“Who Has Bewitched You?” – Part 2
Leaders who attempt to place you back under the tithing laws, are in effect placing you in bondage to an obsolete Old Covenant ordinance. This has been a problem since the 1st century.
Crack open your Bible and follow along as we travel through the Book of Acts and see the events that led up to the first dispute in Acts 15.
In Acts 1, Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and they would be His witnesses, telling people about Him everywhere. Then in Acts 2, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower His disciples to be His witnesses, just as He promised. And the apostles began traveling throughout the Roman empire preaching the Good News to the lost house of Israel.
During the Old Covenant, Gentiles were considered unclean, unless they became a part of God’s covenant family through physical circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses. But in Acts 9-10, God gave Peter a vision that what He has cleansed, do not call “unclean.” Then He sent Peter to preach the Good News to uncircumcised Gentiles who wanted to hear the word of God.
Seeing that God had sent him to uncircumcised Gentiles, Peter realized that “God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36). As Peter preached the Good News, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening, and the Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.
In Acts 11, the news reached the apostles and other Believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish Believers criticized him (because they were still under the Old Covenant teaching that uncircumcised Gentiles are unclean). After Peter told them about the vision God gave him and how Cornelius’ household received the gift of the Holy Spirit just as the Jews, the Jewish Believers stopped objecting and began praising God. So around this time, some Believers began preaching to the Gentiles.
In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were commissioned and sent out by the Holy Spirit. They preached the Good News to the Jews first, and also to the Gentiles, and a great number of both Jews and Gentiles became Believers.
In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch of Syria where their journey began, and they called the saints together to report everything God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too.
In Acts 15, while Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing intensely. So finally, the saints decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul reported everything God had done through them. But some of the believers who were Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses [the dietary law, Sabbaths, new moons, festivals, etc].” So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.
Join me on the next article to see how the apostles resolved this serious matter.
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