Acts 15:1-3 1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.
Some Jewish Christians are insisting that salvation cannot happen to a man who has not been circumcised according to the Law of Moses. The teaching causes “no small dissension and debate between them and Paul and Barnabas”.
Those of us who get involved in “no small” dissensions need to remember that not everything we disagree with others about is worthy of a contentious debate. The church is to be marked by great love, unity and peace.
However, there are some issues worthy debating vociferously. Near the top of that list is the Gospel and that is what is at stake in this instance in Acts 15. Things for which we should be willing to contend should always at least include the infallibility of Scripture, the Trinity, the Person and work of Christ, holiness of life, and some others. The list is not extremely long but it is extremely important. There is a horrifying view that doctrine does not matter, that what has divided professing Christians over the years has all been over nothing, and that putting doctrine on the back burner will help win people to Christ. We should contend vociferously for the faith.
What causes you to debate with no small dissension? Is it the essentials of the faith or is it things more related to things born out of our all too common self-centeredness that characterizes us far too much? Is it the glory of our great triune God and the amazing Gospel that causes you to be ready to debate, or is it more personal concerns?