Just when Paul and Barnabas are resting the in afterglow of the Gentiles coming to Christ, some Jewish believers from Judea come down to try and tell the Gentile believers “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
This flies in the face of all Paul and Barnabas have just experienced. When the conflict can’t be resolved the church at Antioch sends them and a few others to get advice from the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem. On the way, P &B – just happen to be passing through Gentile territory and decide to tell all about what God had done on their missionary trip.
In Jerusalem, they are welcomed and get to tell their whole story to the church. Here, again there are a group of Pharisee believers who want to hold to the old ways: “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
The Apostles and Elders meet to consider the problem. After much debate Peter stands to speak. Basically he reminds everyone that salvation has come to everyone by the grace of the Lord Jesus. They listen again to Barnabas and Paul and to how God affirmed the message to the Gentile by signs and wonders. After this, James wraps it up by showing how the things which have occurred lines up with exactly what had been written by the prophets.
Guard against division – I can imagine the frustration Paul and Barnabas must be feeling. They have just risked their lives bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, God has worked in amazing ways and now there is opposition from within their own ranks! I’m impressed they can be so calm and willing to defer to the Apostles. This seeking of peace can only come from their desire to be led by the Lord and not cling to their own understanding.
Seek the Lord’s direction. This is not always an easy thing to do as a group but the leadership was willing to take on the task. They also knew “truth” when they heard it from Peter, P & B and James. To me this speaks to wanting to know God’s answer…whatever it is.
Be willing to trade the old for the new. I love that the circumcision bunch brought up their objections. That was brave and they probably thought they were doing the right thing. I think we should do that too. But I also think we have to be willing to trade them in if that is not where God is leading.
He is able to guide those who seek Him – even a committee!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
About the World?
Salvation comes by Grace through Faith – it is the gift of God.