Acts 15:23
and sent them with this letter: "The apostles and the elders, your brothers, To the brothers among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.
Sermons
A Catholic PlatformActs 15:1-29
Christian LibertyM. C. Hazard.Acts 15:1-29
Church ControversyP. Schaff, D. D.Acts 15:1-29
ControversialistsJ. Thomas.Acts 15:1-29
Controversies, After Effects OfDean Stanley.Acts 15:1-29
Controversy Among ChristiansC. S. Robinson.Acts 15:1-29
Controversy, Frequently the Result of MisunderstandingJ. M. Buckley, D. D.Acts 15:1-29
Disturbers of the ChurchS. S. TimesActs 15:1-29
Essentials and Non-EssentialsActs 15:1-29
Law and GospelJ. Mason, M. A.Acts 15:1-29
The Assembly At JerusalemD. Fraser, D. D.Acts 15:1-29
The Assembly At Jerusalem: a ModelK. Gerok.Acts 15:1-29
The Assembly At Jerusalem: its ImportanceK. Gerok.Acts 15:1-29
The First Ecclesiastical CouncilD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 15:1-29
The First Ecclesiastical CouncilD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 15:1-29
The Gospel not a Matter for Controversy, But for UseC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 15:1-29
Times in Church HistoryK. Gerok.Acts 15:1-29
A Great DissensionP.C. Barker Acts 15:1-35
A Grave Crisis in the Kingdom of God: More LessonsW. Clarkson Acts 15:12-35
A Triumph of Spirituality and LibertyA. H. Bradford, D. D.Acts 15:13-29
The Decision of the CouncilJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 15:13-29
Decision of the Council At JerusalemE. Johnson Acts 15:22-29
A Life Hazarded for ChristActs 15:23-29
Christian Self-DevotionActs 15:23-29
Legal ChristiansH. W. Beecher.Acts 15:23-29
Life Hazarded in Christ's CauseJ. Sherman.Acts 15:23-29
Preference for the Spoken WordActs 15:23-29
The Apostolic LetterJ. Dowse.Acts 15:23-29
The Motto of Christian ServiceActs 15:23-29
The Spoken WordH. W. Beecher.Acts 15:23-29
The True MissionaryC. Stanford, D. D.Acts 15:23-29
The Yoke BrokenA. H. Currier.Acts 15:23-29
Two HeroesPreacher's AnalystActs 15:23-29
This, the first council of the Church, is generally considered an example for all times.

I. AN EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN PRUDENCE.

1. In the selection of emissaries. It had reference partly to the Churches, partly to Paul and Barnabas. The Churches were assured that the emissaries were not delivering their own private opinion, but the deliberate judgment of the Church. And the apostles had the legitimacy and purity of their office sealed by the highest Church authority.

II. AN EXAMPLE OF BROTHERLY LOVE AND WISDOM. Without the taking of some such step, the Judaizers in Antioch and elsewhere would remain unchecked, and left to pursue their disturbing and factious intrigues. And by this step a new bond of sympathy and affection was established between Jew and Gentile, between Jerusalem and the world.

III. AN EXAMPLE OF INSPIRED ACTION. "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us." The words may be abused or used with genuine devout feeling. The Holy Spirit is the Source of light and wisdom in the mind - the Judge and Decider in spiritual things. The conclusion of a matter, discussed by the faithful in the light of the Holy Spirit, may justly be looked upon as the decision of the Holy Spirit. The whole stamp of the message is spiritual, impressive, full of Christian piety and love. Its closing word, promising blessing on the conditions laid down, is far better than a threat of pains on disobedience would have been. The Christian "Farewell!" contains not only the wish for a brother's happiness, but that he may abide in Christ, and walk as he walked in the world. - J.







And they wrote letters.
1. A model of brotherly love and Divine wisdom.

2. A pattern for the modern Church.

3. A great standing deliverance from all ceremonial and ritualistic observances.Improvement —

(1)Be not narrow-minded.

(2)Trust in Christ and not ordinances.

(J. Dowse.)

I. THE RELATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO JUDAISM. The decision was an admission that the Jewish ordinances were not permanent or essential. That old system had only "a shadow of good things to come." It educated for the gospel, and having accomplished this its work really ended. The gospel succeeded. Christ was declared to be the end of the law to everyone that believeth; and the apostle to the Gentiles said, "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly," but "We are the circumcision which worship God," etc. To insist on the continued obligation of the Mosaic customs would be like drilling a reader in the alphabet. As well might the butterfly keep up its caterpillar existence — fly and crawl at the same time. For the Gentiles to practise the customs of the Old Law would be both irksome and also liable to lead to the error that salvation was dependent on these observances. Against this danger Paul most carefully guarded. The epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians are the strong ramparts which were erected to oppose it.

II. THE TOLERANT SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY. It seems strange to have such an example in the infant Church, since toleration is usually the fruit of long experience. Even more surprising is it, when we consider the antecedents of the men who displayed it. They were Jews, of a most bigoted race. One of the hardest lessons for men to learn is to unlearn, and act contrary to early convictions. Though they themselves, through force of habit, continued to observe the national customs, they would not bind the Gentiles to do the same. It is strange that this decision should have been ever forgotten. The intolerance which has resulted from losing sight of it has been the disgrace of Christianity. The greatest names have been in fault here. As an old divine says, "Whilst we wrangle here in the dark, we are dying and passing to that world which will decide all controversies: the safest passage thither is by peaceable righteousness."

III. CHRISTIANITY, WHILE TOLERANT IN SPIRIT, HAS ITS SELF-DENIALS (ver. 29). If, after their conversion from heathenism to Christianity, they still continued to eat meat offered to idols, and to frequent the idolatrous feasts where it was served, they were more likely to relapse into their old heathen life. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." The same thing in effect has to be perpetually guarded against. The Christian of today must, for his own spiritual good, beware of certain worldly habits and indulgences, lest he go back to the world.

(A. H. Currier.)

Saying, ye must be circumcised and keep the law
Thousands and tens of thousands of Christians yet live in the dreary shadow of legalism. God is only Lawgiver and Judge to them; and their experience is limited, first, to self-condemnation and suffering, then to violent endeavours of the spirit, or of the body, or of both to throw off this suffering, with results, sometimes of exhaustion, and sometimes of unnatural peace, and then to reaction into moral indifference, arising from a totally unsatisfied heart and soul. There are thousands of persons who think that they are Christians because they are endeavouring to live aright, but they are Christians because they are endeavouring to live aright no more than a person is at home because he is trying to go there, though he does not know the way. A child that has lost its father's house, and that is striving to find it, is not at home, but is a wanderer; and the person that is simply endeavouring to live aright, and nothing more, and that when he measures his life by the law of God, as interpreted to him through his own conscience, is conscious of daily breaking that law in every direction, is no more a Christian than a wanderer is a child at home. For a Christian is one that has found his way home, and to the fatherhood of God, and not one that is merely seeking to do his duty. A Christian is a child under the parental roof, saying, "Abba, Father."

(H. W. Beecher.)

Our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Preacher's Analyst.
I. THE PRINCIPLES BY WHICH THEY WERE ACTUATED.

1. The highest admiration for their Lord and Master.

2. An entire consecration to His service. We must honour Christ —

(1)From gratitude.

(2)From duty.

II. THE WORK THEY UNDERTOOK. "To proclaim the name," etc. This was —

1. An arduous duty.

2. A disagreeable toil.

3. A continuous self-sacrifice.

III. THE REWARD THEY ATTAINED.

1. A reward of their magnanimity.

2. The approbation of God.

3. An immortal crown.

IV. THE INSTRUCTION THEY IMPART.

1. That there is something more precious than life or pleasure — Christ.

2. That however humble our sphere we may hope to accomplish something for our Lord and Master.

3. That whatever efforts we may make for our Master's glory shall be acknowledged and rewarded by God.

(Preacher's Analyst.)

During the American war with England, a young midshipman named Joel Abbot was serving under the United States flag. Winning the good opinion of the commander, he was put in the way of promotion by being commended to Macdonough, then controlling the forces on Lake Champlain. Reports were received that the English were accumulating a large supply of spars at Sorel. Could not the spars be destroyed? Who would undertake the task? Joel Abbot was sent for. Grimly the commander asked him if he were willing to die for his country. "Certainly, sir: that is what I came into the service for," was the prompt reply. Entrusted with the dangerous commission, Joel Abbot fulfilled it in the spirit of his words. The perils and privations of his exploit were so great, that although he came back alive, he was completely prostrate for a considerable time, and his recovery was slow. Later, a sword of honour was voted him for his gallantry. How is it with soldiers of the Great King — workers for Christ? The test word of this service is "Self-surrender for Christ."

A touching story is told as characteristic of the missionary spirit by a friendly writer in the Contemporary. Rev. John Robinson was suddenly summoned one day to the Leper asylum to baptise a dying convert. My friend went in fear and trembling, baptised the dying man, consoled him, and then was seized with a throe of mental agony. It is the custom of many missionaries on receiving a neophyte, especially if sick, to give him the kiss of peace. Mr. Robinson thought this his bounden duty, but he was himself a half-breed, and he was absolutely persuaded of the Indian theory that leprosy, though non-contagious in the case of a white man, is frightfully contagious in the case of one with native blood in his veins. He hesitated, walked to the door, and returned to kiss the leper on the lips and then to lie for days in his own house, prostrated with an uncontrollable and not an unreasonable nervous terror. A superstitious fool, the doctor thought him. True soldier of Christ, say I, who, when his duty called him, faced something far worse than shot.

For some time after Mr. Hunt settled in Somasoma, one of the Fejee Islands, his life was in daily danger from the hostile and cannibal savages. But he went on with his Christian work, and when the captain of an American warship heard of their threats to kill and eat the missionary, and sent to offer him an asylum on board his vessel, Mr. Hunt declined with thanks, saying that he regarded the horrible depravity of the natives as only an additional reason for risking his life to convert them.

I. THE SPIRIT WHICH IS DESCRIBED IN THE TEXT. Several particulars are included here.

1. Their ardent love for Christ Jesus. It was not always thus with these men. Paul's object was to root out the name of the Saviour. What occasioned then this marvellous change? In his case they were very extraordinary means. In other cases, the means are ordinary. The Spirit of God convinces them of sin, shows them that they have no help in themselves; but must accept Christ and His cross. And then they love Christ. They love Him(1) For dignity of His person.(2) For the perfection of His atonement. They "love Him because He first loved them."(3) Because He has taken their nature and their cause to heaven. When they see this, it is impossible but their hearts should glow with love to such a Saviour. The life He so dearly bought becomes His, and they "hazard it" willingly in His service.

2. Their high estimation of the gospel. Man is a depraved creature. This depravity exhibits itself in different forms; in one country in idolatry, in another in blasphemy, etc. Philosophers have bent over the scene and wept, and politicians have devised innumerable schemes to recover fallen creatures. But they have failed. Now God sent the gospel to redeem and sanctify man. Now the men, that "hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus," believed that there was "no other name whereby men might be saved"; and therefore they published it. They had the conviction of an enlightened understanding, and an experimental enjoyment of the truth.

3. Their tender compassion for lost souls. Christ's value met their enlightened judgment. "What shall it profit a man," etc. They saw millions of immortal spirits, hurrying on to irremediable woe. Now when the men had this remedy, and saw souls in this condition, and had their hearts lighted with the heavenly fire, you do not wonder that they went forth and "hazarded their lives" to communicate it to lost souls.

4. The aggressive spirit in which they attempted to set up Christ's kingdom. They did not wait till a petition came from these miserable souls, requesting them to send the gospel; or till a door was opened by some special act of the government of the country, or a change of opinion took place among the people; but wherever they could open their lips for Jesus Christ, there they went, though edicts were issued against them, and they were imprisoned and reviled and threatened with death.

5. Their exalted character in the opinion of the Church. They selected them to go on an important embassy, as men who copied most of their Master's spirit. It appeared to them, that the chief excellency was in "hazarding their lives for Him." Doubtless many in their day considered them very visionary men, and thought they had better not plunge rashly into things; but "the apostles and elders," those who had love to Christ, thought their zeal their glory, and held it up to the imitation and approbation of the Church.

II. LESSONS.

1. We see in the text a picture of fallen and of regenerated humanity; and among which class are you? Here is one class of men, opposing those who come to them with the gospel; here is another, ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus. "He that is not with Me is against Me."

2. A suitable apology for all those who exhibit the same conduct. By many it has been upbraided as zeal without knowledge. But here is the answer; it is done "for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." A soldier "hazards his life," it may be, for fortune, for fame, for honour. But here are men who "hazard their lives," without honour, fame or fortune, "for the name of Jesus Christ."

3. One of the modes by which God augments the number of His servants and the efficiency of their service. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." It is not the cold, calculating, cautious men, who carry measures either in Church or in state; but the men who "hazard their lives" for the cause which they undertake.

4. The honour which God puts upon us by permitting us to send out such men to evangelise the world.

5. A spirit worthy of imitation. Who is willing to "hazard his life for the name of our Lord Jesus?"

(J. Sherman.)

Once, in lifting from its shelf a certain folio, there fluttered out from between its leaves a paper dated 1763. It had evidently been mislaid as soon as it was written, and one hundred years after, just where the writer left it, I found it. It ran thus, "We beg to certify that the bearer, Mr. John Wyers, is well known to us, and we do hereby commend him to all Christian Churches where, in Providence, he may come as a godly minister who hath much devoted himself to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ." This was signed "David Fermie, Thomas Blackett." My text is a line out of an old letter of introduction written by the elders of the Church at Jerusalem. Now, this old certificate is not to be torn up for waste paper as a thing that is now dead and done with. It is a live thing, it is wanted now, to show what kind of missionaries are wanted, and how the armies of Christ in the field of foreign service are to win the day. Just take the words as they stand.

I. MEN. An ancient lawgiver said, that what Sparta wanted was not a wall of bricks but a wall of men. "Men," said a certain sarcastic journalist, "are cheap." No. If "men" be what is meant by certain advocates of "muscular Christianity," then men are cheap, but when I look at Paul I remember that it is not muscle that makes a man. If you mean by a "man," an undesigned result of molecular forces, then men are cheap, and they ought to be, but a man is not the consummation of a tadpole. If by "men" you mean an average human being, men ought to be cheap; but many a human being passes for a man who is not so much a person as a thing. What I mean by "man" is a son of Adam, who has been born again, and who is therefore a Son of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and of whom we may say, "Like father, like son." I want to blow into infinite space the mean, false notion that anything will do for a missionary; anything will not do. Before you are a missionary you must be a "man."

II. THAT HAVE HAZARDED THEIR LIVES. This, in itself, is not matter for plaudit. Most extreme must be the case, when the author of life sanctions the hazard of life. But, while grace makes us understand the sanctity of life, grace inspires us with a will to give ourselves to the service of something higher than life. That man is not worth calling a "man" who lives to save himself. The man who answers to the standard we are now looking at, is a man who, being called to the service of Christ, is prepared, if need be, to hazard his life for that service.

III. FOR THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. This means that the men hazarded their lives —

1. Out of love to Christ. The name of a person is the person to whom that name belongs. We all know the rousing, or soothing, or melting magic of a name. But no name has such power to stir the hearts of men as the name of Jesus Christ. When it was first uttered to the Jews, it stirred their hearts to hatred. Among the most inexorable and deep haters was Paul. He breathed out threatenings and slaughters till Jesus stopped him. After that, the love of Christ set his life on fire. What have we hazarded for Christ? Where is your love to Christ? Is that the thing you call love? Then love knows how to take care of itself; looks upon religion as a question of safe investment and social respectability; sometimes joins the Church like a traveller taking his ticket who books himself quite through, wraps his rug around him, and goes to sleep till the train stops; hates originality like the plague. What you call love I call prudence. But love, whether to God or man, tends to scorn of consequence, and to the forgetfulness of self.

2. Out of obedience to Christ. "If ye love Me keep My commandments." The commandment now waiting for our obedience is, "Go, make disciples of all nations." Now it is strange the first thing men in general do is to give their opinion about this. One man is of opinion that it is unnecessary; another, that it is impossible; another, that we should look at home; another, that we should civilise first; another, that every nation has already its own religion fitted to its own nationality. But Christ waits not for our opinion but our obedience. The question is how we can best obey. Some can best obey in this way, some in that. The principle is not that Christians should leave work at home for work abroad, but that all Christians are charged with the evangelisation of the world to do it between them. Though the difficulties may be massive, they are not your concern. "Charge," is the captain's cry. Say, as the man said, "Does Jesus Christ ask me to jump through that stone wall? Here I go at it."

3. In the service of their fellow men. It is a great service to save lives, and a noble thing when men do it at the hazard of their own. Lady Edgeworth, in the days of King Charles II, had suddenly to defend the family castle at Lissom, in the absence Of her husband. In doing so she had to go down and fetch powder from the castle vaults. On her return she said to the woman who had gone with her, "Where did you put the candle?" "I left it stuck in the barrel of black salt." Then did that glorious lady go down to the spot where the candle was burning into the powder, and put her hand round it like a cup, and lift it up and take it out, and so at the hazard of her own life saved the lives of others. Dear, glorious lady, that was well done. The lifeboat with its brave crew shoots out into the night over the swaying hills of water, to snatch twenty men off from a wreck. On their return, when the cry comes on the wind, "All saved," my heart gives a great bound, and I say, "There is a noble service nobly done." "The Son of Man came not t¢ destroy men's lives, but to save them"; and if it be a great thing to save the lives of bodies through the hazard of our own bodily life, it is a small thing to hazard it to save the lives of souls. Conclusion: We learn from these men —

1. How our faithful and mighty Master through all hazards keeps His servants alive until their work is done.

2. Only men like these hazard their lives, and the men who at Christ's call to service most totally give themselves up, most totally let themselves go, are the men whom the "King delighteth to honour."

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
The Dean of Rochester said: A woman said about a certain preacher, "He's a very nice gentleman, but he has no deliverance." He himself had been wont for years to preach written sermons. One night, to his horror, the church was so dark that it was impossible to read his sermon. He passed through a brief period of anxiety. Then, thinking, "Have I nothing to say to these people? Am I really a servant of God?" He threw himself on the Holy Spirit's help, and spoke as best he could. The churchwarden apologetically told him that the people said "It was the best sermon he had ever preached, and they hoped he would never read another." "Nor did I," said the Dean; "and then I awoke not to find myself famous, but at any rate more useful than I had been before."

A preacher is, in some degree, a reproduction of the truth in personal form. The truth must exist in him as a living experience, a glowing enthusiasm: an intense reality. The Word of God in the Book is a dead letter, it is paper, type, and ink. In the preacher that Word becomes again as it was when first spoken by prophet, priest, or apostle. It springs up in him as if it were first kindled in his heart, and he were moved by the Holy Ghost to give it forth. He is so moved.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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