Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 43 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 15 today and our focus is on how do we handle disputes when it is unclear who is right? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Finland and China – no cities listed, also Punjab, India, Ontario, Canada, Jefferson City, Missouri, Dallas, Texas and Seattle, Washington. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!

First, some listener commentary from our friend WhereWhatHuh:

I’ve been told that using the LORD’s Name in vain most specifically means trying to use it as an incantation, or to try invoke the presence of God as if He were required to appear at your command. Many Hebrew names were compounded with YHWH or variants of it, such as Elijah (El = Elohim, “God” + i “my” + Jah, a short form of JHWH = “My God is Yahweh”) or Yeshua (Yeh + Shua = “YHWH saves” or “YHWH is my salvation”) (Yeshua can be transliterated as Joshua or Jesse or Jesus), so clearly a respectful use of God’s name is acceptable. By contrast, Jesus tells us to definitely use His name. He orders us to pray in His Name and to ask blessings from God in Jesus’ Name. We must understand in this latter case that asking in Jesus’ Name is to ask what Jesus would ask were He the one asking, i.e., to pass on the order that He has given us. So we must not ask for things “In Jesus Name” that are not the will of God: We cannot ask for heroin “In the Name of Jesus,” as one example.

Next we move on to a most difficult, but common subject.

Acts 15 is when of my favorite chapters in the Bible – I love the Jerusalem Council, and the results of their meeting. I love less, however, the sharp dispute between Paul and Barnabas in this chapter. Previously, John Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas along on their evangelistic mission, but something happened. Luke doesn’t tell us much about what happened, but he does note that John Mark left:

Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and went back to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13 

Apparently it was more than John Mark just had to go home on some urgent need, because Luke tells us in chapter 15:

37 Barnabas wanted to take along John who was called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. Acts 15:37-39

So, John Mark abandoned or deserted Paul and Barnabas, at least in Paul’s view, and when Barnabas wanted to take him along and give him a second chance, this led to a very sharp disagreement between the two of them, resulting in their separation as a team. Very sad, right? I consider it a hallmark of authenticity that the Bible includes this description of the fight – shows that Acts is not a propaganda piece for the apostles.

Who was right? And the fascinating thing is that the Bible does NOT say – not even a hint. I tend to think Barnabas was closer, mercy triumphs and all, but I’ve really no idea, because we don’t know the details of John Mark’s abandonment. This episode, however, raises a big and important question – one that we Christians face very frequently.
How do we act when it is unclear who is right? The Bible is 100% truth and 100% inerrant, but does not give us advice for every single situation (such as this one.) A small selection of disagreements that can’t be fully answered by the Bible: Pews or chairs? Guitars used in worship, or not? Should we relocate our church building? Should we prefer a single pastor, or a married pastor, or a team of pastors? Should we sing Psalms only, or are Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs also ok?  And I could go on. The fact is that all of us have witnessed or been a part to disagreements that can’t be immediately and obviously answered by the Word of God. (I note here that many seem to claim that the Word is not clear on issues that it is explicitly clear on – sometimes we wish to ignore truth, or consider it outdated, or explain unpopular parts away…I’m not referring to that in this episode!)

  1. Make EVERY effort to maintain unity – even in disagreement. That seems to be more important than who is right. (When the Bible doesn’t CLEARLY state which position is right.) Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 
  2. Above all, love the person you might disagree with: 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. 
  3. Work towards agreement. Humbly seek to understand the other side and be understood. Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

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