Acts 15 v 6 - 35

Rather a long passage! My apologies, but the reader can feel the bustle and movement in reading a long passage, whereas a short passage can break up that feel!

'DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT' should be the banner headline of this passage and the Church leaders manage to do that successfully!

Peter is the first person to speak supporting Paul and Barnabas in their stance against those who would make Christianity into a part of Judaism. Ten years before this council, Peter had been led by the Holy Spirit to meet with Cornelius, who we have read became the first Gentile convert and received the Holy Spirit. The Gentiles may have been unclean according to Jewish Law, but God had cleansed their hearts through His Spirit. It had become clear that the ONLY WAY to experience full salvation was to receive the free gift of God in an act of self-surrendering faith. God can never be put in our debt: the way to victory is surrender, the way to power is through admitting our own helplessness.

It does appear from the text that things hung in the balance, that it was feasible that the Church may have decided to have accept the stance of those advocating a Jewish religious direction. However, James as leader of the Jerusalem church speaks: the resurrected Jesus had appeared to him, he was a pillar of the Church-Galatians 1 v 19-and he was called James the Just, as a good man and a righteous observer of the Law. He declared that nothing should be an obstacle to Gentiles entering the Church and he proposed-so as to make it possible for strict Jews to have fellowship with the newcomers-to bring in certain regulations that Gentiles ought to keep: to abstain from eating meat previously offered to idols (Paul deals with this at length in 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9). As well, they must be sexually chaste and abstain from eating things which had been strangled and contained the blood of the animal, eating only kosher meat.

What a great example the Early Church is to the modern Church! No sooner had a decision been made than letters were sent out to the churches informing them: the scattered Church moved forward in unity! Not only were letters sent, but personnel too: Paul and Barnabas, but Judas and Silas too, to guarantee the veracity of the communication. We have much to learn from the example of the actions of the church in Acts and one of them is that a face to face meeting with someone is nearly always far more effective than a letter, text or email!

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