Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Acts 15:13-21

Summary retelling of Acts 15:13-21

James – the brother of Jesus rather than the disciple; remember that James the disciple has been martyred already – gets up to speak after Peter.  James adds his testimony to Peter, affirming that the Holy Spirit has gone out to the Gentiles.  James then cites Amos 9:11-12, paraphrasing it a good bit to show how it applies to this context.  In so doing James makes it clear that the inclusion of the Gentiles is part of the rebuilding of God’s true followers – a distinction made by faith rather than genealogy.  James then gives advice to the Gentiles that nothing be added to the requirement of salvation but rather that once they are genuinely receiving the Holy Spirit that they should desire to follow God’s ways as a response. 

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
James adds his voice to the discussion.  How neat is it to see one of Jesus’ own brothers rise up and defend the work that He is doing in the world!  Remember that Jesus’ family originally thought that He was out of His mind. (See Mark 3:20-21) They originally wanted to take Him home and straighten Him out.  Yet here in this passage we can see confirmation that James realized the error of his ways and has now come to follow Jesus!  James realizes that it was not Jesus who needed straightening out but rather it was himself!

How much do you think humbleness played a part in James’ conversion?  Why would James need to be willing to be humble?

Second Thought:
James affirms what Peter and Paul and Barnabas have already said.  The faithful support the faithful.  Actually, what really happens is that the faithful genuinely look for God in other people and then support God.  When a person is genuinely looking for God, it becomes pretty easy to know where we should place our support.  It is when we let things like “loyalties to other people” get in the way that we find ourselves in conflict.

What is the best way to know God and thus be able to look for Him and recognize Him in other people?

Third Thought:
James asserts that there need not be any regulations added to salvation but that the council should advise them to follow the Law out of a response to their salvation.  James specifically mentions to avoid sexual immorality (human fornication), the things of idols (spiritual fornication), and the things of blood (violence and the destruction of the community).  We would be wise to take James’ advice today!

In what ways do you see our society as a culture that could be better if we were less violent, less interested in physical fornication, and less interested in spiritual fornication?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 15:22-27
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