Wednesday, December 15, 2010
31 And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
The Gentile believers were just as cleansed through faith as the Jewish believers were prior to any "works" they were told to observe. Now, they have four more things to do...in order to "do well". Their response was great joy and they received the word as encouragement. While I don't understand the specifics of the letter's direction, I do see that they were very pleased with the answer. Was it because of the non-circ requirement implied? I think it was beyond that...one thing is the letter upheld the vehemently-presented side of Paul and Barnabas and spoke to the unity of the faith-community.
Another thing, which speaks much more to me, is they knew they were saved, having received the Holy Spirit and they recognized they did not need to be circ'd. Yet, they allowed this issue to go to the "council of circ" for review...having their freedom and yielding it for the betterment of the unity of the body. And when they received the letter of "how-to-do-well", they were joyful. Perhaps, they saw, not restrictions, but freedom. In being kept from pagan food palaces and sexual immorality they were obviously being kept in a purer environment which would certainly bless their newly re-created selves. (Maybe blood consumption and strangled animals were part of pagan rituals...i dunno) They apparently understood and received the wisdom of the entire letter; they got it and it made sense. And they were pleased to live in the freedom of the words of the Holy Spirit and not in bondage to the letter of the law. (Their initial response to God's Word: When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; ... Acts 13:48.) Oh that I would be encouraged by and embrace the freedoms God has for me with joy.
It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm then, and don't let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal. 5:1,
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:37,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8