Praise the Lord.
We read in Acts 15:1-6 “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
Sound familiar, it is basically the same argument we are hearing today in various forms. Paul’s conclusion to the Galatian church- Gal. 2:21: “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” There is no good news without Christ dying and being the “ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4).
Paul contended for the truth as he rebuked those persuaded by the law keepers- “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3) They began with the gospel and received the Holy Spirit by believing in it, not by what the Judaizers were offering through the law. Paul spoke the t same truth by the other apostles.
This infiltration had to be dealt with in the church as it caused a great controversy and was hindering their evangelism. Acts 15:7-38 “And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Peter is referring to Acts 10:38-11:18 when he first preached the gospel to the Gentiles (Cornelius and his house) “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, “not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord..”
How did the original apostles and Jews receive the Holy Spirit? In Acts 10:43-48, vs. 43 “… through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins. In vs. 44, we see the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles. In vs. 46, they manifested a gift of the Spirit after they heard the Gospel.
Till next week,
Elder Dr. Robert L. Harrison