Let’s go to a church meeting.
JUNE 30, 2022
Hey, let’s go to a church meeting, on this edition of Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth, that God isn’t mad at you? Keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We finished up the 14th chapter of Acts. And I fear sometimes that I spent too much time there. I could have spent a lot longer, so be thankful for little things. We’re going to move now into the 15th chapter of Acts and a church meeting. You know, I’ve often said that if I get to heaven and Jesus calls a meeting, I’m in the other place. I don’t care how important the meeting is, how well it goes or what’s decided, I don’t want to go. I think I told you one time at our church, we were coming out of choir practice. Yeah. I told you, but I’m going to tell you again, and our elders were coming out of a session meeting. That’s a meeting of elders and they looked like death warmed over. I mean, there was just kind of this black pall over their heads. And I started laughing at them and one of the elders said, Brown, what are you laughing at? And I said, because I just thought that I never again in my entire life have to attend an elders meeting. But that’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to go to kind of an elders meeting. We’re going to go to a church meeting and there’s a lot to be learned when we go there. Frankly, when I teach this chapter of Acts, it causes me to wince because I’ve experienced almost everything that’s there. And I’m not putting down, by the way we need those meetings. We need our leaders. We need to plan. We need to get together, so that what we do, we need to pray together. We need to plan together. So, you can take everything that I just said from this cynical old preacher. And please don’t include it in the transcript now. Okay? But at the 15th chapter of Acts, starting in the first verse, we’re going to go to a church meeting.
But some men came down from
and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you’re circumcised, according to the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they pass through both Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of the Gentiles, and they gave great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinctions between us and them, but cleaned their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as they will. And all the assembly kept silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David which has fallen; I will rebuild the ruins, and I will set it up, and the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from old.’ therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble these Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from unchastity, and from what is strangled, and from blood. For from early generations, Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
Now, the issue here, and we’re going to spend, we don’t have that much time today, but we’ll start into it seriously next week. The issue here is whether Gentiles, Goyam had to become Jewish with all that meant, observing the law of God, all of the Holy Days, being circumcised, being called Jewish in order to be saved, or they could be saved after that. And what goes on in this particular meeting is nothing less than astounding. It’s amazing. Every religious group protects their religious group and they become quite critical of anybody, in any way, anytime varies from what they believe is the truth they’ve been given. I hate the canceled culture that we’re in right now. I really do. I think we’re living in a time of great danger because people are not allowed to say what they think. They’re not allowed to speak views with which the major narrative disagrees. And that drives me nuts and it makes me angry. But listen to me, that’s true in the church too. The church has had a canceled culture also. And so, what it, and it’s almost in our DNA. And there’s something to be said for protecting the faith once delivered to the saints. But in some cases, God moves and things began to change and hardly ever does a religious institution recognize and affirm and go with the changes that God brings, but here, in Jerusalem with James who’s the president of the church at the time. And Peter who’s the rock of the church at the time. And the elders and the other apostles, they take what Paul and Barnabas has said, and they said, God is doing a new thing. And because God is doing a new thing, we’re going to go with God. So, Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised. They’ve got to be careful not to bring offense because they’re in and out of the synagogues all the time. So, there’s certain things they need to do, but at bottom line, we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, not circumcision, not obeying the law, not being good, not being religious, not joining a synagogue. We’re saved by the grace of Christ, period. This was a major and wonderful change in the church. And you hardly ever see that kind of thing happening, but it happened here. So, everything I told you at the beginning of this broadcast about not going to church meetings. And how, if I get to heaven, if Jesus calls a meeting, I’m in the other place. Erase all of that, because there is one meeting I would like to attend and it was in Jerusalem. It was a place where God did something very special and very astounding. This is a big deal. It really is a big deal. If the church had decided at the beginning that they were going to be a part of Judaism with all that involved. And that people had to first go through the training and the discipleship of Judaism. And the men needed to be circumcised. The church would have died in the first century. And it would have just been a little Jewish sect, but these guys, and we can learn from them, were saying, listen to what God says. Find out where Jesus is going. Follow him, no matter if you don’t understand, follow him and see what he does. Hey, you can think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That wraps up another marvelous week of discovering God’s truth here in the book of Acts. If you missed any episodes, be sure to swing by keylife.org to listen anytime you want for free. And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Friday Q&A. Well, I believe it was the great 20th century poet philosopher M.C. Hammer who said, we got to pray. We got to pray just to make it today. I hear you Hammer. And you’re right, but listen, sometimes praying is hard. That’s why I want to tell you about a CD called The Tenacity in Prayer. This is a conversation between Steve and our friend Pete Alwinson based on Steve’s book called Approaching God. If you ever find yourself reluctant to pray, afraid to pray, maybe just don’t know what to say. Then get your copy of this CD right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an e-mail to [email protected] to ask for that CD. By mail, send your request to
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