  Decisive action had to be taken and it had to be conciliatory. A reply sent orally via Paul and Barnabas was not going to be enough, so to reinforce the message that Jerusalem believed that salvation is by grace through faith alone, they put the decision in writing, and they appointed two high ranking officials as the guarantors of the reality of the decision.

Reconciliation Needed!

1. The Leaders V22  

So it might be well to spend a moment or two to find out a little about them.

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Catechism Class: H/C41A Q108 – Adultery

Catechism Class: Adultery – What is it?

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 41A

We live in a deeply sexualised society.  We need to remember that God hates adultery, marital unfaithfulness and sexual promiscuity of any kind, and that’s the very point that the catechist drives home in Lord’s Day 41, Q108.  

Let us see:-

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The Antichrist #2

The Antichrist #2

John, while agreeing with Paul that there will be a final last ‘Antichrist,’ writes that there will be many ‘antichrists.’  They were there in his day, and they are still around!

Let’s Talk:-

  • The Thessalonians in 2nd Thess 2 were worried!  What was bothering them?
  • John writes about ‘the Antichrist’ – what dies Paul call him?
  • If there ARE ‘many antichrists’ today, what should the believer do to prevent them doing their work?

Last study, we noted the position of the Reformed Confessions, and noted that our forefathers earnestly believed that the Pope of Rome was the Antichrist.  We wondered if the uncapitalised word ‘antichrist’ could be a reference to the ‘office’ of antichrist rather than the final evil Man of Sin?  Did you decide if you think the Pope is an antichrist, or is ‘the jury still out?’  This study concludes our short examination of this subject…

READ: 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-11.

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A People for His Name – Acts 15:7-21

A People for His Name – The Jerusalem Council AD49

Acts 15:7-21

It’s AD49, and the first great council of the church is about to begin.  It’s the Council of Jerusalem.

Church Meeting

1 The Rivals.

There were basically three different factions at the council, and each of them seems to have a different theological position. They were:-

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The Antichrist – #1

The Antichrist (Part 1) 

Text.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. 

Paul has been teaching the distraught believers in Thessalonica about the second coming, and the end of the world.  They were really worried.  They were asking questions, like, “What if Christ has already returned, and we have missed him?” “What if we have been ‘left behind?’”  Paul has to write to reassure them.  He reminds them of something that he has previously taught them, that before the Lord returns, two events must happen:

  1. There must a a great ‘falling away’ within the church.  We discussed that in our last study.  We called it the Great Apostasy, and we noted some examples of apostasy in the modern church.   
  2. The ‘man of sin’ must be revealed, an event that seems to follow after the apostasy – it’s an interesting sequence of events, for it is a general decline in true Christianity that allows this monster the opening that he needs to gain his evil influence.  Laxity in doctrine, in worship, in morality, are not just the work of the man of sin, they are the spiritual conditions that preempt his appearance, the dung, off which he feeds.  We call the Man of Sin, ‘The Antichrist’ and Paul gives us a description of him in this passage.

1 Who is the Antichrist?

Trying to establish the identity of the Antichrist has been a fascination with some Christians for quite a long time! 

Who is the ‘Man of Sin?’

But leaving aside the fanatics and sensationalists, are there any sensible suggestions as to who this ‘Man of Sin’ might be?

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Blending Oil and Water – Acts 15:1-5

Blending Oil and Water

Acts 15:1-6

Sometimes people are so different, and there are inevitable disagreements, but it’s important to remember that Christ is building his church, not us!  Matthew 16:18. This part of chapter 15 is set in Antioch where Paul and Barnabas are based, Here, there are Christians who have come from a Jewish background, and Christians who have come from a Gentile background. Both groups are Christians, followers of Jesus, saved by grace through faith alone.  So, what’s the problem then?

Quarrel in the Church

1 The Problem with Jews and GentilesAnd certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

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The First Missionary Journey Ends – Acts 14:19-27

The First Missionary Journey Ends

Acts 14:19-27

Paul’s first mission trip is coming to an end, and Paul will be going back to Antioch, but not before there are some more lessons to be learned.

Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey

1 Left for Dead – Courage for DiscipleshipThen Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.

We may not agree with John Wesley’s theology, but you have to admire the courage that characterised the early Methodist preachers.  When the mob stoned the early Methodists as they preached in the open air, it was nothing new.  While Paul was preaching at Lystra a group of Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and they began stirring up the rabble. 

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Catechism Class – Source of Murder

Catechism Class :  THE SOURCE OF MURDER

Matthew 5:21-26 – H/C Lord’s Day 40  

In our last lesson, we began to look at the sin of murder, as forbidden in the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”  We saw that while not all killing is murder, we must be very reluctant to take away a person’s life.  We saw that in the bible, abortion is murder, punishable under the rule of limited retribution, a life for a life.  Isn’t it strange then, that in our modern society, the judicial killing of a criminal, a murderer, is forbidden, but the killing of an innocent baby in the womb is not only permitted, but by some people, actually celebrated?  How morally dysfunctional is our world!  In this study we come to Q106-107, and we see how murder begins in the heart of man, and we are going to look at this subject with the help of Matthew 5:21-26.

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Catechism Class – Murder.

Catechism Class

L/D40A, Q105

Exodus 20:13, Thou Shalt Not Kill – You Shall Not Murder.

Q105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?  

A. I am not to dishonour, hate, injure, or kill my neighbour by thoughts, words, or gestures, and much less by deeds, whether personally or through another; rather, I am to put away all desire of revenge. Moreover, I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself.    Therefore, also, the government bears the sword to prevent murder. 

 We have reached the sixth commandment, found in Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not kill
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Pagans and the Gospel

Pagans and the Gospel

Acts 14:8-18

How terribly dark is the heart of the unbeliever. 

The Awful Darkness of the Soul

Years ago we used to hear stories about ‘darkest Africa.’  The darkness has spread, and we are living in dark days, in darkest Ulster.  (Ephesians 2:12).  There is a good illustration of this awful darkness in Acts 14:8-18, where we see Paul and Barnabas…

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