“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, ”Acts 15: 24”
The gathering of the council of Jerusalem was such 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.
Paul states some people came from Jerusalem “sent by James” and persuaded Peter to withdraw from the fellowship of the table with the gentiles. Paul saw both Peter’s and Barnabas’s actions as a threat to the freedom of the gospel for the gentiles. He publicly called Peter out on this saying it was wrong for Peter to force the gentiles to adopt the Jewish traditions and way of life to have a relationship with Jesus and be saved. Peter was then distressed by the conflict his actions had caused. Since it all started with messengers, people sent by James to persuade Peter, 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., and allowed them to eat and drink what they wanted. Where true religion and basic Christian ethics were involved, Paul was strong on his 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. He believed, as God had revealed to him in his dream, that no food or drink 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 something, the decision should depend on the conscience of the 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, Scriptures gave them no authority to say but they are claiming authority based on religion, tradition, and personal preference. They declare and prohibit restrictions on not only food and drink, but dress codes, worship places, worship 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 Jesus. 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 about or encounter Jesus and also 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 based on traditions and personal preferences to receiving the gospel and Jesus. They walk away because they find Christians difficult. They walk away from The Church, a place of hope, disturbed and troubled, because of these things having never encountered 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?
I want to make it clear that if Scriptures clearly prescribe or prohibit a behavior, lifestyle, action or attitude, then our surrender to Jesus as our Lord requires obedience to these. However, if you are are following something prohibited or prescribed based on tradition, personal preference, religion, or habit, if they are bringing you closer to Christ then follow them, but the requirement to follow them stops at your property line and you forever release the rest of the body of Christ from following them.
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.
My family, pray over what people and voices are you listening to that have no authority to put laws on the gospel you receive. Pray over are any of these voices coming from you? What hoops to jump through does our church have in place that can keep people from encountering Jesus we need to remove? In Jesus name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
Please share your reflections and prayers with us on this blog in the comment box below.
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
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