Monday, May 7, 2012

Acts 15:6-12


Summary retelling of Acts 15:6-12

Because of the clear division, the apostles and the elders gathered together to consider the matter.  After plenty of debate, Peter got up and spoke about his experience with Cornelius in Caesarea.  He reminds the group that he himself had been chosen by God to be the first to bring Gentiles into the ranks of Christians without needing to be circumcised first.  He reminds the group that what is important is that they received the Holy Spirit from God and that God made no distinction among them.  Peter reminds them that they were cleansed by faith.  Finally, Peter tells them that anyone wanting to add more qualifications to salvation than faith is asking people to obey something that not even the Jews have been able to accomplish.  The assembly listened to Peter, Paul, and Barnabas as they spoke.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Peter reminds us to pay attention to experience.  Is God active?  Where is God active?  Clearly God was active when Peter was in Caesarea with Cornelius and his family.  If God was active among those Gentiles (who were neither circumcised nor baptized) then certainly God has made a statement about what is necessary.

Why is it that we as Christians tend to want everything to conform to our expectations?  Why do we try and put God in a box?  Is it important that we have people like Peter to remind us that God doesn’t dwell in a box?

Second Thought:
Peter also makes sure that we understand what the true test of faith is: the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is given to the faithful.  The Holy Spirit is elsewhere said to be the guarantor of our faith.  He is the seal through which our faith is promised.  When looking to make spiritual distinctions, it is important that we look for the Holy Spirit’s presence above all else.  For where the Holy Spirit is present, faith is present.  What else is absolutely needed beyond the Holy Spirit?

What have you been told in the past that is necessary?  According to what Peter appears to be teaching here (and elsewhere) are those things really important?  Is it possible that they can still be good – even if they are not absolutely necessary?  How?

Third Thought:
Peter then speaks to the history of the Jews.  The Jewish people have never been able to keep the Law.  Nobody can keep the Law.  The point of the Law is actually to show us how badly we cannot keep it and thus it drives us to understand our need for Christ.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to keep it; it just means that keeping it is not necessary for salvation.  If it is not necessary for salvation, then it is wrong to teach to anyone else that keeping it is necessary for salvation.  Rather, we should be teaching that we should desire to keep it as a response to our salvation.  In that statement there is truth.

How is it different to think about keeping the Law as something necessary for salvation versus keeping it as a response to salvation?  Which has a tendency to speak more about grace?  Which has a tendency to speak more about our love for God?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 15:13-21
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