July 30, 2023
Message Big Idea
This week we witness a crucial moment in Church history, particularly in how the early believers handled the dramatic and surprising expansion of God’s people to include the Gentiles. In this we see the apostles and elders wisely evaluate the evidence (God’s initiative, God’s missional presence, and God’s promises) to defend the gospel from an internal threat. They formalize the universal presentation of the gospel, emphasizing that it should be practiced to worship the one true God and unify the body of Christ.
- What has been one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to carry? It could be a physical or a mental burden. What made it easier and what made it more difficult?
- Read Acts 15.
- Discuss/highlight the parts of this passage which intrigued you most? What stood out? Why?
- Share/reflect on key highlights or takeaways from the previous Sunday’s message (Key Points on next page). What jumped out at you as impactful and/or made you want to know more?
- How are gifts normally given throughout different cultures? Are there strings attached? Do they need to be earned? Are they reserved for certain deserving recipients?
- What do you observe about the American church’s view of the gospel? Does it appear to be zealous? Is the universality of the gospel acted upon? Is it being practiced to create a compelling picture of worship and unity
- Now consider any ways you might be adding something to the gospel. Do you prioritize certain behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, etc. when considering the process of conversion? How might you be making “Jesus and…” the gospel message?
- Reflect on the universal nature of the gospel. It is meant for everybody: your family, your friends, your coworkers, even your enemies! How can this change your approach this week to living on mission in your current context? Where can you have a new gospel conversation?
- The Jerusalem council provided some prescriptions for Gentile believers in order to direct their worship and unify the church. What do you need to abstain from that may be modern-day idol worship? How can you sacrifice to build unity in the church?
Live It Out
- What one truth from this passage would you like to take to heart and act upon? How will this affect you?
- Who will you share this with this week?
Throughout the summer, this section will consist of four areas which will help prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s sermon: a scriptural read ahead, a commentary on the passage, a reflective exercise, and a weekly practice.
- Scriptural Read Ahead: Acts 16
- Acts 15 Commentary: Matthew Henry’s Commentary https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Act/Act_016.cfm
(Note, commentaries are not without error. Prudent commentary use will lead one to have confidence where consensus exists across commentators while holding loosely where disagreement arises.)
Reflective Exercise: Prayerfully request God to illuminate areas of your heart which may be harboring idolatrous desires and self-seeking attitudes. Reflect on how you are currently practicing those desires and think about what it would take to abstain from them. Ask the Lord for the strength to re-orient the desires of your heart so that they rightly worship Him and serve His Church.
Weekly Practice: Intentionally seek one person who you would not initially think was open to the gospel. Develop a creative strategy for starting a gospel conversation (remember, questions are the currency of conversation). See how the Lord blesses that interaction.
Sunday’s Sermons Key Points:
- Gospel-bearers protect it zealously!
- Gospel-bearers present it universally.
- Gospel-bearers practice it worshipfully and unitively.