Legacy Church
Legacy Church exists because every person needs belonging, fulfillment and relationship. We weren’t created to go through life alone. That’s why we’re building a community of authentic believers who can grow through life together.
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  • Tennille Campus
    320 N Main St, Tennille, GA 31089, USA
    Sunday 11:00 AM
The book of Acts tells the rather amazing story of how a group of ordinary people: blue-­‐collar workers, tax collectors, and a few women started the largest religious movement in history.

The story is really quite remarkable. Never had a larger assignment been given to a less qualified group of people. After Jesus had resurrected, he gathered his ragtag group of disciples together on the side of a mountain and said, “OK, your job is to spread this message and make disciples for me in every country in the world.”

And then he just floats off into heaven. You’ve got to think about what that was like.

Eventually one said, what… The whole world? Does he even know how big the world is?” Well, yeah… Never had a larger assignment been given to a less qualified group of people.

So how did they do it? Two things: First, Jesus gave them his Holy Spirit, who guided and empowered them in building his church. You get the sense in Acts that they are trying to keep up. The second thing is they had a rock-solid conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead—which sustained through every obstacle or opposition.

When they were confronted with questions they couldn’t answer, or got into arguments they couldn’t win… they were like, ‘Yeah, but Jesus rose from the dead?’ (Ever got into an argument with a really smart person you felt like you couldn’t win, even though you knew they were wrong? Peter got like that in Acts 4. And he says, “Look, I get that you’re smarter than me, and you have questions I don’t know how to answer… but here’s the thing: this guy we knew was dead, and now he’s alive.” No offense to your massive education and intellect, but if I have to choose between your degrees and his return from the dead, I’m going with the return from the dead.”

When they faced obstacles they couldn’t overcome, when Rome had put their leaders into prison, when their families were being fed to the lions, or they had no money, they said, “Yeah, but Jesus rose from the dead. He’s going to make this work!” Church, if we believe Jesus rose from the dead, what kind of confidence will it give us about our mission?

So, Acts is the story of how this early community, filled with the Spirit, and sure of the resurrection, spread the gospel message over the entire planet.

And along the way, Luke, the author, stops to tell you these stories about things that happened to the church so that we can learn from their example.

In Acts chapter 15, the church encounters a problem that could have significantly derailed the church had they not handled it… a very subtle danger, but very important.

Now, a lot of people don’t preach on this text because it’s about a theological debate and those can be BORING. But this one is going to answer some really important questions, like:

What role should politics play in the church?
How should we handle gray areas, like, “Is it ok to drink alcohol?” If marijuana is legalized…?
And what do you do if people in your small group disagree on that?
Or even, what should you do when a new believer cusses in church?
A lot of the first Christians were Jews, and Jews had been raised on Old Testament law, and one of the most important Jewish laws was that every male had to be circumcised. It was a God‐given sign to separate the people of God from the world.
Keep in mind this was a ridiculously long trip for Paul and Barnabas… and it’s right in the middle of Paul’s ridiculously successful missionary and writing career. In the midst of this, Paul walks back to Jerusalem, because whatever is being discussed is so important he’s willing to come all the way back to Jerusalem to discuss it.
There were 613 Jewish laws. Circumcision was just 1. There were 612 others.
I would like to suggest we engrave that phrase into the cornerstone of this church: We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Any obstacle we can eliminate, I think we should. Even preferences for things I really like; things I am comfortable with.
Sexual immorality: In the pagan world, extramarital sex was commonly accepted as the norm… he was saying, “The moral laws of God don’t change.

But what’s with the “not eating meat from strangled animals and from blood, food polluted by idols…” Those things were really offensive to Jews—it would cause fellowship problems. That’s why he references the law being read—all the Jews were raised this way. He’s saying, “Don’t make it difficult for your fellow Jewish Christians. They have cultural sensitivities. Be gracious toward them.”
Andy Stanley talks about several drifts this text warns us to avoid… drifts the early church faced that we face as well. I’m going to use a few of his and add a few of my own. Every church and every Christian faces these drifts.

1. The drift from a passion for outsiders to pacifying insiders

Every church tends to do this… When we first started, we are focused on reaching those on the outside, but once we get established, we have needs. It’s so easy to start thinking about ourselves. But we ought not to make it hard for the Gentiles who are turning to God. So we have to constantly be asking the question, “Does this make it hard for them?”

2. The drift from grace to law

The ones calling out for circumcision were saved. They believed they were saved by putting faith in Christ, but after that, they started to drift back toward a rules-­based relationship with God

3. The drift from a focus on internal transformation to one on external conformity.

The gospel’s focus is transforming the heart.
Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the essence of the law was to love God and others, and everything else was an outworking of that. (Now, the Bible helps us see what love looks like: truth, purity, justice). But the core is a heart of love, and this heart is produced by faith in Christ.
In places that lose focus on the gospel, they replace a focus on inward transformation with an emphasis on outward conformity. When that happens, a whole host of things become laws that determine whether you are spiritual.

In those days it was circumcision. Let me give you a few common ways in our church background and culture.

Alcohol
There are good reasons not to drink alcohol. The Bible often speaks very negatively of alcohol, warning of the dangers
In a New York Times article, we read "1 out 6 people who drink have a serious alcohol problem; 1 in 10 kids in the United States grow up in homes with alcohol abuse." The average for the past five years is 140K alcohol-related deaths per year. But others would say, "Well, just because something is abused, doesn’t mean we should get rid of it totally: Sex is abused…do we get rid of it? Words are abused…get rid of talking? Food is abused…stop eating?"

If you want to talk about things that kill, last year there were: 140k deaths related to alcohol; 300k deaths related to obesity. Nobody is advocating getting rid of desserts. And even though the Bible warns that alcohol can be abused, we clearly see people in the NT drinking fermented beverages… including Jesus, and at one point Paul even prescribes it for Timothy.

Christian appearance and vocabulary
Some of you grew up in churches where Christians dress in certain ways… No tattoos. That’s fine. Let’s not turn it into a new law.
Profanity: Christians have a certain way they talk… Fine. You don’t hear me using profanity. But I don’t want to judge someone’s heart, especially someone new (Story)

Politics
I think the Bible needs to shape how we think about everything. We need to learn to think biblically about everything.
But for a lot of people certain positions become like religious “law,” an external sign of whether you are right with God.
And maybe you’re right about those things. But I don’t want to make it hard for the Gentiles… and make this secondary thing a gateway to the first thing
Let’s have those discussions, but let’s have them in the right way and never make them the main thing (Simon the zealot and Matthew the tax collector)

This was a moment. A moment of incredible but subtle danger. It could have ended the rapid expansion of the Christian movement. Many churches go through this and don’t make it. I don’t want to make it hard for the Gentiles in our community to turn to God.

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