Tuesday: As the Custom of Moses

Read Acts 15:1. What issue was causing dissension? Why would some people believe that this wasn’t just for the Jewish nation? See Gen. 17:10.

While the apostles united with the ministers and lay members at Antioch in an earnest effort to win many souls to Christ, certain Jewish believers from Judaea “of the sect of the Pharisees” succeeded in introducing a question that soon led to widespread controversy in the church and brought consternation to the believing Gentiles.

The Law of Moses

Image © Pacific Press Publishing Assn. Goodsalt.com

With great confidence these teachers asserted that in order to be saved, one must be circumcised and must keep the entire ceremonial law. The Jews, after all, always had prided themselves on their divinely appointed services, and many of those who had been converted to the faith of Christ still felt that since God had once clearly outlined the Hebrew manner of worship, it was improbable that He would ever authorize a change in any of its specifications. They insisted that the Jewish laws and ceremonies should be incorporated into the rites of the Christian religion. They were slow to discern that all the sacrificial offerings had but prefigured the death of the Son of God, in which type met antitype, and after which the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation were no longer binding.

Read Acts 15:2-12. How was this dispute to be settled?

“While looking to God for direct guidance, he [Paul] was ever ready to recognize the authority vested in the body of believers united in church fellowship. He felt the need of counsel, and when matters of importance arose, he was glad to lay these before the church and to unite with his brethren in seeking God for wisdom to make right decisions.” – Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 200.

It’s interesting that Paul-who often talked about his prophetic calling and how Jesus had called him and gave him his mission-was so willing to work with the larger church body. That is, whatever his calling, he realized that he was part of the church as a whole and that he needed to work with it as much as possible.

What is your attitude toward church leadership? How cooperative are you? Why is cooperation so important? How could we function if everyone was doing only what he or she wanted to do, independent of the larger body?

3 comment(s) for this post:

  1. Simeon Ogutu:

    09 Oct 2017
    Based on the last question concerning the Paul's cooperation with church leadership,I find it interesting now that Paul himself was appointed by God on his Damascus road experience. He doesn't muzzle powers to himself now that he met God directly but still with all this experience, he directs his efforts to the Gospel ministry through a cooperate body of the church and the church's leadership at large. This makes me wonder of some self-proclaimed prophets/apostles who establish their own churches and command big ministries in the name of "Jehovah spoke to me in a dream " .How do we go about this?
  2. Tuvako Mbeche:

    09 Oct 2017
    The question at the end of today’s lesson is absolutely necessary and haunts the church membership each and every day. The truth that we fail to comprehend as members, is that church leaders are human’s just like us prone to judgement that may be contrary to our perception which is absolutely common. Just like any human being, any judgement we make and that includes our leaders, in not born off isolation but a series of events, experiences, mentorship and at many times interpretation. In such a point, we as members of the church are dictated by an urge and duty to rebuke or even condemn views from the leadership that we find in conflict with our thought process or our comprehension of the bible or doctrines related to the church. We may consider church leaders as unjust, unreal, rigid, archaic, hypocritical or even unresponsive to the current state of affairs. It is at this point that we opt for backbiting, or even open rebellion questioning every level of leadership decision, inflaming the masses in an action to raise their awareness to matters that we feel very necessary.

    Paul’s experience in Antioch was not really that different, but his reaction or how he handled the matter was. This calls on us to approach matters by cooperating with the leadership, consulting with them, or relaying our frustrations through acceptable forums in their presence. We are also asked to accommodate their views by listening to what they have to say; then reason it through before presenting our understanding to the matter that we consider in conflict. You may never know when we might have support from just within those we believed were in conflict with us (Acts 15:6-11). However strong our views are, cooperating with the leadership would provide a better chance to address the matters than conflict which by itself might end up being counter-productive and result to the scattering of the “sheep” into diverse directions.

    Our Christian Mission is guided by Christ, so we should remember it’s not about ourselves but about the God’s plan for us with the Church being a major benefactor to this plan. As we pray, we should place our hearts and pride in the hands of the Holy Spirit so that at the very end whatever change may arise because of our efforts; they may at the very end lead us towards God’s plan.

  3. Roger Metzger:

    10 Oct 2017
    There it is again. Another nod toward dispensationalism.

    The second part of today's lesson used the same argument that was used by the papists in the sixteenth century.

    So here's my suggestion: Adopt or maintain behavior requisites for voting membership in our denomination but do so in such a way as to avoid the implication that those things are also requisites for salvation (or for translation when Jesus returns). Instead of requiring people to affirm specific doctrines (i.e. use a list of doctrines as a creed), make a list of doctrines that people paid from tithe funds may NOT teach.

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