Scripture:

Vs 1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Vs 2 Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them …

Vs 11 “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Vs 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree …

Vs 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God.

Vs 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, along with the whole church …

Vs 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden …

Vs 31 They rejoiced because of its encouragement. 

Vs 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 

Vs 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

Vs 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Observation:

Two major conflicts arise in Acts 15.

One relates to theology: How are we saved? Works of the law or the grace of God?

The other relates to personality: Do we continue to work with someone who abandoned us previously?

The theological debate was resolved with thorough discussion with “apostles and elders”, and reference to God’s Word “the word of the prophets” and seeking guidance the Holy Spirit “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit”.

Their own experience also showed them they were saved by grace and should not lay a burden of law on the people they themselves couldn’t bear.

This encouraged the church and led to rejoicing.

The personal conflict led to separation of individuals who could not agree on working together.

They resolved to move on separately, but it was still after consultation of others “commended by the brothers”.

And they did not abandon the greater mission of “strengthening the churches”.

Application:

Conflict is inevitable. I am a sinful human and so is every person I will encounter.

So what then do I do? Unfortunately, my first inclination is to avoid it.

I can seem righteous by just saying I want to seek unity rather than conflict.

But, really, by avoiding conflict I am avoiding people … and very likely people God has placed in my path.

So what then must I do?

I must seek wise counsel… “the apostles and elders, along with the whole church”.

I must also seek agreement with the word of God …”the words of the prophets agree”.

I must also seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit … “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit”.

And what then if a mutual reconciliation can not be had through the conflict? (Like Paul & Barnabas)

I must not make my personal preferences priority over the greater mission.

I must recognize that all personal conflict may not be resolved with hugs and handshakes.

Maybe people will go their separate ways.

But as believers in the grace of God and fellow workers for the gospel, I must continue to work for the mission of “strengthening the church” even if it is not with whom I anticipated it would be.

God is in control. God is sovereign. God’s kingdom reigns.

And God works all things for His good … even conflict.

Prayer:

Thank you God for your grace

Thank you that it saves me,

But also that you lavish me with it when I’m stubborn and full of conflict        

Help me Holy Spirit in leading me with wisdom

In Jesus name

Amen

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