Lesson 46 - Chapter 15:30-41

Lesson 46 - Chapter 15:30-41

Lesson for March 19, 2017

The Book of Acts

Chapter 15:30-41

So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message. After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out. [But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.] But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord.”

The Antioch church rejoiced when they heard the decision of the Jerusalem council because it was a grace decision. The encouragement and strengthening from Silas and Judas came from grace teaching. They taught grace; they applied grace; they made the application of grace which was the basis of strength, encouragement and stability for the local church. Grace teaching is not always popular in legalistic religious circles. Wherever legalism exists the congregation is always controlled through fear, guilt and/or intimidation from the leadership. This is how they control the congregation in order to extract money and become famous and powerful.

Judas and Silas were the two men who came up from Jerusalem in order to participate in the explanation of these letters. They both had the gift of prophesy, but they were not apostles. A prophet, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament was a communicator of doctrine – a forth-teller. He was also a prophesier – a foreteller. Forth-telling means to communicate God’s message and to communicate it in the light of events of that day. Foretelling means to prophesy future events as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 34 is not found in the original and should therefore be omitted.

“But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord.” Many people think that preaching and teaching are not the same. Preaching is generally thought of as shouting and getting dramatic. The Greek here says “teaching, even preaching.” Biblically, preaching and teaching is the same thing. There are two different words here and they explain the ministry of the pastor/teacher. The Greek word for teaching is “didasko,” which means to give instructions. Teaching means to communicate doctrine to a public assembly so that people will learn it, and believe it and apply it. The Greek word for preaching is “euaggelizo” meaning to announce good news. What Paul and Barnabas communicated were principles of grace regarding salvation (preaching) and principles of grace for the Christian life (teaching).

The biblical principle that Paul and Barnabas taught was “learn and live” as opposed to “live and learn.” We must learn Bible doctrine to live Bible doctrine. There are two ways to learn anything: 1) by experience (the hard way), which is classified as “live and learn” 2) by knowledge (the easy way), which is classified as “learn and live.” The first step in learning is to recognize our Mentor, God the Holy Spirit according to John 14:26. “But your Mentor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, He will bring to your memory all that I said to you.” The second step is to learn Bible doctrine through the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit by means of the accurate teaching from your pastor-teacher. Once Bible doctrine is circulating in your soul, you will be able live that doctrine. The objective is to learn Bible doctrine in order to live the spiritual life. With Jesus Christ as your prototype and the Holy Spirit as your guide, you simply live the life of Christ. The fruit that is produced in your life as a result will be God’s fruit imparted to you by means of the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as a believer in Jesus Christ, you can execute the Christian Way of Life by the principle of “learn and live” or “live and learn.” The choice is yours. In the spiritual life, we can choose to learn the hard way by the experience of divine discipline, which is the principle of “live and learn” according to Hebrews 12:6-11. Or we can choose to learn the easy way by living under the power and guidance of God the Holy Spirit, which is the principle of “learn and live” according to John 14:16-26. The spiritual life of the Church Age is learning and applying Bible doctrine. When it comes to our spiritual life, the order should always be “learn and live.” Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – the principle of “learn and live” according to Matthew 11:28-30.

“Learn and live” is the pattern of the unique spiritual life of the Church Age. If we learn first and then live what we learn, we are going to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The spiritual life of the Church Age is based on the mystery doctrine found primarily in the New Testament epistles. Therefore, knowledge of pertinent Bible doctrine should always precede the implementation of the unique spiritual life, which was invented, tested, and proved by the sinless human nature of Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union.

“Live and learn” means you are going to be disciplined because you are learning the hard way - from failure. Every believer needs to learn how to execute the Christian Way of Life before attempting to live it. Believers who don’t do this are getting “the cart before the horse.” “Live and learn” is a destructive power of arrogance combined with emotions which eliminate divine viewpoint thinking. The principle of “live and learn” results in grieving and/or quenching the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians4:30; I Thessalonians 5:19)

Verses 36-41

“After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also.But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Paul’s refusal to take John Mark with them again was based on John Mark’s leaving in the middle of the first missionary journey. Paul later admitted John Mark had become a useful member of the ministry according to Colossians 4:10, II Timothy 4:11, but here rejected the idea of John Mark going with them because of a previous desertion which caused him and Barnabas to split up and go in different directions to minister. The Greek word for sharp disagreement is “paracumos,” which means a face-to-face battle. Everyone in the church knew about this battle and it could have caused members to take sides and the church in Antioch could have been split wide open, but it didn’t because of grace orientation. The communication and application of the doctrine of grace saved the day, both personally and collectively. John Mark (later know as Mark) proved himself and became one of the great church leaders. He started the North African church and had many thousands of converts in Alexandria. Paul’s second missionary journey begins with Silas as his coworker and companion.

Paul’s proposal constitutes his second missionary journey to check on the spiritual progress of the local churches that he and Barnabas had visited on the first missionary journey. Paul was interested in finding out if they had continued with Bible doctrine and if they were growing spiritually. And Paul was always watching out for the subtle infiltration of apostate teachers with their false doctrine.

Biblical apostasy is defined as a believer or unbeliever who deliberately rejects or distorts the revealed truth of the Word of God. Some people err from the truth due to ignorance, which is not an excuse. Though these false teachers often use Biblical phrases, passages and Christian-sounding words, they distort the truth by taking passages out of context, ignoring dispensational truth or in some cases changing the meaning of God’s Word to fit their particular teaching. In some instances they even accidentally present truth. Satan is the great counterfeiter. Therefore, what his ministers teach is often mixed with a small amount of truth in order to look like the real thing. Beware… you must always evaluate the message in light of the truth of God’s Word. (Galatians 1:6-9; II Peter 2:1-22; Jude 1-25; I Timothy 4:1-16; II Timothy 2:24-26; 3:1-7; 4:1-4; I John 2:18-22; II Thessalonians 2:1-12; Acts 19:1-7)

Apostate false teachers are those who reject or distort the truth of the Word of God for selfish motives. They represent themselves as true in order to gain entrance into a ministry. The Bible says they come in covertly, like a spy would infiltrate an organization. False teachers have deliberate motives, which include monetary greed, sensual pleasures, luxurious lifestyles, power, and fame. They actually train themselves in the art of greed and lust using fabricated words of flattery with promises of prosperity in order to extort money and material possessions. They are members of the “mutual admiration society,” pretending to admire certain people in order to gain acceptance. They literally make merchandise (the Greek word “emporeuomai”) of the unsuspecting, unstable, spiritually weak believer. They play upon the emotions of the duped believer since they themselves are ruled by their emotions. These false teachers have no substance in their message, they scoff at the truth and will not accept the authority of Biblical doctrine. They bring with them into these ministries destructive, self-willed, erroneous opinions that lead to divisions and the formation of sects. These apostates are so arrogant they even reject human authority and speak evil of persons in authority in order to carry out their own agenda. (II Peter 2:3,14,15,18; Jude 11,16,18)

The Bible says that these false teachers live a lifestyle of the “rich and famous,” while turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (a license to sin). They are arrogant souls, in love with themselves, in love with money and love to brag about it. Conceited, unholy, lovers of sensual pleasures, they cannot be appeased. They are rash in their speech, lack self-control, especially over their emotions, and cannot be trusted. With everything they have accumulated they are never-the-less ungrateful and callous to human affection, they do not honor their parents and are haters of anything good. We are commanded to avoid these blasphemers of truth. (II Timothy 3:2-5; II Peter 2:2,12, 13,14,19; Jude 8,16,18)

The followers of the apostate teachers are those who allow themselves to be seduced. They are those who reject truth and believe the fabricated lies of the false teachers. Peter tells us that many will follow their evil ways, so it should come as no surprise when these ministers of Satan “pack the pews.” The pivot (remnant according to grace) has always been a small elite group of believers that refuse to compromise accurate Bible teaching. The others that follow after the “about to” ministers (God’s about to do this or that, but never seems to get around to doing it), have become enemies of the Cross of Christ and partakers in satanic activity. They have been enticed by words of flattery, which promise wealth and physical healing from a “fairy god mother” type of god. (II Timothy 3:6, 4:3-4; II Peter 2:2,3,14,18; Jude 12,16)

As a result of being seduced, they become slaves to the idea that God is going to bless them with houses, cars, money, the perfect job, family harmony and healing of the body. Failure to seek truth from the Word of God leaves them with only Human Viewpoint Thinking and its resultant misery and bewilderment. They cannot understand how God can allow them to suffer so much and why He doesn’t wave His “magic wand” and fix all their problems (after all they prayed about it!).

These same duped believers send their hard-earned money to these deceivers in hope that they will receive blessing in return. They become the “shopping mall” for the false teacher, as he calls in any needed revenue for his personal desires. It is often called “seed money,” but only the false teacher gets to harvest the crop. Year after year these poor, ignorant believers send their rent money, car payment money, even their food money for a chance at the “Christian lottery.” It is a sad state of affairs, but no one has an excuse before God for being seduced by false doctrine. If a person wants to know truth, God will provide it for them. The followers of the apostate teachers fail to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions, entering into the arrogance complex of self-justification, self-deception and self-absorption. Because of their instability from lack of Bible doctrine in the soul, they are easily lured away into apostasy. Like a fisherman catching a fish, these false teachers entice the weak believer, not only into taking the bait, but paying for it.