Simply stated; this council existed for the express purpose of making sure that all Believers practiced their faith according to New Covenant principles. As it was then and is now, the church must continually be on the look-out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Therefore, around A.D. 50 created, those who were once Christ 12 disciples (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) became what one might call regulators of the New Covenant. They taught and preached a Gospel if adhered to would bring about freemen & woman…not chains:
2nd Timothy 3: 1 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 TRAITORS, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away”!
The word TRAITORS happens to be a word that needs clarification:
1) without a treaty or covenant
1a) of things not mutually agreed upon e.g. abstinences from hostilities
2) that cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant, implacable
James 2: 8 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality (pick and choose whom to love), you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder”. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment”.
The Jerusalem Decree
Acts 15: 6 “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 ‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’
18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. 22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. 23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well”.
“If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well”. I want you to keep in mind this was written after the resurrection of Christ. Abstaining from things offered to idols, and from blood is still in effect. The problem at that time was cultural. Many Jewish Christians maintained that Gentile Christians must keep certain aspects of The Mosaic Law. Today I want you to focus on the Words of God from Acts 15. Jesus did not come to put yokes upon our necks. On the other hand, that is exactly what the doctrines and traditions of men will accomplish in our lives. Our LORD Jesus said regarding yokes, be yoked to Him. As two oxen were yoked together, we should be yoked together with and in Christ. So Church, don’t let the Joneses get you down (doctrines and traditions of men):
Matt. 11: 28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is EASY and My burden is light.”
The word ‘easy’ in verse 30 means:
1) fit, fit for use, useful
1a) virtuous, good
2a) mild, pleasant (as opposed to harsh, hard sharp, bitter)
2b) of things: more pleasant, of people, kind, benevolent.
This is the opposite of the burden, which came from the Law of Moses. To be continued…