Here we see one of the stark contrasts between the teachings of the old covenant and the new covenant and as it says in verse 2 of this chapter, it caused a great argument and “No small dissension” between the two opposed groups.
There were some men, and I must point out here for it is important, these men were believers, who came down from Judaea to the places where Paul and Barnabas were teaching and preaching the word. These men who came were now saying to the people, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Vs 1)
Then again when they along with Paul and Barnabas took this matter to the council of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, we see they again said the same in verse 5. “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
Before going into the deliberations of the council and how a decision was made, let us consider why this caused a great dissension and argument. Why was it that Paul, who had been a Pharisee and administrator of the law of Moses, was so strongly opposed to this view that he decided to go to the council in the first place.
One of the most amazing events in the book of Acts was the transformation that took place in the life of Saul who became the apostle Paul. The mechanism of his conversion was so amazing hat it is no wonder he was rocked to the very core and spun about one hundred and eighty degrees from total opposition to Jesus Christ and Christianity to become one of its most fervent proponents.
And we should thank The Lord that He did turn Saul/Paul on his ear for Paul wrote most of what we know and need to learn about life under the New Covenant and life in he spirit.
So let us take a brief look at the life of Saul leading up to his conversion. Where was he, what was he thinking and doing and how did The Lord turn his life about so dramatically and wondrously.
Jesus died at Calvary. We all know that. We also know that He was resurrected from the dead three days after He had been put to death because Jesus could not be held by death.
But why? What was the reason why He could not be held by death? And also is there a way that we can likewise find the way so that we too cannot be held by death, just like Jesus?
Well the answer to the last question is…Yes. We can find the way to be freed from the bondage to death that afflicts all of mankind. It’s funny when you consider the billions of dollars going into medical and scientific research to try and find ways to extend people’s lives, and yet the solution has already been given to us for free.
This will be a two part post to cover this message. It is a lesson I have learned again just recently and it is one that many Christians are unaware of how serious a matter it is. You can't go back when you come to The Lord. You must continue to push forward.
And yet in these scriptures we see that even Jesus' disciples made this mistake mere days after He had died and was resurrected. And Jesus came to them, specifically to Peter for he was the one who made the error, and in no uncertain terms turned them around to move forward.
So today we will look at why you can't look or go back, and tomorrow we will look at what Jesus did with Peter when he looked back.
This is a question that was posed some 2,000 years ago by Pontius Pilate when Jesus was brought before him. Pilate had asked Jesus some questions about whether He was a king, and Jesus replied in verse 37 saying,
“You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Then Pilate utters these words that have echoed down the ages and still today demand an answer…What is truth? Today we will look at this in some detail and hopefully get a glimpse of the truth that comes through Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the way to eternal life and salvation. He said in this scripture that, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” So this makes it pretty clear that if we want to find the road to eternity, we need to recognise that Jesus is the way.
This passage begins with an interesting conversation and questioning between the disciples and Jesus. If we look at the first two verses we gain a better perspective and understanding of why Jesus is the way and what He wanted the disciples to understand. The disciples puzzled over Jesus words because they were thinking in the physical rather than the spirit.
4 And you know the way where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem the final time, his fame had spread far and wide. The people recognised His power and kingship as they spread branches of palm trees on the ground and cried out praises like, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and “Hosanna in the Highest.”
They praised Him, they worshiped Him and they gave Him their adoration which He was due. They did not yet understand His teachings, but they praised Him for the many miraculous and wondrous works He had carried out. As it says in verses 17-18,
17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Laz’arus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness.
18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
However the reaction of the Pharisees was interesting for a different reason and that bears looking at more deeply.
This is a scripture of the Bible that is often quoted. So many, many times I have heard people say, “The truth will make you free.” And it is not just in Christian circles that this is quoted.
But how many people know what it is really talking about? How often do the words just roll easily off the tongue without any sense of what the Lord really meant by them? I am reasonably certain that even among Christians there is not a real understanding of the power and depth of these words, especially as it applies to the teachings of the New Covenant. I say this from experience having listened to many people who believe they know the truth, but their words deny that they actually do
Are you a sinner? That is a question that truly plagues the church at large today. Most people in the church today say that, “I am a sinner, saved by Grace.” But is this correct? Are you really a sinner?
Jesus in this section of scripture says to the Jews in verse 24, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” Did you note the caveat He added? That you would die in your sins UNLESS you BELIEVE. So He was saying that through believing in Him, that is, through faith, it was possible to be set free from your sins.
Which brings me back to my question, are you a sinner? If you have faith in Jesus Christ and believe according to what He shows us in the New Covenant, then according to His words YOU ARE NOT A SINNER! Wow! So instead of saying, “I AM a sinner saved by Grace,” you should be saying, “I WAS a sinner saved by Grace.” The first says you are a sinner NOW, but the second says you used to be a sinner, but thanks be to Jesus you are no longer a sinner.
Quite often you hear people talk about how hard it is to be a Christian. They talk about all the rules and regulations and laws and how if you make a mistake you’ll be condemned to hellfire and brimstone. Unbelievers in particular talk about God as if he were ready to damn every person for every mistake they ever made and that everyone is under the constant threat of condemnation and damnation.
If you have heard such talk too, then you need to read this post, because nothing could be further from the truth.