Acts 15: Another Look

Sermon by Emmett Rushing, 8/7/2004

Acts 15:11: "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

It is a shame how religion has taken a simple gospel message and cluttered it up with a lot of rules. They say do this and do not do that.

Acts 13:52: "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

The gospel is good news. The big issue today is the difference between the Old and New Testament. This is a pressing issue today.

Acts 15:1-5 tells us: "Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, 'The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.'"

The law of Moses is circumcision. Circumcision is not necessary in the New Testament.

Galatians 1:1,6-8 relates, "Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead...I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"

Here Paul is making us understand the nature of God. People do not understand that Jesus is equal to God the Father. Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. The gospel is the power to save us. The most important thing is to have Christ in you. Christ in us should bring us hope and glory.

Galatians 2 continues,

Verse 4: "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves...."

Verse 16: "know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."

Verses 21-22: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

The gospel brings us out of bondage. Religion is about people trying to make God happy. True religion is about Christ seeking us and doing everything for us. We are to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. Christ enables us to believe. We need to trust in Jesus Christ. We should realize how important Jesus is and how important what we do is.

Galatians 3 continues,

Verse 1: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Verses 16-18: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise."

Verses 22-29: "But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Receiving the Holy Spirit of God is a big issue. We walk the Christian walk by the Holy Spirit. No one can live perfectly alone without God. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. But after faith had come we are not longer under a tutor. We are all sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. We were baptized in Christ when we received the Holy Spirit right then and there and immediately put on Christ

In Galatians 4,

Verse 6: "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father!'"

Verse 24: "These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar."

Verse 30-31: "But what does the Scripture say? 'Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.' Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Jesus came to redeem us because He loved us. The good news of the gospel is that God is our Father and He loves us. We should submit ourselves to Jesus Christ and repent of our sins.

Continuing in Galatians 5,

Verses 1-6: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

Verse 14: "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Verses 17-18: "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."

Verses 22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

We should not be under a yoke of bondage from the outside. When we receive the Holy Spirit we receive the help to lead a Christian life. We are living in the Spirit and we are walking in the Spirit and we are being changed on a daily basis. We are not where we should be but we are not where we used to be.

Acts 15:7-8: "After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: 'Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.'"

We are baptized and clothed with Him. God knows the heart and gives us His Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:11-13: "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit."

The Holy Spirit is very important in our lives. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is a sign that we belong to God. The Holy Spirit is sign of security.

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

We are yoked to Christ. Christ is always by our side and with us. Jesus is our judge and attorney. The Holy Spirit changes us.

Colossians 1:12-13: "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves."

Holy righteous character is credited to a believer.

Acts 13:38-39: "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses."

Our faith is all about our relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father. This is what the gospel is all about.

Sermon summary prepared by local Glendora church member Charlie Schreiner.