How do we make decisions when things are complex, and people are in conflict?
This is a crucial question for any group and Acts 15 shows us how the early church discerned the way forward as it related to the inclusion of the Gentiles.
Chapter 15 begins with people coming to Antioch from Judea and saying “unless you are circumcised…you cannot be saved" (verse 1).
Paul and Barnabas get into very heated debates with the people advocating circumcision and eventually the church agrees to send them to Jerusalem and discuss the matter with the elders and apostles.
After arriving in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas share what God has been doing through their ministry to the Gentiles and then those advocating for circumcision made their case (verse 5).
And then “the apostles and elders met together to consider this matter” (verse 6).
As they listened for God’s guidance, Peter stood up and shared his experience with Cornelius (verses 7-11). This is the third time this story is told (Acts 10, 11:1-18, 15:7-11).
After carefully listening to all that has been said James, a great man of prayer and discernment, spoke saying, “Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God,…" (verse 19).
James listens carefully, thinks deeply, prays for wisdom, and then speaks for himself.
We discover how the rest of those gathered respond to his leadership tomorrow.