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When Opinions Collide – When things are not black or white

Text: Acts 15:1-35

A Difference of Opinion

The Situation:

Gentiles were being saved

The Concern:

Some Jewish believers felt the Gentiles should be circumcised

The Result:

Dissention and a great debate

The Response:

Having church leaders and elders consider the issue

The Deliberation of Leaders

The matter was heard

Both sides expressed their views

Peter’s wise counsel:

An appeal to a hierarchy of importance

1. Core Doctrines and Essential Spiritual Matters

2. Important Matters for Maintaining Fellowship

3. Incidental Matters of Opinion

A Judgment Call

James spoke as the leader of the church in Jerusalem

An appeal to scripture

An appeal to what should be left to God

An understanding of God’s sovereignty and timing

A Leadership Decision

Address the concern

Recommended practices

Provide encouragement

The Beneficial Result

The church accepted the judgment of the leaders

A message was sent to the Gentile believers in Antioch

Acknowledge that others were stirring things up

Express the benefit of unity

Focus on the essentials

The message was delivered to Antioch

The church at Antioch rejoiced and were encouraged

The church had peace

The ministry continued to advance

When Opinions Collide

1. If the matter is essential to faith and salvation:

Never compromise on the doctrines of the Christian faith

2. If the issue is detrimental or divisive to the fellowship:

Cooperate with those who agree on the essentials

Maintain close fellowship with like-minded believers

3. If the matter does not impact the mission of the church:

Do not permit division over the matter nor give it prominence

Encourage forbearance, grace and love

The role of leaders when there is a difference of opinion

within the church:

  1. To uphold and teach the essentials of the faith.

  2. To determine whether a matter is essential, important or minor.

  3. To maintain the peace and unity of the church.