Into the Hands of Grace

by | May 21, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Acts 15:36-16:5

The Jerusalem Council settled the issue of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ Jesus.  No longer is salvation a matter of earning God’s favor through our best efforts, but rather is the free gift of His grace that can only be received by faith.  Acts 15:36-16:5 begins to paint a picture of what life looks like under the new covenant of God’s grace.  How does God’s grace affect our daily lives and attitudes and most importantly our ability to love God and to love our neighbor?  Come and drink from the streams of living water that flow from the grace of God and find out for yourself. 


Well welcome especially to our guests this morning I know who are here for this uh special event and uh as much as I’d like to believe that the sermon is the main event this morning uh I’m I’m wise enough to know that that is not the case uh and what a great joy we have to uh to baptize Charlotte uh this morning and what we’re going to be doing actually fits you know this wasn’t planned where we’ve been preaching through the book of Acts now for for quite a long time and we will be for for a while longer uh and uh this uh the decision to do the baptism today didn’t have to do with actually where we were in the acts reading but of course in God’s Providence I believe it uh it fits really well because uh what we’re doing today is we’re baptizing Charlotte and commending her into the hands of God’s grace commending her into the hands of God’s grace we’re recognizing that this is the beginning of God’s work that he’s doing in her and it corresponds incredibly well with what’s happening uh in the book of Acts we’ve just come through uh the uh acts 15 Jerusalem Council and the big decision on what does it mean to be saved what’s required of us to be saved uh and in the end the com the council came to the conclusion that uh that all of us are saved by grace through faith alone that nothing else is required of us it was how they uh came to understand how the Gentiles who weren’t part of of the Jewish family of God would come into uh into the family of God was it going to be required for them to distill to do the law but the council recognized that the Holy Spirit had been moving even before they got there uh and opening people’s hearts to understand and receive Jesus and to receive the Gospel and they were turning to him and who were they to and then they opened up the scriptures themselves from Amos chapter 9 and saw that that God had proclaimed through Amos that he would return there was the three I will statements we looked at I will return to you I will rebuild you and I will restore you and that he was going to bring the Gentiles back to himself it was God’s work and their life that’s what we’re celebrating and doing today for Charlotte this is the beginning of God’s work by his Holy Spirit by his grace in her life it’s a beautiful beautiful moment but there’s also as we move into these next two uh portions of Acts 15 the last part of Acts 15 and the beginning of Acts 16. we see how this new life of Grace this New Covenant of Grace that they’re living in what kind of impact does it have in our lives and what kind of impact did it have in the early church and we get two separate instances of how this Grace actually works its way out into the life of the church and I think it was we can apply it into the life of a Believer and so I want to to work through these passages this passage together the end of 15 and the beginning of 16. welcome you to open your bulletins or if you brought your Bibles you can open them up beginning with acts 15 verse 36. this is what we’re told this is after the council and after the the letter has been been written uh and it’s been delivered to the churches uh in Antioch to those uh and that and as the Gentiles heard the letter that the council sent that uh that nothing more is required of you but faith in Christ they asked them to abstain from some things uh but that wasn’t out of Duty that was out of Brotherly Love for their for their Jewish brothers that they they wouldn’t offend them and so that they could live together in in community uh and remain in unity for the gospel’s sake uh they read that letter to to the Gentile Believers in the church and they were encouraged they were overjoyed and so after that happened we’re told after some days Paul said to Barnabas Let Us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaim the word of the Lord and see how they are so they’re going to return the whole first missionary journey they’re going to plan to go back to encourage those churches probably to bring the letter along with them so that they can continue to share it with all of those that maybe haven’t heard the the decision by the the Jerusalem Council yet but then we’re told this now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark but Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them and pamphilia and had not gone with them to the word and there arose a sharp disagreement so that they separated from each other

it’s a little bit of an understatement to say that they had a sharp disagreement you know it sounds very civil but the word means that they had an angry time between them they were in disagreement and it was an angry one this wasn’t something that was civil uh between them it was a big issue and the issue had all to do with this Mark John character well what we know about Mark John at least from what what Paul tells us here and what we go back and we did read about a few chapters ago in Acts 13 is that when they had gotten through Cyprus and gone to pamphilia it was there that Mark John decided to leave them he departed from them but the picture we get here from what Paul is telling us is this wasn’t just a situation where he might have been homesick and he wanted to go home or he was just you know the need had some business other elsewhere that he needed to do and that everybody agreed to it this is a case of abandonment you know that Mark abandoned them there at least how Paul felt about it uh he felt that they were abandoned uh he left them now there’s been some sort of and he went you know he went to Jerusalem we’re told uh and that now Barnabas wants Mark to be back part of the company again and Paul doesn’t think this is a good idea he doesn’t think this is a good idea and they have a real argument about it other things we know about Mark is that he was a cousin uh of Barnabas so that might tell you a little bit why Barnabas had interest in bringing him back in he’s family give him another shot you know he’s you know don’t don’t strike him out yet you know bring him back he’s you know three strikes and you’re out we’ll give him some Grace like see what can happen here um we otherwise we don’t know exactly what was going on in Paul’s thought about why he didn’t want Mark there there’s some thought that it could be that because he had gone back to Jerusalem that he was uh he was more in favor of the opposite side of the uh the Pharisee party that was in Jerusalem and so Paul didn’t really think it was a good idea that they bring him with them to go back to the churches to tell him about this new understanding of of God’s grace and the freedom for the Gentile Believers that’s possible we do know that that Mark was the uh the son of Mary not Jesus Mary or Mary Magdalene but the Mary who where do you remember when Peter was arrested all the Believers were gathered at Mary’s home and they were praying well that was Mark that was Mark’s mother uh and so they had gathered there he had been around Peter he had been around those Believers from an early time but something had happened enough relationally that Paul couldn’t deal with him didn’t think it was a good idea that he’d be going on and it was so bad in fact that he was willing to separate now this wasn’t a doctrinal issue uh this wasn’t an issue of of an unrepented sin that needed to be dealt with uh this was just a disagreement in how they thought it best to keep about the mission that they had been called to and they couldn’t come to resolution they couldn’t come to resolution on it

and so what are we told that happened there arose a sharp disagreement so that they separated from each other Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus but Paul chose Silas and departed having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord and he went through Syria and cilicia strengthening the churches there so they separate and they go their own way Barnabas taking Mark Paul chooses Silas and they go their separate ways you know I don’t think this passage we’re supposed to use this as a model of conflict resolution um that’s not what’s going on here I mean there’s there’s a real Brokenness in in relationship here but it doesn’t appear that this was an issue of sin uh there certainly wasn’t an issue of doctrine that needed to be dealt with and that someone needed to be held accountable to this was a difference of opinion about how to implement the mission that they were going on the strategy for it what they were how they were going to do it and so what the brothers there do is they commend them to the grace of the Lord and send them on their way they commend them to the grace of the Lord they were at a place where they couldn’t come to resolution they couldn’t deal with it so what does it mean they committed unto the grace of the Lord it means they commended him to God’s will go your separate ways go your separate ways we know that God’s grace is at work and all of you and we will trust him in what he’s going to do in your lives as far as reconciliation and restoring each them to one another in relationship and to the Lord we’re going to commend you to the grace of the Lord and send you off you know it’s interesting to note in Paul’s letters later after this event it is evident that there was reconciliation because because Paul writes to other churches telling that calling Mark someone that has been very helpful to him and another church telling them to receive Mark when he comes to them to receive them uh because of uh because of how helpful he is and also with Barnabas he mentions Barnabas later in his letters as well so there was some restoration work there’s also it’s at least the tradition of the church there’s some argument about this though but that that this is the Mark the Evangelist who later becomes a bishop and also is the writer of Mark’s gospel who had spent much time close with Peter and so uh we see at work God’s reconciling Grace happening but not in the moment but in time it happened I hope that gives you hope and living our lives and the grace of the Lord commending Our Lives to him we may not find resolution in the moment or restoration there may be some Brokenness that can’t be mended in the moment and those that aren’t dealing with a particular sin that needs to be repented of or a doctrine that needs to be someone needs to be held accountable for but just a Brokenness and a relationship difference of opinion that can’t be reconciled at the moment sometimes we can commend those things to the grace of the Lord and move on and trust him to do his work of Grace in each of our lives in his own time that’s what it means to commend Our Lives into the hands of God’s grace but then there’s another situation another situation that’s equally as troubling is to uh brothers and Christ disagreeing these pillars of the early Christian Church they’re supposed to always get along and and do everything right but then we’re going to start in verse 16. Paul came also to Derby into lystra a disciple was there named Timothy the son of a Jewish woman who was a Believer but his father was Greek he was well spoken of by the brothers at lystra and Iconium Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him and he took him and circumcised him before because of the Jews who were in those places for they all knew that his father was a Greek well I thought we already dealt with this didn’t we we just went through all this trouble Paul’s been fighting with these people all this time about what’s actually required for salvation and here the first thing after the council decides and he’s won he gives it up he gives it up he puts up no fight at all poor you know poor Timothy you know Timothy’s just got to be subject to circumcision here as an adult what’s going on with this is Paul suddenly just turned weak you know is he lost his nerve no that’s not what’s going on at all here what Paul’s doing he’s living out a life that is in the hands of God’s grace this wasn’t a time to fight this wasn’t a time to be right well this was a time for was the continuation of the Proclamation of the Gospel that’s the real prize that’s what Paul was was striving for the issue had been settled they had freedom in Christ nothing more could be required there was no more Duty that would be put on their shoulders but he also knew that in order to win these folks for Christ for them to be able to hear of the grace of God in their lives that that Timothy not being circumcised was going to be such a hindrance to them being able to receive Christ that it was better to go ahead and do it

that’s a huge implication about living life under the gracious hand of God we have freedom but we don’t use our freedom if it’s going to be a hindrance to others receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ for themselves I mean think about this just in your relationships I mean how I mean I know this is true of me I won’t confess everything but uh but I mean I say 95 of the arguments I have with my wife 95 at least of those are are all have to do with me just needing to be right

that’s right the sinful nature as we start having these are just like suddenly like I forget any rational thought and just like now what what can I do no matter what to position myself to where at the end of this I win

forgetting that winning in a marriage doesn’t matter it ain’t gonna get you anywhere but it’s also for getting the grace of God you know that this need to be right we don’t need to be right because we have freedom in Christ it’s been settled we’ve been saved by grace through faith not through works we can’t make ourselves right with God we can’t make ourselves right with anyone else we don’t have to be we can leave that in the hands of God’s grace we can can commend these situations to the grace of God and let him be ultimately right and you know what we’re freed to do then we’re free just to to love we’re called to love God to love our neighbors aren’t we but it’s when we’re really living in the hands of God’s grace that we’re freed because we don’t have to be right that we truly can love others because we don’t have to win the victory has been won Jesus won the ultimate battle for us on the cross it is finished the work has been done we have been handed into the grace of God a new covenant a covenant that we we welcome Charlotte into this morning if anyone’s calling the kids to come down this would be a good time to uh to bring them down they are watching the simulcast upstairs but uh you know but you may want to go tell them as well but that’s what we’re doing this morning we’re we’re bringing her into this New Covenant relationship of Grace We’re entrusting her that God’s the one who’s at work now and to bring it to her to full Restoration in him and his time we can’t control it Jessica and Paul you’re called to to love her to raise her up in the knowledge of the Lord but she ultimately she ultimately belongs to him and he will call her to himself in his time by the power of His Holy Spirit so we together as a congregation will join you you’re not raising Charlotte alone we are doing it with you uh every time we see her doing something wrong we will wag our fingers and tell her to say no that’s not what we’ll do we will love her and we will remind her of God’s love for her that his grace is sufficient for her and we will always always Point her back to her loving father.




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