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August 18, 2021 – Acts 15

The Jerusalem Council is so real world. Luke tells us the unvarnished truth of what is going on in the early churches. There's a disagreement over the Gentiles, over how they are saved, whether or not they must become Jews, and then, how they are to conduct their lives. Must they follow the Mosaic law? The disagreement is summarized by Luke: “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses’” (15:6). And, of all people, who stood up to challenge this view? Peter!

And so, the Council sent with Barnabas and Paul a letter to the Gentiles affirming their faith and requiring nothing more of them than that they live holy lives according to their new profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The result? “. . . they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement” (15:30,31). And now, the same encouragement is ours, and we rejoice because of the gospel that has come to us! Our God requires of us obedience and right living, all which is spelled out in the Bible. At the same time, aren’t you glad that, rather than burdened down with Pharisaical legalisms, we have the sure hope of the gospel promises! As Paul put it, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15)

Wonderful grace of Jesus,

greater than all my sin;

how shall my tongue describe it,

where shall its praise begin?

Taking away my burden,

setting my spirit free,

for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me. -- Haldor Lillenas (1918)

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