All About GOD

All About GOD - Growing Relationships with Jesus and Others

SpacE.  Acts 15.1-18
At various times, at various places,
well-meaning church people have threatened to throw Christianity
hopelessly off course-
just as television's Lost in Space family was thrown off course by one of their own (in 1965).  Division, dissension, distraction oft come from within, as they did almost from the beginning of the Christian church.  We see this today as congregations divide over gray areas of Scripture, as they split over church government and so much more.  I see it in pastors being pulled this way and that, away from teaching the pure Word of God, distracting them from feeding their listeners 'meat' and instead, giving them Maypo.
Having just traveled with Paul and Barnabas on their 1400-mile trek, we have witnessed their teaching, encouraging and loving folks to Jesus Christ; but, the Church is now in danger-and yes, it is from within.  Luke records this critical moment in the history of the Christian church when legalizers try to institute rules on new believers, (specifically the Gentiles), that would put them in bondage.  'Want to belong?  Gotta do this first.'  Wait, Christ came for freedom! He did not come to saddle his children with rules.  "Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law."1
A big, pivotal meeting is held in Jerusalem to debate the legalism that is trying to rear its head in the Christian community.  Had the regulations insisted on by the men prevailed, Christianity would be a sect of Judaism, not the Christianity of grace. [Did you get that?]  But thankfully, "Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently."2 Vehemently?  Yes, this was critical-they were willing to go to the mat on this one. 
And then, Peter adds his voice to theirs as he stands and relays the story of how God spoke to him about the gospel being for all men.3 "God knows people's hearts," Peter said, "We are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus."4 (Ah - so it is not our good works, good standing or good looks that put us in good standing with God?  Nope, not so much)
Barnabas and Paul then stand to tell of the miracles God had done through them,5 affirming that God was truly at work in the Gentiles-and that was so, without their being converted to Judaism first.  So much was at stake! Barnabas and Paul held a passionate position based on the truth of the Word of God, rather than the rules and religious traditions of men.  May that be so of us today as well.
Finally, James - the brother of our Lord, and a leader in the early Christian church - takes the floor, appealing to his brothers in Christ.  He takes a different tack, recalling something from Isaiah that specifically included the Gentiles, 'those I have called to be mine. The Lord had spoken.'6
Each had a different perspective, a different understanding which had to be proffered, in order to preserve the integrity of the Gospel.  Peter spoke of how God had come to him to let them know that the Good News was for all people.  Barnabas and Paul simply told what they had experienced as God worked the miraculous through them.  And James recalled to the minds of the listeners the scriptures - that which they had studied and given themselves for years. 
And don't you see-you and I must be just as convinced of that which makes the truth of the Gospel so vital.  Rather than being distracted by a Dr. Smith-getting lost in space, we must not be pushed or pulled by any one or anything, we must know for ourselves that Christ came to love and to bring freedom to the captive . . . to set us free!  That we might never ever be lost in space.  Amen.
1 - Galatians 5.1
2 - Acts 15.2
3 - Acts 10-11: Cornelius and Peter
4 - Acts 15.8, 11
5 - Acts 15.12
6 - Isaiah 45.21" border="0" vspace="0" hspace="0" />
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