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We are pleased to present the sermons of Dr. James Merritt, one of America’s great expository preachers. For more than 40 years, Dr. Merritt has preached God’s Word through the local church he pastors, as well as through Touching Lives weekly television broadcasts. 

Dr. Merritt’s messages are available here via digital download, along with outlines, note pages, PowerPoint slides and other resources, for a modest cost.

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Fire Extinguishers

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Scriptures: Acts 15:1-35, 1 Samuel 16:7

As the early church grew we read in the book of Acts about the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul. It was Paul who first took the Gospel beyond the Jewish people to the Gentiles--those who were not among God's Chosen People of Israel. In Acts 15 we read about a controversy that almost split the church in two. Former Jewish believers would not accept the Gentiles without them undergoing Jewish rituals--something that Christ never commanded or intended.


In this fascinating moment in early church history, we not only find Paul and his companion Barnabas dealing with this sensitive issue, but also see how churches today can become derailed by tangents that take us away from God's central vision, purpose and mission for His church. In this message, Dr. James Merritt talks about four key mistakes we often make in today's church that put our ways above God's ways--and can dangerously push the church into a place of idols we make in our own image.


"We’ve got people today, if they could, they would make it illegal to go into a church wearing shorts and flip-flops. They would make it illegal to drink a cup of coffee in the worship center. They would make it illegal to sing anything except hymns and they would make it illegal not to do it out of a hymnbook. They really don’t care about relationships. They just care about rules. They really don’t care whether people come to church or not as long as they come dressed the way they think they ought to be dressed, looking the way they think they think they ought to look, acting the way they think they ought to act and doing what they think they ought to do. When you push tradition over truth you are a fire-extinguisher. When you push rules over relationships you are a fire-extinguisher." --Dr. Merritt


Keywords: mission, church, Holy Spirit, ignite, fire, witness, boldness, Acts, Luke, Pentecost, Paul, missionary, journey, Gentiles, Antioch, Jerusalem, Barnabas, circumcision, external, legalism, illegal, rules, preferences, worship, Pharisees, Peter, trouble, Dr. Albert Mohler, theology, debate, doctrine, issues, fellowship, beliefs, styles, music, differences, opinion


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