28 September 2016


By John Ollis

I have been allocated Acts 15 to preach from on Sunday. This is the passage relating to the first and very important Church Council regarding whether Gentiles should be circumcised when they are born again. I want to apply truths to the congregation that are relevant to the 21st century, so here are some thoughts I have gleaned from this passage.
When Peter stands to speak he says “so God who knows the heart” referring to the Gentiles in Cornelius’s household who were born again and received the Holy Spirit the say way the 120 had received in the upper room. God did not require pre-requisites for a person to be born again other than to repent.
The thought here to me is that as the Bible says “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”. I am sure everyone who reads this has been misinterpreted  perhaps many times because of something they said or did, because humans cannot see the intents of our heart. We need to encourage ourselves in these times and not try to vindicate ourselves.
There is the constant challenge in regard to ministry activity, that what we are doing what is out of right motives and intentions. I quote often Jer. 17:9 that speaks of the deceptiveness and wickedness of the human heart. I pray daily that the Lord would search my heart, in relation to my motives and attitudes, and I ask myself the questions, Am I doing this for God’s glory, or my glory? Am I seeking to extend God’s Kingdom or my kingdom?

Lord help me to keep my heart pure

Another thought from these verses reminds me of the generation of church life I was brought up in. IT WAS FULL OF THOU SHALT NOTS. All the things we cannot and shouldn’t do, but so much of it was external, the way you dress, the places you DON’T go to, the things you DON’T do.For example I was told I should NOT go into a shop on Sunday because it was making people work on the Lord’s day. As a young person I loved chocolate milkshakes, and after church one Sunday I went in and ordered one, when it was handed to me I accidently dropped it (old metal containers) and it spilt everywhere, I was convinced  (at that time)it was the judgement of God……….

So many of the “thou shalt nots” are Biblically based but were often communicated in a legalistic way, that brought bondage to me and many believers.

Sadly, there has been much reaction to this legalism of that generation, and it has spawned the “cheap grace” message” and caused many to as far I am concerned lower Christian standards of behaviour and lifestyle. May Jesus be seen in us, by our lifestyle and speech and dress, but we do it by choice, not by legalistic direction amen.

At the conclusion of Acts 15 we see that a dispute happened between Paul and Barnabas over whether John Mark should travel with them. Many commentators major on this disagreement, but what was the result, not one but two Mission teams being sent out, twice the potential of glorious results in fulfilling the Great Commission, God brought much blessing out of an apparent negative situation.

May these thoughts be a blessing to you.