Summary: Talks about what it means to follow Jesus. The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 deals with this issue and still impacts us today.
• Last week we talked about Paul’s suffering and how he was permanently and painfully ill. How we approach God in suffering.
• There are moments in history that alter the shape of life.
• Sometimes they are well chronicled and noted like landing a man on the moon.
• Other times they fly under the radar and go almost unnoticed yet they are profoundly impacting.
• The Council of Jerusalem, Acts 15, was one of those events. Most of you have no idea it meant anything, but it impacts you greatly today.
• For 10-15 years the church had grown primarily with Jewish believers.
• But now that non-Jews or Gentiles were opening to Jesus a great debate broke out.
• What does it take to be a Christian?
• What does it take to be saved?
• Can you work your way to heaven? Be good?
I. FIGURING OUT HOW GRACEFUL GOD IS
• We are told that the first sermon ever preached in the early church came from Peter in Acts 2, at Pentecost.
• Nearly 3000 people, all Jews from all over the world gave their hearts to Jesus.
• But as far as they were concerned this was not new. It was a continuation of what they believed.
• It was an extension of Judaism. The next step past Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus.
• 10-15 years later a problem arose…non-Jews were also coming to Jesus in Antioch, Syria and other towns.
• Many of the Jewish Christians were not ready for that and didn’t know what to do with these folks.
• Jesus was not “the” Messiah, but “their” Messiah.
• These new believers began to meet together and their meetings looked nothing like those the Jewish Christians ran.
• They were leaving pagan Gods, sensual slavery to follow Jesus. It was radical and life changing.
• But the Jews asked, “How can you follow a Jewish Messiah without becoming Jewish?”
• They didn’t leave all their old behaviors immediately which massively offended the Jews.
• They knew nothing of ceremonial cleansing before entering the temple. Something all Jews did.
• They ate things Jews would never eat!
• It was obvious to the Jewish believers that these non-Jews needed to be schooled in Judaism before they could participate.
• That may not sound like a bad idea until you understand that all Jewish men had to be circumcised according to their law.
• Which means they would have to tell these guys to get circumcised.
II. HOW DO YOU BECOME A FOLLOWER OF JESUS
Acts 15:1, And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
• At this point the real issue was are Christians different than Jews? Or are we a Jewish offshoot, a sect if you will?
• This is not unlike what Christians are going through today in Lebanon with Muslim converts coming to Christ. Do the women have to shed their head covering? What do you do with men who have four wives?