Friday 20th January 2017 - Daily Reading:
Acts 15 - Grace is for all! by Karen Cowling

So the enemy has failed to stop Paul and Barnabas from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, even with Paul being stoned he did not die. So the enemy returns to trying to bring division within the church, as we saw in Acts 6. This time it is aimed directly at the Gentile believers, as some people come from Jerusalem saying that all believers need to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. This would make them more like converts to Judaism rather than followers of Christ; their lives would turn from one of faith to one of works.

This made Paul and Barnabas really angry, so angry they travelled to Jerusalem to sort the issue out in person. Along the way they told people the gospel and shared what God was doing with the Gentiles.

When they get there they have a meeting with the remaining original apostles and the elders of the church in Jerusalem. Some Pharisee converts say how they feel that the Gentiles need circumcising. These may have been some of the people that went and told Paul and Barnabas in Antioch.

Peter however recalls the situation we read about in Acts 10 when God called him to go and talk to Cornelius and his household, reminding people of how the Holy Spirit came on the Gentile household as He has on them. Peter rebukes the people who are trying to make the Gentiles follow the law by saying: "Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.

The room is silent. Paul and Barnabas use this as their cue to tell of all the signs and wonders that God has done amongst the Gentiles, proving that God is on the move. The elders in Jerusalem write a letter to the Gentile churches and send some of their own people back with Paul and Barnabas to show their solidarity.

So we see a reoccurring theme in Acts. As the church grows the enemy tries to attack it, from both outward means and inward ones. However they remain strong, why? They communicate, they live by the Spirit, and as the Holy Spirit is the same so the church becomes of one mind and one spirit. They are no longer one church of 5000+ but many churches over a large distance, people from different backgrounds all known as one thing: Jesus people!

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