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Conflict? Hope!

Welcome to Church today as we take up from where we left off last year, in Luke’s message of the Acts of the Apostles.

Today’s message picks up shortly after the discussion in Jerusalem about the requirements to be placed on Gentile Converts. The Jerusalem Council of Acts Chapter 15 is the centrepiece of the book. It justifies the past 14 chapters, and paves the way for the chapters that follow – Taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire Gentile world!

In 15: 7-11 it’s the last time we hear from Peter in Acts. Peter stood up and told everyone that God makes no distinction between Gentiles and Jews, and he sums up by saying in V11 that “we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

The focus now shifts to Paul taking the gospel into all the world, and one of the first things that happens is Conflict!

Paul isn’t happy taking Barnabas’ cousin Mark because Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia, whilst Barnabas wants Mark to go with them. Whilst the result is a sharp dispute, I expect that they all behaved in a manner consistent with the Gospel. Namely that they obeyed Jesus Commandment to love one another, treating each other with respect and humility. Although they parted company.

History records that the hope Barnabas placed in Mark was ultimately well founded, with Paul later welcoming him; the second Gospel attributed to him; that he became an interpreter of Peter, and even that he personally took the Gospel to Alexandria!

Even in the midst of conflict we can have hope that God will bring good out of it! The result of Paul and Barnabas’ conflict was that God used their division for good!! Instead of the Gospel being spread in only one direction, it was taken to two!

May we all behave “Christianly”, and hope “expectantly” that God will bring about good, even through our disagreements!

 

NRS Acts 1536 – 1610

36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. 39 The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. 1 Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily. 6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8 so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

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