Acts 15 and His call “come up here”
The scriptures are filled with a constant theme, one of change. From the opening verses to the end of Revelation we find God moving, expressing His nature, and our need to embrace Him on His terms. Just as science has observed, and scripture indicates the Lord is ever expanding, just as the physical universe is also. There is a message here, and that is to remain fluid through the Living Word.
One of the prime examples of this is recorded in the book of Acts. Here we see how the Lord uses the fruit of His Spirit to express His will, or to provide a means to move forward. This was no small event; the elders of Jerusalem understood life from a point of view that had worked for them and Paul and Barnabas came to present something new, even radical and the discourse that resulted yielded to the will of our Lord.
“When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.” ~ Acts 15:4~6
Here we see how tradition is challenged by the Holy Spirit, and the conflict is resolved not by standing on a principle, or even a revelation, but the obvious fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
“And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” ~ Acts 17:7~10
Next James speaks and his words are profound, not only for the time at hand, they ring true for us today. We must allow the Living Word to be our constant guide. Using this Word as our interpreter for scripture, and moving in accordance to what we see, in this trust is developed, and as we see from this example the advancement of Truth moves the body of Christ forward, and upward.
“But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”
All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me.
“Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
“With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
‘AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT,
SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,’
SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO.
“Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,
but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.” ~ Acts 15:11~20
The words of James were profound, they had deep impact at the time they were spoken, and this provided peace where there had been misunderstanding, grace where law had been the guide, and the body of Christ flourished as a result. This was a huge event, and one we today can gain from. We all must keep in mind that the Lord is never stagnant, and His calling is one of constant growth, change, and ever deepening appreciation for the Word. In this as Paul stated “in Him we move and have our being”.
As we surrender our pet theories, doctrines, and teaching for the appropriation of the Living Word we will always find the need to embrace His calling,His urging to “come up here”.
“it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Acts 15:25.26
This deeply significant passage of scripture provides us insight into understanding the will of our Lord, and how to address conflict. Today the body of Christ would do well to respond in like manner.
Just as the early church was transitioning from the temple mindset of the previous covenant and needed insight on how to move in the Lords will, today the same need is present. There is a movement of the Lord that is from the church age into the Kingdom age. Today there is a great need for the body to move into the Kingdom age.
“When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.” Vs.31
Please stay tuned for part II