Message: In Acts 15 some men came from Judea
and started teaching the new gentile believers that they had to be circumcised
and follow the law or they couldn’t really be saved. This caused some sharp
debate so the apostles gathered together in Jerusalem to discuss it. Peter
pointed out that the Holy Spirit had already baptized the gentiles with the
Holy Spirit just like they had been baptized. He asked them, if the Holy Spirit
saw fit to baptize the gentiles, why should they make salvation more difficult
for them by adding these things that they and their ancestors were unable to
keep. It was agreed that they should list a few things that would serve them
well to abstain from, and sent the letter to the churches.
Command: Don’t follow God in a religious
mindset. It is a surrendered heart he is asking for.
Promise: When we surrender our hearts he will
lead us to change.
Warning: If we distance our hearts and live
unsurrendered, we will be tempted to set some basic rules and call it
Application: We don’t fight about circumcision in
the modern church today, but religion and the law is still very much a point of
contention because we fail to understand the heart change associated with salvation.
Without heart change we ask questions like “is it wrong to do___?” or we wonder
how far we can push our sin before we make God angry. Those kinds of attitudes
come from an unsurrendered heart. It would be similar to asking how far we
could flirt with someone before our spouse considers it cheating, or how nasty
and disrespectful could we act towards our spouse before they get mad and leave.
The men from Judea who were teaching this had not surrendered their hearts.
They were stuck in a religious mindset. This is not to say that we don’t still
honor God with our obedience, but our motive is no longer coming from an
unworthy position trying to appease a distant God. We have been given right
standing place with God and salvation allows us to be face to face with him.
Instead of being lead by the law in obligation, we are led by the Holy Spirit
in a surrendered heart. We have to be careful that we don’t slip back into a
religious mindset for ourselves and toward others. That we allow God to change
us constantly as we surrender our hearts. And that we wouldn’t exchange that
for following some basic rules while keeping our hearts at a distance.