Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
1Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’— 18things known from long ago. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:1 – 21, New International Version)
Theme: The Local Church
Our passage is a bit long today, but that shouldn’t be a problem when we are considering Bible Study, right 😊? As we consider today’s passage, we are reminded that biblical interpretation is an essential component of Bible study. Differing biblical interpretations can result in serious differences amongst believers and also between believers and non-believers. We encounter such a situation in today’s passage.
The passage is from Acts 15:1 – 21 (presented above) and embedded in the story is a very important role for the local church where biblical interpretation is concerned. Please prayerfully read the passage and note how the local church functioned under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture.
- What role did the local church play in addressing the clash of interpretations?
- How do you see this role being displayed in your local church?
1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:1-8)
Hallelujah – He is Risen!
See you next year.
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:1-8)
Hallejuah – He is risen! Live in victory and see you next year.
As we wrap up our preparation for some intense focus on the Disciplines, which will commence on Monday next week, I have faint recollections of how I had to prepare for the start of a school term. There would be the inevitable check to make sure that I had all the class schedules, text books and other essential materials. One essential item that I thought about in preparation for our 40 Days of Discipline is a calendar (physical, electronic or mental). I once read that if you had access to a person’s calendar and their check book or credit card statement, you could tell what really matters to them. I believe this is true. Let me just focus on the Calendar today. If you are going to get the most out of the 40 Days of Discipline, odds are you will need to modify your calendar. What are you committed to changing? You may have to get up a bit earlier or give up on some TV watching or use your lunch time differently. Start thinking about your calendar and ask yourself, when God examines your calendar at the end of the 40 days will he conclude that you were serious about deepening your relationship with him?
Several years ago the topic of love languages became very popular. Many people tried to determine what their love language is and they also tried to see if their loved ones knew their love language. The Bible tells us that for God, obedience is a clear love language. 2 John 1:6(a) says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” As you have read carefully about the Disciplines are you seeing them as a list of rules or are you seeing them through the lens of love? Ask yourself why God would want you to practice the Disciplines?
On Day 1 of the 40 Days of Discipline journey I meditated on Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. What really struck me was that I have used this verse many times without thinking about how credible a reference I am. David the Psalmist was a credible reference. If I tell someone to taste a type of mango because it is good, they may take me seriously because they likely know how much I love mangoes. Is there something about my life though, that would make them want to taste and see that God is good. Obviously the statement should be believed because the Word of God says it, but I was convicted today to think about this from the vantage point of being a reference for the statement.
I look forward to God blessing every participant richly as they dedicate time to Him!