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The text for this lesson is Acts 15:1–16:5.

Key Point

  • Human reason believes, as many did in Paul’s day, that we must do something to be saved. Yet the answer is always Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus, whose resurrection from the dead sealed our salvation and absolved the world.
  • Law: I sin when I believe that Jesus is not enough for my salvation or when I think that I must do something, however small, to contribute to my salvation.
  • Gospel: Jesus has done it all perfectly for me. In Him, my salvation is complete.

Discussion Points

  1. This lesson is about the constant temptation to change “justification (salvation) by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone” into “justification by grace + works, faith + obedience, for the sake of Christ + our efforts.”  But God’s Word won’t allow such this. How does Ephesians 2:4–10 keep us from adding anything to grace, faith, and Christ?
  2. How does St. Paul show, in 1 Corinthians 15:1–7, that we are saved by Christ alone?
  3. The Book of Galatians deals with a situa­tion like that of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1–33. A group of legalistic Jewish Christians known as “Judaizers” introduced the idea of salvation by circumcision and the Law into the Church at Galatia. What does Paul say to those who are tempted to follow the Judaizers? See Galatians 3:10–14; 5:1–6.
  4. What arguments against requiring circum­cision of Gentile converts are put forth by Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James at the coun­cil? See Acts 15:7–19. According to Romans 4:8–14, what was the true significance of circumcision in the Old Testament?
  5. Compare Acts 15:28–29 with 1 Corinthians 11:20–22. What would have been the main setting in which the Gentiles’ consumption of unclean things (Acts 15:20) gave offense to Jewish Christians? In light of 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, 18–20, why would “sexual immorality” (Acts 15:20) in particular be highlighted by the apostles? How were the prohibitions from the council received in Antioch?
  6. Was the split between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:37–40 doctrinal or professional? What can we learn from it? According to Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10–11; and 2 John 9–11, when is division absolutely necessary?
  7. Discuss some of the traditions that you hold dear and how you would feel if you suddenly were forced to give them up. How does your experience with traditions provide insight into Paul’s circumcision of Timothy in Acts 16:1–5? According to Mark 7:5–9, what are we tempted to do with tra­ditions? What do 1 Corinthians 7:18–19 and Galatians 5:6; 6:15 say are infinitely more important than traditions?

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