Our text is Acts 15:1-21.
Today we have a record of the first ecumenical council that took place—the Jerusalem Council. In this council, the gospel itself was under attack because they were arguing over how a person is saved. As Christians today, we need to be ready to contend for the faith. If we lose the gospel, we lose everything that matters.
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught by Pastor Adams. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on this link for a printable coloring page to accompany this message: Apostles’ Creed coloring page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship: John 6:47-51
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (ESV)
Almighty God, we bow before you as your people. You are glorious in your holiness, full of love and compassion, abundant in grace and truth. You sustain and rule over all things that exist with infinite precision. There is no place where your power and authority does not reach.
You are perfect in every way, completely free from error, and the only one worthy of our worship.
Triune God, will you enable us by Holy Spirit’s power to offer you worship that is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, as we offer it through Jesus Christ our lord. In his matchless name we pray. Amen.
Charles Wesley wrote the text for “Rejoice, the Lord Is King” in 1746. The words are joyous as affirmed by the refrain at the end of each stanza: “Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, Rejoice; again I say, rejoice!” This hymn is a call to believe in the person and work of the risen Christ.
Corporate Scripture Reading: Luke 10:25-28
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (ESV)
Almighty and most merciful Father, we are thankful that your mercy is
higher than the heavens
wider than our wanderings
deeper than all our sin.
Forgive our careless attitudes toward your purposes,
our refusal to relieve the suffering of others,
our envy of those who have more than we have,
our obsession with creating a life of constant pleasure,
our indifference to the treasures of heaven,
our neglect of your wise, gracious, authoritative, all-sufficient
Forgive us for the totality of our sin.
Help us to change our way of life
so that we may desire what is good,
love what you love,
and do what you command,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: : Isaiah 53:1-5
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (ESV)
This is a wonderful promise we have in the gospel. Amen.
Affirmation of Faith:
Westminster Confession of Faith: Chapter 30, Church Discipline
3. Church discipline is necessary for reclaiming and gaining fellow Christians who are guilty of offenses, for deterring others from committing similar offenses, for purging the leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ and the holy profession of the gospel, and for averting the wrath of God which might justly fall on the church if it should allow his covenant and its seals to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
4. For the better attaining of these purposes, the officers of the church are to proceed by admonition, by suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a time, and by excommunication from the church, according to the nature of the offense and the degree of the person’s guilt.
Councils and Creeds (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Psalm 116:12-14
12 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (ESV)
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
The Scottish Psalter of 1650, is an English language Psalm book, given to the Church by the poetic, scholarly, and devotional labors of the 17th century Puritans of England and Scotland. This psalter is a metrical psalter, in that the Psalms of the Bible are set to meter and rhyme for greater ease in singing. Such psalters first appeared during the Protestant Reformation, when many churches recovered the proper place of the Scriptures in the life of the Church, and the gospel which the Scriptures set forth. Such psalters played a vital role in restoring the singing of God’s Word to the lips, hearts, and lives of God’s people.
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: The Gospel under Fire
Born in Philadelphia in 1802, George Pope Morris was a well-known American poet. Morris is known also for being a song writer, especially for composing the 1830 ballade “Woodman, Spare That Tree,” which has been affectionately called the first “environmental song”. Early in his life, Morris moved to New York, where he became the editor of a magazine entitled the Mirror. From this magazine, several other periodicals were published as well, such as the New Mirror, and the Night Mirror. These short periodicals played an important role in publishing early works by several American poets such as Edgar Allan Poe. The words of this hymn, written in 1838, are drawn from Psalm 139:23 and Psalm 26:2 and remind us that the Lord is the one who tests, tries, searches and examines our hearts and minds.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
- Why do people have a difficult time embracing the message of grace alone?
- What “Jesus-plus” gospels have you heard taught? How might this passage help you formulate a response to them?
- What about Peter’s address most resonates with you?
- Who is James and what sort of role does he play in the council?
Councils and Creeds
Click on this link for a printable coloring page to accompany this message: Apostles’ Creed coloring page.
In our Bible Message this week in Acts 15, we have a large meeting of the church, and they are answering important questions so that Christians can know the truth of God’s Word.
Acts 15:1-2 says – 1But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. (ESV)
Paul and Barnabas thought this teaching was wrong, and they said so! So Paul and Barnabas were elected to go to a big Meeting – the fancy name is Council – to discuss the very important question about: Who can be saved from sin!
In Acts 15:2,4,6 – it says “the elders and apostles were gathered”; verse 12 – it was an “assembly”; verse 22 – “the apostles and the elders, with the whole church,”
SO A BIG MEETING – A COUNCIL met with Paul and Barnabas and they all talked about what God’s Word teaches about who can be saved.
The COUNCIL produced a CREED. The word “creed” comes from the Latin word “credo,” meaning “I believe.”
The CREEDS of the church are teachings about what we believe:
• Creeds are not equal with the Bible, they are not inspired like the Bible
• Creeds summarize what the Bible teaches.
• Creeds connect us to the Church throughout history – they standardize doctrine and belief
• Creeds help us memorize what the Bible teaches
• Creeds help us categorize so we can tell others what we believe without having to repeat the whole Bible
• Creeds help us recognize that we all believe the same thing about Jesus and how he wants us to live.