Sunday, August 5, 2012

From Acts to Revelation Part 39 – The Council

From Acts to Revelation
Part 39 – The Council
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Last week, we spoke of Paul and Barnabas returning to Antioch, where they continued to teach and preach to the people.

This week, we see that some people from Judea show up in Antioch, and begin to preach that you cannot have salvation unless you obey the laws of Moses, and are circumcised.

We see how the first church struggles with old thinking, and how the Apostles must deal with false teachings among believers.

We can also look at today's scripture and ask ourselves;

1)     Is someone placing a yoke on me, because they believe I must “do” something in order to be saved?

2)     Or, am I trying to place a yoke on a new believer, pushing them away from God instead of drawing them near Him?

This does not have to do with “obedience” to Christ, and all He commands, but rather, “adding” or “taking away” from what Jesus commands, simply because that's the way “WE” think it should be!


Acts 15:1-6
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart,showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 “‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’
18     things known from long ago.
19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

a.      These people came to Antioch and taught the believer's they must be circumcised to receive salvation.
i.       One of the biggest problems the early church faced, people preaching contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

b.     This was contrary to the teachings of Paul and Barnabas
i.       They were refuting the message of God's grace through faith.

ii.    In other words, they were trying to add the Law of Moses to the Gospel of Grace.

iii. Some denominations still attempt to do this today

c.      The church then sent Paul and Barnabas back to Jerusalem to ask the Apostles and Elders this question.

a.      When they asked the counsel in Jerusalem, some of the believer's, who were Pharisee's, agreed, that one must be circumcised to be saved.

b.     Peter answered them.
i.       God chose the Gentiles to hear the message through me (referring to Cornelius specifically)

ii.    They received the Holy Spirit, just as we did (without circumcision and law keeping)

iii. God did not discriminate between them and us (in other words, these Gentiles are just as saved as Jews, and without all of the laws of the Jews)

iv.   faith in Christ alone, and not by Law keeping!

c.      Why do you (those who want to put Old Testament Law on Believers), try to test God?
i.       Because they were calling into question that which God had done.

ii.    You want to place yokes that neither you, nor I, nor our ancestors could bear!
iii. Peter was simply stating that the Law of Moses was beyond the ability of human beings to meet, because of man's fallen condition.

d.     It is the Grace or our Lord Jesus Christ that saves (not of anything you can do)
i.       vs 11 “But we (the Apostles) believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be Saved (without law-keeping), even as they (the Gentiles).

a.      The assembly listened then as Paul and Barnabas gave accounts of the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. (vs. 12)

b.     Then James (the Lord's Brother and presiding Elder in Jerusalem) spoke
i.       He reminded the Pharisee believer’s of scripture

ii.    Amos 9:11 speaks of the church age, and the second coming of the Lord.

c.      Let's not make it more difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
i.       It does not make any sense to demand certain things of the Gentiles, claiming such things are needed to be saved, when in fact the people are already saved!

d.     Let us write them a letter, telling them
i.       Abstain from food sacrificed to idols (blood not drained from animal)

ii.    Sexual Immorality (LIT. fornication = ALL forms of immorality)

iii. Strangled Meat (blood not drained from animal)

iv.   and blood (not to eat blood. Which was common among the heathens in those days; blood was not to be eaten. However, this did not refer to transfusions; man is saved by the shed blood of Christ, so blood must be treated accordingly.)

v.      I believe that the forbidding of eating blood came from the Holy Spirit, to protect God's people from disease and parasites.

e.      He closes with a fact, that if the Gentiles care to know what the Law of Moses states, they can hear it an any Synagogue where it is preached every Saturday (Sabbath).


We need to be mindful of the restrictions we place on new converts.

It is NOT our place to tell them what they “must” do, beyond what Jesus Christ and the Apostles have taught on salvation.

Anyone placing restrictions or requirements of the Old Testament on believer's, is in direct opposition to what Jesus Christ, and the Apostles taught on Salvation through Grace, which we receive by Faith in the lord Jesus Christ.

Not by works, not by circumcision, not by obeying the Laws of Moses, or the ten Commandments, but by Grace, received by our Faith in Jesus Christ.

If anyone is placing a yoke upon you, read the scriptures, and see if it is required by Jesus Christ, who said, “Obey all that I command you”

If you are placing a yoke on another, be sure you know the Word of God, and you understand that which you are placing on another believer, otherwise, you will be as the Pharisee's in the scripture today, testing God.

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!