Google+ 01/24/14 The Joy is in Jesus!

Acts 15:1-4

 

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria,

Some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers:

“Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently.

Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem,

Accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.

The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem,

And they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers.

They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church,

Including the apostles and elders.

They reported everything God had done through them.

 

In part five of our six-part devotion entitled, "Acts of Joy For Jesus!" we see Paul and Barnabas fighting the Jewish legalists in the church.  As we all know, Jesus came to save everyone.  While the Bible is a canon of sixty-six books that all work together, there are things that occurred in the Old Testament that are amended by Jesus in the New Testament.  One of those was the changing of a Jewish tradition, which focused exclusively on the males of the household.  If the head of the household chose to follow God and obtain His favor, then the entire household was blessed by God.  There are numerous examples of this in the Old Testament.  When Jesus arrived, He changed all that.  Now salvation has become an individual blessing and commitment.  It is for everyone, Jew and Gentile, male and female.  After Peter's first message on Pentecost, and Jesus's final instruction as He ascended into heaven, circumcision was no longer the covenant sign for believers.  Accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior took the place of this Jewish tradition.  The message from Jesus was that He was enough.  Nothing else.  In order to preserve the church's perceived "power," the legalists confounded and confused people as they grew in this new faith.  These Jewish legalists didn't want anything to change, but Paul and Barnabas disagreed.  This prompted the church to send them to Jerusalem to ask the apostles.  Off they went, but look what happened along the way.  Paul and Barnabas stopped and preached the gospel to the Gentiles!  They reported to the churches at Phoenicia and Samaria that people were being converted.  What happened?  Everyone was filled with great joy!!!  As we travel today, let's stand up for what we know to be right in Jesus.  Don't let anyone twist the truth.  We have "legalists" in every denomination who wish that things would never change.  Accepting that Christ is enough, and always will be, is not a popular position with these church folks.  They do not want to give up their long-standing traditions that Jesus simply says are not necessary.  Rather, they want us to believe that Jesus is not enough, and what they have to offer is at least equally important.  Usually, this creates much turmoil in churches and results in many walking away from the church and God.  I hear the stories every day!  If we have turmoil and a lack of peace in our lives or churches, we should look at this lesson today in great detail.  Remember, "The Joy is in Jesus!"