The Acts of Disciples
They Have Demands
Scripture Reading: Acts 15:1-21
Key Verse: Acts 15:1
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Today’s Key Verse does not tell who these “certain people” who were preaching to the believers that circumcision was necessary to be saved. However, we do find out later in the chapter that the leaders of the early church did not authorize these men to speak:
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. (Acts 15:24).
Paul and Barnabas knew they needed to fix this error. They traveled to Jerusalem, the headquarters for the early church, and asked the leaders to decide what they were to demand of the Gentile believers. James, one of the leaders of the church, wrote the letter sent to the Gentile believers:
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things… (Acts 15:28-29).
By this letter, the leaders of the early church settled this issue. Gentile believers would not need circumcision to be saved.
From a literal standpoint, circumcision is not very relevant to us today. However, there are some principles that are.
The first principle is that God appoints and anoints leadership in His church. Therefore, respect is due to the pastors and leaders in our churches today. That does not mean they are perfect, and hopefully they are quick to admit their human frailties and failures. Most churches have both pastoral leadership and elders (or Boards of Directors) to hold each other accountable.
I fear that many church congregations have lost respect for their leadership. I am sure that loss of respect is due at least in some part to the mistakes and failures of their leaders. However, God still expects His people to respect the offices of leadership in His church. This does not mean turn a blind eye to the mistakes and failures, but it does mean we must always use grace and forgiveness to deal with these problems.
God cannot bless a people who refuse the authority of leaders whom He has put in place. We can disagree without being disrespectful and belligerent, but it is God who put leaders in place and He expects His people to submit to their authority. Romans 13:1 confirms these truths.
Father, we are desperate for Your help and blessings in our churches today. Grant us wisdom and courage to be the people that You want us to be! I pray this in Jesus’s Name, amen.