The Second Missionary Journey
Acts 16: 4 “And as they (Paul, Silas, and Timothy) went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
These are the decrees given to them, (Read Acts 15: 1-5)
At the time, there were certain men who came down from Judea teaching the brothers, “unless you are circumcised according to the Law of Moses, you cannot be saved” (NASB). They tried to impose upon naive converts Old Covenant Law, which Christ nailed to His cross so that any physical sign of entrance into The Grace of God would cease:
Ephesians 2: 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Please note that it does not say by circumcision nor baptism you are saved.)
The curse of the Law meant you were obliged to keep the entire Law, which all men have failed. Jesus said putting new wine into old wineskins would cause the old ones to break. That is the problem with legalistic teaching even today. Jesus was then and is now the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. The Holy Spirit is that New Wine, and the Body of Christ the New Wineskin designed to endure only by the operation of God by a circumcised heart.
Romans 6: 4 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin”. The Apostle Paul also wrote:
Gal. 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” More plainly, if righteousness came through keeping the law (including circumcision), then there was no need for Christ death (Colossians 2:13-15). Bottom line, if we are practicing the Law of Moses thinking that this is God’s will, then we place ourselves under the curse of The Law.
Galatians 3: 1 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth (Judaizers), before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham”.
Romans 2: 29 “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God”. This does not mean Gentiles are now Jews, it only means that The Holy Spirit must circumcise their hearts. (Deut. 10: 16; 30: 6; Jer. 4: 4; Acts 16: 31-32; Col. 2: 11-12)
In addition, water baptism is an answer to a circumcised (clean) heart before God. The order is get Born Again, and then answer that circumcised heart through baptism:
1st Peter 3: 20 “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Pay very close attention to what is in parenthesis. This was included so that there would be no misunderstanding; nevertheless, this passage is misunderstood to this very day.
Sometimes, when we read from the New Covenant, we tend to make it just as Old as the Old Covenant, e.g. Gal. 1: 5 “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works MIRACLES among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Do you see working of miracles among you? (Let us be honest) On the other hand, do you see people trying to strain one out as if they were having a bowel movement? Maybe I should not be so crass. On the other hand, maybe I should. This may be the only way to get your attention. Look around you. How many people have experience a so-call healing only to find that they were sold a bill of goods, while getting emotionally hyped up in the moment? Afterwards, maybe a day or two later found themselves just as sick as they were before. Jesus said these signs shall follow Believers. Something is wrong, and it is not God or His Word. (Mark 16). To be continued…
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