“Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,” v24
The events of Acts 15 and the gathering of the council of Jerusalem was an important event to Luke that he took great care to write about. Paul in Galatians 2:1-14 give an autobiographical narrative to this event and provides some details. I suggest you read it.
Some people came from Jerusalem “sent by James” Paul says and persuaded Peter to withdraw from the fellowship of the table with the gentiles. Paul saw Peter’s and later Barnabas’s actions as a threat to the liberty of the gospel for the gentiles. He publically called Peter out on this saying it was wrong for Peter to force the gentiles to adopt the Jewish way of life to be saved. Peter was distressed by the conflict his actions caused. Since it all started with messengers, people sent by James, then the matter had to be taken up with James and the Council in Jerusalem that was under the chairmanship of James, who was the brother of Jesus.
The council’s decision basically was to have the gentiles prohibit Idolatry, and sexual perversion and fortification. Where true religion and basic Christian ethics were involved, Paul was strong on teaching gentiles to avoid idolatry and fornication. But in matters of food and drink which were religiously and ethically neutral, he refused to lay down the law. No food or drink he maintained was “unclean”, even if it had been previously forbidden by the low of Moses. Even if the food had come from an animal sacrificed to a pagan divinity. It was human beings that mattered, not food and drink. If a Christian was considering whether or not to eat this or drink that, the decision should depend on the conscience of the fellow Christian. Paul always argued from the order of creation and the ethical implications of a law-free gospel. To which I say Amen!!!
Which brings me back to the verse I quoted above, “Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,” v24
There are unfortunately way to many persons and voices in the church today going out and saying troubling words and saying unsettling things which God gave them no authority to say, Scripture gives them no authority to say but they are claiming authority based on religion, tradition, and personal preference to say. They declare and prohibit restrictions on not only food and drink, but dress codes, worship places and styles, restrictions on the means of grace of who can baptize, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and pray prayers of reconciliation. These things hinder people from encountering the gospel and encountering Christ. Paul was saying to the council that these things will turn away the gentiles, those that don’t know the gospel and Jesus, before they even hear it and then burden them while they try to listen the gospel. The same holds true in the church today. Most people today who do not attend church, who leave the church and walk away from the gospel, do not do so because they encountered Jesus and found him to difficult, but because they encounter at the door of the church hoops to jump through and restrictions to receiving the gospel and Jesus. They walk away from this disturbed and troubled, never encountering Jesus. A pole was taken asking people about spirituality, Jesus, and Christians. When asked about spirituality, people responded positively, there is a need for spiritual growth in people. When asked about Jesus, people responded positively. Jesus and what he represents has a positive image and message. When asked about Christians, the responses was negative. Why, when spirituality and Jesus are supposed to be at our core and what shapes and defines us?
As I said in my previous post, we need to get back to simply Jesus, the simple gospel of Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, ad the forgiveness of sins.
Pray over what people and voices are you listening to that have no authority to put laws on the gospel you receive. Are any of these voices coming from you? What hoops do we at ODC have in place that can keep people from encountering Jesus we need to remove?
Please share your reflections in the comment box below.