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What Changes?

Acts 15:1-5

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 Last week we drew a very important distinction.  We learned that while it is important to leave the sin of a culture, that doesn't necessarily mean we have to abandon its style.  While I'm convinced that distinction is an important one, I'm equally convinced that it isn't so easy to make.  Yet, if we are going to be effective at penetrating cultures with the gospel message we will have to possess discerning hearts and minds and know the difference between sin and style.

 Let me cite an extreme example to illustrate the distinction.   One of the hot button issues of our day is same sex marriage.  In last Tuesday's election, eleven states voted to ban same sex marriages.   Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council says, "This is an issue that reaches deep and wide across this country.  The people are taking the lead - they're not waiting for the politicians to act." (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/10057119.htm?1c ) 

 I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that I support prohibitions against same sex marriages.  Maintaining the sanctity of the marriage relationship is important to me and to most Christians who hold to the traditional values and the moral teachings of the Bible.  I believe homosexuality is wrong and is an affront to the natural order that God established when he created male and females.  (Rom 1:24-28) But while I readily teach that homosexuality is sin, that doesn't mean that every element of the culture that surrounds the homosexual lifestyle is sin. 

  I started working on a sequel to Future Church last month because it is my belief that the church is facing an increasingly hostile environment.  I wanted to get some insights from a Pastor who is on the frontline of the cultural wars, so I interviewed Rev. Phil Busbee, the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church, whose office overlooks the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Trans-Gender Community Center in San Francisco. Busbee says, "All of the gay culture is not anti-biblical or even sinful or even wrong.  Some of it is actually commendable, and one of the things I think about in the gay community is they way they've developed a commitment to one another in community."  While Busbee upholds the Biblical standards and condemns the sin he sees in those who practice homosexuality, he also acknowledges the elements of their lifestyle that is commendable.   When a homosexual person is radically transformed by the power of Jesus Christ, we want them to leave their sin, but we would want them to bring into the church their commitment to community.  Romans 12:10 says, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;" (NASB) 

 If that issue is a difficult one to parse, just wait until we address the issue raised in Acts 15.  We understand that a new believer can't be totally the way they were before their conversion, but Acts 15 addresses another issue, do they have to adopt the current subculture of Christianity; or to put it another way, do they have to become like us when they are saved?

 Acts 15:1-5 says, "Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved! [2] But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy. [3] When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Thank you for reading the free preview of this sermon.  The full manuscript is available to Premium Members use these resources in their ministry.
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