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The Kinship of Sanctification by Pastor Paul Becker


[Post-Sermon Commentary:  Sanctification is how Christians are set apart from their former sinful ways, to be conformed to the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit by God's Word.  We must realize that we are not sanctified apart from relationships with other believers. Let us take a lesson from students who learn chemistry. A chemistry teacher offers students instruction on theory. Students then apply theory in what is commonly called "Chem Lab." Theory and practice are how Chemists are formed.  Let's look at ourselves in relationship to Jesus (the Chemistry Teacher) and his Church (The Chem Lab) when dealing with conflict.]


Acts 15 shows us a conflict between two Apostles, Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 13, we learn that a young, spiritually immature man named John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas during a missionary journey. In Acts 15, John Mark returned to rejoin Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas wanted to give John Mark a second chance, but Paul disagreed. Luke tells us that the disagreement was sharp.  Paul and Barnabas agreed to continue their missionary work and to separate. Paul chose a man named Silas to go on a missionary journey. Barnabas took John Mark on a different missionary journey. The disagreement and separation between Paul and Barnabas provide valuable lessons for Christians engaged in ministry.  What can we learn?


  • Interpersonal disputes will happen in the local church. Disputes should not hinder believers from delivering the gospel to others.


  • Grace, a powerful tool, can be demonstrated amid disagreements. Paul and Barnabas found an acceptable solution: to part ways to stay on mission. They didn't harbor bitterness or animosity; they maintained a problem-solving posture, showing us how to resolve conflicts with grace and hope.


  • Christians can have different perspectives on practical matters. Barnabas saw potential in John Mark and was willing to pour time and encouragement into him. Paul's ministry was met with conflict, persecution, and physical threats. His mission work demanded a different level of maturity than John Mark possessed. Paul discerned that Silas was an appropriate mission partner for him. The following chapters in Acts prove that Silas was appropriate.  It should be reported that in two letters, Paul asked for John Mark to come to him while he was under house arrest in Rome (2 Tim 4:11; Col 4:10).  John Mark was an appropriate partner to Paul for another time, place and purpose. This is proof of the validity of every point you are now reading.


  • Division can result in multiplication. When Paul and Barnabas parted ways, two mission teams were formed, and the gospel was advanced.


God's sovereignty redeems disagreement between Christians. He uses imperfect people and their conflicts to test their love for each other, challenge them to mature, and advance his kingdom. Therefore, we should not get our underwear in a bunch and be taken off our mission by drumming up drama when there are disagreements. There is no room for an ethic of taking our ball and going home.  Our ethic should be a shared commitment to be Christ's witnesses in our "Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8), empowering us to grow and learn from our conflicts.


In summary, Paul and Barnabas's story teaches us the importance of standing together in our disagreements. It inspires us to find ways to accomplish the mission Jesus gave us, emphasizing the unity in our shared purpose. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us to be more like Jesus through grace, humility, love and unity in the mission of Christ. 


Lord, help us value our kinship in sanctification at FPCB. Amen.


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