May 18, 2018
READ: Acts 15:1-11
Why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke.... We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus (vv.10-11).
Nelson Mandela didn’t just acknowledge that the treatment of black Africans in South Africa was a terrible injustice—he went to great lengths to reverse it. He endured prison for twenty-seven years, confined with little to eat and being forced to labour for long hours—including pounding gravel. After he was set free in 1990, he continued to work tirelessly to dismantle apartheid and establish a more just government in South Africa.
The early church demonstrated a similar commitment to doing what’s right. In Acts 10:44-45, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Gentiles, confirming that God’s passionate plan is for people of all nations to be brought into the kingdom of God. Despite this, a group of Jews called the Judaizers insisted that Gentiles had to obey the law of Moses and undergo circumcision in order to be true believers in Jesus (15:1). Their influence was a serious threat to the unity of the church and to the work of the Spirit.
The response of the apostles to this challenge was comprehensive. They first gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the problem and came to the conclusion that Gentile believers didn’t have to be circumcised. Then they sent the apostle Paul to hand-deliver the message of this decision to the churches of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia (vv.22-23). And when the apostle Peter stopped eating with Gentiles who weren’t circumcised, Paul didn’t hesitate to rebuke him firmly (Galatians 2:11).
God’s desire for people from every tribe, nation and tongue to be gathered to Himself hasn’t changed, and neither should our commitment to that goal. Like Paul, may we be willing to go to great lengths to protect and foster this wonderful gift of God.
365-day plan: Psalm 145:1-21
Read Galatians 3:26-29 to see how Paul described the body of Christ, and consider how difficult it would have been for him to think this way as a Pharisee!
How does it encourage you to know that people from all nations are to be brought into God’s kingdom? How can you work to see this become a reality?