Same Way (Again)

25. October 2023 Acts 0

Text: Acts 15:1-21

Theme: God’s way is the same for all, but not all see it the same way.

Key verses: “While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem…to talk to the apostles and elders about this question…they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them–much to everyone’s joy–that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, ‘The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.’ So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them…’why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.’ (v. 1-11) “When they had finished, James stood and said…’my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality…For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations” (v. 19-21).

What God said to me: Dwayne, this is a classic example of vetting and refining the truth. Often what people take as truth is really wive’s tales and assumptions and unproven beliefs based on tradition. Truth needs to be discerned among the many opinions and ideas people have. Notice the celebration that happened because the Gentiles were being converted. Everywhere Paul & Barnabas went people rejoiced, including in Jerusalem. All was going great until the cold water committee in Jerusalem walked in. “Some of the believers” were still holding on to traditions and beliefs based on their preferences and opinions. Note four important things the leaders considered and included in their final decision: 1) They had a “long discussion” together, implying that they listened to everyone’s point of view. 2) Rather than focusing on their differences, they emphasized the main beliefs they had in common, and they weighed their disagreements in light of those over-aching convictions. 3) They made their final decision based on 2 things: common convictions, and tried and true Mosaic laws that had been preached “for many generations.” 4) This discussion was led by Peter and James. These men were the most trusted and wise among the group. Strong, godly leadership is always needed to peacefully resolve important and passionate matters of theology and belief. Dwayne, next time theological disagreements arise among your church or non-profit leaders, follow this pattern to help you come to a peaceful and me-pleasing resolve.

What I said to God: Father, thank You for today, for letting me live and for showing Your amazing mercy on my life. Today is my 53rd spiritual birthday. What a journey You’ve invited me to have with You over these years. How blessed I am to still be walking and talking with You and enjoying that abundant life You promised. Please help me to always apply wise and careful discernment to my own beliefs and to those things our organization and church holds dear to. When I stand before You, it won’t matter what I or anyone else thought. Opinions won’t count then. Heaven and earth will pass away, but Your Word will stand forever. Please help me study Your Book of Instruction continually, to meditate on it day and night so I will be sure to obey everything written in it. As You promised Joshua, only then will I prosper and succeed in all I do. Hallelujah!