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The Power of God and Human Weakness (Acts 15:36-41)

January 22, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates why division and dissension is of the flesh. Pastor Carter poignantly testifies of God’s Sovereignty even the midst of sinful humanity. The focus of this sermon is on the sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, on whose account we were able to see the weakness of humanity and the power of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Weakness of Humanity: The Human Heart

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are. Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other (Acts 15:36-39;ESV).

Paul and Barnabas had enjoyed the joys and pains of ministry together. However, the sin of John Mark provoked these ministry mates to sharply disagree with one another, resulting regrettably in a split between them (cf. Genesis 3). On other hand, Mark was not alone in his immaturity, the weakness of both the young Apostle Paul and Barnabas whose hard-heartedness caused them to divorce from one another (cf. Matthew 19:6-8).

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The Power of God: The Gospel of Jesus Christ

“…Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches (Acts 15:39-41; ESV).”

The amazing thing is Paul and Barnabas were the ones who took the letter of unity to the Gentiles to encourage them in the Lord, and yet they were seemingly unable to find in the Gospel the power they preached to others (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Perhaps, Paul felt strongly about Mark being disciplined for his immaturity, while Barnabas saw an opportunity for discipleship. In contrast, Paul was unforgiving with Mark and Barnabas was blinded by his giftedness to the point where he was unwilling to discipline Mark when necessary. Fortunately, God’s mission was sovereign over the sinfulness of men, even the best of men (Psalm 39:5; Jeremiah 17:5-11). The Word of the Lord not only strengthened the churches through these new relationships, but also the power of God commended Paul, Barnabas and Mark to reconcile their differences and work together again for the gospel’s sake (cf. Luke 18:26-30, 21:31-32; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24).

Do we believe in the power of the Gospel?

Our sin and weakness is no match for the power of God. He is able to bring beauty from ashes, give life to dead men and women, and save the ungodly. When you are at your worse God is still at His best. He sent His Word into the world and overcame the world despite the sinfulness of the world, because sinners do not frustrate His plan.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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