Summary: We are going to be talking about things that happened in what is called “The Great Jerusalem Council.”
JUL 14 2013PM Two Questions About Salvation
We have just gotten in from Paul’s first missionary journey. For the next three Sunday evenings, including tonight, we are going to be talking about things that happened in what is called “The Great Jerusalem Council.” How many of you have heard of it? In seminary, we spent some time on it and there were several questions on tests concerning this council. Why was it so great?
There are two reasons why the council is referred to as great. One was that all the apostles were involved in its discussion and decision. And the other is that the council declared forever that a man is saved apart from ritual, saved by the grace of God through faith alone. Can you see why it is important to us?
Do people today still tend to rely on ritual to be saved? Do we as Baptists? How?
Baptism. Lord’s Supper. Coming to church.
There are two questions that arose at the great Jerusalem council that we are going to look at tonight. The first question was a basic question that asked, “Is a ritual or ceremony necessary to be saved? READ Acts 15: 1-3. There are 5 points:
1. The disputers from the Judean churches were a powerful force; so powerful that their argument and emphasis have continued down through the centuries and are still disputed today. We need to note that the visitors from Jerusalem moved among the Antioch believers and taught their own ideas. So they were teachers and leaders, well-versed in the Scripture. They were esteemed.
So what they said was considered very important. The problem was if the disputers were allowed to continue, the believers of Antioch were bound to become upset and confused. The result would have been that the Antioch church would have been split and its ministry and witness made ineffective.
2. Second point. Scripture is clear on what the dispute was. They were saying, READ v. 1.
So a person’s eternal fate was at stake. They weren’t saying the believers had to perform the ritual to please God, or to please the church, or to show your love or anything like that. They were saying that the ritual had to be performed in order to be saved. In that, they were saying that the ritual itself is what saved them.
And, too, the issue was not whether a believer should be circumcised. Paul never said circumcision was wrong. He said that since Christ had come, circumcision was a personal matter and a matter of conscience. So circumcision was not the issue. The issue was whether the ritual of circumcision saved you. The answer was critical, affecting all generations of believers.
So the question is, is a person’s confrontation and saving experience to be focused upon Jesus Christ or upon Jesus Christ and something else? Is a person’s mind and attention, his faith, his profession, his testimony, his witness to be Jesus alone, or Jesus and a ritual? Does God save a person whose body, mind, and soul are focused on His Son alone or upon Jesus and some ritual?