Sunday, January 2, 2022

Totally up to date


Making sense of the Bible 5

New expectations:  Many wanted to make the Gentile converts into Jewish adherents. i.e.  committed to Torah laws and traditions. This wasn't working so the Acts15 conference was called. Paul and Barabbas described the transformation of ungodly heathens to Christ followers. Peter related to the elders how God taught him not to call God fearing Gentiles unclean (Acts 10). James connected the Divine interest in Gentiles from the Old Testament prophecies.

So the conclusion of the elders and apostles was to write the new terms and expectations of converted Gentiles.

1   "Abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols '   - worship

2   ' Abstain from blood and things strangled'   -   food

3   ' Abstain from sexual immorality '     - morals

These were significant in the  Gentile context, but please observe what was not included – Sabbath keeping, clean/unclean food, visiting the temple for festivals, offering sacrifices, vows, racial expectations, central government....

For many Jewish zealots, this was not good enough, and Paul was persecuted by them to the end of his life. Peter summarized the situation very well:-

"We believe that we will be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus , just as they will"  (Acts 15:11)

Notice the word GRACE -  That means that Jews and Gentiles would be accepted on equal term by God and by one another.

Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ – faith in Him the Son of God.

They preached this good news throughout the world  even to Spain and India. The Gentile believers faced many problems, so Paul with others gave direct instructions that reflected the holiness of God (repentance) and the overflowing grace (undeserved favour and forgiveness) that changes an ungodly Gentile into a follower of Jesus Christ the Lord. This is not presented as a new set of rules, but a new life, led by the Holy Spirit to live and love as the Lord Jesus.

The same Holy God of the Old Testament, honoured in a different way – grace removing sin and radiating the glory of His Son (2 Corinthians 3)

May I now encourage you to read the history of ' Acts', followed by the explanation of the Gospel in 'Romans'.  Then read the instructions to these groups of believers who like us were living in an ungodly society. You will be blessed.

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