Acts Devotionals

The Core Business

Some of you might have sat on boards discussing various issues. The great question is always … “Did you discuss matters that were relevant to the purpose of the board or committee?” From personal experience I have to admit that not everything discussed at a particular meeting was within the mandate of that committee, board, council. All too often, matters discussed might seem relevant to the chairman or the members and they would made it seem that the business at hand is the business of that meeting, yet a closer look at the purpose of the meeting reveals that however important the matters discussed and debated might seem, their inclusion on the agenda has caused the meeting to veer away from its core business resulting in stagnation of the meetings mandate. This is the reason God allowed the problem of Acts 6 to arise. You shall recall how, in the early days of the Christian Church:

Ac 6:1 the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

The spiritual leaders (apostles) were wandering away from their core business when this problem arose forcing them to permit the people to choose spiritual men to be set apart as deacons to fulfil the “waiting on tables” ministry … fulfilling the practical aspects of caring for the folk. This enabled the spiritual leaders to focus on Prayer and Teaching the Word. Now that we are in Acts 15, we see the spiritual leaders ministry fulfilled correctly. They did what God wanted them to do. Their meeting showed their core business being done. Please read:

Ac 15:4 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. 5 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.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 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. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.

You are welcome to read on, but let’s stop there for now.

1) The Council Meeting at Jerusalem.

Ac 15:4 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.

The council welcomed the missionaries and were given the opportunity of explaining what they did, where they did it and what sort of results were achieved under the good hand of God. This was fundamental and wise. The board did not attack them with rumors heard. They listened intently, hearing a firsthand testimony of amazing grace. This set the tone for what was to follow. In courts of the land, under a judge or magistrate, charges are read and the prosecutors go for the jugular. In courts of the Christian Church, testimony is heard before accusations are made.

2) The accusation against the missionaries. Believers … Christians … within the party of the Pharisees listen to the testimony of the missionaries and then:

Ac 15:5 “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”

This statement, at first, does not seem as an attack on the missionaries, but on closer evaluation, they are saying the missionaries were at fault in not insisting that Gentiles wanting to covert to Jesus must, according to them, be circumcised. This is legalism. This is requiring faith plus works for salvation. If you followed closely in our previous Notes on circumcision, you would have seen that salvation was always by faith … not by works. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant … faith was entry into the covenant. These Judaizers could not understand. They were the ones who sent the delegation to the Church at Antioch to complain about Gentiles being welcomed into the Christian Church without being circumcised. Any Church that requires an addition to salvation by grace through faith has a different Gospel. Please note this … a different Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus alone not Jesus plus some act of man!

3) The Meeting of Spiritual Leaders.

Ac 15:6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question.

They met to do what? To discuss the matter at hand. What was the matter at hand? Not waiting on tables. Not maintenance to the gardens. Not building on an additional wing to the building. Not looking at the cash flow! No … they discussed the question of whether Gentiles needed to becomes Jews to become Christians! They separated themselves from the missionaries, accusers and other people to consider the Doctrine of Salvation. What was it? How does it work? Who is it for? What ritual, if any needs to be followed? What do the Scriptures they had at their disposal have to say? How did the Holy Spirit lead Paul and Barnabas? How would He lead them? The meeting was lengthy:

Ac 15:7 After much discussion.

This showed they analyzed doctrine thoroughly. There was no haphazard conclusion. They gave the Holy Spirit time to work in and through them as they discussed this issue. What a lesson for us to learn in our time.

(1) Deal with spiritual business. Spiritual leaders must leave diaconal tasks to deacons.

(2) Deal with doctrine properly. If elders do not know or understand doctrine, they need to stop the meeting, get expert counsel or study the Bible with commentary in hand to understand the subject at hand.

God’s wisdom works every time. Man’s wisdom fails almost all the time. Don’t rush decisions. Wait upon the Lord through intense prayer. He will provide the answers sought.

Tomorrow we shall start to see the outcome of the Spiritual Leaders Meeting. For you and me who are ordinary Church folk, members of the congregation … we fail our leaders when we do not pray for them. Too often we criticize and mostly we don’t pray. If we believe in prayer and if we believe our God hears and answers prayers, let us pray for our leaders, seeking God’s blessings of wisdom, discernment and knowledge to fall on them and to guide them in their care of the Church.

Our Father, thank You for ordering the Church they way You have. Today we pray that deacons and other Church workers will fulfil their duties so that the elders may focus on the core business of the Church … teaching the Bible and Prayer. Amen.

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