“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
In our last visit we discussed the heated blow up Paul and Barnabas had as they contemplated a second missionary trip. I suggested, had they followed the pattern seen in the first church council in Jerusalem things would have ended more peaceably.
Acts 15 begins with Paul and Barnabas having a sharp dispute with those who wanted all new converts to submit to Jewish customs. They debated the issue prior to the church council. The council began with a lengthy discussion of the issue, followed by leaders describing what God did through them and how He blessed the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit like He had the Jewish believers.
After the presentations by those who had been on the front lines, James, who chaired the council, discerned that, “The words of the prophets are in agreement with” what had been described. After quoting from the prophets he continued, “It is my judgment, therefore,” to make a recommendation. The council decided to accept the recommendation and chose some of their own men to distribute to all the new churches comprised of Gentiles and some Jewish believers a letter that explained their decision.
In this letter they declared: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” to share with you our decision. The outcome was amazing: “The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.” Oh, that all disputes would end this way!
Note the process: dispute, debate, discuss, describe, discern, decide and distribute the decision. I believe Barnabas and Paul’s dispute could have been resolved peaceably and both be blessed by the church.
“Make plans by seeking advice” (Proverbs 20:18).